Amazon Examining Online Subscription-Based Live Television Service [Update: Amazon Denies]

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Amazon is considering the launch of a live subscription-based online television service, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The service would include live television channels from major providers, with Amazon approaching at least three media companies to distribute their channels online.

Apple was said to be in high-level negotiations with television content providers in August of last year for a similar Internet-based subscription TV service.

Amazon Prime Instant Video

Still, Amazon's initiative is in the early stages, and it isn't clear whether it will move forward. Several other tech companies including Sony Corp. and Google Inc. are pursuing similar initiatives. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.

[...]

Acquiring TV channel rights has proved challenging for the other companies trying to launch Web-TV services. Media giants that control TV networks and studios don't want to do anything to harm incumbent pay-TV providers, whose payments for carriage of channels are propelling the industry's growth. Those companies seeking to launch new services have struggled to negotiate licensing terms that would allow them to price their services competitively.

While Apple -- and Google -- have looked into an online subscription service, Intel recently sold its nascent cable television service to Verizon and all companies are reportedly having difficulties convincing content providers to partner with an online alternative to existing cable and satellite companies -- a very significant revenue stream for them.

Amazon currently offers streaming television and movies through its Amazon Prime Instant Video service, its Netflix competitor that works on a number of different platforms including recent PlayStation and Xbox consoles, the Roku box, and a number of smart televisions. Amazon has reportedly been working on a set-top box competitor to the Apple TV and Roku boxes as well, something that could accompany a potential subscription television service.

Update: In an emailed statement to CNN reporter Brian Stelter, Amazon said that while it continues "to build selection for Prime Instant Video and create original shows at Amazon Studios" it is "not planning to license television channels or offer a pay-TV service."

Top Rated Comments

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88 months ago
It's pretty sad how much the media companies have their heels dug in on this issue.

I haven't had cable tv for several years now and overall I've been happy with just Netflix. I was in a hotel recently and I watched cable and was just amazed by the amount of commercials most of the channels have. THEY SHOULD BE PAYING US TO WATCH IT!

Seriously, someone needs to break the logjam and give people what they want...choice and freedom. I don't want to pay for rip-off cable packages. I don't watch sports so I don't need 15+ sports channels. Let me create my own package with 15-25 channels that I'll actually enjoy and let's come up with a fair price.

In a side note...why not start by streaming terrestrial content through the Apple TV? Abc, nbc, and others already broadcast their content over the air for free...can't we at least start with that? I live in a valley and have crappy reception...can't they at least do that for me?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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88 months ago

I haven't had cable tv for several years now and overall I've been happy with just Netflix. I was in a hotel recently and I watched cable and was just amazed by the amount of commercials most of the channels have. THEY SHOULD BE PAYING US TO WATCH IT!

Indeed. Once you go a couple of years without watching add-supported content, it really becomes obnoxious how many ads there are and how obnoxious and offensive they often are. I'm amazed that people rot their brains watching that crap. I watch what I can on Netflix and iTunes- I only watch a couple hours a week so it doesn't cost me much- in order to support the idea of online content. If content isn't available in my region in any online format, which is often the case, well there are other methods...
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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88 months ago
Now if only Amazon Prime was available through Apple TV not just through Airplay it would be the day. Hold on now you will see people telling you not going to happen because it would indirectly competing with iTunes, than explain to me how is it on the iPhone with Airplay? iPhone has iTunes too right?


:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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88 months ago

It is a mystery just how cowardly content providers are when it comes to pissing off the networks. I'm going to guess that the amount the networks pay is an order of magnitude more than what they get for online sales, and they don't believe that online sales will catch up any time soon. That's sort of a bizarre belief considering that the end of the "pay for bundles of crappy channels you don't watch so you can watch your interrupted advert-filled show when the cable company tells you to" model would seem to be inevitable... I mean I can see how they are too risk adverse to mess with their business model and use the interwebs, but considering where things are going, and how much they will lose to piracy, they are taking a big risk staying off the web.


You pretty much answered your own question. Why rush in to taking a massive pay cut (and risk burning very lucrative bridges) on the assumption that maybe someday in the future you'll get back to making what you used to make?

Last year when Viacom and DirecTV finally agreed on a new deal it was a 7 year deal worth billions of dollars, and that's just one deal with one provider. For 'new media' players like Amazon, Apple and Netflix that's a lot of up front costs and for 'old media' content creators that's a lot of money to walk away from. Also, ads that run on streaming media pay content creators significantly less than ads that run on TV/cable/sat so trying to branch out from old media to new media is a double hit when it comes to revenue streams.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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88 months ago

Their current instant video service seems cool, but according to the reviews they block AirPlay streaming to an AppleTV or Lightning HDMI cable. That makes the service a lot less useful for me and others.


If you're talking about their iOS app, they fixed the airplay issue some months ago. I can now open up a movie in their iPad app and stream it to my AppleTV with the cover closed with no problem -- definitely wasn't like that when the app first launched.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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