SpongeBob, Dora move from Netflix to Amazon

Netflix’s loss is Amazon’s gain, at least in kids’ programming.

Just days after the Los Gatos-based video-on-demand company let its streaming-video rights with Viacom expire, Amazon announced Tuesday a $200 million exclusive licensing deal for hundreds of popular Viacom childrens’ shows, including “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Blue’s Clues” and “Dora the Explorer.”

The news will come as welcome relief to many parents, who last week lamented the loss of the popular programs that their kids could watch for hours on end, but may be worrisome to Netflix. With the addition of the Viacom shows — almost 4,000 episodes in all — from Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV and Comedy Central, Amazon is bolstering its catalog of exclusive programming in the increasingly competitive streaming video market. The shows will be available for free for Amazon Prime subscribers

“Kids’ shows are one of the most watched TV genres on Prime Instant Video,” Bill Carr, vice president of Digital Video and Music for Amazon, said in a news release. “And this expanded deal will now bring customers the largest subscription selection of Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. TV shows online, anywhere.”

Why would Netflix give up such popular programming? Money. After inking a series of pricey streaming deals in the past year, Netflix had to look at what was most cost-effective, and it decided Viacom’s hits could be made up through other programming. “As we continue to focus on exclusive and curated content, our willingness to pay for non-exclusive, bulk content deals declines,” Netflix said in its April earnings report.

But Netflix’s arsenal is still stocked through an exclusive deal it signed in May with Disney and DreamWorks Animation for a slate of popular kids’ shows, such as “My Little Pony,” “Transformers” and “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.” That’s in addition to December’s blockbuster rights deal for Disney films, including Pixar’s catalog, Marvel superhero movies  and the new “Star Wars” releases.

According to a new report from NPD Group, TV shows account for 80 percent of all streaming content, and 89 percent of that comes from Netflix. Hulu Plus comes in a far second, at 10 percent, and Amazon Prime lags even further, though it doubled its market share to 2 percent over the past year. “Neither pose an immediate threat to Netflix,” Russ Crupnick, NPD senior vice president of industry analysis, said in a statement.

The Viacom contract is Amazon’s biggest licensing deal to date, AllThingsD reported. And the Seattle-based Internet giant is working hard to make up the gap. It has also recently inked exclusive deals for select NBCUniversal shows, such as NBC’s “Grimm” and “Hannibal,” and USA’s “Suits” and “Covert Affairs,” and PBS’s imported hit “Downton Abbey.”

Photo by AP/Nick Jr.

 

 

Mike Murphy Mike Murphy (363 Posts)

Mike Murphy is a web producer at the Mercury News, and also writes for Good Morning Silicon Valley and 60-Second Business Break.