By Alistair Barr
SAN FRANCISCO, June 4 Amazon.com Inc
wrote its largest-ever check for a subscription-streaming deal,
securing hundreds of mostly childrens' TV programs from Viacom
Inc for its Internet video service and ratcheting up
pressure on rival Netflix.
Amazon's deal with Viacom gives the world's largest Internet
retailer broader access to hit shows including "Dora the
Explorer" and "SpongeBob SquarePants." Netflix had
previously conceded that losing access to those shows would be a
Amazon agreed to pay more than $200 million to Viacom for
the license, its largest subscription-streaming transaction
ever, a person familiar with the deal said. A second person
familiar said the deal would run more than two years and
included a deeper library of content than the prior Netflix
The Amazon-Viacom pact comes just days after Netflix stopped
streaming popular Nickelodeon programming, following the
expiration of its deal with the company.
The deal includes about 4,000 TV episodes that will be
available to stream for free on Amazon Prime Instant Video. This
service is free for subscribers to Amazon's Prime program,
which, for $79 a year offers free two-day shipping in the United
States for items purchased through Amazon.
Part of the payment went to secure exclusive subscription
streaming rights to several shows from Viacom's Nick Jr channel,
including the "Dora" franchise, "Go Diego Go!," "Blue's Clues"
and "The Backyardigans."
Amazon is spending heavily on video content as it competes
with Netflix and Hulu for a piece of the fast-growing market for
TV and movies delivered over the Internet. Childrens' shows are
among the most-watched on Amazon's service, according to Bill
Carr, the company's vice president for digital video and music.
Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings, in a CNBC interview
last week, said his service still had plenty of content for
children but losing the Viacom programming could hurt.
"If you're a parent and your child's looking for 'Blue's
Clues,' you know, that is definitely a problem," he said, while
noting that Netflix still has programming from the likes of
Disney and Cartoon Network.
In early May, Netflix announced a new multiyear license
agreement with Walt Disney Co that gave Netflix the
exclusive right to stream "Jake and the Never Land Pirates,"
along with access to other Disney shows including "Handy Manny."
Viacom's shares rose 1 percent to $67.575 in morning
trading, while Netflix shares were up 1.4 percent at $225.
Amazon gained 44 cents to $267.34.