Online retailer Amazon streams films

US online retail giant Amazon on Tuesday launched a movie streaming service that competes directly with Internet film star Netflix.

The Seattle, Washington-based Amazon bundled access to the movie service with Amazon Prime, which costs $79 a year and gives Amazon customers unlimited free shipping of books and other items.

Movies and TV shows included with Amazon Prime memberships can be watched instantly on computers or many models of Internet-connected TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes.

The selection of films included "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy, and "March of the Penguins." Television shows included "Doctor Who" and " "Fawlty Towers."

Amazon's unlimited streaming service comes after the company completed its acquisition of British-based movie and games rental service LoveFilm.

LoveFilm, which has been compared to Netflix, has become one of Europe's top movie subscription services over the past seven years.

The LoveFilm site boasts 1.4 million members across Europe and, like Netflix, offers DVD rental by post and online movie streaming direct to computers, Internet-enabled televisions and other devices.

Netflix is available in the US and Canada, with members paying flat monthly fees for the service.

Amazon already offers online movies for rent or purchase as part of its "Instant Video" on-demand service.

"In addition to now offering unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of 5,000 movies and TV shows to Amazon Prime members, we continue to offer all customers more than 90,000 movies and TV shows through Amazon Instant Video," said Cameron Janes, director of Amazon Instant Video.

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