Amazon Inks Exclusive Pact 'Fireman Sam'

Amazon is integrating product purchasing directly with a kid’s TV show — a potentially controversial model that the ecommerce giant could expand to other franchises.

Amazon will let customers watch episodes of HIT Entertainment’s British preschool TV series “Fireman Sam,” and then buy show-related products like toys and lunch boxes directly from the same online hub. The “Fireman Sam” brand page on Amazon, to launch June 3, will showcase both episodes of the show and various merchandise to purchase.

Under Amazon’s deal with HIT, a division of Mattel’s Fisher-Price, to be the exclusive U.S. retail and video distribution partner, covering TV episodes, e-books and physical products. HIT and Amazon will introduce consumer products in the U.S. later this year, which will be available for free two-day shipping to Amazon Prime members.

The companies touted the deal as a groundbreaking new “brand-distribution model, pairing the entire offerings of a globally loved children’s property with a global retail platform.” The ecommerce component of the deal indicates Amazon is pitching content-licensing partners on deals that other subscription VOD services like Netflix aren’t set up to implement.

But parents may not be as thrilled with the development, which seems to be geared toward making kids clamor for toys or other products based on the TV show.

Amazon insists that the “Fireman Sam” merchandising hub is aimed at parents, not their children. The TV episodes will be available to stream or download via Amazon Instant Video and Prime Instant Video. In addition, the eps can be viewed by the parent-restricted Kindle FreeTime Unlimited service, which does not carry ads and will not feature the show-related products.

“We’re always looking for ways to make parents’ lives easier and now there’s no more convenient place in the world for kids to experience their favorite Fireman Sam content,” said Peter Larsen, Amazon’s VP of product management.

“Fireman Sam,” which debuted in 1987, has run on NBCUniversal’s Sprout kids’ channel. The titular character is the hero of every rescue on the show, set in the Welsh village of Pontypandy. The series is distributed in more than 100 countries, but has not been as big a hit with U.S. auds as some of HIT Entertainment’s other kidvid properties like “Thomas & Friends,” “Bob the Builder,” “Barney” and “Angelina Ballerina.”

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