More pixels, less content

Amazon Prime Instant’s foray into 4K starts with four movies, four shows

Talk about slim pickings: Amazon is finally letting its Prime Instant subscribers stream content in 4K, but the company’s ultra high-definition catalog is remarkably small: Prime Instant starts off with just four 4K movies — Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Funny Girl, Hitch and Philadelphia.

In addition to that, [company]Amazon[/company] will also stream three of its own original shows as well as one BBC America show and a Lady Gaga concert in 4K. Amazon promises to add more 4K content, including upcoming Amazon originals, later this year and early next year. And unlike Netflix, Amazon isn’t charging Prime members extra to watch 4K.

But pricing may be the real problem that prevents Amazon and others from rolling out 4K more broadly. The company also announced Tuesday that it will make select movies available for sale in 4K, charging consumers $19.99 for titles like Moneyball, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Da Vinci Code.

A quick search on Amazon.com reveals that these titles cost between $12.99 and $13.99 when purchased in HD. Studios are looking to sell 4K content at a significant premium — but it’s unclear whether consumers are really willing to pay that much more.

Updated at 12:47pm. An earlier version of this story included Hard Times as part of the movies available in 4K, but I’ve since been told by an Amazon spokesperson that this isn’t actually the case. Also updated throughout to clarify that the four movies are part of Amazon’s Prime Instant catalog.