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Ahead of holidays, Amazon quietly adds $8 monthly plan to Prime program

By Sean Ludwig | VentureBeat.com,

E-commerce giant Amazon has quietly added an $8 monthly option to its Prime program, which gives customers access to a free 2-day shipping, monthly Kindle rentals, and a decent selection of unlimited streaming video.

Amazon previously only offered Prime at a cost of $79 a year, which means people concerned about that up-front pricing can try out Prime for several months to see if they get their money’s worth with the program. This new pricing option is also incredibly attractive for the holidays, when you might want to sign up for Prime benefits for a few months.

Additionally, the change signals Amazon’s intention to be a bigger player in streaming media. The $8-a-month pricing closely resembles Netflix and Hulu Plus’ plans, but by all accounts, it offers a less robust movie and TV selection. But Amazon is banking on the addition of free 2-day shipping and Kindle rentals to the video streaming to make up for its paltry video options.

One caveat for those attracted to the new pricing: The $8 monthly fee ends up costing about $96 total over the course of a year. So it’s still cheaper overall to purchase a $79 yearly subscription to Prime if you feel like you get a lot of value out of the program.

Copyright 2012, VentureBeat

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