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Friday, January 27, 2006, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

Amazon plans full-length feature film streaming

Online retailer Amazon.com is preparing to enter the digital download space this spring with a service that will likely marry digital video streaming to DVD sales, reports Variety.com.

Unlike Apple's iTunes service, which so far offers only short films and television programming, Amazon's plans call for full-length digital of feature films.

The retailer is reportedly working to convince indie studios, including Image Entertainment, Ardustry Home Entertainment and First Look Entertainment, to provide digital content for the service.

The service is expected to launch at the end of April with at least two major studio digital content partners. What's unique about Amazon's approach to digital movie streams is that the retailer plans to include with each digital purchase a copy of the content on DVD.

"One supplier explained that an Amazon customer could stream a digital copy of a film for a fee and apply that charge as a credit toward the eventual purchase of the DVD," wrote Variety. "Another plan is for a customer to buy a DVD; while waiting for it to arrive, he could stream the content over his computer."

Apparently, the hoopla surrounding the launch of the video iPod revved up Amazon.com's talks with studios. The retailer realized a move to digital video streams was necessary to help protect its Internet turf from industry "newbies" such as Apple.

It's unclear what movie content Amazon will have available at launch, according to the report. The major studios have so far licensed their movie content for sale over the Internet only to Movielink and CinemaNow in the pay-per-view window that lags DVD.

"We are having active conversations with Amazon regarding their digital strategy," Image executive VP of business development Burgess Wilson said. He declined to reveal details about the negotiations.