July 20, 2011, 5:06 PM — Are you still mad at Netflix over its recently announced price increases? Ready to find a new streaming service?
Well, tough luck, there's really nothing that competes with Netflix at this point, but Amazon's offerings are about to get more interesting. They've just announced a deal with CBS that will let them offer 2,000 episodes of various CBS shows to Amazon Prime Streaming.
Amazon Prime is the online retailer's $79/year program that offers 2-day free shipping as well as free streaming content. Up until now, that free streaming has been pretty lacking when it comes to compelling content. Amazon says this new deal brings the total number of Prime Streaming items to 8,000, so this is a significant improvement for the service.
Among the 18 shows specifically called out are The Tudors, Numb3rs, Medium, Frasier, Cheers and "the complete 'Star Trek' franchise."
Now that last bit got my inner nerd interested. Netflix make some noise about bringing Star Trek to Netflix Streaming at the beginning of this month, but somewhere along the way they lost Deep Space Nine (you have to get that one on disk). It'll be interesting to see if Amazon really does have all the various Star Trek franchises available via streaming. If they remember the animated series I'll be truly impressed.
Of course one of the obstacles Amazon faces is getting its service onto more devices. I can no longer count the number of ways I have to watch Neflix Streaming, but Amazon Video-on-Demand is only available on my computers and my Roku media streamer. If Amazon really wants to compete they have to get their streaming client into game consoles, tablets and smartphones, and on more smart TVs and Blu-ray players. Here's a complete list of hardware that supports Amazon streaming and I have to say its grown a lot since the last time I checked it, so clearly Amazon is making progress.
Good news for consumers. Netflix needs some solid competition to keep them on their toes. What I like about Amazon is that, for me, the free shipping that comes with Prime was already enough to make the service worth having (we do a lot of Amazon shopping at our house) so the streaming aspect is effectively free for us. Still, I'm not ready to totally make the switch from Netflix to Amazon.