Interview: Bill Carr, EVP of Digital, Amazon: On Amazon’s New VOD Service

imageAmazon (NSDQ: AMZN) launched its Amazon VOD streaming service in limited beta earlier today, and we wrote about some of the details last night. I spoke briefly to Bill Carr, the EVP of Digital Media at Amazon, on the service, and he clarified some details:

Unbox vs Amazon VOD: VOD is now the uber brand, and Unbox, which is the download part of it, will just be a sub-brand going ahead. All the capabilities of Unbox are built into the VOD service. All the capabilities of download to PC and download to Tivo are still in place and built into the new service.

Lessons from Unbox: Few things we have learned: immediacy of playback is very important to them. We have solved that here by making every title available for streaming, using a custom version of Flash 9 player. The design of the details page is totally different now, where the focus is on the immediacy. Also, our customers wanted access to the service on Macs…now on a streaming basis they do, but not yet on downloads. More after the jump…

People also wanted to watch the videos on TV, and with Tivo we had already done that. Now we are thrilled to be partnering with one of the leaders in flat panel TVs, Sony (NYSE: SNE) Bravia.

Size of the catalog: We have 40,000 videos, which is large but not as large as what we have in the DVD store, which has hundreds of thousands. We are working on expanding it, but one of the benefits of Amazon is we offer the choice. It is not an either-or choice: if we don’t have it available in Unbox or VOD, we probably have it available in DVD or vice versa.

Download AND Streaming: Only some titles are available for download only now, which is a temporary situation. ALL titles will be available for both streaming and is a matter of us continuing to transcode our library. By the time we launch fully, every title will be available for both. And for one price, you will be able to do both streaming and download. (Ed: They are not offering a choice now of a lower-price-and-one-choice..they consider this an integrated offering). And no subscription options for the service, though users can buy a series for a TV shows and get all shows as the series progresses.

Also, the first two minutes of all videos are available for free for anyone to stream…after that users have to pay to watch. On the quality of the streaming, we compare very well to anyone out there…it is compressed in H2.64 format.

Mobile: We have not yet done anything to optimize the service for mobile devices. but our service is set up such that any of the connected devices that support Flash 9 can support our service.