By Sruthi Ramakrishnan
(Reuters) - Scripps Networks Interactive Inc signed a content licensing agreement with Amazon.com Inc's subscription-based video streaming service, the U.S. broadcaster's first online-only subscription distribution deal.
Past seasons of popular shows such as "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations", "Cupcake Wars" and "House Hunters" from Scripps' channels such as HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel will be available on Amazon's Instant video services from Thursday, Amazon said in a statement.
Scripps had said in its earnings conference call earlier this month that it was in talks with Amazon and Netflix Inc, and would have "some announcements coming in the next few months".
MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler termed the deal an "incremental positive" for Scripps. "Typically, content that's two seasons old will show up on its website and then it was looking for a window for something for the older content, and this fit in well with that."
Scripps is one of the last (networks) to offer its older television shows on a subscription service, Morningstar Inc analyst Michael Corty said.
"The risk Scripps wants to be careful about is to make sure that it (online subscription deal) doesn't take away viewers from its current shows. The advertising dollars are from its current programming on pay TV, that's the main source of their revenue," he said.
The company could be hoping to add incremental viewers to its current programs with the deal, he said.
Amazon has signed content licensing deals with CBS Corp, Sony Pictures Television. It also signed a deal earlier this month with PBS Distribution, a unit of The Public Broadcasting Service, for hit TV show "Downton Abbey".
Amazon is slugging it out with video streaming company Netflix Inc for new and exclusive content for its online streaming services.
Netflix signed licensing deals with Warner Bros Television (WBTVG) and Turner Broadcasting System Inc in January for previous seasons of shows from Cartoon Network, Warner Bros Animation, Warner Bros Television and Adult Swim for U.S. subscribers.
It also won a deal in December to stream movies from Walt Disney Co's live action and animation studios, including Pixar, Marvel, and the recently acquired Lucasfilms.
Shares of Amazon and Scripps Networks were largely flat in afternoon trading on Thursday. Netflix was up 3 percent at $190.55.
(Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)