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Amazon Prime Instant Video gears up 4K streaming to compete with Netflix

Tom Morgan
12 Nov 2014
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Prime customers won't have to pay extra for 4K streaming once the service goes live, according to Amazon

Early adopters of 4K TVs tired of watching House of Cards on Netflix will soon have more variety when it comes to Ultra High Definition content - Amazon has just confirmed it should have its first 4K movies and TV shows available to Prime Instant Video customers by the end of the year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon's service will be live for US customers before January 2015, although it's unclear if the company will be rolling out 4K content worldwide at the same time. Typically Amazon staggers any product launch, be it physical or digital, starting in the US and expanding out to other territories at a later date.

The report suggests Amazon won't be charging extra for customers to access 4K content, despite it using considerably more bandwidth than a 'regular' 1080p Full HD stream. That makes a welcome change from Netflix, which increased monthly prices from £5.99 to £8.99 for anyone wanting to stream Ultra HD video - although admittedly that does include simultaneous access on four different devices, which makes it suitable for families or flatmates looking to spread the cost of membership.

However, it may require an update to the Amazon Instant Video app built into your TV. Naturally, your TV will need to have a 4K resolution, and have an HEVC decoder chip able to translate the data stream into video and audio.

“We’re confident that offering Ultra HD content, whether it’s a TV series or a film, will help create the ultimate viewing experience,” Michael Paull, Amazon’s VP of digital video, said.

So far, the number of confirmed TV shows is rather limited, but Amazon-produced Transparent, Alpha House and Mozart in the Jungle will likely be well received by 4K TV owners deperate for new content. They will also get the “Lady Gaga: Cheek To Cheek” concert film, although that alone won't be convincing us to shell out £79 for an annual Amazon Prime membership.

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