Amazon Plans to Stream TV, Movies— for Free

And likely launch a Roku-like streaming box next week

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 27, 2014 4:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – YouTube and Netflix, watch your back: Amazon plans to stream video content for free and rise among the ranks of multimedia power players, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. If it happens, the project will include original series like Betas as well as licensed programming that Amazon could tie to its retail website (shoppers looking for Bruce Springsteen CDs might watch the video for "Born in the USA," say). The service would run on ad dollars and try to entice people into paying $99 annually for Prime, which currently offers unlimited video streaming.

Other evidence something's up: Amazon paid about $1 billion last year for content and original programming, and plans to launch something new next week—likely the Roku-like box it's been building since 2012, GigaOm reports. The device will offer Prime video along with apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus, and possibly games (Amazon has been designing a wireless game controller, after all). The box may even include free streaming, but if that reduces the value of Prime, Amazon "would risk losing Prime customers," a TV analyst tells USA Today. "After all, it just raised the price."

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, poses for a photo Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, with the 8.9-inch version of the new Amazon Kindle HDX tablet computer in Seattle.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, poses for a photo Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, with the 8.9-inch version of the new Amazon Kindle HDX tablet computer in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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