Amazon Introduces Free Video Streaming For Prime Members

02/22/2011 10:37 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Internet video market is heating up: Amazon has just announced that it will be offering a new Prime Instant Video service that will allow Amazon Prime members to stream movies for free.

The commercial-free, instant streaming of over 5,000 movies and TV shows is available for all Amazon Prime members, at no additional cost beyond the Prime membership, which runs $79 a year. The offer does not apply to those who have access to Prime for free, as students, or in trial. It's also available only in the U.S.

Amazon said in a press release:

Movies and TV shows included with an Amazon Prime membership can be watched instantly on Macs, PCs and nearly 200 models of Internet-connected TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes that are compatible with Amazon Instant Video. The selection of videos available for instant streaming currently includes movies, such as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy, "Amadeus," "Syriana," and "Chariots of Fire," noted documentaries such as "Food Inc.," "March of the Penguins" and "Ken Burns' National Parks," plus TV shows, such as "Doctor Who," "Farscape," "Fawlty Towers" and children's shows, such as "Arthur," "Caillou," "Super Why!" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

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Amazon's announcement may put some pressure on Netflix, which recently announced a subscription plan that allowed users to subscribe only to their streaming video service, and which just lost the Criterion collection of movies to another streaming competitor, Hulu Plus. Currently, estimates put Netflix's instant video library at around 20,000. Amazon's streaming video will also be available through Roku and Tivo, as well as on other devices.