Amazon adds Dora the Explorer, other kids' shows with Viacom deal

Jun 4, 2013

Amazon has signed a deal with Viacom for online rights to hundreds of TV shows. But the most important shows are ones geared toward kids.

Any parent of a preschooler knows how mesmerizing "Dora the Explorer" is for kids. Now people who want to watch old episodes of Dora online—along with other kids’ shows like "Blue’s Clues" and "Backyardigans"—will have to subscribe to Amazon Prime, Amazon's $80-a-year service that includes free two-day shipping along with the ability to stream movies and TV shows.

NPD Group analyst Russ Crupnick says Amazon is using kids’ TV shows as bait. The company is trying to get more people to shop on its site and maybe tilt toward Amazon when deciding what tablet computer to buy.

"Is that going to be a Kindle, because it’s something I can give to my child and it’s got the Amazon kids’ ecosystem built into it, and it’s got Dora or SpongeBob?" Crupnick said. "Kids are the secret weapon in all of this video streaming."

Amazon’s deal with Viacom ups the stakes in its competition with Netflix. Netflix dominates the world of Internet TV, but Amazon has embraced an aggressive strategy. When Netflix allowed its agreement with Viacom to expire recently, Amazon swooped in.

And earlier this year, the retail giant announced an exclusive deal for the popular British show Downton Abbey. The agreement with Viacom also includes some MTV and Comedy Central shows like "Key and Peele" and "Workaholics".