September 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

Amazon, Netflix tune web-to-TV video

Amazon rolled out in September a system that allows consumers to watch movies and TV shows through their web browsers without downloading files. Netflix is working with partners to bring out devices for streaming video from Netflix.com to TV sets.

Amazon rolled out last month a system it began testing in July that allows consumers to watch movies and TV shows through their browsers without downloading files.

The first two minutes of each video plays automatically without charge on the product detail page of each movie or TV show.

Consumers can then rent or buy the content through the new Amazon Video on Demand service. Consumers can also rent or buy movies and TV shows from Amazon through Internet-enabled Sony Bravia television sets.

“The ability to watch content instantly without downloading first was among the most requested features of our customers, and now it’s live-customers can instantly watch the ad-free title of their choice on a Mac, PC or compatible Sony Bravia TV via Sony’s Bravia Internet Video Link device,” says Roy Price, director of Amazon Video On Demand.

40,000 shows

Once a consumer orders a video, Amazon stores it for future viewing, a feature Amazon calls Your Video Library. The new streaming video service complements Amazon’s existing Unbox service through which consumers can download some 40,000 movies or TV shows to their computers.

By moving into streaming video, Amazon is competing with several other online retailers, notably Netflix, which also enables consumers to immediately watch videos through their browsers. In one respect, Amazon has leapfrogged Netflix: Amazon’s service is available to users of Macintosh computers as well as Windows-based PCs, while Netflix can only stream video to PCs for now.

But Netflix is making inroads of its own. Roku Inc. introduced in May its Netflix Player, the first device to stream video from Netflix.com.

In addition, LG Electronics introduced last month the first Blu-ray disc player to stream video from Netflix to TVs, and Microsoft this fall will enable instant streaming from Netflix to the Microsoft Xbox 360 game player, Netflix says.

paul@verticalwebmedia.com

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