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If Amazon offers a streaming media player, will it have Netflix?

Consumer Reports News: April 25, 2013 11:38 AM

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Recent rumors suggest that Amazon will launch a streaming media player this fall to compete with the likes of Apple TV and Roku. An interesting question is whether it will offer access to Netflix, the company's fierce rival in the streaming video space.

According to a report from Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which cited sources close to the project, Amazon is prepping its own streaming player that will combine access to streaming TV shows and movies from its own video-on-demand (Amazon Instant) and subscription (Amazon Prime Video) services with online shopping via a video catalog.

While there is no shortage of streaming media players—we now have more than a dozen streaming set-top boxes in our streaming-media lab, including the Apple TV, Roku 3, WD TV Play, Boxee Cloud DVR and several new Google TV-powered players from Asus, Netgear, and Sony and Vizio—offering its own player would give Amazon greater control over the interface, the ability to prominently place its own apps in front of users, and to more closely tie its streaming customers to other Amazon goods and services.

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There are few details yet about the box itself, but it wouldn't be surprising if it offered cloud-based storage, given Amazon's Cloud Drive locker system, which lets you access content via a Kindle Fire, computer, or online. The company could also make music a more important element of the device, since its Cloud Player lets you stream music on Apple and Android phones and tablets, plus its own Kindle Fire.

How an Amazon device would treat Netflix, however, could be an important consideration for many prospective buyers. Amazon's subscription service, offered free to Amazon Prime subscribers, has become increasingly competitive with Netflix as each service vies for content—especially exclusives—and moves ahead with plans to create more original programming. Currently there are no streaming-media players that don't offer Netflix, while there are still several that don't include Amazon Instant Video. Amazon does currently offer access to Netflix—and some other streaming services, such as HBO Go and Hulu Plus—on its Kindle Fire, but not as prominently as its own streaming services.

Assuming that Amazon's streaming media player is competitively priced with other top boxes, would you consider getting one? If you're currently streaming from both Amazon Prime and Netflix, let us know which one you prefer, and why. And stay tuned for our upcoming review of the latest streaming media players.

Here Comes Amazon's Kindle TV Set-Top Box [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

James K. Willcox

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