The fight for content is at the heart of the streaming wars. Streaming services snap up production companies and move them under their umbrella in an attempt to expand their libraries and entice viewers to keep their subscriptions active. And we’re not immune to it in Australia either.
When HBO Max launched in the U.S., HBO and Warner Bros. content was up for grabs and streamers like Foxtel and Stan fought hard to win the local streaming rights. But while international licencing deals differ, they are still largely dictated by the parent company.
This is why Amazon buying MGM could really shake up the local streaming landscape.
Amazon buys MGM
Amazon announced earlier today that it had acquired classic Hollywood movie studio MGM. The deal cost US$8.45 billion dollars – which is spare change for someone like Jeff Bezos – but is a big move in the streaming wars.
This brings a whole lot of new properties into Amazon’s wheelhouse which Senior Vice President of Amazon Studios, Mike Hopkins, described as “the real financial value behind this deal”.
What content does Amazon now own?
So, what movies and TV shows does Amazon now get for its $8 billion deal?
MGM is home to thousands of classic Hollywood movies and has even expanded into TV in recent years. Here are some of the highlights from its catalogue:
- James Bond franchise
- Rocky franchise
- The Handmaid’s Tale (TV series)
- Vikings (TV series)
- Fargo (TV series)
- The Silence of the Lambs
- Pink Panther
- Legally Blonde
- Thelma & Louise
- Raging Bull
- Basic Instinct
- Tomb Raider
- The Magnificent Seven
- Four Weddings and a Funeral
What Amazon won’t get, however, is a swathe of MGM films pre-dating 1986. These were acquired by the Turner Entertainment Company which is under the control of WarnerMedia. This prohibits classic films like The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind from coming to Amazon.
As you can see, streaming deals are complicated. There’s a swathe of licensing rights that already exist within MGM, so there’s no telling if or when the content in its library will actually come to Amazon Prime Video.
Like the Disney/Fox acquisition, it might take some time for existing licencing deals to run their course before Amazon can gather all the content onto its service.
What does it mean for streaming services in Australia?
Licensing rights in the U.S. are one thing, but territory and international streaming rights are a whole other ball game.
Much of MGM’s content is currently tied up with local Aussie streamer Stan. Properties like the Bond films and The Handmaid’s Tale all stream on Stan and shows like Fargo and Vikings are available on Netflix. So it’s likely these deals will have to lapse before Amazon can move them to Prime Video here in Australia.
We’ve reached out to Amazon Prime Video in Australia for comment about the MGM acquisition and will update this story if we hear back.