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Amazon to give Prime members Netflix-style streaming?

Engadget has posted screenshots from a tipster suggesting that Amazon is on the verge of bundling in an unlimited video-streaming option with its $79.99 Amazon Prime membership.

An alleged screenshot of the new service on an Amazon product page.

Rumors have been heating up over the last few weeks that Amazon was on the verge of offering "free" unlimited video streaming to its Prime members, who pay $79.99 a year for free two-day shipping on many items sold on Amazon. Now a tipster has sent a few screenshots to Engadget allegedly showing an unlimited video-streaming section to complement Amazon's VOD (video-on-demand) offerings.

Whether someone at Amazon accidentally jumped the gun on the launch is unclear, but the section has now disappeared along with the "Watch now," free unlimited streaming button (I have an Amazon Prime subscription and nothing like this showed up for me).

Back in November one of our non-Amazon contacts mentioned the possibility of such a service in an off-the-record conversation and on December 6, the Wall Street Journal reported that was developing a Netflix-like subscription service that would offer TV shows and movies. According to people "familiar with the matter," that service "would be included as a bundle with its Amazon Prime shipping service."

From the screenshot, it appears the selection would be pretty similar to Netflix's Watch Instantly service and would feature "unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of 5,000 movies and TV shows at no additional cost." According to Engadget's tipster, the resolution is limited to "pretty solid" 480p (standard-definition). To be clear, none of this information is confirmed, but we'll have a full review of the service if and when Amazon decides to launch it.

It's worth pointing out that Netflix's Watch Instantly service costs $95.88 a year, which comes out to a little more than $15 over an Amazon Prime subscription. However, Netflix's streaming service is currently available on more set-top boxes and mobile devices, so Amazon would have some catch-up to do in that department.

One small bit of info a lot of people don't know about is that Amazon allows Amazon Prime subscribers to share their subscriptions with up to three "family members." (See full article here.) Whether Amazon would extend the "free" streaming service to those you share your membership with is unknown, but it would certainly be a nice perk.

More: Amazon's free shipping secret

Some of the TV programming that may be available for "free" streaming to Prime members. Engadget