Amazon announced a new licensing deal this morning with Discovery Communications, the media company behind cable TV channels including theÂ Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science and Military Channel. Under the terms of the agreement, Amazon Prime customers will now have the rights to stream series and specials from those channels, as well as from the company’s 25-year programming library, through Amazon’s video streaming service.
The TV channels include a bunch of popular shows, like Discovery Channelâ€™s “Dirty Jobs,” TLCâ€™s “Say Yes To The Dress” and Animal Planetâ€™s “Whale Wars,” the company announced, as well as other fan faves like “Cake Boss,” “Mythbusters” (super hooray!), “Man Vs. Wild” (so awesome), and “Shark Week.”
The videos will be available at no extra charge to Amazon Prime customers who pay the $79/year for the service, which also includes free two-day shipping and access to the Kindle Lending Library.
Amazon also notes that there are now over 17,000 titles now available for streaming, and more than 120,000 available for rent or purchase through Amazon Instant Video. Last month, when Amazon signed a similar deal with Viacom, the number of streaming titles was brought up to 15,000, so this is a notable boost in content. For what it’s worth, in December, the count was 13,000. If Amazon keeps up this pace, Amazon Instant will look a lot different by the end of 2012.
The company, which has been promoting Prime through free subscription on its Kindle Fire tablet, reportedly has 3 to 5 million Prime customers, according to a Bloomberg report from February, which was lower than the 10 million analysts had previously thought.
While deals like this one with Discovery, will certainly help flesh out Amazon’s library, that alone will not be enough – Amazon Video’s success is also hinged on the success of its Kindle Fire tablet. According to new figures from IDC, the Fire accounted for 16.8 percent of all tablet shipments in Q4 2011, or some 4.7 million units, making it the largest â€œAndroidâ€ vendor. This, despite the fact it was only available in the U.S., makes for a promising start in terms of taking on its Android-based competition. However, the Fire is still a long ways off from competing with Apple’s iPad, which accounted for 15.4 million units, or 54.7% of all Q4 2011 shipments. And that means Amazon Video, too, is a long, long way off from taking on iTunes.