Amazon’s Instant Video streaming service may have hit a bump in the road.
It’s intended to rival Netflix, which has had original programming hits like “House of Cards” and “Orange Is The New Black.”
Amazon’s big push got started over the weekend with the premiere of “Alpha House,” a political comedy starring John Goodman and written by Garry Trudeau, the liberal-leaning cartoonist best known for his “Doonesbury” comic strip.
But since its premiere, “Alpha House” has been blasted by Amazon Prime customers in the comments and reviews section. Specifically, many customers are complaining that the show has an anti-Republican slant and they are threatening to cancel their Amazon Prime memberships as a result.
According to a source familiar with the matter, the comments have put Amazon employees on high alert for fear that customers will start abandoning Amazon Prime because they disagree with the show’s politics. Amazon’s Instant Video and Prime teams have been told to keep an eye on any spikes in Prime cancellations over the next few weeks. Amazon’s data analysts are also monitoring comments and flagging ones that contain references to cancelling Prime because of “Alpha House.”
(Amazon Prime is a service that costs $US79 per year and lets you get free two-day shipping on many items. It also gives users access to thousands of streaming movies and TV shows, just like Netflix does.)
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
Here’s a quick look at some of the comments that are worrying Amazon. Click for a larger view:
Anyone familiar with how Amazon works knows that the company takes customer feedback very seriously. CEO Jeff Bezos is famous for sending an email to his staff with a simple “?” whenever he receives a complaint he thinks is worth fixing. Those emails send his staff into a frenzy, trying to fix the problem as quickly as possible and report the results back to Bezos.
Sources say the goal with monitoring Amazon Prime cancellations in the coming weeks is to prevent Bezos from having to send the Prime team one of those “?” emails in case angry commenters do end up following through with their threats. Even worse, they’d like to prevent these angry customers from emailing Bezos directly. (Bezos does read emails from customers, by the way.)
Of course, it’s too early to tell if customers will cancel their subs based on one piece of programming that premiered just a few days ago. But the high-alert status does exemplify Amazon’s intense focus on customer satisfaction.
There’s good news too. Sources say “Alpha House” is performing very well so far with “hundreds of thousands” of streams per day. Earlier this week, Amazon said the show was its most-watched program on Amazon Instant Video, but did not provide specifics.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.