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Amazon Prime Acquires Exclusive Rights to Drafthouse Films

AmazonAmazon Prime is going independent.

The streaming content arm of Amazon.com and independent content distributor Cinedigm have agreed to an exclusive licensing agreement giving Amazon streaming rights to several independent films distributed by Drafthouse Films.

Films available today include dark comedy “Cheap Thrills,” Ben Wheatley’s psychedelic sorcery film “A Field in England,” sci-fi favorite “The Visitor,” and Abel Ferrara’s “Ms. 45.”

Other films that will be added to Amazon Prime in the next few months include “The Congress,” a futuristic vision of Hollywood, home-invasion thriller “Borgman,” the love story “Mood Indigo,” documentary “20,000 Days on Earth,” and “The Dog.”

“We know our customers love great independent films and we are excited to add these engaging indies from Drafthouse Films exclusively to Prime Instant Video,” said Brad Beale, Director of Digital Video Content Acquisition for Amazon.

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AMEX Now App Available on Amazon Fire TV

The AMEX Now App, which allows users to watch videos from Vanity Fair, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, and Tribeca Film Festival, is now available on Amazon Fire TV.

And tonight, app users will be able to live stream Pharrell Williams performing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, as part of the AMEX-sponsored UNSTAGED Concert Series.

Customers can now download the app on their Amazon Fire TV by using the quick and easy Voice Search feature, and saying “AMEX Now.”

CBS’ Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Extant’ Premiering on Amazon Prime in the UK

BerryIt will be a tale of two different premieres for CBS’ upcoming sci-fi thriller “Extant” this summer.

The show, starring Halle Berry as an astronaut, and produced by Steven Spielberg‘s production company, will premiere on CBS in America on July 9. A day later, it will premiere exclusively on Amazon Prime Instant Video in the UK. New episodes will then be available in the UK throughout the season on Amazon Prime, one day after they air in the U.S.

“We’re excited to see the first window of EXTANT stream on Amazon in the UK,” said Armando Nuñez, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Global Distribution Group.

“Having such a highly anticipated and star-studded show premiere exclusively on Prime Instant Video is a perfect example of our ongoing commitment to bringing the very best in movie and TV entertainment to our customers in the UK,” said Chris Bird, Amazon Instant Video Film & TV Strategy Director.

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HBO Classics Now Available on Amazon Prime

AmazonHBO-Logo2The exclusive deal between Amazon and HBO goes into effect today as the first wave of HBO classics are available on Amazon Prime.

“The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” “The Wire,” “Big Love,” “Eastbound & Down,” “Oz,” “Band of Brothers,” and “Deadwood” are now available on Amazon Prime instant video, at no additional cost to subscribers. Early seasons of current shows are also available, including “Boardwalk Empire” and “True Blood.”

Other hit shows, including “Girls,” “The Newsroom,” and “Veep” will become available in later years of the agreement. And HBO GO will also become available on Fire TV, Amazon’s recently-announced set-top box.

HBO Classics Coming to Amazon Prime

AmazonHBO-Logo2Amazon is continuing its streaming-TV push, partnering with HBO on a multi-year deal to exclusively bring classic HBO shows to Amazon prime subscribers, the two companies announced today.

Starting May 21, “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” “The Wire,” “Big Love,” “Eastbound & Down,” “Oz,” “Band of Brothers,” and “Deadwood” will become available on Amazon Prime instant video, at no additional cost to subscribers. Early seasons of current shows will also be available, including “Boardwalk Empire” and “True Blood.” Other hit shows, including “Girls,” “The Newsroom,” and “Veep” will become available in later years of the agreement.

These shows will still be available on HBO Go, but will be exclusive to Amazon, meaning Netflix and Apple TV users won’t be able to stream them on those platforms. The partnership marks the first time HBO has licensed its series to a web-only service.

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Amazon Announces Set-Top Box ‘Fire TV’

Fire TVAmazon continues its quest to become more than an e-commerce powerhouse, announcing today a set-top box that allows HDTV viewers to connect to Amazon’s video offerings.

“Fire TV” is a $99 streaming media TV device that will offer users a range of different providers, including the most popular web-only shows.

“Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price—people are going to love Fire TV,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “Our open approach gives you not just Amazon Instant Video and Prime Instant Video, but also Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more. On Fire TV you can watch Alpha House and House of Cards.”

The Android and HTML-based platform will compete with other streaming TV devices like Roku, Google Chromecast, and Apple TV. The companies press release touted Fire TV as superior to the other platforms.

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Amazon Denies Plans for Free Video Streaming Service

amazon-1Amazon is denying a Wall Street Journal report that it’s planning a free, ad-supported streaming TV and music service.

If created, it would be a stark departure from linking video content to an Amazon prime subscription service, which costs $99 annually. The free service would include original and licensed content, and that Amazon has already held talks with the creators of “Betas,” a series depicting a Silicon Valley start-up Amazon co-produced last year.

Music video streams might also be offered for free, with a search for a popular artist bringing up their most recent videos. The speculation continues Amazon’s digital push, which recently extended to social TV.  As we reported last month, Amazon partnered with NBC’s “Hannibal” for an all-day binge-watching event ahead of its season two premiere.

“We’re often experimenting with new things, but we have no plans to offer a free streaming media service,” an Amazon spokesperson told the Journal.

Companies like Amazon grappling with the costs vs. benefits of offering free streaming services will be just one of the topics up for discussion at the TVNewser Show on April 29.

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Amazon and NBC Teaming Up for ‘Hannibal’ Binge Watch

HannibalAhead of its season two premiere on February 28, NBC and Amazon Instant Video are partnering for a “Hannibal” binge-watching event, offering all 13 episodes from season one on Sunday, February 23 starting at 12pmET.

As part of the binge event, there will be exclusive content released, live-tweeting from the show cast and creators, and Twitter contests each hour featuring signed scripts, DVD’s, and t-shirts as prizes.

@NBCHannibal will be anchoring the event using hashtag #13HourDevour. Read more

TV/Film Producer and Director Mike Tollin on Finding New Ways to Reach an Audience

mike-tollin_articleIn the fourth and final week of Mediabistro’s Profit From Your Passion series, we’re focusing on the TV/Entertainment industry, starting with an interview with award-winning director and producer Mike Tollin.

Tollin, who began his career working on sports documentaries, has directed and produced such TV hits as Smallville and One Tree Hill, and films like Varsity Blues. Twenty years ago, he collaborated with Brian Robbins to form Tollin/Robbins Productions. But, most recently, he joined forces with Peter Guber, chairman of Sony Pictures, to create a new company called Mandalay Sports Media, where he’s experimenting with digital platforms:

[Mandalay] encompasses everything from sports movies to long-form sports documentaries in the vein of 30 for 30, which I have been very involved in, to digital shorts like My Ink, which we just launched for AOL. It’s exciting to see a new market where you’re making up the rules as you go. Look at the over-the-top networks, as they’re called: Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and look at how they’re launching their shows. How much is binge-viewing a part of the strategy? It’s exciting to find new partners and find new ways to reach an audience. If you find a great story, there’s a way to reach an audience.

To hear more from Tollin, including how he got started in the industry, read: So What Do You Do, Mike Tollin, Acclaimed TV/Film Director and Producer?

–Aneya Fernando

With ‘Betas’, Amazon makes original programming splash

betas__130529132818When Amazon decided to make its foray into original programming it did so in a non-traditional, Amazon-like way. The company is known for its customer-centric ideology, and so in the spring, it released eight comedy pilots and let consumers decide which one should be green-lit. The public spoke, and Amazon Prime members will have the ability to watch Alpha House (starring John Goodman) and Betas. Read more