EXCLUSIVE: In another blockbuster streaming deal with a major movie studio, Amazon’s Prime Video and IMDb TV have closed a licensing agreement with Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. No one would comment on the financials, but we hear the multi-year deal is estimated to be in the ten-figure range.
Under the pact, Prime Video will have an exclusive pay-one window for Universal’s slate of live-action films in the U.S. starting with the studio’s 2022 theatrical release slate. This marks Prime Video‘s first exclusive U.S. pay rights deal with a major movie studio. (The streamer has had exclusive pay-window pacts with smaller studios such as A24 as well as non-exclusive arrangements with Paramount, MGM — which is in the process of being acquired by Amazon — and Lionsgate through Epix and exclusive pay window agreements with majors outside the US.)
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As recently announced, NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service will exclusively have UFEG’s 2022 movies and beyond 120 days after their theatrical release for four months and also during the last four months of a title’s 18-month pay-one window. Prime Video will exclusively stream Universal’s 2022 and future live-action titles during the middle ten month period of that 18-month window (months 5-14). Prime Video is also getting rights to a package of UFEG’s library movies.
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Under the agreement, Prime Video will stream such upcoming Universal tentpoles as Jurassic World: Dominion, The 355 and Ambulance as well as Focus Features and Blumhouse movies. Amblin movies, which are theatrically distributed by Universal, will not go through the Peacock/Amazon pay-one deal as the company just extended its pact with Showtime Networks.
Currently UFEG’s animation titles from Illumination and DreamWorks can be found on Netflix. We hear it’s likely that the studio’s animation slate for 2022 and beyond, which includes Minions: The Rise of Gru and DWA’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and The Bad Guys, will remain on that streamer during the ten month span of the 18-month window when they’re not on Peacock. Prime Video will gain SVOD rights to UFEG’s animated movies through a subsequent window.
IMDb TV, Amazon’s free streaming service, has secured an exclusive network window for films from Universal’s 2020-2021 theatrical slate and rights to a package of animated titles. This includes such movies as Dolittle, The Invisible Man, F9 and Illumination’s Sing 2, as well as select titles from UFEG’s animation library, including Illumination’s Despicable Me 2 and DWA’s How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Shrek 2.
The deal makes IMDb TV the first AVOD service to secure a television window for major film studio’s releases that traditionally had gone to broadcast or cable networks. (Roku recently announced a Pay 1 window deal with a smaller, indie studio, Saban Films.)
In April, Netflix and Sony Pictures Entertainment announced a new four-year deal, worth an estimated $1 billion, which gives the streaming giant an exclusive 18-month pay-TV window for the Culver City studio’s theatrical titles starting in 2022. The exact length of Prime Video and IMDb TV’s licensing deal with Universal is not being disclosed but the combined value of Peacock and Prime Video’s exclusive pay window deals with Universal is said to be comparable to that of the Netflix-Sony agreement.
“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’s VP of worldwide content licensing. “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.”
With the prevalence of streaming, it’s becoming increasingly common for the major theatrical studios to hammer out lucrative pay-one window deals with streamers vs. traditional pay cable networks. The Netflix-Sony agreement replaced a 16-year output arrangement that Sony had with Starz; the UFEG pacts with Peacock and Prime Video are replacing the movie studio’s long-time agreement with HBO.
The rich licensing deals also underscore the arms race for high-caliber feature film content among streaming platforms, especially platforms which are not affiliated with traditional movie studios.
“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,” said Peter Levinsohn, vice chairman and chief distribution officer, UFEG. “We’re thrilled to team up with Amazon to deliver our titles to its customers. This agreement further delivers on our distribution strategy to monetize our unparalleled movie library across multiple services, while offering customers the most choice, control and flexibility in how, when and where they watch films.”
The Prime Video/IMDb TV-Universal movie streaming pact builds on the recent licensing deal between Amazon and NBCUniversal, which made Peacock available in Amazon Fire TV and fire tablets.
“This significant deal with UFEG is another step forward in solidifying IMDb TV’s reputation as a premium free destination for blockbuster movies,” said Lauren Anderson and Ryan Pirozzi, co-heads of content and programming at IMDb TV. “Expanding our library with prominent UFEG titles from every genre, IMDb TV continues to deliver on our promise to provide viewers the content they crave with something for everyone.”
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