Your streaming bill is about to get more expensive as platforms look to gobble up libraries of exclusive content

Black Widow Florence Pugh Scarlett Johansson
“Black Widow” debuts on HBO Max and in theaters on July 9.

  • Amazon is acquiring MGM Studio’s content library, which could be shown exclusively on its Prime service.
  • The move indicates that content could grow increasingly exclusive across the streaming market.
  • Such exclusivity could mean viewers will pay for more subscriptions to access what they want to watch, experts said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The media industry is consolidating, and experts say it will probably get more expensive for you to stream your favorite shows and movies.

That’s because exclusivity will play a bigger role in helping streaming companies get eyeballs – and customers – on their platforms, meaning you may have to sign up for more subscriptions as movies and shows become unique to each platform. Amazon’s $8.45 billion deal for MGM, announced in May, for instance, could be only the start.

“I think really sought-after content where it’s good enough to get somebody to subscribe, a content provider likely wants to have that exclusivity,” Brad Gastwirth, a strategist at Wedbush Securities, told Insider.

Amazon’s MGM deal gives it content to show exclusively

no time to die
Daniel Craig as James Bond in “No Time to Die”

Each streaming platform’s success will in part depend on its arsenal of exclusive content, experts say.

For Disney, that’s its popular Marvel, Pixar, and “Star Wars” brands, as well as its existing intellectual property content, Rahul Patel – an analyst with the UK-based data research firm Ampere Analysis – told Insider. Customers who want to watch content from those brands are likely to shell out the $8 subscription fee for Disney+ since they wouldn’t be able to watch it anywhere else.

For Netflix, which has focused less on its movie selection, that’s its stellar, FOMO-driven original programming, Patel said, like “Bridgerton” and “Tiger King.”

Patel said the recent Amazon and MGM merger would similarly help the tech giant differentiate its streaming platform from rivals. The deal will give Amazon content that viewers can only watch on its Prime service if it chooses to go that route.

“I guess we can assume it will take MGM content off the table for other distributors to offer consumers and offered on an exclusive basis on Amazon,” Patel said. “And that will become part of their strategy to compete with the platforms, which have exclusive basis already.”

For example, “Skyfall,” which was distributed by MGM Studios, is currently on Hulu. It’s unclear how exclusively any MGM content will be offered on Amazon Prime and what licensing deals could keep MGM content available on other services for any period of time after the deal closes.

But if the James Bond film were to hypothetically be pulled from Hulu and offered only on Amazon, the move – as well as future Amazon-MGM projects that are released – could be enough to prompt a “Bond superfan” to buy an $8.99 Prime Video subscription, Patel said.

“‘Skyfall’ being removed from Hulu would perhaps be part of why Amazon would be interested in buying MGM in the first place, “Patel said. “Offering the MGM content exclusively is a big deal and a big part of why they are buying the studio.”

The more exclusive content that streamers offer, the more subscriptions you may have to pay for

spider man far from home tom holland
Tom Holland as Spider-Man in Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”

Movie companies used to license their content out to the likes of Netflix. But then rights-holders started pulling their content from existing streaming services to offer on their own. Disney, for example, owns Marvel, whose movies were available on Netflix until Disney+ launched in late 2019. Marvel is a huge driver of customers to Disney’s streaming platform, which has more than 100 million global subscribers.

Patel said that’s nothing new. But what is new is studios with popular content that haven’t chosen to go direct to the consumer to date, like MGM Studios and Sony, pairing up with streaming services.

For them, it’s about finding an opportunity to showcase their content, Patel said, and MGM’s merger with Amazon is an example of that. So are the exclusive distribution deals that Sony struck with Netflix and Disney to show the studio’s 2022 movies on the streaming services after their theatrical runs.

Exclusivity will be “a key point when it comes to competitiveness of platforms,” Patel said.

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A ‘James Bond’ screenwriter says Amazon’s $8 billion MGM deal gave him a ‘chill’ – and warns commercial interests could water down the franchise

james bond
“James Bond.”

  • Screenwriter John Logan said he’s worried about “James Bond” being in Amazon’s hands.
  • The “Skyfall” co-writer said that corporate and commercial interest can water down film creativity.
  • MGM owns half of the Bond rights, but Logan said he’s worried Amazon could still wield influence.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A writer of the “James Bond” films says Amazon’s planned $8.45 billion acquisition of MGM Studios, including the 007 franchise, worries him and gave him a “chill” when announced in May.

John Logan, who co-wrote “Skyfall” and “Spectre,” wrote in a New York Times op-ed Monday that he’s concerned about the massive corporation’s oversight of artistic projects involving Bond and what Amazon’s ownership of the movies rights could do to the integrity of the character.

“What happens if a bruising corporation like Amazon begins to demand a voice in the process? What happens to the comradeship and quality control if there’s an Amazonian overlord with analytics parsing every decision? What happens when focus groups report they don’t like Bond drinking martinis? Or killing quite so many people? And that English accent’s a bit alienating, so could we have more Americans in the story for marketability?” he wrote.

Amazon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

MGM owns just half of the rights to Bond, with the rest belonging to producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, who have handled the creative direction of the franchise. So decisions could get tricky if Amazon ever wanted to expand the Bond universe, such as producing a TV series around the character.

Logan said the two producers are “champions of James Bond” and aren’t motivated by commercial interests, which is “why we don’t have a mammoth Bond Cinematic Universe, with endless anemic variations of 007 sprouting up on TV or streaming or in spinoff movies.”

But Logan questioned if that agreement will be enough to keep corporate pressure out of Bond content.

He cited Disney’s recent “Star Wars” spinoffs as well as installments in the DC universe featuring figures like Superman at Warner Bros. as examples of big firms using iconic characters to attract and keep paying customers.

Amazon’s planned acquisition MGM Studios’ parent company for $8.45 billion means the studio’s legendary movies and shows could eventually appear on Amazon’s Prime video streaming platform.

The move gives Amazon an edge in the streaming market as the company fights to compete for eyeballs with rivals like Netflix and Disney+. It also marks another tech company teaming up with a film industry giant as the media world continues to consolidate and transition to a streaming-first approach.

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MGM deal throws other Hollywood giants in the spotlight

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5 Hollywood giants that Big Tech could snap up next in the wake of Amazon’s MGM deal

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  • She talked about building HBO Max’s new ad-supported and international experiences.

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  • Ad execs are starting to travel again as clients seek facetime with their agencies, they tell Lindsay Rittenhouse.
  • Some agencies are prepared to push back if asked to resume hectic pre-pandemic travel schedules.
  • But habits are hard to break, and agencies that don’t show up in person may be at risk of losing the business.

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The execs vying for power in Amazon’s acquisition of MGM

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Amazon is buying MGM in a deal that could shake up Hollywood. Here are the execs jostling for power.

Read the story.

Also read: Why the James Bond franchise could be complicated for Amazon after buying the MGM film studio

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Amazon’s $8.5 billion bet on MGM is the latest sign that tech is transforming Hollywood. Here are the biggest deals that have altered the streaming world.

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  • The media business keeps consolidating, and Amazon’s purchase of MGM Holdings isn’t the first sign.
  • Disney bought 21st Century Fox in 2019, gaining control of Hulu, and AT&T is merging WarnerMedia with Discovery.
  • The deals signal a trend that many in the media world realize survival lies in the streaming market.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It’s official – Amazon is acquiring MGM Studios’ parent company for $8.45 billion, it announced Wednesday.

That means that movies and shows owned by MGM could eventually appear on Amazon’s Prime video streaming platform for users to watch.

It’s yet another instance of a tech company partnering with a film industry power player to round out its streaming offerings and compete with deeply entrenched rivals like Disney and Netflix.

And as streaming services continue to gain favor over traditional TV, media firms are likely happy to oblige, helping further industry consolidation. Film studios without their own streaming service are especially keen on finding a way to get eyeballs on – and monetize – their libraries.

Here are some of the biggest mergers, acquisitions, and deals amongst tech platforms and traditional film companies that have set the stage for the streaming wars.

Disney and 21st Century Fox

drew barrymore never been kissed
Drew Barrymore stars in 1999’s “Never Been Kissed.”

Disney bought the film company 21st Century Fox and its decades-old 20th Century Studios subsidiary, in a $71 billion sale that closed in 2019. Disney’s streaming platform, Disney+, launched in December of that year with films like “Never Been Kissed” and “Ever After” available to watch.

Those 21st Century Fox films will join Disney’s already attractive library it built with past acquisitions of LucasFilm -home to “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” – and Marvel.

The Fox deal also gave Disney control of Hulu

handmaids tale
Elisabeth Moss stars in “Handmaid’s Tale.”

Hulu has always had a complicated ownership setup, but Disney now owns a majority of the company and maintains full operations of the streaming platform.

Through its 21st Century Fox acquisition, Disney also absorbed the corporation’s 60% stake in Hulu, one of the original streaming services that launched in 2007. It later acquired AT&T’s 9.5% stake in Hulu, bringing its stake to about 70%.

Comcast is the only other shareholder, which is guaranteed to own a minimum of 21% thanks to a 2019 deal.

Disney even offers a $13.99 bundle that includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+.

Netflix announced a deal with Sony in April

Tom Holland SpiderMan
Tom Holland has played Spider-Man in five MCU movies.

The agreement will allow Netflix to offer Sony’s future 2022 films in the US, including installments of the “Spider-Man” franchise with Tom Holland. Other potential future Sony releases could include “Jumanji” and “Ghostbusters.”

After Sony’s movies are released in theatres in 2022, they’ll first go to pay-per-view and then hit Netflix.

As Insider’s Travis Clark reported, the deal gives Sony – which doesn’t have its own streaming platform – an avenue to showcase its films. And it gives Netflix even more theatrical releases to entice paying customers.

Disney will also have Sony movies after Netflix has its turn

Tom Holland as Spider-Man.

After a Sony film is released in theatres in 2022, has its pay-per-view television run, and spends an expected 18 months on Netflix, it’ll be offered on Disney+ and Hulu. Sony and Disney said the US licensing deal will be in effect from 2022 until 2026.

The agreement means that future “Spider-Man” movies could eventually call Disney+ home alongside Disney-owned Marvel’s film franchise, which Holland appears in as well.

Sony and Disney ran into a snag in the past over Sony’s movie rights to hundreds of Marvel characters and Disney’s Marvel productions. The solution was for Disney and Sony to agree on the Spider-Man character being allowed to appear in one more standalone film and another Marvel Cinematic Universe installment.

AT&T’s massive WarnerMedia-Discovery merger will create a new streaming giant

wonder woman 1984
“Wonder Woman 1984.”

The communications giant announced last week that it was spinning off its WarnerMedia content arm, which includes HBO and Warner Bros., both of which AT&T acquired when it bought then-Time Warner for $81 billion in 2018. AT&T plans to merge WarnerMedia with the media company Discovery.

That means content from the two companies’ 100-plus brands, including HGTV and Discovery, would all exist under one umbrella. Such a service could give Netflix, the reigning streaming champ, a run for its money. The deal is expected to close in mid-2022.

The Discovery Plus streaming platform had already launched in early January with subscriptions starting at $4.99 and showing programs from Food Network, HGTV, TLC, BBC, and Discovery Channel, home to Shark Week. It was the first new streaming service to launch in 2021.

MGM Studios is home to the oldest and most beloved film classics

James Bond movies
James Bonds over the years.

Amazon is shelling out $8.5 billion to acquire MGM Holdings, whose 97-year-old MGM Studios is behind some of the world’s most classic movies and TV shows. The company said that the “more than 4,000 films” and “17,000 TV shows” were big factors in making the purchase.

Movies include “Silence of the Lambs” starring Anthony Hopkins, “Rocky,” and the extensive James Bond film catalog. Although as Insider’s Travis Clark reported, MGM owns just half of the rights to Bond, with the rest belonging to producers that handle the creative direction of the franchise. That means that it could get tricky if Amazon ever wanted to, say, produce a TV series starring the famous character.

Viacom merged with CBS in 2019 with Paramount already under its belt

a quiet place 2
Emily Blunt in “A Quiet Place 2.”

Viacom’s acquisition of Paramount may have closed in 1994, but the move set the company up well for what would become the 21st-century streaming wars. So did Viacom’s merger with CBS in 2019.

The streaming service CBS All Access launched in 2014 and was rebranded as Paramount Plus in 2020 as the pandemic drove a business boom in the streaming market.

Since “A Quiet Place 2” is distributed by Paramount Pictures, the movie starring Emily Blunt will be available on the streaming service on July 12.

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Amazon’s $8.5 billion purchase of MGM will give it rights to James Bond, ‘Legally Blonde,’ ‘Robocop,’ ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ and much more. Here’s what the tech giant could own under the deal.

robocop original
Amazon now owns the rights to “Robocop,” among many other classic films.

  • Amazon is buying MGM for $8.45 billion, the companies announced on Wednesday.
  • From James Bond to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” MGM is getting a massive trove of movies and TV.
  • These are the highlights of the blockbuster acquisition.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Amazon just dropped $8.45 billion to buy MGM Studios, the decades-old film studio that owns rights to some of the biggest movies and TV shows in the world.

In the press release announcing the deal, Amazon pointed to the “vast catalog” of “more than 4,000 films” and “17,000 TV shows” as the reason for the purchase – assuredly intended to bolster Amazon’s Prime video streaming service.

So, what’s Amazon getting for nearly $8.5 billion?

James Bond movies
A smattering of Bonds.

The decades-long catalog of James Bond films is among the “more than 4,000” films Amazon is buying, in addition to classic movies like “12 Angry Men,” “Silence of the Lambs,” “Thelma & Louise,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Dances with Wolves,” and “Raging Bull.”

Another major franchise Amazon gets in the deal: “Rocky,” as well as the more recent “Creed” films.

And that’s just movies.

In terms of television, Amazon’s getting more recent classics, like “Fargo,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “Vikings.”

Beyond the titles specifically noted by Amazon, there are countless others that belong to the MGM Holdings catalog – though it’s not completely clear which movies and TV shows have rights split up between several companies.

MGM Holdings includes MGM Television, for instance, which counts “The Real Housewives” franchise among its titles. An MGM rep confirmed that “The Real Housewives” franchise is part of the deal, as well as “The Voice,” “Shark Tank,” and “Survivor.”

What we know for sure isn’t included in the deal is the vast library of MGM films from prior to 1986, which are controlled by Turner Entertainment Company.

Beyond what’s listed above, Amazon’s press release included “Basic Instinct,” “Legally Blonde,” “Moonstruck,” “Poltergeist,” “Stargate,” “Tomb Raider,” The Magnificent Seven,” The Pink Panther,” and “The Thomas Crown Affair” among the movie rights it acquired in the deal.

Amazon and MGM representatives were unable to clarify the full list of acquired movie and TV rights in the deal.

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Amazon is acquiring MGM, the studio behind James Bond and Rocky, for $8.45 billion

no time to die
Daniel Craig as James Bond in “No Time to Die.”

Amazon is acquiring film studio MGM for $8.45 billion, it announced Wednesday.

Amazon’s acquisition of MGM Studios could mean a big expansion of Amazon Prime‘s streaming inventory to include MGM’s big-name movies and TV shows. These include the James Bond, Rocky, Creed, and Pink Panther franchises, alongside “Legally Blonde” and “A Star Is Born.” Its TV shows include “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Fargo,” “Shark Tank,” and “The Real Housewives.”

“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a press release.

Amazon said that completion of the transaction was subject to regulatory approvals.

Industry sources told Insider that Amazon had been at the table for months. One person close to talks also said another major media company had made a lower bid and had been rejected from the process last week.

The Wall Street Journal reported in December that MGM was exploring a sale. The company had already started a formal sale process, and prospective buyers had been expressing interest since last spring, per The Journal’s report, which also cited people who said the company had a market value of $5.5 billion.

Other companies were also in the running to acquire MGM, including ViacomCBS and Sony Pictures Entertainment, per the report. One person close to talks also said a major media company had made a $6 billion bid and had been rejected from the process last week.

Jeffrey Wlodarczak, principal and entertainment and interactive subscription services analyst at Pivotal Research Group, said that Apple and Comcast were also “logical” other bidders, in an analyst note seen by Insider.

MGM’s catalog would bolster up Amazon’s portfolio

Like the rest of the film industry, MGM was hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and it had to push back the release of the next Bond installment, “No Time To Die.”

Its revenue dropped 3% year-over-year to $1.5 billion in 2020. Its film segment was the worst hit, with an 83% fall in revenue from theatrical releases, as movie theaters closed or operated at lower capacity.

But the company was saved by its deep catalog, which includes about 4,000 films and 17,000 TV episodes, and its chief operating officer, Christopher Brearton, said in the company’s third-quarter earnings announcement that 2021 could be its biggest-ever year for new content.

Amazon has been knuckling down on investment in its media division as demand for streaming has boomed during the pandemic.

Last month, Amazon’s streaming service surpassed 200 million Prime members worldwide – 175 million of whom streamed Prime Video content in the past year, according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who said streaming hours were up more than 70% year-over-year.

The company said it made $7.6 billion – or about 7% of its total net sales – from its subscription services in the first quarter of 2021.

One Hollywood executive told Insider that thanks to Amazon’s distribution deal with premium TV and movie service Epix, which was acquired by MGM, “Amazon Prime Video has data on every movie played in the eco-system and they know how Bond, Creed, and Rocky perform.”

“They know on a household basis, on a geographic basis what titles are popping in 40 million-50 million households,” the executive said. “And that was the valuation equation that drove the price up.” In the end, price back and forth price negotiations meant Amazon’s deal came in a little lower than the $9 billion figure suggested in early reports.

Wlodarczak said in the Pivotal Research Group note, sent before the deal was finalized, that Amazon was “massively overpaying,” but that this investment was needed to stay competitive with Netflix.

“Amazon Prime’s originals hit rate appears dramatically below Netflix since launching in 2013, with frankly pretty limited hit success rate,” he said. He said that hits are important because they drive usage of Prime, which in turn creates “stickier” customers for Amazon’s other services.

Wlodarczak said that by acquiring MGM, Amazon would get a “decent but in my view tired” catalog.

He said that, adjusted for inflation, James Bond is the third-highest grossing film franchise of all time behind Marvel and Star Wars, but that “recent results have been trending in the wrong direction.” Of recent releases from the franchise, only Daniel Craig’s 2012 “Skyfall” has made it to the top 10 Bond box office results, adjusted for inflation, he said.

MGM only owns half of the Bond franchise. Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson still have final say on the franchise’s direction, Insider’s Travis Clark reported, meaning there won’t be a Prime Video Bond TV series without their approval.

The sale to Amazon is a stunning finale for a studio brand that a decade ago was deeply in debt. MGM sold to Sony and a group of investors including private equity firm Providence Equity for $3 billion plus $1.9 billion in debt back in 2004.

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Where WarnerMedia-Discovery will find $3 billion in cuts

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WarnerMedia-Discovery cuts

TV ad prices spike

Anheuser-Busch’s data play

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David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery Inc., at the Sun Valley conference in 2016.

WarnerMedia and Discovery deal synergies

Now that WarnerMedia and Discovery have announced their planned merger, many employees no doubt are jittery about the prospects of job cuts.

The companies said they’d be seeking $3 billion in savings, and as much as 75% of the pledged cost savings can come from cutting staff and overhead in big mergers like this, sources told Insider.

Key points:

  • Some cost savings could also come through sharing resources, such as deduplicating subscription costs for sales software and professional services fees.
  • One media analyst pointed out that Warner already went through robust cost-cutting and that advertising sales could be somewhat spared because of the importance of client relationships.
  • The content side is expected to be relatively secure, since there’s little overlap between the two companies’ assets and content is how they’re pitching the merger as a way to compete with Netflix and Disney.

Read more:

WarnerMedia-Discovery merger is expected to create $3 billion in savings – here are some of the jobs at risk

Now that Jeff Zucker’s golfing buddy is set to run Discovery-WarnerMedia, insiders say his retirement plans could be put on hold

Amazon had tapped WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar to run its burgeoning media empire, but he turned it down

Inside the massive WarnerMedia-Discovery media marriage: The bankers and lawyers who played key roles, and how it came together

Extra Gum commercial

TV ad prices spike

Brands like Bud Light and Mars Wrigley are out with new campaigns, hoping to capitalize on the return to normalcy, Lauren Johnson reports.

But the increased demand for TV inventory, coupled with a decline in ratings as people cut the cord, has led to a spike in prices – as much as 30%.

However, advertisers are wary of paying too much, and there are other ad outlets like audio and streaming services are calling.

Read more: TV ad prices are soaring as brands like Mars embrace the return to normalcy

FILE PHOTO: Anheuser Busch's Budweiser and Bud Light Beer on display at a Wal-Mart store in Chicago, January 24, 2012. REUTERS/John Gress
Anheuser Busch’s Budweiser and Bud Light Beer on display at a Wal-Mart store in Chicago.

Anheuser-Busch taps into data

The privacy era is leading advertisers to change how they target and measure their ads and get their data house in order.

One is beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, which has prepared for the shift by beefing up its first-party data, adding information about more than 2.5 billion consumers over the past two years.

The company told Tanya Dua having this data has helped it improve its ad targeting, leading to spikes of up to 80% in some cases. It’s also helping with things like new product research.

Maybe most important, it’s reduced its dependency on the walled gardens like Facebook and Google.

Read more: Anheuser-Busch InBev is doubling down on consumer data to get around new ad targeting limits, and it’s already seeing sales spike as much as 80% in tests

Other stories we’re reading:

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading, and see you back here in a week!

– Lucia

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Amazon reportedly negotiating deal to acquire MGM for around $9 billion

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) logo seen displayed on a smartphone
In this photo illustration the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

Amazon has been in negotiations to acquire MGM for about $9 billion, Variety reported Monday.

The tech giant has reportedly been negotiating a deal for “weeks,” industry sources told the news outlet. The Information first reported on Monday that Amazon was in talks for a potential deal that could run between $7 billion and $10 billion.

“The deal is said to be being orchestrated by Mike Hopkins, senior VP of Amazon Studios and Prime Video, directly with MGM board chairman Kevin Ulrich, whose Anchorage Capital is a major MGM shareholder,” according to the Variety report.

The potential sale of MGM to Amazon could signal the tech company’s move to expand its Amazon Prime streaming inventory to include MGM’s extensive array of content, which include the James Bond, Hobbit, and Pink Panther franchises.

Last month, the company’s streaming service surpassed 200 million Prime members worldwide – 175 million of which streamed Prime Video content in the last year, according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

MGM Holdings has been exploring a sale since December of last year, Variety reported. At the time that it was considering a sale, the company had a market value of $5.5 billion.

Other companies have also been in the running to acquire MGM, including ViacomCBS and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Representatives from Amazon and MGM did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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