Amazon.com has been glad-handling executives at major entertainment companies, trying to sell them on a service for streaming TV shows and movies over the Internet, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move would be a direct challenge to the 800-pound gorilla in the market, Netflix, and to Google, which recently announced plans to bake its Android operating system into a variety of TV-related devices. Apple is also rumored to be planning to get into the streaming business with 99-cent rentals of TV shows from the Fox networks and Disney-owned ABC.
Companies on Amazon’s sales call list in recent weeks include General Electric NBC Universal, Time Warner and News Corp., according to the Journal, which is owned by News Corp.
Amazon already offers streaming of movie and TV show rentals through its online store, as well as through the Roko set-top box, some Blu-ray players and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. The new service would draw heavily from “catalog” content — old shows and movies that entertainment executives see as less of a threat to their immediate revenue streams, the Journal said.
Streaming of entertainment directly into the living room is a booming business, and it appears that Amazon doesn’t want to be left at the launch pad as the technology takes off. Netflix, which recently spent $200 million to beef up its streaming content from Epix, a movie network backed by Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate, has seen its streaming numbers nearly double in the last year. In this year’s second quarter, for instance, 61 percent of the company’s 15 million subscribers watched at least 15 minutes of streaming video, compared with 37 percent during the same period a year ago.
Netflix’s willingness to spend big bucks on content has some Amazon executives anxious about wading into the market, according to the Journal. However, Amazon is mulling ways to turbo-charge membership in the service should it be launched. One proposal is to add the offering as a freebie to Amazon Premium, Amazon’s $79 service that gives its customers free shipping on purchases made online.