Amazon Out-Streams Apple

In the wake of the second-generation Apple TV's introduction, Amazon has one-upped Steve Jobs with a new TV-streaming scheme. Your 99 cents per show will buy not just limited-time streaming rights, but permanent ones. Apple charges 99 cents to rent, Amazon 99 cents to own (for both HD and SD). Amazon's previous price was $2.99.

Amazon may also have a temporary advantage in terms of content. Its streaming library boasts 75,000 shows, which can be accessed via computer, Panasonic Viera Cast TVs, Roku set-top boxes, and other Amazon VOD partners. Networks visible on the site at presstime included ABC, NBC, Fox, Showtime, CW, HBO, FX, Syfy, and USA. Apple, on the other hand, has managed to sign up only Fox, BBC America, and a trio of Disney-owned channels: ABC, ABC Family, and the Disney Channel.

Whether these offers will become permanent features of the landscape remains to be seen. You can also see many TV shows free online through sites like Hulu, or through the online portals available to some cable-TV subscribers, or through the Netflix online rental service.

"We're happy to sit back and see how it goes," says an anonymous media executive quoted by The Wall Street Journal. He added that companies like his welcome competition which would prevent companies like Apple from dominating online distribution.

See The Wall Street Journal.