Amazon expanding video streaming with NBC licensing deal

Amazon Prime, the online bookseller’s answer to Netflix, Friday expanded its licensing arrangement with NBCUniversal, allowing TV programming like “Parks and Recreation,” “Heroes” and “Battlestar Galactica” to be available to subscribers. The news follows the $79 annual service adding past seasons of “Parenthood,” “Friday Night Lights” and “The Starter Wife.”

Amazon’s video content acquisition head Brad Beale described the firm’s investment in Prime as “heavy,” reports the Wall Street Journal. The comment is borne out by the company’s 96% drop second-quarter earnings weighed by increased spending. Along with providing free two-day shipping of items and free Kindle book loans, Prime has offered streaming video since early 2011…

Today’s expanding licensing of NBC programming follows similar deals with Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. The video streaming service also licenses content from CBS to stream 2,000 more episodes from the network.

Amazon’s news comes as Apple reportedly is retreating from thoughts of a pay-TV service due to the complications of obtaining licensing approval. In fact, expanding Apple TV beyond its current makeup is “extremely unlikely,”  writes Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves. He slammed the door shut on any prospects of an Apple TV service after talking with the Eddie Cue, the company’s Internet Software and Services VP.

While Apple could undoubtedly improve on the TV interface, Cue feels that unless the Cupertino, Calif. firm could also break cable’s addiction to bundling program, entering the fractious TV market just isn’t worth the headaches.

“Unfortunately for Apple and for consumers, acquiring rights for traditional broadcast and cable network content outside of the current bundled model is virtually impossible because the content is owned by a relatively small group of companies that have little interest in alternative models  for their most valuable content,” Hargreaves writes.

So much for Apple-branded cable TV anytime soon. Cue and the gang will have to stick to producing those luscious examples of iOS product p0rn.

What do you think? Could Apple have tried to negotiate a deal with network chiefs — or is traditional TV history, anyway?