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Amazon adds Fox movies ahead of expected tablet launch

Nathan Olivarez-Giles and Dawn C. Chmielewski
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — Amazon.com is set to host a media event on Wednesday morning in New York City, and the expectation is that the world's largest online retailer will be unveiling its long-rumored Google Android-based Kindle tablet.

On Monday, Amazon announced a beefing-up of its Amazon Prime service, with the addition of more than 11,000 older movies and TV shows from Fox added to the catalog.

The move is aimed at bolstering the appeal of Amazon Prime, which offers online streaming of a catalog of TV shows and movies to those who pay a the $79 annual fee, which also gives subscribers free two-day shipping from Amazon.

Rumors have also been circulating that with the release of the Amazon tablet, the company could add an e-book rental service to Amazon Prime as well.

The Amazon tablet, which is expected to carry the Kindle name used on the Seattle-based company's e-readers thus far, is rumored to cost about $250 and feature a 7-inch touch screen, which would make it smaller and about half the price of an entry-level Apple iPad, the current tablet sales leader.

Of course, the Amazon tablet is expected to be integrated with Amazon's services, such as Amazon Prime for shopping and streaming, Kindle for books, its MP3 store and Cloud Player for music, and its Amazon Appstore for Android for apps.

The licensing deal with News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox adds about 2,000 films and television shows to Amazon.com’s instant streaming service, bringing to 11,000 the number of titles available through Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime members gain commercial-free access to such films as “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “9 to 5” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” as well as older television series including “24,” “The X-Files” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Consumers who are not Amazon Prime members can rent or purchase movies and TV shows from Amazon through its Instant Video stream service, at prices that start at $3.99 for new releases. Amazon offers more than 100,000 new and older titles through its paid service.

The online retailer is beefing up its catalog as it seeks to compete with Netflix, which just secured the rights to stream DreamWorks Animation films. Amazon has secured licensing deals with CBS, NBCUniversal, Sony and Warner Bros.

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