Amazon started a new free instant video streaming service today with approximately 1600 movie titles (with around 400 TV shows). It's only open to paid Prime Members, though. I have access to a free student Prime membership, and I was only able to view the teasers.
They still need to work out the bugs. For example, they don't have the trailers for you to watch. Instead, they let you see a clip from the very beginning of the movie. (Basically they expect you to judge the movie based on the opening credits.) Also, Amazon haven't enabled a couple of the nicer usability features that Netflix have.
This could be a serious threat to Netflix. Amazon Prime is a $79 premium service which includes free two-day shipping and a few other goodies. Netflix, on the pother hand, starts at $8 a month ($96 a year). If the selection improves then I would seriously consider switching over.
Edit: The press release came out just as I was about to post this.
From the press release:
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced the launch of a new benefit for Amazon Prime members: unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of more than 5,000 movies and TV shows. This new benefit is being added at no additional cost -- Prime membership will continue to be $79 per year. Amazon Prime's all-you-can-eat free Two-Day Shipping has already attracted millions of members. Customers can learn more about an Amazon Prime one-month free trial and start watching instantly at www.amazon.com/primevideos.
"Millions of Amazon Prime members already enjoy the convenience of free Two-Day Shipping," said Robbie Schwietzer, vice president of Amazon Prime. "Adding unlimited instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows at no additional cost is a great way to give members even more value for their $79 annual Amazon Prime membership."
Movies and TV shows included with an Amazon Prime membership can be watched instantly on Macs, PCs and nearly 200 models of Internet-connected TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes that are compatible with Amazon Instant Video. The selection of videos available for instant streaming currently includes movies, such as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy, "Amadeus," "Syriana," and "Chariots of Fire," noted documentaries such as "Food Inc.," "March of the Penguins" and "Ken Burns' National Parks," plus TV shows, such as "Doctor Who," "Farscape," "Fawlty Towers" and children's shows, such as "Arthur," "Caillou," "Super Why!" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
Amazon Prime is a membership program that offers customers unlimited free Two-Day Shipping with no minimum purchase requirement for only $79 a year. Millions of items are eligible, including books, home and garden products, electronics, video games, clothing, accessories and beauty products. With the introduction of Prime instant videos, free trial and paid Amazon Prime members in the U.S. now also have unlimited instant access to more than 5,000 videos.
Amazon Instant Video is a digital video service that offers customers more than 90,000 commercial-free movies and television shows to buy or rent on an a la carte basis. New-release movies are often available as soon as they are released on DVD, and many TV shows are available the day after their first broadcast. Amazon Instant Video also offers thousands of movies and TV shows in high definition. With Amazon Instant Video, customers can watch instantly on Macs, PCs, and nearly 200 Internet connected TVs, Blu-ray players, and set-top boxes. To learn more about Amazon Instant Video on your TV, visit www.amazon.com/watchontv.
"In addition to now offering unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of 5,000 movies and TV shows to Amazon Prime members, we continue to offer all customers more than 90,000 movies and TV shows through Amazon Instant Video," said Cameron Janes, director of Amazon Instant Video. "With Amazon Instant Video customers can rent or purchase hit movies, such as 'The Social Network' as well as purchase the latest TV shows available the day-after they broadcast."
Customers who receive Prime shipping benefits through our Amazon Student and Amazon Mom programs can upgrade to receive paid Prime benefits for just $79 a year.
For more information on Amazon Prime and Prime instant videos and to start an Amazon Prime free trial, visit www.amazon.com/primevideos.
For more information on Amazon Instant Video, visit www.amazon.com/instantvideo.