Two years after the start of a lawsuit involving premium cable network Starz and entertainment giant MGM, a new player has entered the game: Amazon.
In March 2022, Amazon completed an $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM, a legendary movie studio and one of Hollywood’s biggest players. More than 4,000 movies and 17,000 MGM-owned TV shows will be available on Amazon Prime’s streaming platform.
Starz sued MGM in May 2020, claiming the studio breached a streaming agreement granting Starz exclusive streaming rights to more than 244 movies and TV shows. Starz claimed to have paid MGM $70 million in two deals in 2013 and 2015 for the exclusivity, according to the lawsuit filed in US District Court.
Now Starz is now going after MGM’s new parent company.
About a third of the movies and shows covered by the deal were distributed to other streaming services, according to the suit. As a result, Starz says, it lost subscribers and revenue.
Amazon and Starz did not respond to inquiries.
Starz said it discovered the breach after an employee found a Starz exclusive – Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure with Keanu Reeves – available on Amazon Prime, now the host of all MGM movies and TV shows. Starz maintains that the titles were also available on MGM’s Epix streaming platform.
On May 13, Starz filed a subpoena against Amazon, claiming that as MGM’s parent company, it is “a related entity and has a material interest in the outcome of this litigation.” According to the lawsuit, this is the second time Starz has subpoenaed Amazon. The first attempt was not successful, he added. Among the requests are documents that show MGM’s earnings as a result of the alleged infringement.
MGM attorney Orin Snyder said at the time of the motion to dismiss that the financial impact was minimal.
Amazon Prime was previously the target of a class action lawsuit in 2017, claiming customers were charged without their knowledge or consent. The case was closed in 2018.