Amazon Instant Video
|United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Austria|
|Initial release||September 7, 2006|
Sony, Panasonic, LG, Samsung, Vizio
Amazon Instant Video (formerly Amazon Video On Demand) is an Internet video on demand service by Amazon in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Austria, Germany and soon India. It offers television shows and films for rental or purchase. Selected titles are offered for free to customers with an Amazon Prime subscription, a move that angered some UK consumers when it was bundled with a non-negotiable 61% increase in the subscription fee. Like competitors, Amazon has pursued a number of exclusive content deals to differentiate its service. Most recently, Amazon reached a multi-year licensing deal with content provider HBO.
The service debuted on September 7, 2006, as Amazon Unbox. On September 4, 2008, the service was renamed Amazon Video on Demand. The Unbox name still refers to the locally installed player, which as of August 2014 is no longer available for downloading purchased instant videos. On February 22, 2011, Amazon rebranded as Amazon Instant Video and added access to 5,000 movies and TV shows for Amazon Prime members. On September 4, 2012, Amazon signed a deal with pay-TV channel Epix to feature movies on their streaming service, in a move to rival their competitor Netflix. Additionally, in November 2013, Amazon premiered the comedies Alpha House and Betas, which are original series available exclusively online via the Prime Instant Video service. Amazon offered the first three episodes of both series at once for free, with each subsequent episode released weekly thereafter for Prime members.
In February 2014, Amazon announced that the streaming service of its UK subsidiary LoveFilm would be folded into the Instant Video service on 26 February 2014. In January 2015, Transparent became the first show produced by Amazon Studios to win a major award and the first series from a streaming video service to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
On July 30, 2015, Amazon officially announced that they had hired Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May to produce a 3 series long car programme for Amazon Prime Video. Jeff Bezos or Amazon.com have not stated how much Jeremy, James, or Richard are being paid to produce the programme, but Jeff Bezos stated that the deal was "very expensive, but worth it".  The budget for the show has not officially been announced, but Andy Wilman, the late executive producer of Top Gear stated that each episode would have a budget of around £4.5 million, 9x larger than Top Gear's budget.  The new show is reportedly set to air in the Autumn of 2016.
Amazon Instant Video is available on numerous compatible devices. This includes a number of smart TVs and Blu-ray players such as 2010 or later Samsung and LG models, as well as consoles like the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, the Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, Wii U, and mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, Kindle Fire tablets and the Fire Phone. The service is also available through streaming devices such as Roku and Amazon's Fire TV. Amazon Instant Video's app for iOS devices is compatible with Apple TV via AirPlay.
Depending on the device, Amazon supports up to 1080p (HD) streaming with 5.1 Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus audio. For titles that are only available for purchase (and not included in a customer's Amazon Prime subscription), the HD option is often offered at an additional price. By the end of 2014, Amazon will support 4K (UHD) streaming, beginning with its original content.
Amazon Instant Video is currently only available to residents of the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and Austria. Customers of Amazon Instant Video must install add-ons such as Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash to stream videos via web browsers.
For transfer to portable device, the service requires the installation of a client application which manages playback and the transfer of video to portable devices that bear the Microsoft PlaysForSure certification, such as the Creative Zen or a Portable Media Center. For use with a TiVo DVR, no client application is needed. The user only needs a broadband enabled (and connected) Series 2 or Series 3 DVR.
Use on various TVs, Blu-ray players and consoles (including Panasonic, LG, Samsung and other TVs) requires a broadband connection. Use on Xbox Live requires a separate paid Xbox Live Gold subscription whereas the PlayStation Network does not require any additional fees. Amazon Instant Video can also be downloaded from the Wii Shop Channel and the Nintendo eShop and be used on Nintendo's Wii and Wii U consoles respectively at no additional cost.
Points of differentiation
- RemoteLoad allows customers to download to any Unbox-registered PC or TiVo from any Internet-connected computer. For example, a user can purchase an Unbox video from a work computer and request that it be downloaded on a home computer or TiVo DVR.
- Your Media Library allows people to delete most large video files from their local hard drive when finished and store them in Amazon's Media Library for later redownload. This allows people to download more movies than their hard drive could otherwise store, and it provides a backup in case of hard drive failure.
- Unbox on TiVo allows customers to send content directly to their DVR.
- As of March 26, 2008, Unbox offers more than 5,000 movies to purchase This compares with about 800 movies on the iTunes Store.
- Many titles are also available for rental or purchase, often hours after broadcast on TV. This contrasts with subscription-only based providers like Netflix, where customers may need to wait several months or more to view content.
- In addition to shows from mainstream networks (CBS, FOX, and NBC), Amazon Instant Video sells television series from the BBC, MTV, BRAVO, and the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS). Amazon also sells more obscure television series such as Giant Robo (also known as Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot), a 1960s Japanese television show popular in the U.S. in the early 1970s.
- Beginning with the 2007–08 television season, Amazon Instant Video became the exclusive provider of NBC content, replacing iTunes as the delivery mechanism for these shows. NBC Universal later signed a new distribution agreement with Apple starting with the 2008–09 season and started distributing some of its shows for free on Hulu.
In the first version of Unbox, a background service would launch itself upon system startup to contact the Amazon server to see if there were any new videos to download. Also, the program would attempt to contact the Amazon server when uninstalled. This automatic behavior, which could not be disabled without uninstalling the Unbox application, drew negative reviews for its implicit permission to run arbitrary code as designated by Amazon.com personnel. This is also confirmed in the video player's license agreement. In an upgrade released shortly after launch, thought to be a response to these criticisms, Amazon made "launch on startup" optional, though disabling it necessarily disables the RemoteLoad feature, and makes the program impossible to run in non-administrator computer accounts.
Rented Unbox movies cannot be transferred to a portable device. They can only be viewed on the device to which they are downloaded.
TV Passes purchased in the middle of a television season require the purchase of all previous episodes of the current season. Further, TV Passes are restricted to a season and the user isn't notified when new seasons become available, so the user must find out through other means when the new season starts and then manually order it.
Customers can only download content to Unbox that they paid for. Free Amazon Instant Videos can only be streamed or downloaded to select Kindle devices.
Although many movies and TV shows have built-in support for multiple languages for audio and for subtitles, as of August 2014, Amazon Instant Video does not provide alternative audio for any of their movies or shows for rent or sale.
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