Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Amazon Launches Streaming Service

Amazon's new video streaming service, which I previewed on February 2nd, launched today.

Paid subscribers to Amazon Prime 2-day shipping service will now also receive access to unlimited, commercial-free streaming of 5,000 movies and TV shows.

Amazon's offerings will include "older movies" from the Sony and Warner Bros. libraries. Hmmm, could this mean that DVD-R titles from the Warner Archive or Sony's Columbia Classics might show up on Amazon? To my knowledge, none of those titles are available at Netflix.

Amazon's 5000 titles represent just 25% of the content available on Netflix, but Amazon says it's "just getting started" and will be looking to "grow the selection."

Amazon streaming can be watched using a large number of streaming devices, including the Roku, which I briefly reviewed earlier this month.

Those who receive Amazon Prime for free, such as college students, aren't eligible for the free streaming.

It's reported Amazon won't be raising the Amazon Prime subscription fee any time soon. It's $79 a year, which breaks down to $6.58 a month for two-day shipping plus access to streaming.

My daughter wasn't particularly impressed with the TV listings; for instance, most of the British shows listed are also available on Netflix or Hulu.

The older films available on Amazon Instant include a mix of classics, public domain movies, "B" films and lots of Roy Rogers titles. Some of the movie titles available on Amazon which aren't available on Netflix Watch Instantly include Douglas Fairbanks Sr.'s ROBIN HOOD, Alan Ladd's THE PROUD REBEL, Hitchcock's SUSPICION, MGM's LITTLE WOMEN (1949), Anna Neagle and George Sanders in NURSE EDITH CAVELL, Neagle in SALESLADY, Randolph Scott in ABILENE TOWN, Yvonne DeCarlo in SALOME, WHERE SHE DANCED, Ginger Rogers in THE GROOM WORE SPURS, Warren William and Gail Patrick in WIVES UNDER SUSPICION, and Sally Forrest in NOT WANTED.

Those looking for more mainstream classic movie titles in significant numbers may be disappointed by the initial listings, but it looks like there should be some excellent treasure hunting opportunities for film fans such as myself who love exploring relatively obscure titles and B movies.

I need to delve more deeply, but it doesn't appear at a glance that Amazon has the ability to create an Instant queue; for now I put a couple of titles on my "Wish List." Hopefully that service will be coming.

I'll be watching for additional information on this new service and reporting developments here.

Update: I had the chance to look at the service on my TV while eating lunch today. There is definitely no queue at present; that's something that needs to be added for viewers' convenience. Additionally, at least on Day One, not all the available titles can be found by searching on the alphabetical keypad. While I found SUSPICION, I didn't find SALOME, WHERE SHE DANCED or NOT WANTED, though these titles could be found by laboriously scrolling through the posters of titles.

I anticipate that given time Amazon will be offering improvements in these areas.


Blogger Elisabeth said...

I wonder, will all of the new titles they add for this service also be available for non-Prime members to rent or buy? That could be interesting.

Most of the Roy Rogers films on there are the cut versions - missing anywhere from five to twenty minutes. Netflix Instant has most of them uncut now (with a few notable exceptions such as Lights of Old Santa Fe, a favorite of mine, and Night Time In Nevada).

6:52 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the feedback and comparisons of the Rogers prints, Elisabeth -- info like that is good to know. :)

Best wishes,

11:11 PM  

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