Amazon offering bonuses, increased royalties for exclusive Sundance film streaming rights

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As Amazon Prime Video grows, so to could its content budget.

Amazon is going out of its way to attract official selections from the Sundance Film Festival to its Prime Video streaming service.

According to Variety, the company is offering a one-time cash bonus and higher royalty rates. In exchange, filmmakers must grant Amazon 24-month streaming deals for the films, with the first 12 months being exclusive.

As the report points out, Amazon will pay $100,000 for U.S. dramatic films and premieres, $75,000 for U.S. documentaries and documentary premieres, and $25,000 for World Dramatic, World Documentaries, Next, Spotlight, Kids, Midnight and New Frontier selections.

The offer is being extended as part of Amazon’s Film Festival Stars program.

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Amazon is continuing its push for content as it takes on Netflix for audience share among SVOD services in the U.S. and abroad. Late last year, Amazon confirmed its plans to expand its Prime Video service availability to more than 200 countries and territories, following Netflix’s similar announcement at the start of 2016.

As Amazon Prime Video grows, so to could its content budget.

Jefferies analyst Brian Fitzgerald estimated that Amazon’s video content budget for 2016 was between $4 billion and $5 billion, but that the cost of international expansion could drive that total up another $1 billion to $2 billion in 2017.

“That would bring AMZN's annual content expenditure in line with Netflix, which disclosed ~$6B content budget on P&L basis for 2017. AMZN management highlighted on the last earnings call that content was among the top three categories in which the company was, and planned to continue, investing. On the call, CFO Oslavsky said that ‘video content and marketing associated with that’ was nearly doubling Y/Y in 2H16,” Fitzgerald said in a research note.

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The drive for content on Prime Video runs congruent with Amazon’s push to expand availability within its Amazon Channels platform. The company recently announced Anime Strike, its first branded, curated offering for the platform.

Michael Paull, vice president of digital video for Amazon, said the strategy for Amazon Channels is expanding a bit now that it’s about one year into its launch.

“Our goal is to become a destination for video programming,” said Paull. “We want to have the most possible selections we can have.”