A company owned by Bill Gates is placing companies' products in Netflix and Amazon shows

Key Points
  • Most Amazon shows and about 74 percent of Netflix's have at least one product placement, according to product integration company BEN.
  • BEN, which is owned by Bill Gates, says brands pay $50,000 to $500,000 to be included in one episode of the streaming networks' shows.
Kevin Spacey speaks on stage at the portrait unveiling and season 4 premiere of Netflix's 'House Of Cards' at the National Portrait Gallery.
Paul Morigi | Getty Images

Netflix and Amazon shows may not have commercials, but that doesn't mean they don't have advertising.

Almost all Amazon shows have at least one product placement, and about 74 percent of Netflix do, said Greg Isaacs, chief product and marketing officer at integration company Branded Entertainment Network (BEN).

BEN, which is owned by Bill Gates, places products in TV shows, streaming content and in digital influencer videos. The company, which used to be part of Corbis, did over 6,000 placements last year, including getting Dunkin' Donuts and GM in "House of Cards," Tincup Whiskey in "Jessica Jones" and Jose Cuervo in "Fuller House."

BEN isn't the only company doing this on the biggest online film and TV platforms. Panarea Film Productions and Brand-Aide Entertainment teamed up to get Anheuser-Busch InBev products in "House of Cards," Advertising Age reported.

Getting your company in a Netflix or Amazon show costs between $50,000 to $500,000 per episode, said Isaacs.

The price is determined by how long the product is in the episode and the popularity of the show, with "House of Cards" attracting top dollar. How the product is used – for example, a logo in the background versus an actual plot point in the story – can change the price.

Dunkin Donuts paid for its logo to be in Netflix's "House of Cards."
Courtesy of BEN

Though shows have to legally clear with a brand if they are going to use their logo or product in an episode, they don't necessarily have to charge a fee. However, since there are no commercial opportunities on these popular streaming platforms, product integration is a way to sneak in ads.

Certain genres, like fantasy or period pieces, don't lend themselves to product placement. For example: Amazon's alternative history series "The Man in the High Castle" didn't have any integrations, nor did Netflix's talk show-style "Bill Nye Saves the World," according to BEN's analysis.

Not all the money goes to Netflix or Amazon, and the fees usually go to the production company. In the case of "House of Cards," Media Rights Capital is the production company while Netflix is just a digital distributor. "Transparent" on the other hand, is produced by Amazon Studios.

Check out some more of not-so-coincidental product mentions BEN slipped in Netflix and Amazon shows below: