Will Amazon see off Netflix with this killer new feature?
Amazon has launched a standalone video streaming service in the US, going to head to head with internet TV giant Netflix - and it's got the one feature you've been wishing for.
Amazon's service allows you to download licensed movies and TV shows such as Downton Abbey, The Good Wife, and Doctor Who onto your phone and laptop, and watch them when you are offline - a service unavailable to Netflix customers.
“We are the first and only paid subscription service to offer downloads,” said Jay Marine, head of Prime Video, Europe. “When people sign up to a service, they want to access it everywhere, on a plane or travelling to work on the tube, so we have made it work.”
Customers can now sign up for Amazon Prime Video individually for $8.99 (£5.99) a month, £1.50 less than Netflix’s standard rate, which were recently raised to £7.49 a month in the UK.
This is the first Prime service in the US to be spun off from the $99 annual Prime membership bundle, which includes other perks such as same-day and unlimited free delivery and music streaming.
In the UK, Prime Video has been available as a standalone monthly subscription for £5.99 per month since 2014.
The streaming service offers tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes, including about two dozen original shows, such as Golden Globe-winning series Transparent, Woody Allen’s first ever show and the as-yet-unnamed Jeremy Clarkson car programme from the former Top Gear team.
It is currently available only in the US, UK, Germany and Austria.
The move is a surprising one, considering how valuable Prime Video has been for increasing Prime membership. “When Prime members use video, they renew their Prime membership at a higher rate, we can see that. They use video every day, get value out of it, so of course they renew at a higher rate,” Marine told the Telegraph.
Although Amazon doesn’t disclose how many Prime members it has, global estimates range from 40 million to 60 million, so these renewals are extremely valuable.
To give it a further edge over Netflix, Amazon is reportedly in talks with British broadcasters to add their channel brands and programmes to its streaming service.