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Amazon preparing to launch free streaming TV service

By Reuters
Thursday, March 27, 2014 18:15 EDT
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Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, during a press conference in this September 06, 2012 file photo in Santa Monica, California (AFP/File, Joe Klamar)
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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Online retailer Amazon.com Inc plans to enter the battle for living-room viewership in the coming months, launching a free, ad-supported streaming TV service, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing anonymous sources.

Amazon is likely to stream original, self-produced TV series and perhaps licensed programming for free to viewers, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The newspaper said it was unclear how such a service would be delivered to consumers. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

Earlier on Thursday, Amazon said it will hold a press conference in New York on April 2, a rare move that comes amid rife speculation that it will unveil a streaming device, such as a set-top box, to rival the Apple TV and Google Chromcast.

Speculation is that Amazon is close to revealing a streaming device, a set-top box or a small plug-in device, or “dongle”, that is similar to a USB memory stick, that can pipe video into the living room. It would compete with devices made by Apple, Google and U.S. television start-up Roku.

Peter Larsen, vice president of the company’s Kindle division, will provide an update on Amazon’s video business at its April 2 event, according to invitations sent out to the press on Thursday.

Technology blog Re/Code reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter, that Amazon will launch a set-top box that connects televisions to the Internet.

(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Bernard Orr and David Gregorio)

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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