Amazon goes FTW with Universal deal

Netflix may have annoyed thousands by raising its rates, but Amazon just clinched a lucrative deal that will allow customers to stream a number of movies from Universal Pictures.

The movies will be added to Amazon’s Prime streaming-video service, and include Oscar-winning films such as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Gosford Park” and “Elizabeth.”

The Universal deal comes just a week after Amazon announced an agreement with CBS that expanded its online (Prime) library to more than 8,000 movies and TV shows.

Today’s deal bumps that number up to a total of 9,000 movies and TV shows at no additional cost for Prime members. 

“This [certainly] notches up the competitive bar,” Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co in San Francisco told Bloomberg.

“Amazon is incrementally doing these deals with the content providers, and over time we think they will have a compelling alternative to Netflix.”

Tony Wible, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, expressed similar sentiments.

Amazon and other video streaming services “try and win over some of those subscribers that are now upset with Netflix,” he said. 

But Netflix CEO Reed Hastings insisted Amazon Prime isn’t a threat to Netflix.

“We have vastly more streaming content, are available on more streaming devices and are purely focused on subscription video streaming,” Hastings claimed in a recent letter to shareholders.

 “So far, we haven’t detected an impact on our business from Amazon Prime.”

Amazon describes its Prime platform as a membership program that offers subscribers discounts on shipping for a $79 annual fee, as well as unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows at no additional cost.