Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has taken a major competitive leap forward in the area of mobile video, announcing a new feature that lets users of its SVOD Prime Video service download select movies and TV shows to Android and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) mobile devices.
Some Amazon Prime content is now available to download.
"There's no doubt that the way people watch entertainment is changing -- anytime, anywhere viewing is important and we are excited to provide our Prime members with offline viewing capabilities on iOS and Android platforms starting today," stated Michael Paull, VP of digital Video at Amazon. "We are proud to be the first and only online subscription streaming service that enables offline viewing -- on vacation, in a car, at the beach, on a plane, wherever our Prime members want to watch they can, regardless of internet connection."
The move represents a competitive slap against Amazon's fellow SVOD competitors as well as other pay-TV players. Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), for example, has stated that it has no plans to add offline playback.
Meanwhile, pay-TV operators including Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) have licensed software from Pittsburgh-based software company Penthera Partners that enables authenticated TV Everywhere downloads.
So far, however, Comcast is the only cable operator to offer downloads, making a finite number of titles available for download via its Xfinity TVE services.
"Amazon sees what's happening in the marketplace… that download-to-mobile has simply become a core ingredient of more and more great new video services. It's a must-have," said Penthera CEO Michael Willner in an email to FierceCable. "This will surely power the entire industry forward because we at Penthera firmly believe that a download option is great for consumers, it's great for network operators and it's great for content owners."
Amazon Prime Video -- which also announced that it has dropped the clunky "instant" from its title -- will enable downloads for all of its original series, including Bosch, Mozart in the Jungle and Transparent. A number of HBO acquisitions will also be available for download, including Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Girls, Veep, Boardwalk Empire and The Wire. Other eligible series include PBS' Downton Abbey and the Starz miniseries The White Queen.
Speaking at an executive event last year, Penthera Executive VP Melani Griffith described pay-TV's slow movement into TV Everywhere downloads as a missed opportunity to take market share from transactional services like iTunes and Vudu, which until Amazon's announcement, were among the few destinations where consumers could download content to their mobile devices.
"You have 575 million iTunes users spending $20.3 billion a year and downloading 350 million movies a day," she said. "Pay-TV consumers shouldn't have to resort to these transactional services."
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