Text By PATRICK SEITZ
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN ) now has 40 million U.S. members for its Amazon Prime subscription service, up about 50% from a year ago, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners said Tuesday.
Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping on millions of items, a video-on-demand service that competes with Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX ), and other benefits. Amazon Prime costs $99 a year.
If the estimate of 40 million subscribers is accurate, Amazon Prime now has more U.S. subscribers than Netflix, which reported 39.1 million domestic members as of the end of December.
But most Amazon Prime members subscribe for the free, two-day shipping. A study released by CIRP last April found that 70% of Amazon Prime members stream videos through the service.
Amazon is producing original shows and movies to attract more viewers. Its comedy-drama series “Transparent” starring Jeffrey Tambor recently won two Golden Globe awards, for Best TV Series and Best Actor in the category of comedy or musical.
CIRP estimates that 45% of Amazon customers in the U.S. are Prime members.
Amazon Prime got a big boost during the holiday shopping season when 10 million customers signed up for 30-day free trials of the service. CIRP previously predicted that Amazon would convert 70% of those trial subscribers to paying members.
In September, the e-commerce giant had 29 million Amazon Prime subscribers, up from 26.9 million in January 2014 and 25 million in December 2013, CIRP Partner and co-founder Mike Levin told IBD.
Amazon Prime membership growth is important to Amazon because those customers spend more on purchases. Amazon Prime members spend an average of $1,500 a year on Amazon compared with $625 a year for non-members, CIRP reported.
“Amazon Prime members spend more than other customers, on average shopping 50% more frequently, and buying more expensive items each time,” CIRP Partner and co-founder Josh Lowitz said in a statement.
The most recent CIRP survey of Amazon customers in the U.S. found that 39% own a Kindle tablet or e-reader, 7% own a Kindle Fire TV box or streaming stick, and less than 1% own an Amazon Fire smartphone.
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