Rental of DVDs, such as the Breaking Bad series, will still fall under the LoveFilm brand

Was it too passionate, too patronising – or just not quite as catchy as Netflix?

Whatever the reason, Amazon has decided to ditch Lovefilm as the name of its European movie streaming service, three years after it bought the company for £200m.

The new identity is as enticing as an Excel spreadsheet: Prime Instant Video.

It may also be overly optimistic – given the speed of British broadband connections, “calling anything instant and video is risky”, notes one observer.

Nonetheless, the name change reveals an aggressive new strategy by Amazon, which now has fewer streaming customers in the UK than Netflix.

The ecommerce group wants subscribers of its two-day delivery service Prime to buy Lovefilm and vice versa.

That looks like a good deal for customers of Lovefilm, who currently pay about £72 a year and can now choose whether or not to pay an extra £7 for express delivery.

But customers of Amazon Prime will see their next annual bill rise from £49 to the “low price” of £79, whether they want Lovefilm or not.

If this bundling works, Amazon will “sidestep direct competition with subscription video rivals [such as Netflix] and bolster uptake of the Amazon Prime subscription service”, said Richard Broughton, an analyst at IHS, a research company.

Meanwhile, for Lovefilm, once a darling of London’s tech scene, this is pretty much the end of the road.

The brand already survived one near miss – before selling out to Amazon, the company merged with larger rival ScreenSelect (founded by Alex Chesterman, now of property website Zoopla).

Lovefilm will remain the name of Amazon’s DVD rental business, but most attention will switch to Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Ian Maude, of Enders Analysis, said: “Amazon is a much stronger consumer brand.”

For newcomers to streaming subscriptions, the price of Prime Instant Video may or may not look enticing.

The £79-a-year pricetag compares unfavourably with Prime Instant Video’s cost in the US ($79 a year), but it is only slightly more than the annual cost of Netflix in the UK (£72, excluding free trial).

Given its aggressive approach, perhaps the service should simply have been called LoveAmazon.

Get alerts on Amazon.com when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article