The digital content wars have heated up after Barnes and Nobles announced last Tuesday that it will launch its own video service, Nook Video, this fall. The service is pitted against Amazon‘s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime Instant Video and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). Barnes and Nobles has partnered with content providers and studios such as HBO, Sony Pictures, Starz, Viacom and Warner Brothers for the service, which will be available on Nook devices as well as other tablets, smartphones and television. We don’t expect the service to immediately threaten Netflix and Amazon, but it can have major long-term ramifications given the company’s extensive retail presence.
In addition to the Kindle range, Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service is currently available on several devices, including gaming consoles and Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad. It is however not available on Android devices, Microsoft mobile devices or the iPhone. The service is part of the $79 per year Prime subscription. The company uses its cloud service to enable users to stream videos directly from the cloud. The videos can be bought from the Amazon Instant Video store. The underlying ubiquity is its primary advantage over Netflix’s services.
The Nook Video matches Amazon’s Prime in many ways. It leverages the cloud storage system to bypass the Nook tablet’s storage limitation and widen the number of devices that can be theoretically supported. Barnes and Nobles is yet to announce the operating systems that the new service will support, although support for Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows seem almost certain. The service also has a feature to support brick and mortar businesses, enabling sale of physical video discs (DVDs/Blu-Rays).
We believe Amazon and Netflix can parry initial threats from the service due to their wide array of content. However, Barnes & Noble has the potential to seriously threaten their dominance by offering a wider collection. The company has launched revamped Nook HD series of hardware with similar screen sizes to Amazon’s Kindle HD devices as it fights to maintain a foothold in the tablet and e-reader market.
We currently have a $222 Trefis price estimate for Amazon, which stands 12% below its market price.