Amazon Reportedly Fighting Movie Studios for a Netflix-Like Streaming Video Service

Getting movie studios to agree to a streaming video policy is no small task. Amazon is, according to a rumor, willing to fight that battle if they can come out with a Netflix competitor.


Getting movie studios and other content providers to agree to a streaming video service that’s beneficial for customers is no small task–just ask Hulu, Netflix, Apple, and every other company that’s tried to deliver a solid attempt. But Amazon is apparently willing to fight that fight if it means the company can come out with a streaming video service to compete with Netflix.

Pictured above is Amazon’s current video offering, Amazon on Demand, which is a fairly standard movie/TV rental/purchasing kind of store. Amazon has slacked on publicity for AoD lately–and this could be why.

Netflix is the king of streaming video. 61% of Netflix subscribers watch streaming content, and Netflix is very quickly shifting its business strategy to focus on digital delivery. It’s gotten to the point where even Apple, which runs a movie rental business of their own (in iTunes), is rumored to be considering implementing Netflix in the next Apple TV. But Netflix is also pretty much the only subscription-based streaming movie site in town–Hulu Plus is too green, and too limited in scope at the moment–and Amazon sees that as an opening.

According to the Wall Street Journal‘s sources, Amazon is deep in negotiations with the movie studios and other content providers, trying to get a subscription-based streaming movie service off the ground. The sources claim Amazon is currently speaking with NBC Universal, Viacom, and Time Warner (though none of the three nor Amazon would comment).

The service would reportedly stream video to a variety of devices–Microsoft’s Xbox 360, rapidly becoming a media powerhouse in its own right, is specifically named–including web-connected TVs and set-top boxes. The newest negotiating tactic seems to suggest Amazon would be interested in “catalog” titles, meaning older releases. Netflix has allowed a similar agreement with the studios.

Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal says Amazon Prime might be one way in: Amazon Prime customers would see the new streaming service bundled into their existing contract. Amazon Prime is a $79 per year fee that grants, for example, free two-day shipping on all Amazon items.


Amazon was apparently hoping to launch this holiday season, though that’s rapidly approaching and seems overly optimistic for such a complex launch. Regardless, it’s a noteworthy possibility–the digital video world is really heating up, what with Apple TV, Boxee, iTunes, Roku, Hulu Plus, Google TV, and all the rest. 2011 is looking like the year the living room finally gets connected.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in Brooklyn (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.