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Amazon launches On Demand video service

Amazon PR: today announced that customers can now instantly watch ad-free movies and television shows on Macs or PCs with Amazon Video On Demand, Amazon's digital video service offering thousands of movies and television shows. Previously, customers could only download titles and watch them on a PC (using the Amazon Unbox application) or on their TiVo box. Now customers can either watch instantly within their web browser or download using the Unbox application and watch anytime. Additionally, customers can now rent or purchase Amazon Video On Demand movies and TV shows directly through Sony's BRAVIA Internet Video Link device on compatible BRAVIA(R) television sets (currently in beta).

Starting today, to make it even easier for customers to decide whether they want to rent or purchase a title, the first two minutes of every movie and TV show automatically plays for free as soon as they visit the product detail page. At any time during the free viewing period, customers can choose to purchase or rent the title to watch it in its entirety. Once a customer orders a video, it is automatically added to Your Video Library. With the new Your Video Library, customers can access and stream their Amazon videos through popular web browsers on Macs and PCs. Customers can also access Your Video Library through the Sony BRAVIA Internet Video Link device on their compatible Sony BRAVIA televisions.

Amazon Video On Demand, operated by Amazon Digital Services, Inc., is the only U.S. digital video service that gives customers the choice to stream or download premium movies and TV shows. With over 40,000 licensed movies and TV shows, customers can now watch on their Mac, PC, Sony BRAVIA TV, TiVo box, Windows Media Center extender devices such as Xbox 360, and portable media players. The Amazon Unbox Video Player will remain as the client application for downloaded content, allowing customers to watch purchased content on their computer when they are not connected to the Internet or transfer it to a portable media player. With Fall TV starting in early September, Amazon Video On Demand will have a full selection of the most popular returning and new shows, including pilots, premieres, and full episodes.

So this is surprisingly good. If you're familiar with the Netflix "Watch Instantly" service, compared and contrast: Amazon On Demand doesn't require a monthly fee, works with all Web browsers (Windows and Mac, and not just IE 6 or 7, as with Netflix), and has four times the content. That said, all of Netflix's content is available for online viewing (or via a device like the Roku Netflix box) as long as you're an active subscriber.

What I really like about Amazon's service, however, is that most of the TV and movie content I've purchased from Unbox previously is now available for instant streaming from any Web-connected PC. That's cool, and for people on the road a lot, this kind of thing is really useful.

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