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Amazon getting serious about competing with Netflix

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Updated. Amazon (s AMZN) is ramping up the content available to users of its annual Amazon Prime subscription service in an effort to compete with similar services from (s NFLX) and Hulu. It has also just acquired connected device app maker PushButton, which could help it to expand the number of devices on which viewers can access its Prime Instant Movies service.

As part of its content acquisition initiative, Amazon announced last week that it added 2,000 new videos from CBS (s CBS). The company followed that up Thursday with an additional 1,000 videos from NBC Universal (s CMCSA) (s ge) . Those deals will greatly enhance its video library by boosting the amount of content available through its subscription streaming video service by 50 percent, from about 6,000 titles to 9,000 in just the past week.

The NBC Universal deal, like the CBS one that came before it, mostly focuses on long-tail content, including older movies. Films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Gosford Park and Elizabeth will now be available for Amazon Prime customers. And continuing the company’s focus on kids’ content like Sesame Street, the company has also added movies like Babe and Jetsons: The Movie.

In addition, Amazon has also bought PushButton, a firm that specializes in building connected TV apps. PushButton built apps for European-based streaming player LoveFilm, which Amazon acquired earlier this year. Those apps were used by LoveFilm to reach consumers on the Sony PlayStation 3, (s SNE) Sony Bravia TVs and Samsung Smart TVs. Amazon Prime Instant Videos has a somewhat limited reach in the connected TV space now — at least, is available on more than 300 connected devices, compared to the 250-plus devices that Netflix is available on and the 300-plus that Vudu (s WMT) claims to work on. But with PushButton, it could quickly change that to become even more competitive in the connected device market.

With an expanded content library and a key asset acquired to help it play in the consumer electronics market, we could see Amazon become much more aggressive in its pursuit of Netflix. And it couldn’t have come at a better time: With Netflix customer approval at what seems like an all-time low, Amazon Prime could have a real opportunity to win over some of its customers with a slightly cheaper annual subscription that also includes free shipping.

Update: Amazon Prime Instant Videos is on more connected devices than we thought. Amazon claims availability on 300 connected TVs and other devices.

11 Responses to “Amazon getting serious about competing with Netflix”

  1. Jann Gobble

    Until Amazon Prime Instant Video is available on TiVo I will continue to be disappointed. I bought my Prime membership because I saw Amazon on the TiVo menu, but later found out that I could only BUY video … not use the Prime subscription I have. TiVo and Amazon need to fix this. Amazon would have a far greater reach if they did! Until then they have a disappointed Prime customer.

  2. mjw149

    They might be available on over 300 connected devices, but there’s no way to know that. I’ve never seen a tv, bluray or console with their logo on it, and they don’t show that on their own website!

    My mistake, that has just been updated in the last week (I’ve been shopping recently). Now they list a ton of devices. Good for them. I’ve used Amazon’s VoD (purchased shows, not the subscription service) and netflix on my Roku, and it’s been brilliant. Don’t miss cable at all.

  3. Douglas Crets

    I don’t see the pricing, and will have to dig around for it, but I wonder if this signals the beginning of ultra low pricing for much older films, kind of the like the e-book experiment Amazon and Hachette just did for a 1992 book to make it a top bestseller though it had not been competing for the spot for many years.

  4. Prime is great! I like it, and they have been adding several movies, even new releases. Plus, if you use it for shipping benefits anyway (like I do and save hundreds on shipping), this is just another benefit, without a price increase.

  5. Amazon Prime has nowhere near the same quality of videos. I tried it, and unless you like b-grade movies, you’ll not be happy with it. THAT BEING SAID…I will try it again if I see people are posting more postive things about it.

  6. Adding content is good, but the real place where Netflix seems to be way ahead is the interface. I watched an Amazon Prime show through the streaming client on my new Panasonic TV, and I found that it didn’t remember where I left off in a show, and it didn’t even show thumbnails like Netflix when you are fast-forwarding trying to find where you left off. And while my TV remote had dedicated play, pause, fast-forward, and rewind buttons that worked fine on its Netflix client, the Amazon client didn’t respond to them; you had to use on-screen buttons. And of course it doesn’t keep track of which shows you’ve watched, or offer a queue, or personalized ratings.

  7. I let my Prime subscription drop for two main reasons:

    – Searching and browsing blows. There’s no way to search for Prime Instant videos and videos are mis-categorized.

    – HARDLY ANY CONTENT. They may tout their 5k movie library, but including carp like Red v. Blue? (I loved ’em online, but I’m looking for movies, not webisodes). C’mon…

  8. Dan Neesley

    Until Amazon introduces an Instant Q and the great recommendation engine that Netflix has, it’s just a poor alternative. Great on my Roku once I find something I’d like to watch. Actually I’m glad I have both Amazon Prime and Netflix.