(Corrects deal's mpact on Amazon video library in 1st paragraph; deal adds about 3,000 movies, does not double the library)
* Deal adds about 3,000 titles to Amazon streaming video library
* Amazon's Prime Instant Video library has doubled in about a year
* Deal comes as Netflix exclusive agreement with Epix set to end
* Shares of Netflix fall
Sept 4 (Reuters) - Amazon Inc and Epix struck a deal that adds about 3,000 movies to Amazon's video streaming library, ramping up competition with the likes of Netflix and Apple Inc.
The agreement gives Amazon Prime Instant Video subscribers access to such movies as "The Avengers," "Iron Man 2" and "The Hunger Games" from Epix studio partners: Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
The announcement on Tuesday comes as Epix's 2010 deal with Netflix, which pays $200 million a year for the rights to stream Epix movies to its U.S. customers, expires in this month.
Netflix shares were down 7.8 percent at $55.03 in afternoon trading.
"It gives Amazon Prime members a lot less reason to also have a Netflix subscription," R. J. Hottovy, an analyst with Morningstar, said of the Amazon-Epix deal.
A email sent to Netflix seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Amazon did not disclose the terms of the deal, but the company is "investing hundreds of millions of dollars to expand the Prime Instant Video library," Bill Carr, vice president of video and music at Amazon, said in a statement.
Apple was also circling Epix. Earlier this year Apple began talks with Epix as it builds out its content offering for its products, including a widely expected full-fledged TV set. .
The deal with Epix, which brings Amazon's library to more than 25,000 titles, comes as Amazon is expected to unveil a new version of its Kindle Fire tablet this week.
Apple is holding a major event on Sept. 12 and is expected to take the wraps off its latest iPhone. (Reporting By Jennifer Saba and Liana Baker; Editing by Maureen Bavdek and John Wallace)
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Don't Watch A Movie Without Rating It
When you finish a show or movie on Netflix, the site requests that you give it between one and five stars, based on how much you enjoyed it. You're not being asked to rate that content for kicks, or so that you can later reminisce about how much you liked a certain film: Rather, Netflix has spent many years improving its recommendation engine, even offering a $1 million prize for anyone who could up the accuracy of Netflix recommendations by 10 percent. At this point, the Netflix recommendation engine is pretty darn accurate -- it takes into account your own ratings as well as the viewing habits of those similar to you. Basically, the more films you rate, the more you're likely to enjoy a Netflix recommendation. If you constantly find yourself frustrated that there's nothing on Netflix, take a half hour or so and knock out a few hundred ratings on the "Taste Profile" section of the site, and make sure you've filled in your genre preferences, too. Finally, if Netflix persists in recommending a title that you're just never going to watch -- for me, that would be "The Lincoln Lawyer" -- remember that you can click on the "Not Interested" button on any film's homepage and it will disappear from your recommendations page while simultaneously smartening up your future recs. (For an in-depth look at the Netflix recommendation engine, and how it works, I recommend this post on Netflix's official blog.)
Don't Fly Blind
Leaning on Netflix's recommendations alone ensures that you'll discover some good flicks; if you're really committed to shaking all the leaves from the tree, however, you're going to need some backup artillery. There are several excellent extensions that you can add to your favorite browser to augment your Netflix experience and increase your chances of sniffing out a great new film. An extension like "Rotten Netflix," for example, inserts little Rotten Tomatoes scores beneath every movie poster on the website, so that you can instantly know how a movie fared with critics. Similarly, the "IMFlixDB" extension displays a movie's IMDB ranking on a white bar above the Netflix homepage and gives you quick access to that film's information page. The ever-prodigious members at Reddit use the wisdom of crowds, meanwhile, to constantly vote up streaming movies that you might otherwise miss. It's a super-active community with consistently high-quality recommendations: Check it out here.
Don't Let A Film Disappear
Another Netflix specialty website is InstantWatcher, a clean website that allows for easier movie search than you'll find on the Netflix homepage. And while many outlets toast InstantWatcher for its quick and robust search functionality, we like it because it also lists the notable films that will disappear from Netflix Instant soon. There's even a Twitter feed that does nothing but tweet out the names of soon-to-be-expired Netflix movies. There is no worse feeling, in the whole entire world, than sitting down to watch a movie you've had in your Netflix queue only to discover that the movie has disappeared. Don't let it happen to you again.
Don't Be Afraid To Quit
One of the really nice things about a Netflix subscription is that you pay month-by-month; it's not like a cell phone contract where you're locked in for two years and you have to pay an exorbitant fee if you want to get out early or cancel service. With Netflix, you can quit for one month and come back the next: Netflix will save your queue and ratings for up to two years so that if you do come back, you don't really have to start over. So, if you're taking a vacation, or studying for the LSATs, or going to prison, just cancel your account and save yourself the $8 for as long as you need. Or, if you are one of our Olympian Netflix bashers from above, go ahead and try life without the 'Flix for a month or two and see how you do. Your account information will be waiting for you when (or if) you return; and, hey, if you do, now you have plenty of new ways to find the excellent movies and TV shows you might have missed while in exile.