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Move over Sling TV? Amazon may create live TV service to compete against cable

Amazon Fire TV 2
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
Likely similar to live TV subscription services like Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue, Amazon is reported to be considering a premium subscription service that would provide access to live television channels. Detailed by Bloomberg Business today, Amazon has approached both Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal and CBS to discuss the possibility of participating in a live TV service.

A deal with NBCUniversal could offer access to channels such as NBC, CNBC, the Universal channel, The Weather Channel, the Golf channel, SyFy, USA, Telemundo and the Oxygen network. A deal with CBS could include access to the network itself, the CW, the Smithsonian channel and Showtime.

It’s likely that Amazon would bundle packages of these channels together, similar to the small packages of channels found on Sling TV. Of course, Amazon would need to strike a deal with Disney to get access to channels like ABC and ESPN as well as channels within the A&E Networks.

Hypothetically, a live TV service may put Amazon in a position to offer a live channel, unique to the online retailer, that only plays original content currently being produced for Amazon Prime customers. This would create an opportunity for the retailer to include commercial breaks with original programming, thus opening up a new revenue stream from potential advertisers. Another completely hypothetical channel on the service could be an Amazon version of a shopping channel like QVC, only promoting products that are stocked and sold by Amazon.

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On the hardware side, Amazon could potentially limit access to the live TV service to consumers that own an Amazon Fire TV or a Fire TV Stick. Amazon has already squeezed out competing hardware, like the Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast, and limited the release of Amazon Instant Video apps on competing products. It wouldn’t be much of a leap to see exclusivity of a live TV service specifically on Amazon hardware.

Assuming Amazon does move forward with a live TV subscription service, it may be directly related to the company’s acquisition of Elemental Technologies during September 2015. Elemental Technologies specifically works with pay TV operators to develop solutions that bring streaming video to televisions, computers and mobile devices. That technology would likely be key in broadcasting live television to Web-based subscribers.

At this time, the discussion of an Amazon live TV service is in the “preliminary” stage. Beyond Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue, Amazon would face direct competition from Comcast as well. The Comcast Stream live TV service is set to launch during early 2016 at a price of $15 per month, but only for Comcast Xfinity customers.

Dish Network has seen mild success with Sling TV to date, adding roughly 169,000 subscribers during the first quarter of 2015. Only accounting for the base price of $20-per-month, that generates roughly $3.3 million in revenue for Dish Network each month. Interestingly, Dish Network has been hesitant to release subscriber data beyond early 2015, thus the popularity of the service may have waned over the last six months.

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