Two years into a lawsuit involving premium cable network Starz and entertainment giant MGM, a new player has entered the game: Amazon.
In March 2022, Amazon completed a $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM, a storied movie studio and one of Hollywood’s biggest players. More than 4,000 films and 17,000 TV shows owned by MGM 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 over 244 films and TV shows. Starz claimed it paid MGM $70 million under two agreements in 2013 and 2015 for exclusivity, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court.
Now, Starz is now going after MGM’s new parent company.
About a third of the movies and shows under the agreement 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 found out about the infringement after an employee found a Starz exclusive — the Keanu Reeves-starring “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” — available on Amazon Prime, now the host of all MGM movies and TV shows. Starz contends the titles were also available on MGM’s streaming platform Epix.
On May 13, Starz filed a subpoena against Amazon, saying that as the parent company of MGM, it is “a related entity and has a concrete interest in the outcome of this litigation.” According to the suit, this is the second time Starz has subpoenaed Amazon. The first attempt was not successful, it said. Among the requests are documents that show MGM’s revenue as a result of the purported infringement.
MGM’s lawyer 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 2017 class-action lawsuit contending customers were charged without their knowledge or consent. The case was dismissed in 2018.