The US-owned Amazon bought the UK's LOVEFiLM service in 2011, but now the two services are starting to merge in the wake of Netflix's phenomenal success in the UK and Germany.
Amazon Prime and LOVEFiLM will amalgamate on 26 February, to create a Prime Instant Video (PIV) service that effectively replaces LOVEFiLM Instant (the part of the company dealing with video-on-demand content, rivalling Netflix). What this means is that customers will be able to unlimited stream 150,000 films and TV shows through PIV and utilise Amazon's Prime next-day delivery service when ordering Amazon products and renting Kindle e-books (through their Kindle Lending Library, which issues one e-book per month).
If you already subscribe to LOVEFiLM Instant (as part of your deal with LOVEFiLM), your package will remain the same and the various apps will just re-brand. If you already use Amazon Prime in the UK, you'll notice that video-streaming will be added to the service and the annual cost increased to £79.
This merger's key bonus over Netflix is the ability to pay-per-view from PIV's film library of 50,000 titles, which includes most of the current releases (like Hangover III, Tangled and Captain Phillips). Netflix's library (especially in the more competitive UK market) is notoriously inferior to most other streaming services, as the company's emphasis has shifted towards TV just lately. This change also enables PIV to seriously compete with Apple's iTunes, which also has pay-per-view content for current releases.
If you want to sign up to Amazon PIV, there's an introductory offer of £49/€29 per year (digital streaming, next-day Amazon deliveries) if you subscribe before the service launches on 26 February. That offer's even available if you take the one-month Free Trial before the deadline. The regular price will be £79/€49 per year (£6.58 per month), but people who only want PIV can access it for £5.99 per month.
LOVEFiLM will continue their post rental service for discs (if, like me, the convenience of streaming hasn't yet outweighed the A/V quality of a physical Blu-ray). Mind you, I'm paying £192 per annum for the disc rentals and streaming combined, so I'll keep a close eye on when it makes financial sense to switch to streaming only.