Do you use Amazon Prime? Because the value of your membership just shot up big time. The online retailer sent out a press release today announcing the availability of more than 5,000 movies and TV shows for immediate on-demand streaming. Amazon Prime members will be able to watch all this media, commercial free, for no added charge. The Amazon Prime membership still costs $79/year, of course.
The membership also gives you free Two-Day shipping on any products you order through Amazon, no minimum cost. Amazon Instant Video currently includes some 90,000 movies and TV shows available for purchase or rental at a click. Prime streaming videos can be watched through your computer or mobile device, as well as your set-top box. Roku supports the service, as does Google TV.
This service is currently US-only, but Amazon did recently buy LoveFilm, the European equivalent to Netflix. This could mean that the company intends to extend their Prime member benefits and instant video streaming to customers in Europe. This would give Amazon a big leg up on Netflix, which only works in the US right now.
Amazon Prime's move towards streaming video is nothing less than a declaration of war on Netflix. While the latter still has a huge advantage in quantity of streaming offerings, Amazon has the ability to close that gap very quickly. They have cost on their side as well: $96 per year gets you just Netflix, while $79 gets you Amazon's streaming service, plus free two-day shipping and cheap one-day shipping. If Amazon plays their cards right, Netflix could soon go the way of BlockBuster.