Amazon will acquire MGM Holdings, with its vast content library and ownership interests in brands that include the James Bond and Rocky franchises, for $8.45 billion.
The Washington Post this morning calls it "a landmark marriage of tech and Hollywood" that has the potential to make Amazon "a dominant entertainment player."
It is the second largest acquisition in Amazon's history - the largest, for more than $13 billion, was Whole Foods.
The New York Times writes that "the Whole Foods deal was a major strategic change for the company, pushing it into new markets of groceries and physical stores, which it had largely avoided. MGM is more about augmenting a current strategy: Amazon most likely paid more than others thought MGM was worth because of its all-important Prime membership program."
The construct is well-known - Amazon Prime members spend as much as twice as much on Amazon as non-Prime members. More robust content on Prime Video creates more Prime members.
The Wall Street Journal, while noting that "the pact signals that Amazon is renewing its emphasis on entertainment and seizing an opportunity to jump up in weight class," also cautions that "the deal could heighten antitrust concerns for Amazon, which is already at the center of multiple probes because of its size and power."
"For Amazon, snapping up MGM — which has more than 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV shows in its catalog — is a way to supercharge its Prime Video service with a slew of well-known entertainment properties. In addition, Amazon is anticipating being able to tap into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer properties like the Pink Panther, Rocky, and, yes, the 007 franchises for new originals.
"'The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of [intellectual property] in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,' Mike Hopkins, senior VP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in announcing the deal. 'It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling'."
Advertising Age writes that the acquisition could offer Amazon an almost unrivaled opportunity to connect content with commerce, and offers the following scenario:
"MGM loads Bond films with marketing - think, Aston Martin cars, Omega watches and Heineken beer. If Amazon has its way, those brand shoutouts could point viewers to sales. Amazon owns Prime Video, IMDb TV, Fire TV and Twitch, which all have interactivity in their advertising. For instance, Prime Video has an 'X-Ray' feature, which is a pause screen that leads viewers to more information about shows and movies. Amazon has promoted X-Ray as a potential venue for brands to present more information."
- KC's View:
What they said.
There's another cautionary note being sounded is that MGM's control of the James Bond franchise has its limitations - it only owns 50 percent of the film rights, and control actually is exercise by Eon Productions, owned by siblings Barbara Broccoli (a graduate, by the way, of the Loyola Marymount University film school) and Michael G. Wilson, who dictate which films get made, when they get made, who plays James Bond, and virtually every other aspect of production.
That said, expect Amazon to be fully invested in making this deal work. If nothing else, it'll give Jeff Bezos something to do when he steps down as CEO and becomes chairman.