More good news in the video world, as increased market competition is always a good thing for consumers. The Seattle Times recently reported that Amazon.com (News - Alert) has “introduced a Netflix-style online video-streaming service, promoting 5,000 movies and TV shows as part of its $79-per-year Amazon Prime program.”
Amazon Prime members, who pay a $79 annual fee for free, two-day shipping of many items sold on Amazon's website, now get unlimited, commercial-free streaming of such Hollywood titles as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Syriana."
Seattle-based Amazon already rents and sells digital versions of movies and TV shows on an a la carte basis, and it remains to be seen if the new all-you-can-eat offering will give it an edge against Netflix, the nation's No. 1 video-streaming service.
Netflix, of Los Gatos, Calif., comes to the battle armed with more than 20 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada, according to spokesman Steve Swasey. The company doesn't disclose how many titles it has available for streaming.
For $7.99 per month (or $95.88 per year), Netflix subscribers can stream movies and TV shows over the Internet to their computers and TVs. For an additional $2 per month, Netflix throws in one by-mail DVD at a time.
While Amazon does not say how many Prime members it has, analysts estimate the number is between 2 million and 3 million in the U.S.
Amazon Prime, introduced in 2005, is widely credited with fueling the company's rapid sales growth because customers typically increase their purchases after pre-paying for delivery, hoping to get the most out of their $79 annual membership.
Some see Amazon's new video-streaming service as a natural next step for the Internet giant, which upended the book business three years ago when it introduced its Kindle e-reader. Recently, Amazon bought LoveFilm, a Netflix-esque European DVD-rental service that also has a streaming component.
With high-speed Internet access practically a household staple, U.S. consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable watching digital versions of movies and TV shows on computers, Blu-ray players and Internet-connected TVs.
Netflix expects to add as many as 3.7 million new subscribers in the first quarter now under way, boosted by the popularity of its no-disc, streaming-only plan.
David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Stefanie Mosca