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Amazon to focus on Studios, original Prime series

CEO Jeff Bezos isn't worried about Netflix

Brent Lewis/Getty Images

On Tuesday night, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that two of the areas he was most interested in exploring within the company were the development of artificial intelligence, pointing to Alexa and the Echo as an example, and the company's film division, Studios.

Bezos told The Verge's Executive Editor Walt Mossberg at CodeCon that Amazon Studios was a section of the company he thought had the potential to be a game changer and was excited to work with the Studios team to create more original programming. CodeCon is an event sponsored by Recode, a sister publication of Polygon and part of Vox Media.

Bezos acknowledged that on the television front, Amazon's original programming — like Transparent and Man in the High Castle — had already won multiple awards, including honors at the Golden Globes. With his team on the film side attending major festivals, like Cannes and Sundance, to partner with upcoming directors and finance lesser known projects, Bezos said Amazon Studios could carve out its own space within the already bustling industry.

The CEO reiterated that the goal, even with Studios, was to bring on more Amazon Prime subscribers. Bezos said according to their own numbers, Prime subscribers were more likely to spend time on the rest of the site and order other products. In order to boost revenue on the retail side, enticing consumers with Prime subscriptions was the best way to do it.

When asked if he was concerned that people would leave Prime for other streaming services, like Hulu or Netflix, Bezos was adamant that he was not.

"We don't compete with Netflix because people are going to subscribe to both," Bezos said.

Statistically, that's true. According to a report released in January from the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, the number of Amazon Prime memberships jumped 35% in 2015, up to 54 million. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that his company also saw an increase in subscription numbers, with a global high of 75 million subscribers.

Bezos attributed the growth to exclusive, high-quality content that people are willing to pay for. Shows like the aforementioned Transparent are only available through Amazon Prime (and other distributing platforms internationally). The other advantage Prime has, Bezos added, is that it's a multi-faceted platform, carrying a wide variety of entertainment (books, music, TV, film) and more.

While Bezos didn't provide any hard numbers for how many new series or films he wanted to produce with Studios, saying over and over again that he didn't like to have a "tight agenda" in place when doing business, he acknowledged that the studio division was one of the more exciting ventures Amazon was delving into.

The full interview between Bezos and Mossberg can be seen on Recode's Facebook page.

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