For a while, #DeleteFacebook would trend every couple of months on social media. Countless people were fed up with Facebook’s endless parade of scandals, they claimed, and this time they were finally pulling the plug. Some people did, but Facebook’s user base continues to grow years later. Now Amazon is experiencing a similarly performative phenomenon. As cries about canceling Amazon Prime grow louder over complaints about ads and monopolies, new data shows the Jeff Bezos money machine is still expanding.
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The tech press had a collective freakout this time last year—Gizmodo included—when the analytics firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) announced that Amazon Prime’s US membership had stopped growing for the first time. But CIRP is back, and according to its latest estimates, the dip is over. Amazon added 8 million people to its list of Prime subscribers in 2023, CIRP says. In fact, its report shows the percentage of US Amazon users who pay for Prime is higher than ever before.
Amazon didn’t comment on the details in the CIRP’s report, but a spokesperson confirmed Prime is growing. “We continue to see growth in Prime membership and high rates of renewal,” said Amazon spokesperson Bradley Mattinger. “We are seeing strong engagement because members see compelling value with the wide range of shopping, savings, and entertainment benefits included in their membership.”
A lengthy list of grievances has pushed more and more people to swear they’re ending their relationship with Amazon, from individual consumers on social media to writers and journalists across the web. On Monday, Amazon officially implemented its ads on Amazon Prime Video, much to viewers’ chagrin. The streaming service, which comes complimentary with a Prime subscription, used to be pushed as an ad-free experience. Now you’ll have to shell out an extra $3 on top of the $139 you already pay for Prime if you don’t want promos for Colgate between episodes of Reacher. That adds to other complaints about the degradation of Prime, not to mention growing distaste over Amazon’s effect on workers, small businesses, and the environment.
But apparently, all the bellyaching isn’t enough to curb the internet’s biggest store. Amazon isn’t seeing the exponential growth that funded Bezos’s trip to space, but the numbers are still up, according to CIRP.
“We saw growth in Prime membership slow down, and theorized that it had met its theoretical limit,” CIRP said in its report. “Amazon Prime membership was pretty flat from December 2021 to December 2022, but over the past year growth picked up again, at least a little.”
CIRP estimates that the number of people paying for Prime in the US grew to 176 million in 2023, up 5% from the 168 million Amazon had the year before. The stats are even better when you drill into the specifics. CIRP found a full 74% of Amazon’s American customers are paying subscribers, an all-time high for the company and a significant jump from the 66% Amazon saw in 2022. Love it or hate it, it seems like Amazon’s user base isn’t going anywhere.
Update 01/31/2024, 12:01 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with a comment from Amazon.