TORONTO _ Amazon brought its video-streaming service to Canada on Wednesday as part of a global launch in more than 200 countries and territories.
The Seattle-based company says members of Amazon Prime in Canada will now be able to access the service at no additional cost.
Amazon Prime _ which costs $79 per year in Canada after a 30-day free trial _ also includes free two-day shipping for orders through the global online retailer, which sells a wide variety of goods, including books, housewares, clothes and consumer electronics. Free same-day shipping is available for some orders in Toronto and Vancouver.
Amazon Prime Video has emerged a serious rival for Netflix, with both companies in an arms race to commission their own original content and woo streaming customers.
Among Amazon’s top titles is the critically acclaimed “Transparent,” which has won a slew of Emmy and Golden Globe awards. The streaming service’s global launch is also anchored by “The Grand Tour,” the comeback project from former “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson.
The Amazon move into the Canadian market is also seen a threat to Bell Media’s CraveTV. The Rogers-Shaw streaming partnership Shomi was recently shut down after struggling to compete with Netflix.
Last month, Bell Media president Mary Ann Turcke expressed concerned about the looming Amazon launch at a hearing before Canada’s broadcast regulator. She said it could make it more difficult to acquire the buzzy titles need to satisfy subscribers.
“It’s not just our fellow Canadian broadcasters who will try to outbid us for first run, original programming, but it’s Netflix and now Amazon, two entities that are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as us and that have astronomically more buying power than we do,” she told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
Bell Media, which runs CTV, TSN and many other channels, launched CraveTV in December 2014 and recently reported the service had hit one million subscribers. Netflix does not reveal its subscriber numbers but a poll this spring by the Media Technology Monitor in Canada found 48 per cent of anglophone respondents said they were users of the streaming service.