Amazon Launches “Free” Video Streaming (For $79/yr)

So Amazon’s accidentally leaked all-you-can-eat video streaming has come to pass. And the Hulu, Netflix competitor is free to all Prime members. Well, all full price Prime subscribers. As it looks like those of you on free or discounted subs have been left out. I’m an occasional, but current, Prime member — $79 a year gets me free 2 day shipping and discounted overnight or same-day shipping ($3.99) on physical goods.

So my first thought this AM was, I’m cancelling Netflix! Or Hulu Plus! But it’s not yet clear what sort of quality one can expect from Amazon’s catalog of commercial free video content. Indeed, Engadget took a quick look and wasn’t overly impressed with the picture. Additionally, while Amazon offers over 90,000 pieces of digital video content… only 5,000 are available for “free.” And who knows what determines the selection and rotation.

But I have to say I’m impressed with the wide variety of devices Amazon was able to launch the service with. Existing apps from the likes of Roku boxes and Vizio connected televisions are a go. Which means I’ll be sampling some Amazon Prime streaming this evening. Unfortunately, as you can see in the pic below, “instant videos are not currently available on TiVo devices”. I reached out to TiVo to learn of their intentions, but they have nothing more to share at this time. Unfortunately, given the current state of affairs, an iPad or iPhone app probably also isn’t in the cards any time soon.

16 thoughts on “Amazon Launches “Free” Video Streaming (For $79/yr)”

  1. Here’s where this is awesome – a Roku box is around $60 (depending on which model you pick). That’s a one-time fee. If you have Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu Plus, you’re looking at $6.67 ($79/12mo) + $7.99 + $7.99 = $23/mo, with no contract whatsoever (well, I suppose you could consider Amazon Prime a ’12-month contract’, if you wanted to, but still).

    Compare that to the cheapest AT&T Uverse/Dish/DirecTV/whatever monthly package, and it’s a no-brainer. Sure, you won’t get the pleasure of channel surfing, but you’re also putting at *least* $25/month right in your pocket, if not more.

  2. Once this hits TiVo I could see myself signing up for it, but looking over the titles, I’m not sure that they are offering anything that’s not already on Netflix. In theory, I’d have no problem signing up for Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, but because the studios have been so reluctant to offer cheap streams, it seems like all of the same content is getting licensed to all three. I don’t need big name movies to get on board, but will need enough unique titles to justify having multiple subscriptions.

  3. This is surprisingly good for a “tie-in” even though I don’t have any boxes that work with Amazon. Of course, it needs HD, more content, blah-blah, but it’s gratis :)

    What video quality is everyone getting? I just tried to watch Dr. Who (S1, E1) and it was Very Low (one green bar) even though I’m on a corporate network at the office.

  4. “What video quality is everyone getting? I just tried to watch Dr. Who (S1, E1) and it was Very Low (one green bar) even though I’m on a corporate network at the office.”

    You are getting SD video because that is what Amazon is sending to you.

    If you want HD video, you’ll have to pay for it.

  5. Yeah, but 480p “SD” can be very watchable – depending on TV size and viewing distance. For example, I’d be fine with 480p on the bedroom TV for sitcoms (whereas movies in the living room would need to be higher quality). So I’d like to know more about the actual resolution and bitrate, assuming it’s mostly consistent across the Prime tier.

  6. Did you verify that it won’t work on TiVo? The Prime Instant Video support page just says “At this time, Prime instant videos are only available for streaming and cannot be downloaded to a TiVo box or the Unbox Player.”

  7. Yes… The pic above says it and a PR contact at TiVo confirmed. I assume it’ll require a re-working of the TiVo Amazon app. As designed, it doesn’t do streaming like say a Roku. Rather, it’s a progressive download.

  8. Well, I’m already an Amazon Prime customer for the savings on shipping, so this is just a bonus. Doesn’t look like there’s a lot of stuff on there that I’d want to watch just yet, and as you say without HD I won’t be watching movies in the Family Room, but hey, for now its free. I’ll be checking out the service on the one Samsung TV we’ve got to see how that works. Might pick up a Roku to get access to this since I’m not holding my breath on Tivo updating their offering which is how I’ve gotten Amazon VOD till now.

    I’ll be forgiving on content library, quality etc for a bit assuming it will all improve over time.

  9. As with Glenn, this is a bonus for me as a satisfied Amazon Prime customer. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this land on the TiVo platform as another Premiere-Only feature.

  10. It would be interesting and great if TiVo took this opportunity not just to add the steaming functionality but to finally overhaul the Amazon (and Netflix) clients. And I hope MHA is wrong about Premier only but he’s probably right

  11. Not sure they thought about this before launch – you can’t search the Prime Video – it’s just broken out by Genre and “Top” categories (whatever “Top” means). I searched using the Amazon OnDemand menu and the things I found weren’t exactly “Prime Eligible”.

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