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Streaming video: Netflix gets CBS shows, Roku supports Amazon Prime

Consumer Reports News: February 23, 2011 11:11 AM

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In separate announcements, Netflix said it will soon be including "dozens" of CBS TV shows in its instant streaming video service--and Roku reports that it now supports the Amazon Prime Instant Video service.

Thanks to a two-year deal with CBS, starting in April, Netflix will offer a number of CBS network TV shows via its instant video service. The mix will include episodes of recent CBS series, such as "Medium" and "Flashpoint," as well full seasons of other networks' older, classic shows such as "Frazier," "Family Ties," and "Cheers." The deal doesn't include any TV shows that are currently airing on the network. CBS has the option of extending the deal at the end of the term.

[CLARIFICATION: The deal with CBS complements Netflix's library of streaming video content, which already includes older series from other networks—such as the NBC shows mentioned. Thanks to Godfrey Daniel in the Comments section! —Ed.]

Roku, which already supports Amazon's Video On Demand service, will now be compatible with the online retailer's new Amazon Prime Instant Video service that we wrote about yesterday. Unlike Amazon Video On Demand, which operates as a pay-per-view service, Prime Instant Video is a more Netflix-like subscription service that's bundled into the online retailer's $79-per-year Amazon Prime subscription at no additional charge.

To use the new service, Roku owners who are Prime members need to click on the Amazon Instant Video channel and then look for the Prime Instant Video icon.

It's clear that the market for streaming videos is becoming increasingly competitive. In addition to current services such as those from Amazon, Blockbuster, CinemaNow, Netflix and Vudu, kiosk retailer RedBox has confirmed it is prepping a subscription service to augment its Blu-ray and DVD rental business. The company hopes to launch the service by the end of this year.

Are you currently using a video streaming service? If so, let us know which one, and what your experiences have been so far with its selection and quality, and whether you've considered moving to a different service.

--James K. Willcox

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