Amazon.com Inc wrote its largest ever check for a subscription streaming deal on Tuesday to secure hundreds of mostly kids' TV shows for the company's Internet video service, ratcheting up pressure on rival Netflix Inc .
Amazon announced a new multi-year digital video licensing agreement with media company Viacom Inc , giving the world's largest Internet retailer broader access to hit shows including Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants.
Amazon agreed to pay more than $200 million to Viacom for the license, its largest subscription streaming transaction ever, a person familiar with the deal said.
Amazon wants SpongeBob!
The pact includes about 4,000 TV episodes that will be available to stream for free on Amazon Prime Instant Video. This service is free for subscribers to Amazon's Prime program, which offers free two-day shipping in the United States for items purchased through Amazon for $79 a year.
Part of the payment went to secure exclusive subscription streaming rights to several shows from Viacom's Nick Jr channel, including Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go!, Blue's Clues and The Backyardigans.
Amazon is spending heavily on video content as it competes with Netflix and Hulu for a piece of the fast-growing market for TV and movies delivered over the Internet.
Amazon's latest content deal comes just days after Netflix stopped streaming kids' shows such as Dora the Explorer as its own agreement with Viacom expired.
Kids' shows are among the most-watched programmes on Amazon's Prime Instant Video, according to Bill Carr, vice president for digital video and music at Amazon.
In early May, Netflix announced a new multi-year license agreement with Walt Disney Co . That deal gave Netflix the exclusive right to stream kids' show Jake and the Never Land Pirates, along with access to other Disney kids' shows including Handy Manny.
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