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Amazon Narrows Gap With Netflix In Hit TV Shows, But Not Movies: Report

Amazon Narrows Gap With Netflix In Hit TV Shows, But Not Movies: ReportThe changes might not surprise those who closely follow the streaming video deals that seem to hit every day, but it’s illuminating to see a statistical measure of the shift in the top providers’ content libraries. That’s what Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson served up this week in a look at how Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, and Redbox Instant compare in their offerings of top 50 movies available for streaming over the past three years and top 75 TV shows available from the past four years.

AmazonPrimeInstantVideo__140423194249-575x164Amazon “caught up significantly” to Netflix in TV, Olson says — though both trail Hulu, which is owned by the major broadcast networks. Hulu Plus had 51% of the available hit TV shows in June, up from 44% a year ago. Yet while Netflix had 32%, down 1 percentage point, Amazon increased from 7% to 12%. (Redbox had zero both years.)

The story’s different for movies. Netflix had 12% of the available hits this year, down from 14%. But Amazon dropped from 12% to 6%. Redbox Instant also lost ground, falling to 7% from 10%. Hulu just had 1%, up from zero. Read More »

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Amazon Prime Nabs Exclusive ‘Wallace & Gromit’ Streaming Deal With Aardman

By | Thursday June 19, 2014 @ 8:05am PDT

Amazon Prime Nabs Exclusive ‘Wallace & Gromit’ Streaming Deal With AardmanAmazon today announced it had snagged a U.S. content licensing agreement with Aardman Animations that will make Prime Instant Video the exclusive subscription streaming home for the TV and short film series Wallace & Gromit, Shaun The Sheep, Timmy Time and classic animation Rex The Runt.  In addition, new shows from the Shaun The Sheep and Timmy Time series will be added to Prime Instant Video, including Seasons 3 and 4 of Shaun The Sheep, the Shaun The Sheep: Championsheeps special, and two new Timmy Time specials. Read More »

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Amazon Introduces Prime Music With 1M Tracks And No Ads

By | Thursday June 12, 2014 @ 7:14am PDT

AmazonPrimeInstantVideo__140423194249-575x164Here’s the latest indication that music has become a commodity. Starting today Amazon will offer unlimited, ad-free access to streamed tunes to U.S. customers who pay $99 a year for its Prime membership — which also includes no-extra-cost delivery of merchandise and access to its Prime Instant Video service. Users can create playlists or access ones that Amazon crafts. It can also make personalized recommendations. Customers can download songs to mobile devices. The service works on any Web browser as well as iOS and Android, and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD/HDX. Read More »

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‘Extant’ To Blast Off On UK’s Amazon Prime Instant One Day After U.S. Broadcast

By | Wednesday May 28, 2014 @ 2:55am PDT

AmazonPrimeInstantVideo__140423194249-575x164In its continued push to entice UK viewers with first-run series, Amazon Prime Instant Video has acquired exclusive rights to Halle Berry sci-fi thriller Extant. The CBS Television Studios and Amblin Television co-production will air on the service one day after the U.S. broadcast. It launches Stateside on CBS on July 9 and will be available in the UK on July 10. Subsequent episodes will follow the same pattern. Berry plays an astronaut trying to reconnect with her family when she returns after a year in space. Her experiences lead to events that ultimately change the course of human history. Goran Visnjic, Camryn Manheim, Michael extantO’Neill, Hiroyuki Sanada, Pierce Gagnon and Grace Gummer also star. Amazon folded its LoveFilm streaming service into its British website in February, combining it with Amazon Prime to effectively create the UK’s largest digital TV and film streaming provider. With a catalog of over 15,000 movies and TV episodes, it’s the main rival to Netflix. Among its TV offerings are The Walking Dead and Vikings which are also available the day after their U.S. broadcast. Amazon has pledged to increase its investment in original programming, and made good on the promise when it rode to the rescue of cancelled BBC drama Ripper Street earlier this year. The 3rd season commission started shooting last week in Manchester.

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Amazon Launches HBO Series Today

By | Wednesday May 21, 2014 @ 11:36am PDT

HBO__130417192016-200x200The first wave of HBO content has landed on Amazon Prime. Subscribers can now stream dozens of HBO titles including The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Rome, Six Feet Under, Eastbound & Down, Enlightened, Flight Of The Conchords, and others. The content is available via an exclusive licensing agreement that HBO and Amazon negotiated last month. Under the multi-year pact, more content will be added in the future, including new seasons AmazonPrimeInstantVideo__140423194249-575x164of current series as well as early seasons of other current shows such as Girls, The Newsroom and Veep. Other offerings include miniseries such as Band Of Brothers, The Pacific and John Adams, original movies Mary And Martha, Temple Grandin and You Don’t Know Jack, comedy specials from Louis CK, Ellen DeGeneres, Lewis Black and Bill Maher and documentaries such as When The Levees Broke, Ghosts Of Abu Ghraib and the Autopsy and Iceman series.

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Wall Street Wonders: Will HBO’s Deal With Amazon Change The Online Video Game?

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 12:33pm PDT

Some analysts say it could as investors lifted the value of Time Warner shares by 1.8% and drove Netflix down 5% and Amazon down 1.5% in afternoon trading. sopranosThe agreement giving Amazon series from HBO including The Sopranos and Six Feet Under “is unparalleled for a subscription-only online streaming service from a quality perspective,” Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter says. He estimates that when the deal kicks in next month Amazon will be able to offer its customers 800 episodes of original content “compared to roughly 100 episodes of original content currently available on Netflix.” That could help Amazon to turn its Prime Instant Video offering into a stand-alone streaming service, separate from the current arrangement which — for $99 a year — also includes no-charge delivery for many retail items.

Related: HBO Signs Exclusive Licensing Deal With Amazon Prime

AmazonPrimeInstantVideoPachter estimates that Amazon is paying “well above” $200M for HBO’s shows. Bernstein Research’s Carlos Kirjner and Todd Juenger figure the payment to HBO to be “somewhere between $200M and over $400M…at a very high margin” for what they call “a significant addition to the Prime video library.” Read More »

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HBO Signs Exclusive Licensing Deal With Amazon Prime

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 6:07am PDT

HBOTake that, Netflix. Beginning on May 21 the multi-year agreement will enable Amazon Prime subscribers to stream series including The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, and later — about three years after episodes initially air — GirlsThe Newsroom and Veep. In addition, by year end Amazon will offer HBO GO on its new Fire TV platform. (It’s already available to HBO subscribers on other devices including Google’s Chromecast.) The shows will still be available on HBO’s platforms, but the companies say that this is the first time the premium pay TV channel’s shows have been licensed to an online-only streaming service. “As owners of our original programming, we have always sought to capitalize on that investment,” HBO EVP Business and Legal Affairs Glenn Whitehead says.

Related: Will HBO’s Deal With Amazon Change The Online Video Game?

Newest Innovations In Consumer Technology On Display At 2014 International CESAmazon shares are up 1.4% pre market, and Netflix is down 2.7%, following the announcement. That suggests investors didn’t fully accept Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ claim on Monday that the streaming video providers can peacefully coexist. “It’s a very much not a zero-sum game and we are building this ecosystem together that’s about Internet video and the more players there are in Internet video, the bigger that ecosystem gets,” he said. “The big theme is Internet video is taking share away from linear video. So we are all participating in that transformation.” He has more mixed feelings about HBO: In January he joked that HBO chief Richard Plepler’s Netflix password was probably: “Netflix bitch.”

AmazonPrimeInstantVideoStifel analyst Benjamin Mogil says HBO probably made its deal with Amazon, instead of Netflix, because there’s less overlap among their subscribers. Still, it’s “clearly a negative for Netflix, given the high profile nature of the HBO content” and could “somewhat limit” the streaming company’s just-announced plan to raise its prices for new customers. He notes, though, that HBO and Amazon released few details about the deal terms and that it doesn’t include all HBO shows.

Here’s today’s announcement from HBO and Amazon: Read More »

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Amazon Eyeing Free Streaming Service?

By | Thursday March 27, 2014 @ 5:13pm PDT

Amazon logoAmazon might be in the midst of planning an ad-supported streaming TV and music video service, the Wall Street Journal reported today, citing sources close to the company. Amazon isn’t talking, but if true it would be a departure from the site’s Amazon Prime subscription service for a more YouTube- and Hulu-esque model. The e-retailer spent $1 billion on content — acquired and original — last year, according to Cantor Fitzgerald as quoted by WSJ. That has included Amazon Studios‘ original series initiative, under which the service commissions pilots, made available on the Amazon Prime service for feedback from users that is taken into consideration in Amazon Stbetas__130529132818udio’s series pickup decisions. Of Amazon Prime’s first two original series, comedies Alpha House and Betas, Alpha House has been renewed for a second season. Betas has not been looking good for a renewal, but we have learned that Amazon has been in talks with the show’s producers about possibly continuing the show on the proposed new free streaming service. Sources cautioned that there is no deal, with a decision whether to go with the plan or not hinging on analyzing of the economics that is being done right now. Amazon already is expected to announce its set-top box next week to rival Apple TV and Chromecast, according to our sister site BGR, so more clarity might … Read More »

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Amazon Raises Annual Price Of Its Prime Service To $99

By | Thursday March 13, 2014 @ 5:57am PDT

Amazon logoExecs said in January that they’d probably hike the price of what had been a $79 a year service since it was introduced nine years ago. Even so, Amazon shares are up 2.4% in pre-market trading following today’s announcement about the service that offers members free, two-day delivery on many items bought on Amazon, as well as access to its streaming video service. Under the terms disclosed today, the price for new members and membership renewals for Amazon Prime will go to $99 while Amazon Student members pay $49. The company will keep its Prime Fresh fee at $299. CFO Tom Szkutak told analysts that Amazon was considering the price hike because “during this nine-year period shipping cost have gone up a lot, fuel cost have gone up a lot.” The famously tight-lipped company has disclosed little about the economics of its Prime membership. But Bernstein Research”s Carlos Kirjner estimates that the average member in the U.S. spends about $1,500 a year at the e-retailer vs about $550 for non-members. He figured that an increase of $20 a year or more would restore the economic model that Prime had when it was first launched, even if the higher price leads some to not sign up or renew. Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘The X Factor’ Musical ‘I Can’t Sing’ Pushes Back Previews; Quentin Tarantino To Present Honorary Cesar To Scarlett Johansson; More

‘X Factor’ Musical ‘I Can’t Sing’ Delays Previews By Two Days
I Can't SingPreviews of Simon Cowell‘s The X Factor musical, I Can’t Sing, have been postponed by two days at the London Palladium. Stage Entertainment and Syco Entertainment are producing the show and say they’ve decided to start previews on March 1 as opposed to February 27 due to “technical issues caused by the ambitious staging of the new musical comedy.” Rebecca Quigley, producer for Stage Entertainment, said, “As audiences will soon see, the production is hugely ambitious, and the volume of installation and scale of the set means that technical work has taken slightly longer than could have been anticipated to make the show audience-ready.” Nigel Harman (EastEnders, Downton Abbey) is playing a character based on Cowell in the musical that’s directed by Olivier Award-winner and Tony nominee Sean Foley. British comedian Harry Hill wrote the show.

Quentin Tarantino To Present Scarlett Johansson’s Honorary Cesar
Quentin Tarantino has been enlisted by France’s Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma to present Scarlett Johansson with this year’s honorary César Award. The director will hand the award to Johansson this Friday at the 39th César Awards ceremony in Paris. Tarantino himself received the prize in 2011. Read More »

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CBS Extends Licensing Deal With Amazon

By | Wednesday January 29, 2014 @ 10:04am PST

The companies didn’t disclose any terms of the arrangement. amazonBut they did note that Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, Penn & Teller, and Vegas will be added to what they call “a vast catalog of CBS content” from the broadcast network and Showtime. Amazon Prime subscribers already see shows including  Medium, The Tudors, Star Trek, and I Love Lucy. Amazon has also had success with The Good Wife, which was its most popular show in Q4, as well as last summer’s Under The Dome which, it says, was Prime Instant video’s most-watched TV series last year. CBS plans to provide Amazon with the next season of Under The Dome, and recently announced that the streaming service will have Extant, the upcoming summer series from Steven Spielberg’s production company that will star Halle Berry.

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UPDATE: NPD Group Backpedals On SVOD/Premium Cable Study After Showtime Refutes Findings

By | Wednesday January 22, 2014 @ 2:14pm PST

2ND UPDATE 2:16 PM: The NPD Group today issued a “data clarification” about its Monday press release that said its study found that streaming services are gaining while premium cable channels are losing subscribers. A day after Showtime refuted those findings, NPD Group said it should not have called our declines for HBO and Showtime.”Upon further examination of the results,” the group said in the release, “there is data supporting the conclusion that individual subscribers are either subscribing to more channels, or adding channels over time.” Here’s the full statement: “A recent press announcement from The NPD Group that was released on Monday, January 20, 2014 (‘Cord Shaving? SVOD Subscribers Increase, as Premium TV Subscribers Decline, According to The NPD Group’) should not have called out declines in subscribers for specific premium TV channels, HBO and Showtime. The data used for the press release pertains to aggregate results for all premium TV channels and does indicate that the overall number of subscribers has declined, based on a representative sample of the U.S. population. However, upon further examination of the results, there is data supporting the conclusion that individual subscribers are either subscribing to more channels, or adding channels over time. In that case, faithful premium channel subscribers are becoming more so – which would be consistent with the subscription increases being reported by individual channels.”

UPDATED 3:14 PM Tuesday: Not so fast, Showtime says. The premium channel issued a release today saying the “NPD Group ‘study’ does not accurately reflect actual subscriber counts.” Showtime says that not only has it added 1M subs in six of the showtime_logo__121211185844__130120002910__130730210613__131210182749past seven years, but premium rivals HBO, Cinemax and Starz also have increased subs during that period. Here’s the full statement: “Contrary to erroneous reports published this week, Showtime and every other premium network have increased both subscribers and penetrations over the last two years. A study released by the NPD Group claimed the opposite, comparing gains made by video services like Netflix to the performance of premium cable. The study does not accurately reflect actual subscriber counts. According to SNL Kagan, from March 2012 through September 2013 – the timeframe the NPD Group allegedly measured — Showtime penetration grew from 21.1 percent to 22.8 percent; HBO penetration rose from 28.2 percent to 29.2 percent; Cinemax penetration climbed from 11.2 percent to 13.6 percent and Starz penetration jumped from 19.9 percent to 22 percent. While it is true that video services like Netflix have gained, so too have premium cable channels.” Read More »

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Amazon Weighs Launching Its Own Virtual Pay TV Service: Report

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 2:10pm PST

Why should Sony and Verizon have all the fun? Amazon has talked with at least three “big media conglomerates” about the possibility of licensing channels for its own online pay TV service, The Wall Street Journal reports this afternoon, citing “people familiar Amazon logowith the matter.” The paper adds that the initiative “is in the early stages, and it isn’t clear whether it will move forward.” It also doesn’t have a business model yet. For the streaming plans to work, Amazon and others need programmers to agree to license their channels for rates that would enable a newcomer to be competitive. Some, including Disney, say that they would only go along with an initiative that offers the entire bundle of channels that cable and satellite companies sell. Seven companies account for 83% of primetime TV viewing by 18- to 49-year-olds, Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne notes in a report today. They heavily depend on fees from cable, satellite, and telco video distributors.

Related: Verizon Agrees To Buy Intel’s OnCue Streaming Platform Read More »

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‘Veronica Mars’ TV Series To Stream On Amazon Prime

By | Thursday January 9, 2014 @ 9:13am PST

veronicamarsAmazon and Warners Bros Domestic TV Distribution have inked a deal to stream the Veronica Mars TV series exclusively on Amazon Prime. The series, starring Kristen Bell, will be available starting today, ahead of the March 14 premiere of the Veronica Mars movie, famously funded by a history-making Kickstarter campaign. The announcement comes a day after CBS and Amazon announced an exclusive streaming deal for upcoming CBS summer series Extant starring Halle Berry. The Veronica Mars TV series,created by screenwriter Rob Thomas, first premiered in 2004. The show is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, and follows a high school student (Bell) who moonlights as a private investigator under the tutelage of her detective father. The Veronica Mars movie reached its Kickstarter goal of $2 million in just 10 hours back in March. At the end of the 31-day campaign, fans contributed $5.7 million, making Veronica Mars the number one funded project in the film category and the third-highest funded project in Kickstarter history. Here’s today’s full release: Read More »

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CBS & Amazon Ink Streaming Deal For New Series ‘Extant’ Starring Halle Berry

By | Wednesday January 8, 2014 @ 6:58am PST
Nellie Andreeva

berryhalleCBS and Amazon are taking the video-on-demand model they introduced with the Amblin-produced summer series Under The Dome and are applying it to the new summer series from Steven Spielberg’s production company, Extant, which is set to debut on CBS in June. Like with Under The Dome, Extant, which stars Halle Berry, will have its exclusive subscription home on Amazon Prime Instant Video, with unlimited streaming of all the series’ episodes available four days after their initial broadcast on CBS. Episodes of Extant will also be available for purchase and download exclusively at Amazon Instant Video.

Last summer, Under The Dome became the most-watched scripted summer series in 21 years with 15.06 million viewers on CBS, and its freshman season also was watched by more customers than any other TV season on Prime Instant Video last year. The two companies in September renewed their licensing agreement for the upcoming second season of Under The Dome, which is expected to serve as a companion to Extant, a mystery thriller about a female astronaut trying to reconnect with her family when she returns after a year in outer space. Her experiences lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history. Read More »

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Amazon Prime Reaches Multi-Year Licensing Deal With A24

By | Thursday November 21, 2013 @ 6:57am PST

SEATTLE–Nov. 21, 2013– (NASDAQ: AMZN)— today announced an exclusive content licensing agreement with new film studio A24, known for cutting-edge commercial hits such as Spring Breakers and The Bling Ring. This groundbreaking multi-year agreement makes Prime Instant Video the exclusive premium subscription home for all of the current and forthcoming A24 titles shortly following their release on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Read More »

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MGM Licenses Additional Films And ‘Vikings’ To Amazon Prime

By | Tuesday October 22, 2013 @ 6:53am PDT

Fargo, Platoon, Annie Hall, Hotel Rwanda, and Hoosiers are among the films from the MGM library that will join the programming lineup for those who pay $79 a year for Amazon Prime (which provides free shipping for merchandise in addition to entertainment content). But the e-retailer seems most excited about Vikings, which airs in the U.S. on History. It’s not a shock to see it on Amazon: The company’s European streaming service, Lovefilm, has had it since May. It’s “a series we know our customers love in both the U.S. and abroad,” says Brad Beale, Director of Digital Video Content Acquisition for Amazon. And MGM is glad to collect the check. “We are always looking for opportunities to bring our content to new audiences in innovative ways, which is exactly what this partnership delivers,” says John Bryan, MGM’s President, Domestic Television Distribution.

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Amazon Plans To Sell Its Own Video Streaming Box: Report

By | Thursday October 3, 2013 @ 1:18pm PDT

The device, code-named “Cinnamon,” would make it easy for users to stream Amazon Prime videos to their TV sets — and could handle apps and content including music and games from other Web services — the Wall Street Journal says citing “people briefed on the company’s plans.” Indeed, Amazon has given potential allies including cable television programmers a mid-October deadline to come up with apps. The goal is to have it ready to sell for the holidays. So it’s a go? Maybe. Amazon’s box also might be “shelved or delayed due to financial, performance or other considerations,” the paper says. It also doesn’t know how much it will cost and whether Amazon will have a separate remote control, or enable buyers to control if from their tablets and smartphones. Google’s $35 Chromecast streaming media player is Amazon’s top selling electronics device. This week it began to stream Hulu Plus in addition to Netflix and YouTube videos. “Increasing the penetration of streaming video devices with incredibly easy interfaces will reduce time spent with linear, multichannel television,” BTIG’s Richard Greenfield observed this week.

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CBS Chief Says ‘Under The Dome’ Changes The Rules For Summer TV Programming

By | Wednesday July 31, 2013 @ 2:48pm PDT

With financial support from Amazon and overseas networks, the Stephen King drama was profitable even before it aired — and it cracked the code for CBS to schedule much more original programming in the summer. Under The Dome “is a new form of entertainment,” CBS chief Les Moonves told analysts in a conference call to discuss Q2 results. While the network would have been OK if it hadn’t caught on, its success means it “will bring a ton of profits into the third quarter” and “is going to be very profitable for years to come.” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos called Moonves to congratulate him on the performance: The e-retailer streams episodes four days after they first air on CBS, and it has become Amazon’s most-watched program. Now, Moonves says, “you’ll see every network try to replicate the model….There’s a huge appetite.” About a third of the series’ viewers watch on on DVRs or online. That would help to make it a hit even if it aired during the conventional prime time season. “It’s doing numbers that would have made it the second highest drama on network television,” Moonves says. “It means we’re going to program all year long, from September to September.” CBS announced this week that it has renewed the series for a second season.

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