Disney-ABC in Netflix, Amazon deals

Some content overlap between the two

The arms race between Netflix and Amazon intensified Monday with Disney-ABC Television Group announcing licensing deals with both parties.

Disney renewed a deal first struck late last year with Netflix that includes skeins “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Private Practice,” “Lost,” “Brothers and Sisters” and “Ugly Betty.”

One significant adjustment to the original pact, which analysts estimated at $200 million, is an extension of the delay between the airdate of the last episode of the most recent season licensed and when Netflix can begin carrying episodes. The delay is now 30 days. But it also encompasses new content from other networks under the DATG umbrella including ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth” and episodes from older seasons of Disney Channel’s toon skein “Kick Buttowski.” Also new to the deal is the ABC thriller “Alias.”

Amazon is licensing some of the same shows as ABC, including “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Other shows include ABC Family’s “Greek” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” the Disney Channel’s “Phineas and Ferb” and Marvel cartoons “Spider-Man” and “X-Men: Evolution.”

But a source familiar with the deals says that the two are nowhere near comparable, with Amazon getting far fewer titles for a far lower price.

Amazon’s subscription service, Amazon Prime Instant Video, has been steadily closing the gap between the volume of its library and that of Netflix’s streaming library, which has been estimated by analysts at around 17,000 movie and TV titles. Since launching Prime in February, Amazon has reached about 12,000 and will add another 1,000 by the start of 2012, according to the company.

Amazon’s SVOD offering is an offshoot of its $79-per-year Prime service, which entitles consumers to free two-day shipping on the purchase of products through Amazon.

Not to be left out of the race, Hulu’s own subscription component, Hulu Plus, has kept up buys as well. Hulu pacted with the CW on Friday, just two weeks after the net made a similar agreement with Netflix. With the precipitous decline in DVD sales in the last few years, content producers are eager to find new backend distribution outlets. These revenues have been touted on recent earnings calls for helping to boost conglom earnings.

(Leo Barraclough contributed to this story.)

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