Amazon Prime ServiceYesterday, Amazon launched its Prime instant Video streaming service which offers access to unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of about 5,000 movies and TV Shows. The service will be rolled under the current $79 per year Prime shipping subscription plan which offers free two-day shipping on Amazon products

The move is clearly a stab at taking a piece of Netflix's ever-growing video streaming pie that has caused the red company's membership to swell to 20 million members. But with only 5,000 titles currently available, Amazon Prime's selection is only less than half as large as Netflix's library of over 11,000 titles. The quality of the selection seems to be very good however as a cursory glance reveals such big titles as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, Amadeus, Syriana, and Chariots of Fire. TV shows include Doctor Who, Farscape, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Fawlty Towers and THE BBC Office. Quality will undoubtedly win out over quantity, but there's clearly room for two players in this burgeoning market of potential members willing to cut the cord from traditional cable providers.

Current Amazon Prime members can start watching now, but those who aren't currently members can subscribe for a $79 annual fee that also includes Amazon's Prime shipping that allows members who buy products on to have their orders shipped at no extra charge. Netflix currently offers a $7.99 monthly streaming plan that allows unlimited streaming.

This is a good move for Amazon as it also currently has the ability to sell new releases through video-on-demand. But the big beneficiaries will be consumers who now have a little competition in the marketplace and a larger selection of movies and TV shows that can be ordered up instantly on our computers, hand-held devices, TVs, blu-ray players and other properly outfitted hardware devices.

Amazon is currently offering a one month free trial of Amazon Prime that offers the benefits of free two-day shipping and unlimited instant streaming.

Below is a screen shot of the Amazon Prime service on the Roku player (thanks to Hackingnetflix for the image):

Amazon Prime Service