Amazon is hiking the price of Prime memberships in the U.S., with the annual fee jumping from $119 to $139 — its first increase in nearly four years. In addition, the monthly fee for Prime is rising from $12.99 to $14.99.
Amazon last raised the price of Prime in 2018. For new Prime members, the latest price change will go into effect Feb. 18, 2022. For current Prime members, the new prices will apply after March 25, 2022, on the date of their next renewal.
The hike does not apply to Amazon’s standalone Prime Video option, which will remain $8.99 per month.
Amazon cited the continued expansion of Prime member benefits — including a tripling of Amazon Studios original TV shows and movies and its exclusive offering of the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” starting with the 2022-23 season — as well as the rise in wages and transportation costs for the move. The ecommerce giant announced the Prime prices hikes as part of releasing Q4 2021 earnings.
The company last reported topping 200 million Amazon Prime users in April 2021, although that was a worldwide number.
“Amazon continues to invest heavily in Prime. In the last few years, we’ve added more product selection available with fast, free, unlimited Prime shipping; more exclusive deals and discounts; and more high-quality digital entertainment, including TV, movies, music and books,” Jamil Ghani, VP of Amazon Prime, said in a statement.
The Prime pricing increase comes after other streaming-subscription players have also recently ratcheted up their rates — as they continue to spend heavily on content.
Netflix last month announced increases for all U.S. plans, with the standard two-stream HD package going up by $1.50, to $15.49 per month (marking the third price hike in three years). Hulu increased the price of its live TV subscription services by $5/month in December (to account for the addition of Disney Plus and ESPN Plus), while Disney Plus went up a dollar for U.S. subs, to $7.99 per month, a year ago.
According to Ghani, since 2018, Prime Video has tripled the number of Amazon originals. Recent series and movie premieres that are exclusively streaming on Prime Video include “The Boys,” “The Wheel of Time,” “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “The Underground Railroad,” “Sound of Metal,” “Coming 2 America,” “The Tomorrow War” and “Being the Ricardos.”
In September 2022, Prime Video is slated to release original series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” That same month, the streamer will become the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football” as part of an 11-year agreement with the NFL, reportedly worth $1.32 billion per year.
In addition, since 2018, the availability of Prime’s free same-day delivery in the U.S. has expanded from 48 metro areas to more than 90 and the number of items available for Prime free shipping increased more than 50%. The company also pointed to new Prime program benefits the continually expansion of the content catalogs for Amazon Music, Prime Reading and Prime Gaming, as well as savings on prescription drugs and free delivery from Amazon Pharmacy.
On Amazon’s Q4 earnings call, CFO Brian Olsavsky said that for now, the U.S. is the only country where Prime rates are going up right now.
“We evaluate each country differently. We look at the relative price to the customer versus our cost to supply that and the usage and the value that we’re creating for customers,” he told analysts. “We felt that, especially after not raising the price in the United States since 2018, that the time was right to raise it and we think it’s a much more valuable program today than it was in 2020, let alone 2018. So other countries we will continue evaluate every year and nothing else to announce right now.”
Olsavsky had cited Prime Video’s exclusive rights to “Thursday Night Football” games in discussing the rate hike. Later, he clarified that “TNF” was just one example “of great new content that we’ve been investing in for Prime members to make their Prime membership more valuable, as well as international sports.”
Jennifer Maas contributed to this article.