Amazon Prime Caps off a February Full of TV Content Deals

By Tara Seals March 01, 2013

Amazon Prime, the e-tailer’s $79 per year free shipping and unlimited online streaming subscription service, has been busy beefing up its online streaming strategy with a spate of exclusive content deals. The latest is the news that Scripps Networks will offer Prime members access to a range of TV content across its HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Travel Channel networks.

While Amazon has a way to go in order to take on the hegemony of Netflix, “it is increasingly hard to ignore the progress Amazon has made in a relatively short amount of time,” Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG Research, wrote. He said that Amazon will likely spend more than $500 million on content rights this year as it quests to carve out real relevance in the over-the-top (OTT) space.

It’s doing that not just by adding content, but by inking exclusive deals and applying innovation in the process. In the latest deal, Prime Instant Video is now home to previous seasons of popular shows like Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Cupcake Wars, House Hunters, Iron Chef America, Chopped and Throwdown With Bobby Flay.  But perhaps most notably, this is the first online-only subscription distribution deal for Scripps Networks.

That’s a fact that places Amazon at the center of a veritable exclusive content tsunami. For instance, also this month, Amazon revealed an in-season VOD window deal for Under the Dome, a new TV series based on Stephen King's novel and produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television. The show will premiere on CBS Television Network in June, and Amazon Prime subscribers will gain unlimited access to series episodes just four days after broadcast.

Episodes also will be available for purchase and download exclusively on Amazon Instant Video. Prime and Instant Video will be the exclusive online subscription/over-the-top (OTT) home for the show, which tells the story of a small New England town that is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an enormous transparent dome.

Another big coup for the service is the fact that all seasons of Downton Abbey will be covered in an Amazon Prime exclusive starting in June—a deal that will take the popular PBS series away from Netflix. Seasons one and two of the award-winning series have already been made available on Prime Instant Video, and are the most watched TV seasons of all time on the service, Amazon reports.

But beginning June 18, Prime Instant Video will be the exclusive subscription service for streaming season three, and later this year, no digital subscription service other than Prime Instant Video will offer any access to the show. The deal extends to the upcoming season four and, if produced, season five.

Meanwhile, Amazon announced a content licensing agreement with Sony Pictures Television, making Prime Instant Video the exclusive US online subscription home to the FX Network backwoods crime drama Justified. In addition, Prime Instant Video will add all seven seasons of the inner-city Los Angeles showcase The Shield to its catalogue.

 “We know Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service is the ideal platform for viewers to see their favorite episodes of these critically acclaimed series and to also open the show up to new audiences who we know will quickly get hooked on them,” said Brad Beale, director of digital video content acquisition for Amazon. “We’re consistently looking for ways to make Prime even better.”

To boot, earlier in February, Amazon and CBS announced an extension of their non-exclusive licensing agreement, including the subscription debuts of The Amazing Race and Undercover Boss. And in January, Amazon inked a content licensing agreement to add prior seasons of premium series from A+E Networks to its Prime Instant Video service.

In all, Prime Instant Video offers more than 38,000 movies and TV episodes for Amazon Prime members to stream commercial free and at no additional cost on Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Roku, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and Wii U, among other devices.

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

TechZone360 Contributor

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