Amazon is expanding its reach. This week, the company made a $50 million deal with the NFL to stream this season’s Thursday night football games and acquired rights to buy a stake in a hydrogen fuel cell company. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talked with Marketplace senior tech correspondent Molly Wood about the news. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Kai Ryssdal: So, let’s talk football first with his Amazon deal. I mean, that’s a lot of money.
Molly Wood: Are you ready for some football?
Ryssdal: Wow, you’ve been planning that all day, haven’t you?
Wood: Yeah, see what I did there. You know, sadly, it just came to me that’s how plugged in I am to the football universe. It is a lot of money. Although, one astute analyst pointed out that since it’s tied to Amazon Prime, Amazon would have to pick up only 500,000 new Prime subscribers to make back the money.
Ryssdal: Which they’ll get with football like that.
Wood: Oh, yeah. I mean, there’s almost no reason that they couldn’t pick up that many and then make back the money. And then on top of that, people have been comparing it to the Twitter deal. Twitter obviously paid a lot less for streaming rights. But most of Amazon’s streaming, I would warrant, happens on television.
Ryssdal: Like actual television.
Wood: Yeah, like actual television, through the Fire Stick or some other Amazon device. And that is frankly a much more appealing prospect than streaming football on your computer.
Ryssdal: Talk to me for a second, though, about Amazon Prime and Amazon Video. I mean, those are now becoming sort of the go-tos.
Wood: They are becoming a lot more popular, I think, than even I expected. Because, Amazon was slow to have as much content as say, Apple or Netflix or Hulu. They arguably still don’t, but they’re making really great original content. I mean, Amazon is so fascinating because they got into TV, and you thought, “Well they’re not doing it well.” But now, however many years later, they are.
Ryssdal: So, when Jeff Bezos started this company — and let’s remember, it used to be an online bookstore, for crying out loud — right? Now, it’s everything to everyone. And obviously, you can’t argue with success. But there has to be a limit.
Wood: I am starting to wonder about the limits. I made a partial list before we came in here, and I’m not going to read them all because of time. But there’s all the retail stuff, now there’s physical retail. They invested in a fuel cell business this week.
Ryssdal: Well, that’s what I’m saying, right?
Wood: Yeah. I mean, you could argue that they’re getting a little far afield. You could also argue that we are quickly closing in on a time when nothing that you do in the digital world won’t somehow touch or pay Amazon.
Ryssdal: Explain that. Because that’s the cloud services and Amazon Web Services and all of that stuff.
Wood: Most of the websites that you already go to run through Amazon. Increasingly, their devices are actually coming into your home, you know, they’re delivering groceries. You will, at some point, not conduct business online without Amazon getting a cut of it. And so, they’ve been very good at slow and steady execution so far, and if they make money off everything you do online, there may be no such thing as stretched too thin.
Ryssdal: I saw a great quote from Bezos the other day in which he said, “I’ve lost billions of dollars on stuff that I’ve tried and hasn’t worked. But if you’re afraid of risk, then get out of this business, and I’m making much more money with this stuff we tried and has worked.”
Wood: Says the guy who is also going to space. Right?
Ryssdal: Right. Not coincidentally.
Wood: Yeah, he’s taken a lot of risks. And, you know, Amazon’s market cap is twice that of Wal-Mart, and at least one analyst says it is no problem.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.