Amazon is considering moving far beyond its Instant Video streaming service, according to a new report out today. The online retail giant is working on offering a live TV service that would stream over the internet, reports The Wall Street Journal. It seems that the project is in its "early stages," and the paper's sources say that Amazon has contacted no less than three major media companies to begin working out licensing deals to stream programming. Such a service, if it's ever released, would compete directly with cable and satellite television providers.
It's not clear how Amazon's live television service would integrate with its Prime subscriptions or its current Instant Video offering. Since early last year a number of separate rumors have pegged an Amazon set-top box to go hand-in-hand with its Instant Video service and compete with products like the Roku and the Apple TV. One report said that the set-top box would launch before the end of 2013, but our own sources later said that the company decided to delay the device. If Amazon is planning to release a live TV service, it'd make sense for the company to offer it alongside the set-top box.
The rumor, if accurate, would hardly make Amazon the first company to show interest in offering an "over-the-top" live TV service streamed over the web. Sony announced similar plans earlier this month at CES, and Apple has long been rumored to be interested in offering such a service. To-date, such efforts have been stymied by difficulties negotiating with content providers who are dependent on their lucrative deals with cable and satellite operators. Over the past couple of years Intel worked hard to try strike such deals, but after a number of failed attempts the company sold its internet TV technology and the other results of its efforts to Verizon earlier this week.
Update: Amazon has responded to The Wall Street Journal's report, noting that while it will continue to develop Prime Instant Video and create original shows, it is "not planning to license television channels or offer a pay-TV service."