Amazon.com is expanding its selection of streaming video offerings for premium subscribers.
On Wednesday, the online retail giant announced a new content partnership with Viacom that will add around 2,000 titles to the catalogue currently offered under the Amazon Prime Instant Video streaming service.
Amazon will give its streaming subscribers access to TV shows from MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, TV Land, Spike, VH1, BET, CMT and Logo. According to a press release published by Amazon, the new selection will include past seasons of popular shows such as Jersey Shore, Chappelle's Show, Hot in Cleveland, Yo Gabba Gabba, iCarly and more.
Amazon's Instant Video service is available to customers who pay for the company's $79-per-year Prime membership, which also offers free two-day shipping on items purchased through Amazon's retail business. Instant Video lets customers stream movies and TV episodes from partners like CBS, Fox, PBS, NBCUniversal, Sony, Warner Bros, Disney-ABC Television and now Viacom, among others. Users who don't subscribe to Prime can also rent or buy single titles from Amazon's downloadable content catalogue.
"Over the last year we have received fantastic customer feedback about Prime Instant Video. We are constantly working to improve the service by adding the shows that our customers enjoy the most,” said Brad Beale, director of video content acquisition for Amazon, per the company release. “We now offer more than 15,000 movies and TV shows in Prime Instant Videos and are working hard to add even more great content.”
The retail giant said that in the fourth quarter of 2011, the number of Instant Video streams increased 300 percent over results from the third quarter, that the number of Instant Video customers doubled, and that the number of titles rented or bought also doubled.
The launch of the Kindle Fire, which offers a free month of Prime Instant Video, may have affected this swell in premium usage. According to CNET, one analyst estimates that Amazon may have sold between 5 and 6 million of the $199 Fire tablets .
If Amazon hopes to do real damage to Netflix in the streaming space, more announcements may be on the horizon, particularly one that may see the spinoff of Instant Video into its own service, separate from the Prime subscription. Writes Reuters, "Amazon is keen to open up its licensed library of TV programs and movies as a standalone service for non-Prime members, and to use it to boost its Kindle Fire tablet, according to people who have spoken with Amazon executives."