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A few years ago, online retailer Amazon launched its Amazon Prime subscription service. The $79-per-year plan works pretty simply: You pay the money, you get unlimited free two-day shipping. If you’re a regular Amazon customer, that’s a great offer, especially since each subscriber is allowed to invite a “guest” for a free subscription of his or her own. Today, Amazon announced its plan for sweetening the offer.
As had previously been rumored, the online retailer launched a movie streaming service not unlike the Netflix Watch Instantly program that offers free viewing to all Prime customers. Regular, subscription-less folk have the option of buying and/or renting. It looks like the prices run between $7.99 and $14.99 for a purchase or between 99 cents and $3.99 for a rental.
There are a few catches, though. For one, Prime members only get free streaming for 5,000 of the roughly 90,000 movies available via Amazon Instant Video. There are some choice picks, but Netflix seems to have the service beat for now in terms of selection. The other catch is that you can’t take advantage of the free streaming unless you’re a paying customer. So if you happen to have a guest account or a student account or the like then you’re out of luck. It’s only a first step of course; you can bet that Amazon will be tweaking this offering in the months to come. If anyone out there on the Internet is equipped to try to beat Netflix at its own game, however, it’s Amazon.