Amazon.com joins race for VOD market dominance

Add Amazon.com to the growing list of digital retailers looking to increase their share of the video-on-demand market. The company has been shopping a subscription version of its existing Web-based on-demand rental service--which already is built into a plethora of connected TVs, Blu-ray players and other devices--to studio executives with the goal of having it in place before the holiday season.

Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that the e-retailer has had talks with General Electric, which owns NBC Universal, Time Warner Inc., and media conglomerate Viacom. The plan Amazon is offering would include TV episodes and movies, and apparently is centered on older content, which is seen as less erosive to studios' revenue.

Amazon is far from alone in hoping to expand more deeply into the living room.

Today, Apple is expected to rollout a new version of its Apple TV, rechristened iTV, with ties to expanded content from News Corp., which owns Fox, and ABC parent Disney, through its popular iTunes e-storefront. Sources say Apple will offer TV episodes for 99 cents each.

Google also has been active, working studios on two fronts. Google reportedly is pitching studios on the reach of YouTube, which rolls out 2 billion views a day, and on its potential effectiveness as a VOD platform. It's also been looking for studio support as it gets ready to roll out Google TV, its entrant into the smart TV race next quarter.

Netflix, with 15 million current subscribers, more than 61 percent of whom currently use the service to stream movies, recently signed a deal worth some $1 billion over five years with pay-TV channel Epix for access to its newer releases.

The high cost of acquiring streaming rights to movies reportedly has caused some consternation among Amazon execs.

For more:
- see this WSJ article

Related articles:
Why Apple beats Google (and Netflix, too) in the race to VOD supremacy  
Rumor mill: Apple near deal on new 99-cent content, iTV rollout Sept. 1   
Google TV struggles to get content partners for smart-TV play  
Roku drops price on STB as it readies for release of Apple TV and Google TV   

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