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Amazon CEO Jeff BezosAmazon is gearing up to take on Apple, Google, and Netflix, and move beyond its own video-on-demand offering, with a new subscription service, the Wall Street Journal reports.

People familiar with the matter tell the WSJ that Amazon has been pitching the subscription service to media heavyweights like NBC Universal, News Corp., Time Warner, and Viacom over the past few weeks. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is pictured right.)

The company is focusing on older content, similar to Netflix’s approach with its Watch Instantly streaming service, those sources say. Also like Netflix, Amazon is planning to make the service available on the web and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, as well as TVs and Blu-ray players connected to the web.

Amazon’s timing certainly isn’t accidental. Apple is expected to unveil the latest version of its Apple TV later today, and if rumors are correct, it’ll be announcing 99-cent TV episode rentals at the same time. Google is pursuing rentals on YouTube, which will also be available on its Google TV service later this week (Amazon’s service would most likely find its way to Google TV as well). And of course, Netflix’s streaming service is still going strong — rumor has it that Apple will announce that it’s part of the new Apple TV later today.

While it makes sense for Amazon to pursue a streaming service, it definitely won’t be easy. The company’s on-demand video offering could never really compete with iTunes, and now with Apple working on a streaming offering of its own, Hulu finding its way to TVs, and the rising popularity of Netflix, Amazon may have an even more difficult time competing in this market.

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

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