Viacom Turns to Amazon for Big Streaming Deal

Supplants Netflix as Key Online Distributor of Kids Shows
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With its streaming video deal with Netflix expiring, Viacom has announced a major multi-year video licensing agreement with Amazon.

The deal puts hundreds of TV shows and thousands of episodes on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video. Some of that programming will be exclusively available to Amazon.

In April, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company would not renew its licensing deal with Viacom, and would instead focus on exclusive content rather than non-exclusive bulk deals. The deal expired at the end of May.

The Netflix deal brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues for Viacom, but Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said on the company’s earnings call with analysts that he expected streaming revenue to continue to grow.

A Viacom spokesman said the company continues to talk to Netflix about content not exclusively carried by Amazon and does business with Netflix outside the U.S.

The Viacom programming on Amazon includes popular kids programming such as Bubble Guppies, The Backyardigans, Team Umizoomi, Blue’s Clues and Victorious. It also includes hows from MTV and Comedy Central like Awkward, Tosh.0 and Workaholics.

Some analysts have expressed concern that by making kids shows available online, Viacom risks weakening its Nickelodeon cable franchise. Those Nickeldeon’s ratings plummeted a year ago, the company said viewership has been rebounding recently.

Prime members will also have access to future episodes of Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, Fairly Odd Parents and Fresh Beat Band.

Select shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. will be available in Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, a service built for kids. The service is designed to allow kids freedom to explore all their favorite books, games, educational apps, movies and TV shows, while providing parents with the tools they need to manage their kids’ screen time, the companies said.

“Kids shows are one of the most watched TV genres on Prime Instant Video,” Bill Carr, VP of Digital Video and Music for Amazon, said in a statement. “And this expanded deal will now bring customers the largest subscription selection of Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. TV shows online, anywhere . . . In addition, we are bringing customers popular shows from MTV and Comed Central like Key & Peele, Workaholics, Awkward and Teen Mom 2, with the promise of more shows from these networks in the future.”