By Sahil Patel
While unveiling the third generation of its Kindle Fire tablet device, Amazon announced that the upcoming Kindle Fire HDX will give Prime Instant Video subscribers the option to download and watch movies and TV shows offline.
Prime Instant Video is available to subscribers for $79 per year and offers a catalog of over 40,000 movies and TV shows. Though it does not look all of the titles within Prime Instant Video will be available for downloads and offline viewing. In the announcement, Amazon indicated that “tens of thousands” of movies and TV shows will feature this capability. All Things D confirmed in a report that due to issues with rights-owners, Amazon is only able to offer title from the likes of CBS, NBC, Sony, Viacom, and Warner Bros.
According to the same report, Prime subscribers will be able to download movies and TV shows for free and keep it on the device for up to 30 days. However, once they start watching a piece of content, they will have to complete it in 48 hours.
The obvious takeaway here is Amazon differentiating its subscription video offering from competitors like Netflix and Hulu. In most cases, these companies have been competing (though Netflix is the clear winner so far) by locking up exclusive licensing deals and launching original programming to entice people to subscribe. And it makes sense that some Hollywood studios, notoriously stodgy when it comes to digital distribution rights, would be averse to allowing Amazon to offer this option to its subscribers.
But what makes this even more interesting is that Amazon does not have to worry about rights issues when it comes to its own slate of original programming. Shows like “Alpha House” and “Betas,” which will soon arrive on Prime Instant Video, could easily be made available for offline viewing, which would ostensibly give a boost to the amount of subscribers who watch them.
The offline-viewing capability is meant to appeal to subscribers who want things to watch on flights or trains, on the commute, or really anytime they need to kill some time and don’t have access to Wi-Fi. Last week, YouTube announced that it planned to introduce this functionality in November and Vimeo rolled it out as part of an app update. Amazon’s decision to support offline viewing, though, is ideal for travelers. Instead of having to bank a bunch of short-form videos on YouTube and Vimeo for a long flight, why not just download a movie or several TV episodes (or Amazon originals)?
It’s likely that with YouTube, Vimeo, and now Amazon offering this capability, others will follow suit. But when it comes to Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu, this option seems best suited for their original programming.
The Kindle Fire HDX devices, available in 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions, are available for pre-orders. The smaller version will begin shipping on November 14, and the bigger one will roll out on December 10.