Amazon to Expand TV Business Across Much of Europe

(Bloomberg) -- Inc. is angling for a larger share of European television viewers.

The company plans to introduce Fire TV to a handful of new markets and expand its footprint in existing ones such as the U.K. and Germany, according to people familiar with the situation. Amazon will detail its plans, including deals with media companies, at an event in Europe next week, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing an initiative that hasn’t been announced yet.

Amazon’s Fire TV is the service that viewers use to stream catalogs of shows and movies belonging to Netflix and Amazon itself on their TVs. The company declined to comment.

With more and more viewers canceling their cable subscriptions, Amazon wants Fire TV to become the de facto cable box of the internet era. The company offers a suite of products: a Fire TV set-top box, a stick that can be hooked up to a TV and an operating system that can be embedded in smart TVs from third-party manufacturers.

Amazon uses Fire TV to boost usage of its Prime Video app, which is one of the biggest streaming services in the world because it’s bundled with the Prime shopping subscription service, which has more than 100 million users. The company also use Fire TV to gather viewer data that it can sell to advertisers. Advertising on internet-delivered video services is one of the fastest-growing categories in the world.

Amazon is the second-biggest player in online TV operating systems and set-top boxes after Roku Inc., which created the market. Both companies say they have tens of millions of user accounts, and outside analysts say they control about 70% of the market combined. Roku leads with almost 40%.

But neither company has established a large foothold outside North America. Roku has expanded to Mexico and much of Western Europe, but still derives almost all of its users and sales from its home country.

Amazon last year cut a North American deal with Best Buy to sell TVs made by Insignia and Toshiba with Fire TV baked in. Those models aren’t available in European markets, where Amazon’s presence is generally limited to sales of various versions of the Fire TV Stick.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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