Amazon has signed its first exclusive domestic output deal with a major Hollywood studio, inking an agreement for a portion of “Pay 1” window rights to Universal Filmed Entertainment Group titles starting in 2022.
The agreement follows a pocket-to-pocket arrangement touted by Universal last week, in which it agreed to deliver its movies to Comcast corporate sibling Peacock 120 days after they debut in theaters. Peacock will have exclusive domestic rights to those titles for four months.
After that period, Amazon Prime Video will have exclusive domestic rights to Universal live-action titles, including upcoming releases Jurassic World: Dominion, The 355 and Ambulance, for 10 months. These live action titles will then return to Peacock for the last four months of their 18-month Pay 1 release window.
Amazon Prime Video will also gain access to Universal library titles, which includes movies from the Jurassic Park, Bourne and Fast & Furious franchises.
According to a joint statement, Prime Video will also gain SVOD rights to Universal’s animated slate—which includes Minions: The Rise of Grue and DreamWorks Animation’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish—through an “additional window,” although little clarity was provided as to when that window might begin and end.
Currently, Netflix gets Universal animated titles in the 10 months in-between Peacock’s four-month bookend Pay 1 engagements.
Separately, Amazon’s free, ad-supported streaming service, IMDb TV, acquired “network” window rights to Universal’s 2020-21 slate, which includes titles such as Dolittle, The Invisible Man, F9 (Fast & Furious 9) and Sing 2. IMDb TV also gets rights to an unspecified number of animated titles from the Universal library.
The deal marks a distribution milestone for Amazon. It previously had non-exclusive domestic arrangements with studios including Paramount and MGM, which it just bought. And through Lionsgate's Epix premium channel, Amazon has previously enjoyed exclusive international distribution rights. But the Universal deal is by far its highest profile distribution arrangement yet, although financial terms haven’t been announced.
Coupled with that recently announced MGM purchase, Amazon Prime Video now has exclusive TV rights to some of the most popular franchises in the movie business.
And it’s another blow to HBO, the incumbent holder of Universal’s Pay 1 window rights.
The Amazon agreement with Universal follows Netflix’s poaching from HBO in April of first pay window rights to Sony Pictures Entertainment titles, also starting in 2022.
“We know Prime members love movies, and this new deal with UFEG will deliver some of the best films available for our customers,” said Brad Beale, Prime Video VP of worldwide content licensing, in a statement. “This new slate of UFEG films, including exciting upcoming releases such as Jurassic World: Dominion, The 355, and Ambulance will continue to build upon Prime Video’s catalog and delight Prime members, all at no additional cost to their membership.”
Added Peter Levinsohn, vice chairman and chief distribution officer for UFEG: “Recognizing that all parties would benefit from a modernized windowing structure, this new agreement allows Prime Video and IMDb TV to benefit from UFEG’s vast library and diverse content like never before."
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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