By Sahil Patel
Amazon has a deal with HIT Entertainment, the producers behind preschool hits such as “Bob the Builder” and “Barney,” to exclusively distribute episodes of its Welsh TV hit “Fireman Sam” via Prime Instant Video.
What at first seems like another licensing deal for popular across-the-fond TV fare is something a little bit more interesting: On June 3, Amazon and HIT will launch a full content-and-commerce hub for “Fireman Sam,” which will offer access to episodes of the show, as well as an array of show-related merchandise including e-books, apparel, toys, and lunch boxes.
All content and merchandise will be available through Amazon’s annual membership service, Amazon Prime, with consumer products being introduced sometime this summer.
“Working with Amazon, we have the perfect platform to create a new experience that gives fans one place to experience the franchise,” said Sid Mathur, VP of HIT Entertainment, in a statement. “This new agreement takes ‘Fireman Sam’ fans through the entire consumer journey from first engaging with the brand through content on their Kindle Fire or Amazon Fire TV to fulfilling the demand for a deeper brand experience via books, toys, and more.”
And that’s the real draw of Amazon for film and TV companies, and what its streaming competitors such as Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube are unable to offer — a complete distribution and monetization hub for a content brand.
It should be a compelling reason for a film or TV studio to license its content to Amazon, which can promise multiple streams of revenue, from advertising (thanks to that deal with FreeWheel) to retail sales.
Take it even a step further: If Amazon is able to find an audience for its originals (the company just launched its first slate of kids series), the company can build incredibly valuable IP by working with toy manufacturers and other CPG companies and selling directly to that audience.
Amazon may have jumped into the TV business in the past year, but it’s very likely that the company has bigger things in mind for its growing slate of originals.