July 28, 2011 / 3:28 PM / 7 years ago

Amazon unveils latest video streaming deal

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com unveiled its latest video streaming deal on Thursday as the world’s largest Internet retailer adds more digital content ahead of the expected launch of a new tablet computer later this year.

A box from Amazon.com is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Amazon said it agreed to license roughly 1,000 Universal Pictures movies from NBCUniversal, which is 51 percent owned by Comcast and 49 percent owned by General Electric.

The films, which include “Elizabeth”, “Being John Malkovich” and “Billy Elliott” will be available to Amazon Prime members, who get free shipping and video streaming for a $79 annual membership, the company added.

Last week, Amazon signed a similar deal with CBS Corp that cost more than $100 million, according to Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente. That deal added about 2,000 videos to Amazon’s Prime streaming offering, bringing it to more than 8,000 movies and TV shows.

The NBC agreement will lift the total to more than 9,000 this summer, Amazon said on Thursday.

The deals increase competition among Amazon and video-streaming leader Netflix, as well as Apple and Hulu.

Netflix shares were down $1.81, or about .62 percent, to $267.78 in morning trading, while Amazon stock edged up 0.7 percent to $223.94. Apple shares were up slightly at $394.72.

Amazon is a leader in digital books through its Kindle e-reader and online bookstore. But the company is branching out into more digital content, including apps and games, as well as video.

The company is expected to launch a tablet computer later this year, giving it another platform from which to sell a wider range of digital content.

Netflix, the top movie rental service with 23 million subscribers, offers more than 20,000 titles through its streaming service. The company could have more than 30 million subscribers by the end of 2011, according to Barclays Capital analysts.

Amazon ended the second quarter with 144 million active users. Prime members account for less than 10 percent of active users, according to Barclays Capital estimates from earlier this year.

Reporting by Alistair Barr, editing by Maureen Bavdek

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