Amazon Launches Prime Video Standalone Option for $9 Monthly

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Courtesy of Amazon

Amazon is gunning for Netflix more aggressively with a new pricing scheme.

The e-commerce giant is now offering its video-streaming service in the U.S. independent of the Prime free-shipping program. Purchased separately, Prime Video will cost $8.99 per month — one dollar less than Netflix’s most popular plan.

Since Amazon launched its subscription video service five years ago, it has been available only through the Prime membership program, which currently costs $99 per year. The company has used video as a key benefit to lure more customers to Prime, but Amazon sees a ripe opportunity to sell an SVOD service priced directly to compete with Netflix as well as Hulu.

The move comes just as Netflix, the No. 1 subscription VOD player, is set to raise rates for subscribers who are currently paying $7.99 per month for the two-stream HD service to $9.99 in May. Amazon Prime Video allows up to three concurrent streams per account and offers select titles in 4K Ultra HD and HDR formats. Hulu, meanwhile, sells a $7.99-per-month service with ads and an $11.99 option without commercials.

In addition, Amazon is offering a new payment option for full Prime membership of $10.99 monthly, with no annual commitment. That’s 33% more than than the $99 annual Prime membership, but Amazon said many customers have been asking for month-to-month flexibility with the program.

The new options will begin showing up for Amazon users starting Sunday evening at amazon.com/prime, with all U.S. users scheduled to have access to them by Monday morning. The new monthly pricing options for Prime and Prime Video are available only in the U.S.; each of the plans offers a 30-day free trial.

Prime includes unlimited free shipping on millions of products; Prime Video, which includes tens of thousands of TV episodes and movies, including original series and films; unlimited access to more than a million songs with Prime Music; unlimited secure photo storage; and other benefits.

Like Netflix and Hulu, Amazon has been investing in exclusive original content as well as striking exclusive licensing pacts. Amazon Studios original series include “Transparent,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” “Catastrophe,” “Bosch,” “The Man in the High Castle,” “Red Oaks” and “Hand of God.”

This year, Prime Video also will launch Woody Allen’s first-ever TV series, plus David E. Kelley’s new series starring Billy Bob Thorten, as well as the third seasons of “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle” and kids’ series including “Tumble Leaf,” “Thunderbirds are Go” and an “American Girls” live-action special.

Licensed TV shows on Prime Video include “Downton Abbey,” “The Good Wife,” “Doctor Who,” “Vikings,” “The Americans,” “Orphan Black,” “Suits,” and older HBO programming including “Boardwalk Empire” and “Veep,” as well as movies including “The Hunger Games,” “Interstellar” and “Ex Machina.”

In addition, any of the Prime membership options also provide access to add-on subscriptions from Showtime, Starz and other video services.

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  1. Huh? says:

    Could someone please help me understand? 9 bucks for programming w/o prime shipping times 12 months equals 108 dollars. Amazon prime which includes programming is 99/year. why would anyone go with the “streaming only” when it costs more per year?

  2. Joel says:

    FWIW, I actually found it difficult to find the new rates. In the blue area, look for the white outlined button that says “See More Plans.”

    This puts pressure on everyone to go online at an accelerated rate. So much easier to commit to a month than a year, and once you’re “in for a penny,” the convenience + content will win many “in for a pound.” I think this could be a game-changer — “free” delivery and “free” entertainment is a big deal.

    In my area, many local businesses cite Amazon as the reason they are giving up on being online — they missed the boat. Even Walmart better hurry up with their plans for expanded in-store pickup programs, or it’ll be too late. Once people do their grocery shopping online, it’ll put serious pressure on the local grocery store — as well as the hardware store, pharmacy, Redbox kiosk, and movie theater, especially among younger audiences.

    • EricJ says:

      I do my grocery shopping online with the area chain (no car), and while it’s nice once a month for stickups, it’s a prohibitive hassle: Minimum $60 orders (I usually avg. $30 a week), and deliveries that have to be scheduled a day to two days in advance. Neither one makes it a replacement for that last-minute dash to the store for that needed loaf of bread and gallon of milk.
      Unless, of course, you want the service’s other option of picking your online order up at the store’s parking curb, and if you’re going to get to get in the car and go to the physical store, well…

      Most subscribers are into buying a year of Amazon Prime more for the free shipping than the programming, but that ironically means that same majority consists of loyal physical-disk, physical CD and physical-book buyers who just don’t to see extra $5 postage charges add up for every buying spree for their shelves.
      Those who do want their entertainment digitally will be judging the various subscriptions by content, and unless they do want made-for-streaming original programming, Prime’s content is going to be woefully underperforming in that area–Whether with the movie crowd going to Netflix or VOD, or the current-TV binge-watchers going to Hulu.

  3. Bill says:

    I might consider it if it supported Chromecast, but there’s no way I’m buying another $40 “streaming stick” just for this.

  4. EricJ says:

    I don’t know….ANYONE who subscribed to Amazon Prime for its programming. Ask just about any user, and they say “Eh, I only got it for the free shipping, but I’m watching Man in the High Tower anyway.”
    It’s leaping on the media-buzz hatred for Netflix raising their rates, but Prime’s lineup is virtually empty compared to Netflix’s, and new mainstream-studio content has been so slow in coming, some users wonder whether it’s a death-knell. They’ve got Transparent’s Emmys to keep them going, but original programming is now the lifeblood of subscription services now that greedy studios want to bypass them entirely and get their movie-download money themselves.

  5. anna says:

    Yes I love amazon prime but I need it to work with Chromecast.

  6. Cecil Smyre says:

    To me and probably quite a few other people it is still irrelevant, with the lack of chromecast support… Just saying… If they want to compete with Netflix they need to not only support chromecast but stop fighting it. Namely banning the sale of it on there website.

  7. Alex says:

    Until Amazon wakes up and offers it’s streaming services on open Android tablet & phone devices instead of forcing users to use a Kindle for mobile viewing, I’ll be staying with Netflix. I’ll bet I’m not alone….

  8. goatsandmonkeys says:

    Too bad.
    Amazon on-line retail is getting screwed up big-time.
    They’re over-extending IMHO.

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