In our recent survey of streaming-media services, one common complaint about monthly subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime was their poor assortment of newer movies. Amazon took a big step this week addressing that shortcoming with a new deal that will bring streaming movies from Epix—including blockbusters such as The Hunger Games and The Avengers—to its service.
The move comes at the expense of Netflix, whose deal with Epix is no longer exclusive. For Amazon, the multiyear deal with Epix follows an earlier agreement with Warner Bros. Television Group that gives Amazon's Prime and Instant Video services limited-time exclusive access to a variety of TV shows, including "Fringe" and "The West Wing."
In the recent Consumer Reports survey, respondents found the selection of recent movies to be better with pay-per-view services, such as Vudu, Apple iTunes and Amazon Instant Video, than with all-you-can-eat monthly subscription services.
The deal with Epix, a premium movie channel owned by Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate movie studios, will add about 3,000 titles to Amazon Prime' streaming roster, bringing the total number of titles to about 25,000, the company claims, double the number it had a year ago. It is estimated that Netflix has about 50,000 titles. It is also rumored that Epix may be looking to sign a similar deal with Redbox Instant, a new hybrid streaming/disc service expected to launch this fall from Verizon and Redbox
The move comes as Amazon is almost certainly prepping an updated version of the Kindle Fire tablet, which we expect will be unveiled tomorrow. The original Kindle Fire came with a free month of Amazon Prime, the $79-per-year free shipping service that now includes free access to streaming movies and TV shows. We'll be reporting on the new Kindle Fire when it's announced, so stay tuned for more details.
—James K. Willcox