Amazon’s new 4K video streaming service won’t cost Prime members an extra dime

Amazon original series 'Alpha House'
Amazon original series 'Alpha House'
As Amazon prepares to launch its much anticipated 4K streaming service, the company released a statement promising something Netflix couldn’t: Amazon won’t charge its Prime members extra for access to its new library of streaming 4K content.

The news comes just weeks after the company’s largest rival in the streaming space, Netflix, announced a rise in subscription service charges to $12/month. The raise is $4 more than grandfathered members currently pay, and $3 more than the $9 per month fee for new members, which went into effect on May 9, 2014. Like the regular subscription rate, Netflix members will enjoy a grace period until Aug 12, 2016 before the new 4K pricing kicks in.

In contrast, Amazon has promised there will be no special pricing tier for 4K/UHD TV access. The fee will remain $99/per year to access all Prime Instant Video content, including 4K, and retain free 2-day shipping on select retail products.

“We want to be the best entertainment destination for customers. We’re confident that offering Ultra HD content, whether it’s a TV series or a film, will help create the ultimate viewing experience and can’t wait to start making it available this year,” said Michael Paull, VP of Amazon’s digital video department.

Only a handful of offerings have so far been slated for release in 4K once the service goes live, including Amazon originals Alpha House, Mozart in the Jungle, and the live concert Tony Bennet and Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live. While that list is pretty slim, Paull also promised more titles will arrive in Ultra HD “later this year and into next year.”

The news comes at what looks to be a turning point for the meager selection of content now offered in 4K resolution — especially if you happen to own one of Samsung’s newer 4K/UHD TVs. Comcast and DirecTV are both still on track to launch trial introductory 4K services available on Samsung TVs by the end of the year, according to a recent report by Multichannel News. And video on-demand service M-Go also announced today it will launch as many as 100 new titles available exclusively on Samsung TVs by the end of the year.

Today’s news from Amazon should be pinned with a slight asterisk, as the company only recently raised its Prime Member pricing, which offers free shipping on a wide selection of products on the e-commerce site, along with access to its Amazon Instant Video offerings. The price went from $79 to $99 per year in March 2014. Still, at just over $8 per month, the service stacks up with current Netflix pricing. If Amazon can offer an enticing catalog in 4K, it may give it some more skin in the ultra-competitive streaming video game.

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