Lovefilm Instant subscribers, prepare yourself for a welcome change. After three years flying under its own flag, the European movie streaming service will become part of Amazon's Prime subscription in both the UK and Germany on February 26th, rebranding as Prime Instant Video in the process. That name might sound familiar because it's the exact same package Amazon has been offering US Prime subscribers for the past 36 months. Before Amazon's changes begin kicking in next week, a full year of Prime will cost just £49 (€29) up until launch day (the original cost of Prime's one-day delivery service), rising to £79 (€49) thereafter. If you're an existing subscriber, however, you won't need to pay a penny until your yearly subscription expires. Amazon expects some won't be impressed by Prime, so it'll allow customers to stay on their existing monthly Lovefilm subscription. That means you could sign up for Lovefilm before the changeover to retain streaming for £5.99 a month, but you won't receive the wider benefits of speedy shipping and access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library if you do.
In an effort to rival iTunes and provide a local service that Netflix doesn't, the retail giant will also let customers buy and rent movies, some of which won't be available on Prime Instant Video. It will be accessible to all Amazon customers and carry Amazon's Instant Video branding. Offering both on-demand services as part of one yearly payment may tempt UK consumers to consider Prime over Netflix and Sky's Now TV, and you can bet Amazon will promote its low-cost subscription wherever it can. The company tells us that it is already in the process of rebranding its suite of mobile, console and Smart TV apps. They'll retain all of their original features but expect the familiar white, red and black branding to disappear. Not everything is set to change, however, Lovefilm will continue to run its DVD rental business, ensuring streaming luddites can still get their their entertainment fix via Her Majesty's postal service.