Automattic, the brainchild of WordPress-founder Matt Mullenweg, has just announced that for the first time ever, it is going to make premium themes available to the 17 million blogs hosted on the service.

With a number of premium themes becoming available later this year, blog owners will initially be able to install one of two premium themes: Headlines by WooThemes and Shelf by The Theme Foundry. The availability of such themes will enable blog owners to stand out from the millions of other websites on the service, that is of course when more themes become available.

Writing in a blog post on the WordPress blog, Automattic’s Lance Willett also notes that the Automattic network of websites (WordPress, IntenseDebate, Polldaddy and Gravatar) has surpassed half a billion monthly unique vistors, helping them rank alongside Google, Facebook, and Yahoo in terms of website traffic.

Users can access the two new themes by visiting the respective pages for the two themes on Headlines and Shelf.

Shelf ~ $68

Headlines ~ $45