Amazon gives free movie streaming to "Prime" members

In his private moments, Jeff Bezos must chuckle when he reads reports by sundry Wall Street analysts praising his stewardship at Amazon. Only a few years ago, many of the same people now kissing his butt were calling for Bezos' head. Not only has Amazon become the marquee name in e-retailing but Bezos smartly led the company into cloud computing long before the cloud became cool. The big uncertainty for the next 12 months surrounds Amazon's Kindle and competition from the iPad. Outside of that, Bezos has put together one of the more impressive scorecards of any CEO in techdom.
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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
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Amazon said today that it is offering Amazon Prime members free, instant streaming of more than 5,000 movies and TV shows.

In a press release, the company said the feature will be offered at no additional cost than the $79, Prime members already pay annually. The movies and TV shows can be watched instantly on Macs, PCs and nearly 200 models of Internet-connected devices, Amazon said. Amazon Prime is a membership program that offers customers free Two-Day Shipping.

Day Rayburn, an analyst covering Web video for consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, gets the shout out for calling this one early. Three weeks ago, Rayburn told CNET that Amazon has the money and audience to stimulate interest in a video service by, say, streaming movies for free to Amazon Prime members.

Rayburn is a big believer that Amazon is one of the companies best positioned to take on Netflix.

"Millions of Amazon Prime members already enjoy the convenience of free Two-Day Shipping," Robbie Schwietzer, vice president of Amazon Prime, said in a statement. "Adding unlimited instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows at no additional cost is a great way to give members even more value."

It's also a great way to start compete with Netflix.

Some of the movies and TV shows that Amazon will stream include "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Syriana," "Doctor Who," and "Farscape."

Millions of items are eligible, including books, home and garden products, electronics, video games, clothing, accessories and beauty products. With the introduction of Prime instant videos, free trial and paid Amazon Prime members in the U.S. now also have unlimited instant access to more than 5,000 videos.

This article originally appeared on CNET
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    Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.