Media

Amazon takes on Netflix with Prime instant videos

Now we have yet another way to view streaming movies online. Amazon today launched its streaming video service for Prime members, which will offer subscribers access to 5,000 movies and TV shows and will serve as Amazon’s first move to counter Netflix’s streaming video dominance.

Amazon’s Prime service costs $79 a year and was initially billed as a way to get free two-day shipping (and one day shipping for $3.99 per item). That aspect of the service will continue, but now it has the added advantage of offering instant access to videos at the same price. Existing Prime customers will instantly have access to the streaming videos.

The launch of the service shows that Amazon isn’t going to just sit back and let Netflix rule the online streaming world. While the Prime video service doesn’t have as many titles as Netflix’s streaming video offering (which had around 28,000 titles available in September, according to the Netflix-focused service FeedFliks), it’s the first step in competing with the video rental giant. It’s also cheaper than Netflix’s streaming video, which costs $8 per month at a minimum, or $96 a year.

Like Netflix, Amazon is making its streaming Prime streaming videos available on televisions. Set-top box maker Roku announced today that all of its streaming video devices will support the service, and I suspect that it will soon be available on other devices, if it isn’t already. Amazon currently offers on-demand streaming video on Google TV devices, as well as TVs from companies like Sony, Samsung, and Vizio. Engadget has found that the service works fine on Android mobile devices with Adobe Flash.

Unfortunately, those lucky few who have free Amazon Prime memberships, such as students, won’t have access to Prime streaming video. They will instead have to pay the normal $79 Prime subscription fee to take advantage of the streaming video.

Amazon last month purchased LoveFilm for $200 million, Europe’s Netflix equivalent, so I suspect that its Prime video service will make its way to Europe soon. Currently, it’s only available in the US. Amazon could also potentially partner with kiosk DVD company Redbox, which is planning a streaming video offering of its own.


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