By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 10:58 am
Good news for Amazon Prime members: Amazon.com has signed a deal with Viacom that gives its Amazon Prime Instant Video service access to a lot more stuff–from Jersey Shore to Dora the Explorer. It now offers more than 15,000 streaming videos to Prime members at no additional charge.
Netflix seems to be shy about disclosing the number of streaming videos it has–its FAQ just says “thousands”–but Roku’s site says it’s “over 20,000” and I’ve also seen a figure of 25,000 quoted. In either case, Amazon Prime, which started out a year ago with just 5,000 titles, appears to be closing in.
But Amazon still isn’t quite marketing it as a Netflix archival. The video streaming is a freebie for those of us who pay $79 for discounted shipping of physical products, not a standalone service with a standalone price tag. That lets it float under the radar and makes it sound like a bountiful bonus rather than a skimpy selection.
My guess is that at some point, Amazon will start treating Prime Instant Video like it wants to take on Netflix in a seriously manner. That’ll presumably involve offering it at a similar (or lower?) monthly price.
The logical time to do so is when the catalogs have roughly the same quantity of movies and TV shows. I wonder if it’ll happen by the end of this year?