For many of Amazon's Prime program's customers, the entertainment services offered by the package are playing 'second fiddle' to the program's original free shipping benefit, according to research by The Diffusion Group (TDG), which found that 79% of Amazon Prime users cite free shipping as the main reason they subscribe to the service. This article is copyright 2018 The Best Customer Guide.

More than half of US adult broadband users currently subscribe to Amazon Prime. When asked which of the many benefits of Prime drives their loyalty to the service, eight in ten chose free shipping of retail purchases.

Meanwhile, only 11% of the members surveyed by TDG cited Prime Video as their main reason for being a member, and an even smaller combined 10% cited Prime Music, Photos, Reading, Twitch, or any other of the program's benefits.

"While Amazon Prime is building robust audiences in video, music, and gaming," said Michael Greeson, TDG's President and Director of Research, "Prime is first and foremost about developing more and broader retail relationships, and free shipping is key to that mission. That is where the real value of Prime appears to lie."

Adding high-quality digital media to Prime has certainly sweetened the deal and brought many new subscribers into the mix. Once they begin to buy more merchandise, however, service value appears to shift from media to free shipping. The retail benefits of Amazon Prime serves to differentiate it from media-only competitors such as Netflix and Hulu (video); Spotify and Apple (music); and Mixer, Owler, and Caffeine (gaming).

"The competitive threat that Amazon poses to the media industry is unique," concluded Greeson. "Video, music, and gaming services are largely loss leaders to Amazon's cash-cow retail business. This strategy continues to enable the company to disrupt not only established media verticals but a widening array of other goods and services."