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Amazon primes pump for Netflix showdown

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix
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Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix

Amazon just untied video streaming from its U.S. Prime service, which was originally built around free delivery. The $300 billion internet retailer is now offering a stand-alone subscription for square-eyed watchers of "Mozart in the Jungle," the forthcoming ex-BBC "Top Gear" and plenty in between. Amazon's move suggests the popularity of its service is growing. The price is right too: At $8.99 per month, it's a dollar cheaper than Netflix will charge, and that could signal a fight.

Amazon hasn't so far released the number of Americans who shell out $99 annually for Prime. Research firm eMarketer estimates 73 million video viewers by year-end, a figure which allows for multiple watchers under one subscription. Netflix, meanwhile, could attract 127 million pairs of U.S. eyeballs.