Amazon isn't on the lookout for reality series in a streaming-video deal it's negotiating with Viacom, a new report says.
The e-commerce giant, which operates the Amazon Prime Instant Video streaming service, is looking to kick several reality shows from its service, including "Teen Mom" and "Mob Wives," according to a report Wednesday by Bloomberg, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its plans. Amazon is in negotiations with the shows' owner, entertainment giant Viacom -- which owns networks MTV, VH1, Spike and several others -- to continue to offer its programming on the streaming service. However, Amazon doesn't want to pay for many of its reality shows and will instead use that cash to invest in other programming, according to the report.
Amazon's Prime Instant Video service offers a wide range of streaming content, including television programming and movies. Amazon also has its own original programming. The service comes bundled with Amazon's $99-a-year Prime service, which also includes free two-day shipping.
Amazon's willingness to shed at least some Viacom programming smacks of a move Netflix made a couple of years ago. In 2013, Netflix allowed its Viacom streaming deal to lapse, prompting Amazon to quickly swoop in and pick up the content, including children's shows from Nickelodeon and reality programming from MTV.
Netflix at the time said that it had little desire to pay Viacom's fees for "nonexclusive bulk content." Netflix also said that it would be willing to pay for select titles, but not Viacom's entire library.
Just as Amazon followed in Netflix's footsteps in 2013 by acquiring Viacom content to see if it would make sense for its own service, the company is again following its chief competitor's lead by being more selective about Viacom's programming.
The issue for Amazon and Viacom is that reality programming has lost some of its luster in the last year or so. Ratings for some of the most popular reality shows have been down for months as viewer appetite has increasingly shifted to scripted drama and sitcoms. Indeed, earlier this week, Fox announced that "American Idol," one of the biggest shows of the reality-TV era, will end next season. In January, Entertainment Weekly reported that the reality TV craze hasn't delivered a breakout hit in the genre since 2011.
In December, the Los Angeles Times issued an in-depth feature on reality series, speaking to several prominent network executives. The conclusion? Reality TV appears to be on the downturn as networks reduce the amount of reality programming in their nightly lineups and turn to old-fashioned scripted television.
Even a quick glance at the top shows on several prominent streaming services, including Amazon's Prime Instant Video, Netflix, and Hulu Plus reveals that reality shows lack the appeal they once had.
Given that, it's perhaps no surprise that Amazon is reconsidering its programming lineup. According to Bloomberg, if Amazon decides to nix reality programming, it would follow a move the company made earlier this year when it decided against paying for A&E's reality shows "Pawn Stars" and "Storage Wars."
Neither Amazon nor Viacom immediately responded to a request for comment.