Pay-to-View ‘Amazon Channels’ Come to Prime Members in the U.K. and Germany

Amazon expanded its selection of pay-to-view television channels to the United Kingdom and Germany markets today. The announcement means users of Prime Video in those countries will be able to subscribe to popular channels individually, rather than having to pay for bundles of channels.

Previously, Amazon's on-demand Prime Video subscription service only offered movies and TV shows in the U.K. and Germany, which are two of the company's biggest European markets.

"For the first time, Prime members in the UK and Germany will be able to choose to watch premium TV channels without having to sign up to a bundle or a contract, giving them the freedom to pay for only what they want to watch," said Alex Green, head of Amazon Channels in Europe.

"From live sport to Bollywood, arthouse cinema to reality TV, and award-winning TV shows from popular channels like Discovery and ITV, Amazon Channels gives power back to customers to choose exactly what they want to watch."
However, one analyst who spoke to the BBC said Amazon would struggle to attract satellite customers in the U.K., calling the list of channels – which includes the likes of Eurosport and Discovery – "not immediately desirable".
"Amazon launched a similar thing in the U.S., and the big selling point was that you could get HBO and Showtime programs all under one umbrella," said Tom Harrington, an analyst at Enders.

"That's not going to happen here. Sky have HBO and Showtime locked down, at least for now, and will hold on to them aggressively. When you look at what's available in the U.K., it does lack the wow factor."
Close to 50 on-demand "Amazon Channels" will be available through Prime Video via a single click. Prices of the various channels in the U.K. vary between £1.49 and £9.49 a month, but are only available to Amazon Prime members.

Most of the content will also be available to download for offline, on-demand viewing, with free trials being offered for the majority of subscriptions. Amazon also said additional subscriptions would be added in the coming months. The full list of available channels can be found here.


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Apple to Announce Amazon Prime Video for Apple TV at WWDC

Apple plans to make a major Apple TV announcement at WWDC that should delight Amazon Prime subscribers - the addition of an Amazon Prime Video app for the Apple TV.

The news comes courtesy of BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski, who often accurately shares details on Apple's plans ahead of events. According to Paczkowski, sources of Apple's plans say the company will announce an Amazon Prime Video app during its keynote event.

There are tentative plans for the app to go live in the summer, but its official release date could change.


With Amazon Prime Video on the Apple TV, Amazon also plans to resume offering the Apple TV through Amazon.com. Amazon stopped offering the Apple TV and the Google Chromecast in 2015, citing Amazon Prime Video incompatibility as the reason why. It is not known when the Apple TV will return to the Amazon website.

News of a potential deal between Apple and Amazon that would see the app made available on the Apple TV first surfaced last week. At the time, Apple and Amazon were said to be close to an agreement, and now an agreement has been reached.

Amazon Prime Video is one of the only major streaming video services that is currently absent from the Apple TV, and Apple TV owners have long wanted to see the Prime Video app on Apple's device.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10, WWDC 2017
Tags: Amazon, Amazon Prime Video
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Amazon Debuts London Music Show ‘Live Events’ Service Exclusive to Prime Customers

Amazon has started running and promoting its own live music gigs in the U.K. as an extra incentive for customers to sign up to its Prime membership (via Engadget).

Called Prime Live Events, the initiative will offer music concert tickets at iconic London venues by major artists performing "up-close and personal". Tickets to the music shows will be exclusive to Prime subscribers and all of the gigs will be filmed and released globally through the company's Prime Video streaming service.


The first Prime Live Event will be on May 23 with a Blondie performance at the Round Chapel in Hackney, followed by shows in June featuring Alison Moyet and Texas, with Katie Melua performing the next month in Chelsea.

The U.K. ticket purchasing service Amazon Tickets – set to launch in the U.S. soon – also got an update today, allowing Prime members to purchase tickets ahead of general public release. Depending on the new initiative's success, Live Events also could be rolled out to other international markets.

Amazon has experimented with the concert hosting strategy before. Robbie Williams performed at St. John Hackney Church on December 14, as did John Legend at The Round Chapel the next day. Both were limited to Amazon customers and later released through Prime Video.

Apple has hosted an annual music event in London for several years now. The iTunes Festival was recently renamed Apple Music Festival to bring it under the banner of Apple's own subscription service, through which fans could view the streamed performances live and on demand.



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Amazon Prime Video App Reportedly Coming to Apple TV Sometime This Summer

After nearly two years of being absent from the fourth generation Apple TV's app lineup, Amazon Prime Video is reportedly on its way to Apple's set-top box and could arrive for Prime subscribers to download and watch videos as soon as this summer. The news comes from Recode, citing sources familiar with the plans of each company who said that Apple and Amazon are "close to an agreement" in regards to Amazon Prime Video finally being available on Apple TV.

Specifically, Amazon employees are expecting the app to appear on the Apple TV App Store sometime in the third quarter of 2017. The sources at the heart of the story didn't divulge what compromises or agreements might have happened behind the scenes for Amazon to come to Apple TV, but those watching and hearing about the backroom meetings believe that such a deal was made "at a high level," meaning company CEOs Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos themselves came to mutual terms to make the deal happen.

Amazon and Apple may have reached a truce. The tech giants, who are increasingly competing for customers’ time, eyeballs and money, are close to an agreement to bring an Amazon video app to Apple’s Apple TV set-top box, according to people familiar with the two companies.
One year ago, Bezos briefly discussed Amazon and Apple TV at Recode's Code Conference, stating that Amazon always seeks out "acceptable business terms" before it brings its video app to streaming devices. On Apple's side of things, Eddy Cue mentioned in February that Amazon is always welcome to join Apple TV "any time they like," and said that he hoped they will do so "sometime soon."

In late 2015, Amazon stopped selling Apple TV devices on Amazon.com, further solidifying the idea that Amazon Prime Video might never arrive on Apple TV. Now, it appears that Apple and Amazon have reached some kind of mutual agreement, the details of which remain unclear.

Late last year, Amazon did launch an app for the Apple TV, but it wasn't for streaming movies and television from Amazon Prime, and only allowed users to search for and browse items on Amazon.com.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 10
Tags: Amazon, Amazon Prime Video
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Amazon Wins $50 Million Deal to Stream NFL Thursday Games on Prime Video

Amazon has won the rights to broadcast 10 National Football League Thursday night games live online this season, as part of its video content strategy exclusive to Prime subscription members.

The company paid $50 million for the one-year deal, according to Bloomberg, taking over from a similar agreement Twitter had last year that saw the social media service sprout an Apple TV app for users to watch the games free of charge. Amazon has made Prime Video apps available for iPhone and iPad, but has yet to offer one for Apple TV.

Image via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

The games will continue to be broadcast on TV by CBS, NBC, and the NFL Network. The short-term deals reflect the football league's strategy up until 2021, when the traditional broadcast deals start to expire. After that, NFL will reportedly treat tech companies as potential suitors alongside regular television networks.

Amazon offers original movies and shows as part of its Prime Video service. Early last year, the company began offering Prime Video as a standalone $8.99 monthly subscription deal with an option to cancel at any time, as an alternative for those who don't want to sign up to the all-in $99 Amazon Prime annual subscription.


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Amazon and Netflix Celebrate First Oscar Wins For Streaming Services

Amazon and Netflix yesterday collected the first Academy Awards for streaming services, sharing four gold statuettes between them at this year's Oscars.

Amazon Studios bagged a Best Actor trophy for Casey Affleck's portrayal of a grieving man in "Manchester by the Sea". Bought by Amazon for $10 million at the Sundance film festival, the movie also won Best Original Screenplay. It has earned $46.8 million at domestic theaters, and is set to appear later this year on Amazon's Prime Video service.

Scene from "Manchester by the Sea", courtesy K Period Media

Amazon also gained another accolade for Best Foreign Language Film with Iranian drama "The Salesman," which the company distributed in the United States and Canada.

Netflix won Best Documentary in the short-subject category for 40-minute film "The White Helmets", which followed volunteer rescue workers in war-torn Syria. The Netflix Original was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel.

According to one former Wall Street analyst, Apple's first Academy Award is not too far away either. Venture capitalist and tech ponderer Gene Munster predicted on Friday that Apple will win an Oscar in five years.

"We think Apple will win an Oscar in the next five years," Munster wrote in a research note issued by his company, Loup Ventures. "That's how long it will take for Apple to scale its original content spend from less than $200 million today to $5-7 billion."

According to Munster, Apple's moves towards making original content to drive user engagement with its ecosystem will turn increasingly towards movies and TV series, as it aims to boost revenues to its Services division, which includes Apple Music and iTunes.

Apple has already unveiled plans to launch two unscripted series on Apple Music, "Planet of the Apps", which shares a format similar to talent-based reality shows The Voice, and "Carpool Karaoke", based on the popular James Corden segment from The Late Late Show. In addition, Apple is also working on "Vital Signs", a dark semi-autobiographical drama starring Dr. Dre, which will also be used to promote Apple Music.


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Amazon Prime Video Now Available in India With $7.5 Annual Subscription Offer

Amazon Prime Video launched in India today, featuring a local content catalog and an introductory offer for an annual Prime subscription (via Mashable).

The video streaming service is available in India as part of Amazon Prime, launched in the country earlier in the year. Prime costs Rs 999 ($15) for an annual subscription, but to celebrate the launch of Prime Video, Amazon is currently offering annual membership to new customers at the heavily discounted price of Rs 499 ($7.5).

Amazon Prime Video India
That makes Prime Video the least expensive streaming video service in the country by some margin, with similar service Netflix costing Rs 500 on a rolling monthly basis.

The aggressive pricing strategy indicates Amazon's continuing eagerness to make deep inroads into the Indian market. The company has been busy acquiring rights to local content over the last few months, and has partnered with several major Bollywood studios and distributors to make titles available exclusively on Prime Video.

The catalog in Amazon Prime Video contains titles in several Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu, as well as an English section featuring many popular U.S. shows.


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Amazon Prime Video Now Supports HTML5 Playback in Safari

Amazon Prime Video's HTML5 video player now supports Safari on Mac, as spotted by Reddit user netmute over the weekend.

amazon-prime-video
Amazon Prime Video previously required downloading the Microsoft Silverlight plugin for playback in Safari, or switching to an alternative browser such as Chrome or Firefox, which already supported HTML5.

Some users on Reddit reported that, while HTML5 is now supported, AirPlay Mirroring and Picture in Picture functionality is lacking.


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You can now get HBO and Cinemax through Amazon

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Amazon is still trying to take over cable. 

The tech giant’s TV replacement, Amazon Channels, is adding HBO and Cinemax. HBO will cost $14.99 a month for Prime members, and Cinemax will cost $9.99 a month. 

Amazon Channels lets users pay for some specific channels, rather than an entire cable subscription. The offering is more of a replacement for traditional TV than Amazon’s streaming services, Amazon Video and Prime Video. 

Users can already pay fees in the $10-a-month range to subscribe to about 80 on-demand channels, counting both traditional TV channels like Starz as well as digital-only channels like Seeso. Amazon has reportedly also been working on introducing a live TV option to compete with the likes of Dish’s Sling TV, Playstation Vue and DirecTV Now. Read more…

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