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Julia Child, newer PBS content come to Amazon's Netflix competitor

October 19, 2011 | 12:45 pm

JuliaChildContinuing to add television programs to help it compete with Netflix, Amazon.com is putting Julia Child's "The French Chef" on the Internet for the first time.

The classic 1960s cooking show will make its digital debut on Amazon Prime Instant Video, the online retail giant's subscription video streaming service.

"The French Chef" will become available in November as part of an expanded deal announced Wednesday that makes it and other PBS shows such as "Frontline," "Washington Week" and the recent Ken Burns documentary "Prohibition" available on Amazon within days of their original airing.

The agreement comes as Amazon prepares for the November launch of its Kindle Fire tablet, an iPad rival that the company is hoping will help persuade users to sign up for its Prime subscription service. 

It also comes as Netflix, for which Amazon Prime is the most powerful competitor, is newly vulnerable in the wake of a price hike and aborted move to separate its DVD service from Web streaming that angered many of its 24.6 million U.S. customers and prompted the company to warn investors that it expects to lose about 600,000 customers in the last quarter.

Investors will be closely watching Monday when Netflix reports its first quarterly results, and subscriber numbers, since the events of the past few months.

Amazon, which already offers older seasons of a number of PBS programs including "Nova," "Antiques Roadshow" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,' will now get recently aired episodes of the shows under the new pact.

Many commercial networks have avoided making shows available to Amazon or Netflix in the same season they air out of fear that doing so could harm television ratings. But that's apparently not a concern for PBS, particularly with its news programs that aren't rerun.

In total, Amazon said its Prime Video will soon have about 12,000 movies and television shows available, more than double the 5,000-plus titles it launched the service with in February. Netflix, by contrast, has more than 13,000 titles, according to the tracking website InstantWatcher. Netflix itself does not disclose the size of its streaming video library.

Some, but not all, of the PBS content that Amazon is adding is also available on Netflix.

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— Ben Fritz

Photo: Julia Child in "The French Chef." Credit: Paul Child

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