Amazon's $100M 3Q original-show budget equals one Netflix series

What Amazon plans to spend on all its shows in one quarter is what Netflix spent on two seasons of "House of Cards."

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

House of Cards
Kevin Spacey in "House of Cards" Screenshot by Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Sometimes, amid all the Amazon losses and warnings about more losses, the e-commerce giant lets slip a rare nugget, like Thursday's factoid that it will spend $100 million on its original video series this quarter.

That means its bigger rival is just that: bigger.

Neither Amazon nor chief competitor Netflix reveal much about their spending on original series, but Netflix -- the No. 1 subscription streaming-video service by number of subscribers -- spent $100 million just on "House of Cards" alone.

Granted, that was the budget for 26 episodes over the span of two seasons. And Amazon's spending is a one-quarter snapshot.

Netflix has been using original shows like "Orange Is the New Black" and "House of Cards" to cast itself in the mold of a television network more than the video library and DVD-by-mail service that are its roots. It says it spends no more than 10 percent of its entire content budget on originals.

Amazon has been chasing Netflix' originals strategy to keep its Prime Instant Video service, a component of its $99 Prime program best known for free second-day shipping, competitive. Where Netflix series have snagged top awards and quickly become standard discussion around the watercooler, Amazon's have yet to catch up.

But Amazon has a lot in the works, as its third-quarter spending shows. It's planning a bigger slate of originals for this year and next, and it's green-lighting more pilots with high-profile names attached -- some of which are generating promising early buzz.

So does $100 million at Amazon add up to $100 million at Netflix? We'll see when the credits roll.