Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) Prime's free Instat video streaming component may not have the depth of content offered by some services, most notably Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) or Hulu Plus, but it does have a certain appeal, perhaps even more so to cash-strapped students.
Students get a free, six-month membership to Amazon Prime as part of Amazon's newest Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone app, Amazon Student. If they continue the membership for another six months for $39, they get unlimited access to Prime Instant videos.
While the main function of the iPhone app is to ease some of the pain students (and their parents) feel when buying textbooks by finding better deals than the college bookstore might offer, the free membership is likely to attract some much needed attention.
Amazon Prime, normally a $79-per-year service that gives users unlimited two-day shipping, expanded in February to give users access to streaming video. Pundits immediately assailed it as a pale offering next to Netflix and Hulu. Amazon, however, has been aggressively chasing content deals of late to make it a player in the VOD arena.
By offering a free introduction to the service directly to over-the-top video's best customer segment, Amazon will potentially get an early hook into an audience before they opt for another premium service.
It's not Amazon Prime's first foray into the world of academia. Last year, the e-tailer offered anyone with a .edu email address a full year of the service.
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