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Amazon Expands Instant Video with 100k+ Library Titles

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood August 18, 2011 at 4:14AM

Netflix beware. At the end of July, Amazon announced a partnership with NBCUniversal to provide some 9,000 streaming movies and TV shows to its Prime subscribers.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Netflix beware. At the end of July, Amazon announced a partnership with NBCUniversal to provide some 9,000 streaming movies and TV shows to its Prime subscribers.

Now Amazon's Instant Video service is dramatically expanding and will now offer its customers over 100,000 options for streaming entertainment.

Amazon Prime members will still pay $79 a monthyear to access those 9,000 movies and TV shows, but now even non-Prime subscribers will have access to purchase or rent titles from the entire library. New release movies will cost $3.99, and new TV episodes will stream the day after they air for .99.

As TechCrunch's Matt Burns points out, the Amazon/Universal moves are essentially a direct challenge to Netflix, the current heavyweight in an industry that is rapidly changing.

Just a month ago, Netflix raised the prices of its subscription plans by almost 60%, effectively signaling that it would be charging customers separately for DVD plans vs. streaming plans. (Netflix CEO Reed Hastings defends his price hikes here.) Amazon is cannily setting itself up as an alternative for outraged Netflix users blanching at the idea of paying out twice as much each month. Even discount DVD renter Redbox is following Netflix's lead with a 20% price hike--at the same time hoping to lure unhappy Netflix customers.

Still, Netflix's on-demand, unlimited streaming for one price subscription model can't yet be beat by Amazon's pay-as-you-go system, although Amazon's on demand options now dwarf Netflix's streaming catalogue. Although the retail giant's announcement might not make huge waves in the immediate future, it shows a clear path to more competition going forward—hopefully, competition that winds up offering more choices for movie lovers.

This article is related to: Web/Tech, Digital Future, DVDs, Netflix, Amazon, Redbox


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.