Amazon gets access to Universal Pictures library, puts heat on Netflix, Hulu

E-tailer Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) kicked up its chase of Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) a notch, acquiring the righst to stream part of NBCUniversal's Universal Pictures library.

Last week, Amazon, which is in the process of developing a rival to Apple's iPad, signed a deal with CBS, allowing it to stream older TV content, adding about 2,000 titles to its Amazon Prime streaming library, including full seasons of 18 TV series including, The Tudors, Numb3rs, Medium, Frasier, Cheers, the original Hawaii Five-0, The Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks and the Star Trek stable. There are, of course, no in-season episodes available.

Neither the CBS, nor the deal with NBCUniversal, is exclusive, but both signal that Amazon is looking to step up to the plate in the streaming game.

In Netflix's letter to investors earlier this week, the company said it recognized that Amazon was a potential competitor and said it was keeping an eye on the company's streaming efforts.

The next big question for the segment, of course, is who's going to grab Hulu?

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) and Amazon remain on the short list, after Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Netflix said they weren't interested. Both Amazon and Apple have the cash to make the deal, estimated to be worth $2 billion, but Yahoo may join the fight, as Hulu could be a last-gasp opportunity for the Internet portal to rejuvenate what increasingly is a sagging property.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article

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