Aug 31, 2010 10:17 PM by Alison Haynes
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Amazon.com Inc. is talking with major media
companies about offering unlimited views of older TV shows and
movies online, as it struggles to stay relevant to consumers
flocking to Apple Inc.'s iTunes a la carte store and Netflix Inc.'s
all-you-can-eat subscription plan.
Amazon has approached several companies, including Viacom Inc.,
Time Warner Inc., and Sony Corp., three people familiar with the
matter said Tuesday. They requested anonymity because the talks are
The talks are at an early stage and focus on offering TV shows
and movies that have already been available on home video,
according to one person.
Amazon intends to link the service to its Amazon Prime
membership, a $79 per year plan that gives customers discounted
shipping costs. But some media companies are averse to having their
offerings potentially perceived as freebies, another person said.
A spokesman for Amazon, which is based in Seattle, said the
company would not speculate on future business deals.
News of the talks emerged in The Wall Street Journal, a day
before Apple is expected to announce a new TV offering and a
revamped iTunes. An Apple spokesman also declined to comment.
Apple has also been talking with several media companies and is
nearing a deal to offer recently aired TV shows from The Walt
Disney Co.'s ABC and News Corp.'s Fox for 99 cents. The shows could
be downloaded but would expire 48 hdens after purchase. They are
intended for fans who want to catch up on shows even on airplanes
or other places without wireless Internet service.
Apple is also expected to cut the price of its Apple TV device.
Pre-empting the move, Roku Inc., whose set-top box allows Netflix
subscribers to watch older movies and TV shows, cut the prices of
its basic high-definition device by $30 to $69.99 on Monday.
Many companies are trying to bolster their online offerings but
media companies are being careful not to upend lucrative existing
businesses, including that of selling TV shows as reruns to other
channel operators or TV stations.
Time Warner in particular is trying to preserve the business of
monthly cable or satellite TV subscriptions by pushing its "TV
Everywhere" plan. In the plan, it gives paying subscribers of
upper tier channel plans unlimited online access to the current
season of shows such as TNT's "The Closer."
Meanwhile, Hulu, the online video service jointly owned by
Disney, News Corp. and NBC Universal, kicked off a $10-a-month
subscription TV plan in June. It offers episodes from the current
and past seasons of many ABC, Fox and NBC shows such as "Glee,"
"The Office," and "House," although subscribers still have to