NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Amazon (AMZN) video streaming on Prime Instant Video "nearly tripled" in the past 12 months as the e-retailing giant looks to drive more Amazon Prime subscriptions and bolster its video content offerings, specifically with original programming.
"We've invested hundreds of millions of dollars in great TV shows and movies for Prime members and it's working," said Bill Carr, Amazon's vice president of digital video and music. "As part of their membership, Amazon Prime members can watch their favorite movies and television shows on an unlimited basis, and as we add original content like Alpha House, Bosch, The After, Mozart in the Jungle and Transparent, we have no doubt that customers will be even more delighted with the selection available. And now, with Fire TV, customers have the easiest way to access this content."
Amazon announced the growth (it does not release actual numbers) as a report by Qwilt, which tracks growth in online video usage, notes that Amazon has surpassed Hulu and Apple (AAPL) to be the third highest operator in streaming video usage. Netflix (NFLX) still remains the top place to stream video followed by Google's (GOOG) YouTube.
"In just the last year, Amazon moved from 5th place to 3rd place, passing both Hulu and Apple in terms of the volume of video streaming traffic consumed from their site to US broadband subscribers," Mark Fisher, Qwilt's vice president of marketing and business development, wrote in a blog post on Friday.
"Today, only Netflix and YouTube produce more total online video traffic in the US. Amazon's traffic volumes, as measured by Qwilt in March of 2014, increased by 94% over the previous 12 months. In some US operator networks, between March 2013 and March 2014, Amazon's streaming video traffic increase was nearly 300%," Fisher penned.
Last week, Amazon unveiled Fire TV, a set-top box that plugs into an HDTV and competes with Apple TV, Roku and Google Chromecast for streaming video through a TV. Amazon is selling the device for $99 and new customers to Netflix and Amazon Prime will get their first month free of each service when they purchase Fire TV.
Separately, March saw a 'thawing out' within most e-commerce channels followed by ChannelAdvisor (ECOM), as same-store sales rose faster in March compared to the rest of the quarter. "With e-commerce forecasted to grow 15% (Forrester) in 2014, that is the baseline we use when comparing these results against e-commerce growth," according to ChannelAdvisor CEO Scot Wingo.
Amazon's same-store sales for March rose 26.2% over February, representing a "strong m/m increase we believe due to the improvement in weather conditions," Wingo wrote in a blog post announcing the numbers
"Amazon had a big PR win with the launch of Amazon Fire TV on April 2," he wrote. "These launches usually 'spill over' into increased e-commerce sales, so we will watch for that in our April data."
At the same time, eBay's (EBAY) March SSS rose 17.8% up from January's 15% -- the highest growth rate since August 2013, according to ChannelAdvisor's report. ChannelAdvisor attributes eBay's SSS rise from its fixed price products, up 21.5% from March 2013 and the highest since March 2013. Categories of note include consumer electronics and photo as well as sporting goods.
--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.