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.
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."
After WSJ story http://t.co/nGsyjStWb9, strong rebuttal from Amazon: "We are not planning to license TV channels or offer a pay-TV service." — Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 22, 2014