Amazon further positioned itself against Netflix on Wednesday, announcing a deal with Viacom to make much of its TV programming available for instant streaming on Amazon Prime.
Viacom controls popular cable channels like MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and VH1, meaning shows such as “Jersey Shore,” “Chappelle’s Show” and “Dora the Explorer” will bring the total number of videos on Amazon Prime to more than 15,000.
"Over the last year we have received fantastic customer feedback about Prime Instant Video. We are constantly working to improve the service by adding the shows that our customers enjoy the most,” Brad Beale, director of video content acquisition for Amazon, said in a statement. “This deal with Viacom brings Prime customers and Kindle Fire users thousands of comedies, kids’ shows, reality TV and much more from some of the best cable networks available.”
In late January, the New York Post reported that Amazon was looking to spin off the Amazon Instant Video part of Amazon Prime as a separate service, a move that would place the company in direct competition with Netflix.
Amazon's recent streaming deals with the likes of Fox and CBS, bolstering its library, and the launch of its tablet, the Kindle Fire, have only fueled the discussion of a budding rivalry.
At the moment, subscribers to Amazon Prime, who pay $79 for unlimited shipping, get the streaming service as an added bonus. Prime has more than 7 million subscribers, according to analyst estimates, well short of Netflix’s more than 20 million.
However, the online retailer has said that the number of videos being streamed rose almost 300 percent in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011.
Amazon is not alone in looking to streaming, a space that will only grow more crowded in 2012.