updated 08:35 am EST, Tue February 22, 2011
Amazon Instant Video gets unlimited Prime viewing
After a brief tease last month, Amazon on Tuesday gave its Prime subscribers unlimited streaming on Amazon Instant Video. Those who pay into the sped-up shipping plan now have free access to the 5,000 movies and TV shows marked as eligible. The catalog is just a subset but includes a mix of recent and older titles.
The option works on both Macs and Windows PCs and doesn't preclude using other choices. Those who want it can still pay to download a video, including rentals or full purchases, if they need to get it to another device.
Prime costs $79 per year and still provides free two-day shipping along with occasional added perks.
The new Instant Video bonus is a shot across the bow of Netflix. It has a much larger, roughly 20,000-title streaming catalog but costs $96 per year to use and is limited strictly to the core video service. It may also help draw users away from pay-per-title use both on Amazon and on competitors like iTunes, which is still the leading online video service in spite of Netflix's presence.