Amazon Prime just got better: Free movie and TV show streaming

Amazon Instant Video

One of Amazon's best values is its Prime service, which costs $79 a year. For that fee, buyers get free two-day shipping or overnight packages for $3.99 per item. Today, Amazon added something more: free streaming of 5,000 movies or TV shows. Or so the retailer claims. I only see 1,688 movies and 484 TV shows currently available on Amazon Instant Video.

Amazon offers a surpringly good selection, too; that is sure to give Netflix some unexpected and needed competition in the streaming market, and Prime is a better value. Netflix charges $7.99 per month (before taxes) for movie and TV show streaming, or minimum $95.88 a year. Not only does Prime cost less but it offers more in the aforementioned shipping costs -- and there's something else: Amazon allows the sharing of Prime among four accounts in the household. If, say, you're a college student with roomies sharing Primes, the value just got whole lots better.

I started subscribing to Netflix in February 1999 and began using Amazon Prime in June 2007. If I had to choose one, I'd dump Netflix, even with the sentimental value it holds for my being an early subscriber. That's my question to other Amazon Prime and Netflix subscribers, would you choose one over the other? Or if a Netflix subscriber only, would you dump the service and sign up for Prime? Please respond in comments.

One Netflix advantage is its distribution relationship with Starz, which keeps a fresh cycle of movies moving through. Amazon is offering a month of free Prime to new subscribers. That's right, not 7 days or two weeks but 30 days free. That's helluva an offer. Both services offer content commercial free.

In January, US Internet users watched an average 14.5 hours of online video -- or 4.9 billion viewing sessions, according to ComScore. Google sites and music streaming service VEVO topped all others. Hulu, which offers movies and TV shows, ranked tenth. Hulu Plus also competes with Amazon Prime and Netflix, and it costs $7.99 per month. I'm near to canceling my Hulu Plus subscription since I can't get it on Google TV. Amazon and Netflix streaming are both available.

I've got a question for Amazon: So when will there be a color Kindle for reading books and streaming video content?

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