MGM, Amazon’s weapon to better compete with Netflix

James Bond, Rocky, The Silence of the Lambs … More than 4,000 films will pass under the Amazon flag after the acquisition for 8.45 billion dollars of the almost century-old Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, enough to arm the US e-commerce ogre facing the Netflix streaming emperor.

MGM has a huge catalog with titles that the public adores (…). We will reinvent intellectual property in the 21st century“, said Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, at the general meeting of shareholders of his group on Wednesday. This is the second most expensive acquisition in the history of Amazon after American supermarkets Whole Foods for $ 13.7 billion in 2017.

In addition to more than 4,000 films including the saga of Agent 007, Robocop, Basic Instinct, Raging Bull or Thelma & Louise, Amazon will take control of a vast catalog of series, such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo and Vikings. This redemption “is very uplifting and it offers a lot of great quality story opportunities to tell“said Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios in a statement.

Established in April 1924 by movie owner Marcus Loew, the studio has grown into one of Hollywood’s biggest with a host of stars including Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Katherine Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor. In all, it has won over 180 Oscars and over a hundred Emmy Awards, but has suffered many financial setbacks since the 1970s, passing through many hands before declaring bankruptcy in 2010 and then restructuring itself. .

He has also suffered greatly from the Covid-19 pandemic and the prolonged closure of movie theaters. Originally expected in theaters in March 2020, James Bond’s latest installment, “No Time To Die”, has seen its release postponed several times and should finally be screened from September 30.

Content battle

Through this takeover, Amazon is strengthening its content for its streaming service Amazon Prime Video, the mother of battles in this sector subject to ruthless competition. To gain subscribers, platforms must invest in content, like Netflix which could spend $ 17 billion this year, or grow through acquisitions.

Netflix dominates the sector with 208 million paying subscribers claimed worldwide at the end of April. Disney platforms (Disney +, ESPN +, Hulu) recorded 159 million in early April.

Amazon said at the end of April that its streaming service had been used by 175 million Prime service subscribers over a year. This operation “clearly helps Amazon as customers are on the lookout for more contentDan Rayburn, media analyst for Frost & Sullivan, told AFP. Amazon also acquired a legendary Hollywood name with a proven reputation in the industry, he added.

However, Amazon’s ability to integrate the entire MGM catalog into its platform is uncertain today, as many programs are not only the property of the American studio. The MGM catalog from before 1986 thus belongs to the pay channel TCM (Turner Classic Movies). The antenna also told AFP that it has an agreement for many films from United Artists studios, bought in 1981 by MGM.

Tolkien and Wimbledon

Amazon, which is worth more than 1.650 billion dollars on the stock market, has already launched expensive acquisitions in recent years with the television rights to “The Lord of the Rings”, the cult fantasy saga of JRR Tolkien, for 250 million dollars, which will be the subject of a series.

He also entered the sporting breach with the purchase of exclusive rights to the NFL in the United States, as well as Wimbledon and the US Open in the United Kingdom. He acquired part of the rights to Roland Garros in France for this year and the two to come.

The takeover of MGM comes against a backdrop of increased consolidation in the media and entertainment industry. Telecom giant AT&T announced in mid-May the $ 43 billion merger of its subsidiary WarnerMedia with Discovery, which offers streaming services HBO MAX and Discovery +, respectively.

Verizon for its part sold its media branch to Apollo Global Management fund in early May for $ 5 billion, including AOL and Yahoo, two former internet elephants.

The value of mergers or acquisitions in this sector this year is the highest since 2000, with just over $ 240 billion including Amazon’s announcement on Wednesday, according to data provider Refinitiv, seven times higher. at the level of last year at the same time.