Today, The Washington Post was purchased by Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos. This purchase comes in a time where many old print media companies are having a challenging time adding subscribers, monetizing with advertising and maneuvering into the new digital age. In general, it is a time where incumbents in TV, Radio and Print are taking a hard look in the mirror and re-evaluating their position in our lives.
Many people have been speculating for the reasons behind Bezos’ acquisition of the Washington Post. The reasons range from purchasing influence in Washington to having something to play with. Purchasing influence may be a valid potential reason – last year Amazon.com spent millions of dollars lobbying Washington. However, as Amazon.com and Jeff Bezos charge towards the media industry with infrastructure, software and hardware products – the reason probably lies herein.
Jeff Bezos has been investing very heavily in the trio (infrastructure, software and hardware) in order to build the future. Although Amazon.com is not the direct owner of The Post, one could expect to see The Washington Post being affiliated in some shape or form with an Amazon.com premium subscription.
The Amazon.com’s subscription model via Amazon Prime seems to be the apex of the business. Amazon books – Amazon’s legacy business model – has drastically shifted to ebooks in the last few years. Guess what? 350,000 of those books are free if you sign up to Amazon Prime. Amazon invested heavily in hardware building the Kindle. So much so, that they were selling the hardware at a cost. Bezos figures the media on the Kindle will make that money back. Guess what? Sign up to Prime and you get unlimited streaming and 41, 000 episodes. Bezos has taken every revenue stream from Amazon and baked it into Amazon Prime subscriptions.
The most interesting aspect of the deal is that one of the most iconic newspaper brands that has been unable to grow subscriptions has been acquired by the creator of the mega-subscription – Amazon Prime. The subscription service that lets you buy groceries faster and rent books, watch movies for “free”.
This is not a random deal. This is part of a greater strategy to centralize convenience across e-commerce and media. Turning a newspaper around from a dying asset to a media powerhouse will take time. With the growth of user generated content, bloggers, writers, video producers and Amazon’s perpetually growing cloud – one could also imagine a spill over in business and brand affiliation from The Post.
Why didn’t Amazon.com buy The Washington Post? One could speculate that Bezos simply did not want to deal with impatient public shareholders constantly asking for a return on their investment. Thus buying it himself in a private transaction.
One thing is for certain, this deal is not Bezos’ last, it is part of a series of calculated bet on where the future is going. Capturing audiences at the right place, the right time and engaging, informing or entertaining them – something the Post has done very well for years.
To all our friends at the Post. We trust your great coverage will continue and wish you the best. As long as you entertain, engage and inform – the future will be prime for success.