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Reports: Amazon May Offer Major Studio Movie Downloads

13 Mar, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

E-commerce behemoth Amazon.com is once again in the news as a probable source for major movie downloads.

The New York Times and Reuters March 10 reported Seattle-based Amazon was in “advanced negotiations” with Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. about offering movie rental downloads in the near future possibly through the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com).

The site, which Amazon acquired in 1998, has become a much-trafficked repository of information on movie titles, cast and crew, shooting locations and production companies.

Representatives from Universal and Paramount were not immediately available for comment. Warner and Amazon representatives declined comment.

Studios, mindful of Apple Computer's phenomenal success with the iTunes music store and iPod portable music and video devices, are eager to exploit alternative distribution channels beyond DVD sellthrough.

Warner earlier this year announced it would offer its classic TV programming for IN2TV, an upstart download service on parent America Online.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group president Kevin Tsujihara has said he would be interested in exploring rental download options with cable companies and other Internet-based services.

“There is definitely a transition taking place as we look at packaged media today,” said Tsujihara. “Being holder of arguably the largest content library in town, I have a vested interest in finding new ways to sell it.”

One studio executive, who admitted his company had been contacted by Amazon and other download services, said negotiations have been ongoing long before Google launched its much-publicized movie download service in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“We've been working with anyone who has an Internet presence, including contractual details for a long time,” said the executive, who declined to be identified. “There are a ton of them out there.”

Amazon executives, in a third-quarter conference call, said the company was putting “a lot of energy into” a download service and believed it would “have some good offering to our customers over time.”

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