Amazon's Kidding Around With Netflix

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) used to be able to brag about how so much of the content available on rival streaming smorgasbords was redundant to its wider catalog, but Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) is doing a pretty good job of lining up content that video fans can't find on Netflix.

Amazon announced a multiyear deal with Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA  ) yesterday that will bring SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer, and several other beloved properties that were removed from Netflix's streaming library late last month.

In short, there are plenty of things that Amazon's Prime Instant Video subscribers can stream that Netflix users no longer can.

  • The new Viacom deal covers 3,900 episodes across 250 seasons from Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, MTV, and Comedy Central shows.
  • Later this year, Amazon will begin offering full seasons for five pilots that its users selected last month.
  • Downton Abbey is a pretty big deal, and Netflix will no longer have it available for streaming starting next month. Amazon will have the popular BBC series.

There are plenty of gems in the MTV and Comedy Central vaults, but the real prizes here will be the kids programming.

Netflix is so fond of its children's content that it has a specific interface for kids to use that only accesses its kid-friendly catalog entries. Fans of Rugrats, The Backyardigans, and Blue's Clues may beg to differ now that those shows are only available on Amazon through this expanded Viacom deal.

This doesn't mean that Netflix investors need to worry. It's been preparing for last month's departure of Nick and Nick Jr. programming. Back in February it struck a deal with DreamWorks Animation to create the first Netflix original series for children. Turbo: F.A.S.T. will arrive in December, and it will probably be more magnetic than all three of Amazon's kid pilots combined. The show is based on the Turbo movie -- about a power-blessed racing snail -- that hits theaters next month.

Netflix also inked an even bigger deal with Disney in December, latching on to the world's most popular family entertainment brand.

The full breadth of the content through the Disney and DreamWorks Animation deals won't be ushered in right away, but it shows that Netflix is making a calculated bet on children. Netflix knew what it was giving up when it let Viacom walk last month.

In the end, the lack of redundancy will only increase the size of the addressable market. You will find more and more homes with both Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant, just as plenty of cable customers subscribe to more than one premium movie channel.

Kids may not have to choose between one platform or the other when both are so cheap compared to traditional cable and satellite television-provider ransoms.

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  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2013, at 9:50 AM, HighGrowth wrote:

    You are the first I have read who actually realizes that multiple media subscription services may be complimentary. At $8 per month a pop it has never been an "Amazon vs. Netflix" issue. I would subscribe to both if they each offer good programming.

    With Netflix I have scrapped my Sattellite subscription of $80 per month in favor of an $8 Netflix subscription. Much room in the budget for more programming, if Amazon ever makes it to Canada...

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