Amazon to Sell HD TV Shows for $2.99 Each

amazonhdicon Amazon (s amzn) looks set to start selling HD video downloads any day now, hot on the heels of Apple’s iTunes (s aapl) HD movie offering, which was unveiled yesterday. Amazon’s web site already contains links to HD versions of TV show downloads, but while the actual show detail pages weren’t available, we found some juicy details about HD pricing:  HD episodes of TV shows will cost $2.99, just like on iTunes, while complete seasons could add up to as much as $53.

It’s really only a question of when Amazon will offer HD downloads — and Dave Zatz unearthed some photos of HD downloads via Amazon’s TiVo (s tivo) interface earlier this month. Amazon’s HD content could also find its way to the Roku box, which the company has been supporting since early March. Amazon did not respond in time to comment on this story.

I was using Google (s goog) to find Amazon’s Video on Demand offering earlier today when I noticed something curious: The first search result promised an HD version of Season 5 of House. I clicked on the link and ended up on Amazon’s Video on Demand start page, but with no HD version of House in sight.

Yet according to my “recently viewed” history, I had visited some pages about HD episodes of House. Clicking on those links, however, just bounced me back to the Video on Demand start page. But when I clicked through to the detailed view of my browsing history, I was greeted with the following screen:


It looks like Amazon briefly allowed the Google bot to index content that isn’t yet available to the public. So after noodling around with the search engine, I found some more traces of HD pages for shows like Law & Order, complete with the offer to buy a “HD TV pass” for the whole season.


Dave Zatz recently reported that Amazon is currently beta-testing its HD service with a limited number of users. His sources told him that the catalog currently features quite a bit of HD TV programming, but not that many HD movies. The video quality is supposedly very good, as one should expect, and Amazon’s progressive HD downloads will feature surround sound, according to Zatz.

iTunes launched its own HD movie downloads yesterday, pricing movie sales at $19.99 and movie rentals at $4.99. HD TV shows, which have been available on iTunes since last fall, cost $2.99. A HD pass for the current season of House comes with a hefty price tag of $59.99 at iTunes, which means that Amazon may undercut iTunes by a few bucks when it comes to HD bundles.

It’s unclear, however, if that’s enough to get people to spend big on HD downloads. Amazon currently carries House Season 4 for $33 on DVD, and even the Blu-Ray versions of shows like Dexter or 24 sell for less than $50.