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Amazon working on streaming subscription video service

Amazon has been pitching a Web-based subscription TV and movie service to content providers, a new report claims.

On the eve of Apple's September 1 media event, The Wall Street Journal has published a report on Amazon's plans to develop the service.

According to the Journal's sources, Amazon, which is America's largest online retailer, has approached NBC, Time Warner, News Corp., Viacom about the service. Sources also said Amazon's new subscription service would be browser-based, in addition to being available for devices like Microsoft's Xbox 360. The company reportedly hopes to launch the service in time for the holiday season.

After the service launches, the Seattle, Wa., company will join Netflix, Google, and Hulu in what has become a crowded race to offer streaming video that keeps both viewers and content providers happy.

Apple is also preparing to enter the fray. The Cupertino, Calif., company has reportedly reached agreements of its own with Walt Disney Co., and possibly News Corp. , to stream television show rentals through iTunes. The announcement is expected to come Wednesday along with an upgraded Apple TV set top box.

While Apple hopes to offer new shows soon after they air, Amazon instead appears to be going after older content, which is perceived as less of a threat to media companies.

Amazon and Apple are already fierce competitors in the digital book market. Amazon launched its Kindle e-reader and e-book store in late 2007. In January 2008, Apple CEO Steve Jobs expressed skepticism over the viability of the Kindle, saying "people don't read anymore." Despite Jobs' comments, Apple released its iBooks store alongside the iPad in April.