Amazon Instant Prime video will now allow offline viewing. Will the competition follow suit?

September 26, 2013
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Just yesterday, Amazon took the wraps off two new Kindle Fire HDX tablets and an updated 7-inch Fire HD tablet. Outside of introducing improved hardware and unique features like the “May Day” button, Amazon also seems to be interested in changing the way its customers watch video.

What are they doing differently in the video department? All three new tablets will now feature the ability to download select movies and televisions shows from Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service for offline viewing. At least at first, this functionality will not extend to older Kindle Fire devices.

Keep in mind that this isn’t the same as downloading Google Play videos or Amazon purchased video content. Instead, these are free downloads that are included with a Prime Instant Video subscription. The videos also are temporary, meaning that they expire within 30 days after downloading, or 48 hours after the user first starts watching the content.

Bottom-line, there are mobile users out there interested in having temporary offline access to video and television content.

As you probably guessed, the idea is to create a way for customers to access videos and television shows during the rare occasions when they don’t have access to Wi-Fi or mobile broadband, such as during a flight or long car trip.

It’s also worth mentioning that only about a third of Amazon’s 40k+ videos support this feature. In the future this could change, as Amazon’s long-term goal is to offer their entire instant library for optional download.

How will the competition react?

This is a pretty bold move on Amazon’s part, and is certainly a nice way to set their subscription service apart from bigger players like Hulu and Netflix. Of course, we doubt either of these services are particularly shaking in their boots right now.

Amazon’s new download mode is refreshing approach, but it also only works on three tablets. Additionally, we doubt this service and functionality will ever come to other (non-Kindle) Android devices or set-top boxes.

Still, could Hulu or Netflix follow Amazon’s example and offer their own offline viewing modes? In order to find out, we contacted the PR departments for both Hulu and Netflix. We currently have yet to hear from Hulu, but Netflix’s Director of Global Corporate Communications, Joris Evers did issue a brief statement:

“We have no current plans to offer a download service. Streaming is the future, people simply want to click and watch. With the proliferation of great quality wireless Internet, you will soon be able to stream anywhere. “

Pretty cut and dry – no downloading from Netflix. At least for now.

Is Amazon really the only streaming service offering offline viewing right now? Actually, there are smaller global services that already have similar options, such as the Indian-based “BigFlix” service. While not in the same category exactly, Google also recently announced it plans to bring a download feature to its Youtube mobile app starting in November.

Bottom-line, there are mobile users out there interested in having temporary offline access to video and television content. If Youtube and Amazon Prime Instant Video find success in offering such functionality to its viewers, we wouldn’t be too terribly surprised if Netflix or Hulu eventually follow suit.

What do you think, do you wish bigger services like Netflix and Hulu would offer the ability to download programming for offline viewing? Or are you perfectly content with always watching your vids in the cloud?

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