The Latest Shot in the Streaming Video Wars (AMZN, NFLX, VIAB, LGF)

That did not take long. Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced today that it has signed a deal with premium entertainment network Epix to offer Epix content to Amazon Prime customers. Until last Friday, Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) had an exclusive contract with Epix, a joint venture of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB), MGM Studios and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (NYSE: LGF). The terms of the Amazon-Epix deal were not disclosed other than to say it was a multiyear agreement.

Amazon’s vice president of video and music said:

We are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to expand the Prime Instant Video library for our customers. We have now more than doubled this selection of movies and TV episodes to over 25,000 titles in just under a year.

The deal with Epix adds new movie releases like “The Avengers,” “Iron Man 2,” and “The Hunger Games” to Amazon’s offerings. According to Amazon, the deal with Epix more than doubles the number of movie and TV show titles available with the company’s Prime Instant Video program to more than 25,000.

Netflix does not reveal the number of titles it has available through its instant streaming offering, but an outside estimate puts the number at around 14,000. Netflix’s now nonexclusive rights to Epix content extends through 2015.

The deal is a good one for both Viacom and Lions Gate, and Netflix had already prepared investors for the likely loss of its exclusive access to Epix content.

Amazon is expected to announce a new version of its Kindle Fire tablet on Thursday and will no doubt do some crowing about all the new content it has added.

Amazon’s shares are down slightly this morning, but Netflix shares are getting hammered, down 10% at $53.76 in a 52-week range of $52.81 to $221.98.

Shares of Viacom are also down slightly, while Lions Gate is up more than 2% at $15.16 in a 52-week range of $6.38 to $16.19.

Paul Ausick

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