Amazon is acquiring storied Hollywood studio MGM in a deal worth $8.45 billion in a bid to bolster its streaming catalog. The takeover hands it the rights to an eye-watering pool of crowdpleasers including James Bond, Rocky and Robocop. MGM also owns The Hobbit franchise, which should sit nicely alongside Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series for Prime Video. On the TV side, the studio’s output includes recent hits such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Fargo, along with all things under its Epix TV network.
The deal — the second-largest in Amazon’s history after its $13.7 billion Whole Foods acquisition — is part of a new wave of media consolidation ushered in by the so-called streaming wars. Already, we’ve seen Disney consume 21st Century Fox for $71 billion, assimilating its library into Disney+ and Hulu. While the dust is still settling on the newly-announced merger of HBO Max parent WarnerMedia with Discovery. Together, the two companies spend a whopping $20 billion per year on content, slightly more than the $17 billion Netflix splurges on originals.
But, while legacy media companies have pulled the trigger on big deals as a means of survival, Big Tech has been relatively silent on the acquisition front. Rumors indicating that MGM was interested in a sale have been circulating for years. The studio was previously reported to be in talks with Apple for a takeover that would have valued it at $6 billion. Though, that obviously did not materialize.
For its part, Amazon has given preference to individual film rights and live sports deals over Hollywood takeovers. The company has been on a feeding frenzy during the pandemic, snapping up the rights to movies including Coming2America and the sequel to Borat as cinemas remained shuttered. Jeff Bezos recently revealed that Prime Video (now 10 years old) was watched by over 175 million Prime subscribers in the past year. Amazon also owns a free, ad-supported streaming service called IMDbTV.