In a salvo directed at Netflix, with Apple and the cable networks, perhaps, as collateral damage, Amazon announced today that AmazonPrime customers now have free (bundled) access to thousands of movies and TV shows.
When it launched in the United States in 2005, the Amazon Prime membership program touted unlimited fast shipping on all eligible purchases for an annual membership fee. Subsequently, Amazon extended AmazonPrime to Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany in 2007 and to France (as “Amazon Premium”) in 2008.
Today, the annual membership fee in the United States is $79 (equivalent to ~$6.58/month). The Netflix streaming-only plan is $7.99/month. But AmazonPrime is a bundled product; for people who buy a lot of books, movies and/or assorted other items from Amazon (like me), the effective monthly cost for the streaming movies is considerably less.
According to PC World (warning, annoying Flash ad pop-over), Netflix has about 20,000 streaming video selections. The Amazon Prime Instant Video catalog contains more than 5,000 movies and TV shows, according to PC World.
Prime streaming (instant) videos cannot be downloaded to a TiVo box or the Unbox Player.
To watch a movie on your laptop or desktop, you have to first be logged into Amazon.com with your Prime account. (Doh.) To watch Prime instant videos from a compatible Internet-connected TV, Blu-ray player or set-top-box, you must associated the device with your Prime account. (Another doh – just like Netflix.) See supported devices per Amazon’s Help section:
- Amazon Instant Video on Vizio
- Amazon Instant Video on Samsung
- Watch Now on a Mac or PC
- Amazon Unbox Video Player
- Amazon Instant Video on Sony BRAVIA® Device
- Amazon Instant Video on TiVo
- Amazon Instant Video on Roku Digital Video Players
- Amazon Instant Video on Panasonic VIERA CAST
- Amazon Instant Video on Your TV
- Amazon Instant Video through Google TV