Movie Studios Discover Amazon.com

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Amazon.com Inc. (www.amazon.com) is reportedly talking with Warner Bros., Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures about developing a movie-download service that would allow people to download movies and burn them to DVDs.

Under this approach, movie studios would allow consumers to buy movies directly from the large Internet retailer on the same day they’re released in retail outlets, according to reports in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

The move could see Amazon.com compete with distributors such as Verizon Communications Inc., DirecTV Inc. and Comcast Corp., which have said they want the ability to sell movies directly to consumers through set-top boxes.

“Being able to download directly to your set-top box would be ideal, but I don’t think the technology is there yet,” Steifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc. analyst Scott Devitt said Friday. “If Amazon’s technology can be there more quickly at a minimum on an interim basis, it could the platform consumers choose.”

The talks come as the studios are seeking alternatives to retail outlets to distribute movies directly to consumers.

The Walt Disney Co.-backed MovieBeam launched a movie-download service last month, which allows consumers in 29 states to download movies to $199 set-tops using transmitters owned by PBS.

In January, Warner Bros. launched an In2Movies movie-download service in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which relies on peer-to-peer network technology.

Its Time Warner Inc. corporate sister, America Online Inc., launched a beta of an In2TV service last week, which offers vintage Warner Bros. series.

Amazon.com officials didn’t return calls Friday.

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