Amazon Preps Subscription-based Video Streaming Service

As Apple prepares to launch an Apple TV - Netflix hookup, beginning next week when the new Apple TV ships, is seen to be working on a new subscription service that would stream TV shows and movies, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

While already has a Video-on-Demand service (first launched in 2006 as Amazon Unbox, as shown below), that service sells individual episodes and movies, some as low as $1.99 apiece. Its new service would be based on a subscription model, similar to Netflix's service, which bundles streaming with DVD rentals. Also similar to Netflix, the new service would work on Web browsers, Internet-connected TVs and BD players, and even video game consoles.

Reportedly, Amazon is pitching the service to media companies as a "catalog service." That means it will focus on older content, much like Netflix. Those wondering why Netflix's streaming selection is limited should view this as the reason: as the WSJ states, "media companies often view the availability of older content on the Web as less of a threat to their existing business."

Of course, media companies made severe missteps in another move to the Web, meaning CDs vs. music downloads. Too much restriction by media companies could again foster a P2P revolution in this area (or should we say, increase, as there are already plenty of illegal downloads of movies and TV shows via BitTorrent and the like).

In one proposal, might leverage another subscription service it already has, with million of members: Amazon Prime. Streaming could be tied, with no additional cost, to those with that existing service, which gives members free two-day—shipping as well as lower one-day shipping rates for eligible items. Prime costs members $79 a year, but many members, including us, have become addicted to the faster shipping options.