By Jeffrey Dastin
Amazon.com Inc said on Wednesday it is buying MGM, the fabled U.S. movie studio home to the James Bond franchise, for $8.45 billion, giving it a huge library of films and TV shows and ramping up competition with streaming rivals led by Netflix and Disney+.
Privately-held MGM, or Metro Goldwyn Mayer, was founded in 1924, owns the Epix cable channel and makes popular TV shows including “Fargo”, “Vikings” and “Shark Tank.”
“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. It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling,” said Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios.
Amazon’s Prime Video faces a long list of competitors including Netflix Inc, Walt Disney Co’s Disney+, HBO Max and Apple Inc’s Apple TV+. The companies are increasing spending and expanding in international markets, aiming to capture the pandemic-led shift to binge-watching shows online.
The proliferating streaming services are also scrambling for brands that they can expand and libraries of older shows and movies. Analysts have said this is a big motivation for another round of consolidation of media properties after a brief hiatus during the pandemic.
Underscoring the trend, AT&T Inc announced a $43-billion deal last week to spin out its WarnerMedia business and combine it with Discovery Inc, one of the most ambitious yet in the streaming era.
The acquisition is Amazon’s second-biggest after Whole Foods Market, which it bought for $13.7 billion in 2017.
The price represents a lofty premium relative to other deals. The price is about 37 times MGM’s 2021 estimated EBITDA – or almost triple the enterprise value-to-EBITDA multiple that Discovery’s deal implied for AT&T’s content assets – according to Reuters Breakingviews.
The deal can be viewed as a doubling down on business strategy that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, articulated at a conference in 2016: “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes,” he had said, referring to Amazon’s diverse business divisions.
In April, Amazon posted its fourth consecutive record quarterly profit and boasted more than 200 million Prime loyalty subscribers.
Amazon has picked up Academy Awards over the years and slowly moved from art-house fare toward content with wider appeal. The MGM acquisition accelerates that move, giving it rights to James Bond, one of the most lucrative franchises in film history that’s earned nearly $7 billion at the box office globally, according to MGM. MGM also has a massive library of classic films.