Amazon may create a live TV service of its own

Jared Newman

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Amazon may be at least considering its own live streaming TV service, presumably to fend off a similar effort from Apple.

Dan Rayburn, a well-connected TV industry analyst, wrote on his blog that Amazon has quietly asked “multiple content owners” over the past few months about licensing their channels. Bloomberg then corroborated this report with its own sources, saying Amazon has reached out to major media companies such as CBS and NBCUniversal.

The service would reportedly include live streaming channels, similar those found on a traditional cable TV package. While Amazon already offers on-demand video through Amazon Prime, this service doesn’t include live programming, and is typically limited to past seasons of TV shows.

This is the first we’ve heard of a live TV service from Amazon, and both Rayburn and Bloomberg make clear that the talks are preliminary. These kinds of content negotiations are notoriously fickle, as evidenced by Apple’s failure to launch its own TV service despite years of rumors. (The latest reports say Apple’s service might launch in 2016.) In other words, don’t expect Amazon’s service to materialize anytime soon, if at all.

In the meantime, the only streaming channel bundles that currently exist in the United States are Sling TV, which doesn’t include major broadcast channels, and PlayStation Vue, which is only available in a handful of U.S. markets.

The story behind the story: Amazon and Apple are quickly becoming bitter rivals in the streaming video business, as we saw last week when Amazon announced a ban on Apple TV sales in its online store. It makes sense, then, for Amazon to investigate its own live TV service that it can offer on its Fire tablets and TV devices. In the long run, however, Amazon may want to focus on making on-demand content more easily and immediately accessible.

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