July 29, 2011, 1:58 PM

Amazon adds Universal films to its movie roster

Amazon Prime members now have access to more than 9,000 films and TV programs.

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Amazon.com Inc. has added another arrow to its online entertainment quiver. The e-retailing giant says select Universal Pictures movies are now available to members of the Amazon Prime free-shipping program. This is Amazon’s second content deal this month, having added more than 2,000 television episodes from CBS Corp. shows. Amazon says more than 9,000 movies and television shows are now available through Amazon Prime.

The Universal deal, made with the movie studio’s parent company NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution, includes such films as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Elizabeth.” Consumers who are not members of Amazon Prime can stream the video content for a fee, typically $1.99 per film. Amazon’s Instant Video library has more than 90,000 films and TV shows available. 

Amazon was quick to tout the Universal Pictures addition, posting a letter on the e-store’s home page. Amazon Prime and the free video access is important to the e-retailer because it attracts customers, says Herman Leung, a senior analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group, which is an Amazon market-maker. “With the introduction of more and more new content, they’re adding a lot of unlimited Prime instant video,” Leung says. “That drives new members. And once you start getting used to Amazon Prime you get all of these benefits. The likelihood of churn is a lot less.”

Amazon does not say how many Amazon Prime members it has; however, Leung estimates that about 15 million consumers will belong to Amazon Prime by the end of the year. Overall, Leung estimates there are about 144 million Amazon shoppers.

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