updated 06:15 pm EDT, Tue August 31, 2010
Amazon VOD may get unlimited option
Amazon is planning to expand its Video On Demand service into a flat-rate, unlimited service, insiders said this evening [sub. required]. The plan pitched to NBC, Time Warner, Viacom and other studios would provide unmetered access to at least "some" movies and TV shows, according to Wall Street Journal contacts. The service would work over both the web and at least existing devices, such as TiVo DVRs and the Xbox 360.
Discussions are still considered early, but one option may be to use a subscription as a perk for Amazon Prime, which already supplies automatic two-day shipping upgrades for $79 per year. It might focus on back catalog titles rather than newer ones to appease executives leery about applying unlimited access to newer titles.
Amazon was reportedly hoping for an end-of-year launch, the contacts said, but it wasn't clear how receptive studios were to the idea. Enough rejections could force an end to the project even though negotiations have supposedly been underway for months. None of the involved companies have been willing to comment.
The approach would primarily head off Netflix, whose own streaming service is near-identical in providing a small portion of its movies and TV shows online. It could also be a preemptive if partial strike against the full release of Hulu Plus as well as the possibility of 99-cent iTunes TV rentals, which could make following two or more shows inexpensive enough to follow through an entire season at comparable rates.