I Love It When a Big Amazon Gets Into Bondage

Happy Thursday!

Nearly there.  And you’ve got a long weekend, to boot.

Easy, peasy.  It’s a rainy, crappy day here in the Philippines, but Jeff Bezos just brightened it up by buying 007 and his chums.

Of course, the government is getting all antitrust on the deal, which infuriates me.

Worst-Kept Secret Ever: Right Now, Amazon Prime Video Sucks

I must confess to you that I’m an Amazon slut.

Living in this part of the world, the only way to get the good, Western stuff reliably was through Amazon.  Whether it’s books or trinkets, Amazon has been there for me for the last 12 years.

I’m a Prime subscriber, even though they can’t possibly get the packages to me in 24 hours.  But I can read truckloads of good books for free, an enormous benefit for a bibliophile like myself.

And initially, at least, I was happy that Prime gives me access to Prime Video, which appears right on my big Sony television.

Then I checked out the contents.

Other than The Grand Tour, which are the old Top Gear guys driving around the world in the most juvenile fashion possible, there’s nothing on Prime Video that I watch. Any decent movies on there are off-limits because of the regional restrictions.

I can’t even get the Greatest Sherlock of all time, Jeremy Brett, on BritBox.  (If you’re like my father and believe – wrongly – that Basil Rathbone is the Napoleon of Holmeses, watch Brett’s series.  You’ll be hooked from the start.)

In other words, I think it’s a steaming pile of horse manure.  Make that a streaming pile of horse manure…

So you can imagine my joy when I read that Amazon was buying MGM – which includes our favorite spy, James Bond – to beef up its movie library.

Instead of reaching through my ancient DVD collection, I can just sit back and thumb 007 onto my screen.

Since I’ll be celebrating my 10th anniversary with Mrs. Ring in July, this is the only way I’m getting Pussy Galore.  

Of course, the World’s Biggest Bonerkiller®, the U.S. Government, has to stick its oar in.

USG Hates When Companies Give You What You Want

“What’s it got to do with you?” is the English way of saying, “Mind your business.”

Either way works for me in this case.

Why the USG thinks it needs to interfere in this deal is beyond me.

Amazon currently competes with Netflix and Disney Plus.  On a subscriber level, Amazon is #2.  But that’s probably because all Prime members automatically get access to Prime Video.  That means most people want Prime Delivery and get the Prime Video thrown in for free.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) said Wednesday the Amazon/MGM deal should be subject to a federal probe.

“This is a major acquisition that has the potential to impact millions of consumers,” she said in a statement. “The Department of Justice must conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that this deal won’t risk harming competition.”

What is she talking about?

Amazon currently can’t compete with Netflix, which spends about $17 billion a year on content.  Amazon spends $11 billion.  Disney Plus streams Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, along with National Geographic and all the Disney and Pixar films.

Sure, Amazon has The Expanse, The Boys, and… not much else… to my taste anyway.

Here’s how the services stack up:

If you look at Amazon’s other competition, major studios back them.  HBO has Warner Bros.  Peacock has NBC Universal backing it, which owns Universal Pictures, Dreamworks, and Focus Features.  Paramount Pictures backs Paramount+.

All have great movie libraries that Amazon doesn’t.  This deal is a no-brainer for both Amazon and MGM.  Of course, no-brainers are government specialties.

The USG Has a BS in Antitrust

While the USG idly sits by as social media companies control what you’re allowed to post, share, and comment on, it’s in an uproar over the movies you can watch and where you can watch them.

But I suppose the hypocrisy of having a monopoly on force and a monopoly on money printing doesn’t phase the powers that be in Washington.

Of course, an army of Strawmen come at you thick and fast when talking about monopolies and antitrust:

Do you want one company to eliminate the competition?

Do you want one company to have that much pricing power?

Do you want one company to slow output and technological advances?

Very quickly:

Amazon simply cannot eliminate the competition as long as the competition shows content viewers love.  No one will stop watching the MCU, though the crap that Star Wars turned into is fair play.

Netflix’s programming sometimes creates cult followings.  I, myself, love Lupin, but I’m not so keen on The Witcher, which appeals to every woman who wants Henry Cavill in a bath on their screens. 

Amazon will not have any power to price out the competition.  Sure, they can go lower, but is that evil in itself?  Of course not.  But just try telling your kid you’re not paying for Disney Plus anymore because Amazon is cheaper!  My kid is an Empire Strikes Back fanatic, so I know exactly how that conversation would turn out.

Amazon, which is at the forefront of many technologies, simply will not slow output.  Everything Amazon has done over the past 25 years has been geared towards speeding up the future and bringing it to the present day.

So, as usual, Senators are clueless about technology and need to sound like they’re doing something.  It’s an ass-covering exercise with no grounding in antitrust theory.

Finally: although I’m thrilled as a consumer that Amazon will be streaming Bond soon, this is not advice to buy Amazon stock.  I’m not licensed to give you advice.  And anyway, I’m with Professor Aswath Damodaran when he says most mergers don’t work the way they’re expected.

Planet of the Apes

Oh, the kids are happy.  They’ve taken out a few short sellers again on AMC and GME.  I went on WallStreetBets earlier today.  It’s hilarious.  Here are some choice screenshots:

It’s incredible how much cash these kids are playing with.  Oh well, You Only Live Once.

That reminds me: The Rude’s Guide to Our New Acronyms will be coming out soon.  You’ll be the first to know!

Charlie Dow’s Industrial Average is 125 Years Old

This is Charles Dow.  After he saw WallStreetBets, he’s rolling over in his grave.

No matter.  We must celebrate this man who did so much to bring finance and the markets into our homes.  One hundred twenty-five years ago, he published his first Dow Jones Industrial Average in The Wall Street Journal, the little newspaper he edited.

God bless you, Charlie.  And thanks.

I’ll see you tomorrow for a Friday Rude to end the week!

Until then, have a great one!

All the best,

— Sean

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