Free Video Trials For Amazon Prime Members

Dave Zatz —  June 1, 2016

While it still may be some time before we see an Amazon Video app on Apple TV, the retailer’s streaming service continues to see improvements. And one of the more interesting developments has been the aggregation of third party video services — including on-demand and soon, in some cases, “live” content. Presumably, like Roku, Amazon is compensated for new subscriber referrals. So we get a large catalog of providers and a (somewhat) unified Prime Video entry point, as Amazon generates additional revue. Win, win. (Well, other than the fact our à la carte “channels” will likely end up costing us more than cable.)

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Also, like Roku, Amazon is tempting us with a number of free trials worth checking out:

18 responses to Free Video Trials For Amazon Prime Members

  1. While this is interesting, none of the video is “free”, with the exception of the 1 week or 1 month trials, no?

  2. What time is free?

  3. That was one possibility I considered and dismissed…

    Check out This One Weird Trick to Get All The Free Video You Want.

  4. I had fixed the headline after your first comment. I had written it originally a day or so ago. With the baby around, everything gets broken into smaller chunks – it’s definitely not effective for my writing style: some things are (more) disjointed, others are missed.

  5. “I fixed the headline”

    Oh, thank god. Seriously. After my last comment, I looked at my RSS feed, and reached the (wrong) conclusion that the headline had always been the fixed version, and thus I had begun with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

    “With the baby around, everything gets broken into smaller chunks – it’s definitely not effective for my writing style, things are more disjointed.”

    Have you considered training her as a copy editor? Unlock the secret copy editor in your baby with this One Weird Trick…

  6. Amazon Prime Video has some good content but when my first year’s membership was nearing its end last month, I decided not to renew. For one thing, we now have the option to subscribe on a monthly basis, so there’s no need to do a whole year at a time now. My biggest beef with Amazon is their stubbornness in supporting Prime Video on other platforms, specifically Google (Android TV and Chromecast) and Apple TV. If Bezos thinks Apple and Google want too high a commission on in-app transactions on their platforms, fine, then just put an Amazon Video app on those devices that doesn’t allow for in-app sign-ups, rentals or sales, like they have for iOS. (And apparently Vudu and FandangoNow don’t find Google’s terms too onerous as their video rental/sales apps are compatible with Chromecast; Vudu will also soon be on Android TV too.)

    Playback controls in the Amazon Video app for TiVo are egregious and I got tired of using it. Amazon really only offers one first-class client for their video service and that’s, of course, on their own Fire TV hardware. Unfortunately, Fire TV also has a non-customizable system UI aimed at shoving as much Amazon content as possible on users. Unless you are sold on remaining an Amazon Primer for the foreseeable future, I can’t see choosing a Fire TV over other streaming boxes.

    I’ll probably just pick up Amazon Prime for a couple months around Christmas when I do a lot of shopping and binge on a few series at the same time. No need to keep it year-round for me.

    http://www.theverge.com/2016/5/31/11826362/amazon-acceptable-business-terms-apple-tv-chromecast

  7. That’s the article I linked in my post… ;)

    Regarding Prime video, there have been times they offer content I want that Netflix didn’t have and I’ve enjoyed some of their original content. I basically get it for “free” since my wife and mom will not let me cancel Prime in regards to the shipping perks. I do also buy a decent amount of Amazon Video (shows I don’t get or that were cut off by Sunday night football).

    Regarding best Amazon playback device, I’d still say Roku over Fire TV in many cases and I’m fine with TiVo’s implementation for shows I’ve purchased.

  8. “Amazon Prime Video has some good content but when my first year’s membership was nearing its end last month, I decided not to renew.”

    I don’t think Prime Video is worth it for Video. (It’s actually getting close! But it’s not there.)

    Prime is still about physical fulfillment. That’s what you pay for.

    And if you’re on the borderline for getting Prime for physical fulfillment, it’s got a lot of nice extra bonuses. And Prime Video is the most valuable of those bonuses/

    “Playback controls in the Amazon Video app for TiVo are egregious”

    Yup. An Amazon feed on the TiVo has much higher PQ and fulfillment reliability are than any other. (PQ matter more of the two.) And thus I always used to prefer the Amazon feed. But the playback controls are so inferior to the competition that I sometimes prefer another feed.

  9. “Regarding Prime video, there have been times they offer content I want that Netflix didn’t have and I’ve enjoyed some of their original content.”

    Yeah. A nice catalog that’s exclusive to them.

    And regarding original programming, it’s interesting.

    I used to dismiss Amazon’s crew. But no more! They’re hiring interesting people. They’re doing interesting experiments.

    I think Netflix’s programming operation is not in the same ballpark, league, or universe as HBO’s operation, or even Showtime’s. But if they can execute, (big “if”, of course), Amazon Studios is first possible newmedia rival to HBO I’ve seen.

  10. Amazon Studios is quite ambitious lately, both in snapping up films as well as developing original series, much of it with indie/auteur-type sensibilities. As for being a rival to HBO Amazon Studios is quite ambitious lately, both in snapping up festival films as well as developing original series, much of it with indie/auteur-type sensibilities. I really think they’re making a name for themselves as a place where artists want to do their thing. (As for being a rival to HBO, I’m not sure that’s such a lofty goal any more — yes, HBO has great brand equity/mindshare due to GoT and generally coasting on their laurels but their overall drama slate, production pipeline and internal leadership are in the crapper these days. “It’s not TV. It’s a dumpster fire.” Will be interesting to see if all the new series they launch later this year turn things around there.)

    http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/hbo-michael-lombardo-programming-challenges-1201780045/

    The only Roku on which I’ve tried the Amazon Video app is parents’ model that’s probably 3-4 years old. It’s a pretty basic cookie-cutter Roku app, although it works fine, including the standard Roku replay feature. Do current model Rokus have a more modern Amazon app with a spiffier UI like the Fire TV has? (I’m pretty sure that predictive buffering/instant playback feature, as well as UHD 4K content, are exclusive to the Fire TV.) Their app on my Wii U isn’t too bad. It’s certainly better than the one for TiVo, although that isn’t saying much.

  11. @Tim

    Netflix’s status as the #1 streaming service comes with power. If Netflix refuses to release an app for a streaming device, it’s probably enough to seal the device’s fate as a market failure. If Netflix pulled their app from a streaming device, a huge portion of the device’s owners would jump ship. Netflix can use that threat to manipulate a hardware manufacturer’s decisions and policies in their favor, like how they only have to pay Apple 15% of their in-app purchases on the Apple TV, instead of the usual 30%.

    Amazon feels Prime Video will be able to wield that the same influence on device manufacturers. It may not be important enough right now to force policy exceptions like Netflix can, but it might get there quicker than you think. Amazon has been throwing more and more money into Prime Video year after year. $1.3 billion in 2014 and $3 billion in 2015. It’ll likely double again this year considering they’re now making/funding movies in addition to shows.

    Amazon is building Prime Video to be a dominant force in streaming content and not just a bonus on top of free 2-day shipping. Jeff Bezos said he sees Amazon Studios as becoming the 4th pillar in Amazon’s business. (Retail, Prime, and AWS being the current 3 pillars.) If they release a crippled app for the Apple TV, Android TV, and Chromecast as you suggest, they’re giving up the leverage that they’re building up. It’s much worse for them to pull an app off a device later because they can’t get their way, then to just refuse to make it in the first place.

  12. What Amazon builds and what folks are willing to subscribe to are different things, of course… ;) Having said that, I’m very interested to see how they ultimately interweave these “subscription add-ons” into some sort of refreshed interface – especially now that live is on the table. Will they do their own grid guide? And, as was mentioned, their originals and licensing has been promising.

    Regarding Netflix, I know two specific examples of which you speak and both have suffered. A few years back, they stopped licensing everyone and their moms. One box manufacturer lost access and another was denied access – in fact, I was asked to help play matchmaker in one case (but my Netflix contacts are technical PM types – not bizdev, execs, etc).

    At one point, I thought TiVo was at risk to lose Netflix. However, I think Reed Hastings has a soft spot for TiVo (as he used to have an email subscription to ZNF) and it gave Netflix a platform to efficiently deploy Netflix to (smaller) cable operators like RCN and Suddenlink.

  13. “Amazon Studios is quite ambitious lately, both in snapping up films as well as developing original series, much of it with indie/auteur-type sensibilities. As for being a rival to HBO Amazon Studios is quite ambitious lately, both in snapping up festival films as well as developing original series, much of it with indie/auteur-type sensibilities. I really think they’re making a name for themselves as a place where artists want to do their thing.”

    Yuperoo.

    But that’s exactly why I’m bullish on their future, (if they can execute),

    Don’t forget that HBO Original Programming built its bones in a somewhat similar fashion. The Larry Sanders Show and Mr. Show were pretty fringey, no? But they were great, and thus they built buzz. Transparent is Amazon’s equivalent.

    Then Chris Albrecht took big risks into The Sopranos and Sex and The City, and they became what they are. Amazon Studios is now putting together a heavyweight team at the top to do that.

    And don’t forget that HBO Original Programming really built out their stable by scooping up all the indie/auteur talent suddenly available by the collapse of the AmerIndie theatrical economic space around 2000. HBO made, and still make, themselves a place where talented folks want to make stuff. Amazon Studios again is following the same playbook by scooping up talented and useful folks.

    “As for being a rival to HBO, I’m not sure that’s such a lofty goal any more — yes, HBO has great brand equity/mindshare due to GoT and generally coasting on their laurels”

    Now you’re talking crazy talk.

    Forget my personal evaluation that HBO programming is head and shoulders above all competition. (I’m a good bellwether of cineaste taste, but that’s obviously of confined value.)

    What matters is Water Cooler value. That’s what HBO has, and it’s not just about “coasting on their laurels”. Sure, their biggest show, GoT, wasn’t their best show to begin with, and it’s getting tired. Doesn’t matter! They still have a full lineup of shows that dominate the Chattering Class, and thus the Water Cooler. (I’d argue that here’s where my bellwether of cineaste taste is actually useful. It helps predict what the chattering class will settle upon.)

    No one can touch HBO is this department, and that gives their “content” a very special extra value in the industry. That’s what Amazon Studios is trying to build. (AMC had a few real breakout successes in the Water Cooler department. More power to whoever did that, but AMC doesn’t have the consistent pipeline.)

    Netflix programming is going another direction. They’re essentially middlin’ basic cable all in one place. Stuff for everyone, but nothing anyone gets too excited about. Good for them, but it’s a very different strategy and market.

  14. @Chucky: You mention that AMC doesn’t have a consistent pipeline — that is essentially my knock on HBO these days. They get outrageously outsized attention from Emmy voters (and the media generally) but, apart from Game of Thrones and, to a lesser extent Veep and Silicon Valley (which air at the same time of year), what else does HBO really have going for it these days? They’re just not a year-round contender any more in quality original entertainment that is breaking through to a meaningful number of viewers. (And after getting hooked on Hello Ladies and Togetherness, only to have them yanked away prematurely like low-ratings newbies on NBC, I’m wary of giving new HBO series much of my time.) What other current HBO shows dominate the Chattering Class? (Don’t embarrass yourself by saying Vinyl or The Leftovers.) John Oliver’s show gets a fair amount of attention. And, uh, then there’s… Anyhow, plenty of digital ink has been spilled on HBO’s recent travails. It’s not that they don’t put out some quality content, it’s just that, once you scratch beneath the pop culture phenomenon of GoT, you realize that HBO is now simply one of many quality TV outlets. Nothing particularly special. They’re going to have to do better if they want to charge 50% more per month than Netflix, Showtime, Amazon, etc.

  15. @Elias: Yes, Amazon is serious about building their Prime Video service — you can even subscribe to it as a stand-alone service without free shipping. But to my mind, that only increases the need for them to treat it as its own product that can reach as many potential subscribers as possible. And you do that by allowing customers to consume your product on the platform they want, not by keeping it off of 40% of TV streaming devices sold last year. (And frankly, if they want to be considered in the same league as Netflix, maybe they should hire folks who know how to design decent apps with good UI/UX, not to mention follow in Netflix’s footsteps when it comes to efficient video encoding to produce excellent PQ at lower bitrates.)

    Like Dave, I’m interested to see what Amazon will do in terms of live TV. They do carry live feeds of the Showtime and Starz channels via web browser right now if you add them to your Prime subscription. I’m wondering if we’ll see them delve into the skinny streaming cable race with PS Vue, Sling TV, as well as AT&T, Hulu and YouTube in the coming months. Clearly, Amazon would like to control all of your retail shopping, entertainment and cloud services.

  16. “You mention that AMC doesn’t have a consistent pipeline — that is essentially my knock on HBO these days … but, apart from Game of Thrones and, to a lesser extent Veep and Silicon Valley…”

    They have a current pipeline backup. A bunch of new stuff wasn’t being done properly, and thus got delayed. In fact, the head of programming just got guillotined over the screw-up. But that stuff is still going to emerge, and they still have other stuff in the pipeline.

    “…what else does HBO really have going for it these days?”

    I think The Leftovers is pretty great, and hit the secular spirituality spot HBO that’s part of HBO’s wheelhouse. And you just mentioned Hello Ladies and Togetherness. (I didn’t watch the former, but thought the latter was quite excellent.) And you complain they got yanked, but I’ve got zero problem with series only lasting 2 seasons.

    The series that actually improve after the first two seasons are incredibly rare, IMHO. The exceptional ones do, but the huge majority start getting very thin by stretching into plot soap opera territory. I absolutely loved Enlightened, and would’ve wanted a third season, only cuz I thought it had the team behind it to have real potential to be exceptional. But I was still happy for two seasons of brilliance, did a re-watch, and might do another.

    Also, their mini-series are in ways my very favorite elements of HBO. They’ve done some absurdly great stuff there. That stuff is really not TV, it’s HBO. And their frequent original movies, which are usually docudramas, are almost always head and shoulders above anyone else in the docudrama form. (I think the folks who did FX’s O.J. mini-series studied HBO’s docudrama movies very, very closely.)

    And while the pure docs obviously aren’t mass-market, they’re generally brilliant, and tend to focus on topics that hook the Chattering Class.

    “Anyhow, plenty of digital ink has been spilled on HBO’s recent travails”

    Yup. Which, again, is why they just guillotined the guy in charge. But you should fire up your time machine and go back to look at the ink spilled when The Sopranos ended. Makes any current woes seem tame. But they still had a pipeline, and after a brief rocky period were better than ever. They’re in a far better spot now than they were then.

    “They’re going to have to do better if they want to charge 50% more per month…”

    Do you actually think they’re losing net customers? I certainly don’t. And going forward, I think they’re going to be in better shape. (Barring that the new top-level is totally unable to execute, of course, even with a good middle management team already in place.) They’ve got an over-stuffed pipeline due to the delays. And I think Bill Simmons and Sesame Street will both be compelling to folks currently on their margins.

    If anything, I think their dilemma is going to be the tradeoffs involved in deciding whether or not to do a 2nd weekly night, or half-night, of programming…

    (Remember that their ability to charge a significant premium over the competition is precisely why Amazon Studios is trying so hard to ape their path and formula.)

  17. As long as HBO has ‘Real Time’ with Bill Maher, I’ll have HBO. Amazon is trying to evolve one stop shopping for everything (they are coming close). What’s a water cooler :)

  18. OMFG!

    For all those who remember the “Starz on Netflix” wonderwall:

    A while ago, Amazon Prime stopped labeling Prime selections with an HD badge. Since then, I assumed all titles were now in HD. And until today, I found that to be true.

    But today, I fired up an Amazon Prime movie, and it was fuzzy. I was confused, eventually went back to the TiVo UI, went to all options, and found the only versions of the movie for rental or sale were SD.

    And now the kicker:

    When I went back to the Amazon Prime screen for the movie, I noticed it was badged in the movie poster as “Starz”. I’ve never seen such a thing on an Amazon display.

    So Starz, however many years later, has decided to continue to identify their brand with the meaning of low PQ.

    OMFG!