Online retail giant Amazon shifted into the video streaming market in 2011 and went global with the service in late 2016. Here’s what you need to know to watch in New Zealand.
Long before Netflix launched in New Zealand and even before video streaming became a thing, movie fans looking for a bargain on the latest DVDs would often head to Amazon to try and get a better price, despite the hefty shipping fees or waiting times that were a common nuisance back in the day. And while that still happens, the rise of streaming platforms has changed the way Kiwis consume their entertainment.
Amazon wasn’t oblivious to the benefits of streaming. As far back as 2006, Amazon offered video rental and download services like iTunes, but in 2011 it launched Amazon Prime Instant Video in the US, a streaming platform offering a huge range of content to customers of its Amazon Prime service. But it wasn’t until December 2016 that Amazon’s streaming efforts really became relevant for Kiwis.
Timed around the launch of the spiritual Top Gear successor The Grand Tour, Amazon took Prime Video global to 200 countries around the world, including New Zealand. While global licensing arrangements meant that the line-up of content at launch was not as extensive as Netflix or Neon, Amazon has publicly announced significant investments in original series, which will be delivered exclusively via the Prime Video platform.
There was plenty of discussion around how much Amazon Prime Video might cost when it went global in late 2016. Fortunately for Kiwis, Amazon has decided to be rather aggressive with its pricing strategy for its streaming video platform.
Subscribers get a free seven-day trial, after which they benefit from a reduced rate of US$2.99/month for the first six months. Once that period is over, you will have to pay a regular price of US$5.99/month to get access to Amazon Prime series and movies. This is less expensive than similar services, which is fair given that the content library isn’t as generous as some of Amazon’s New Zealand competitors.
Amazon’s streaming app has a pretty robust range of streaming quality settings depending on the device you use. Below is a guide to how much data Amazon Prime Video will consume at each quality grade:
Amazon does also allow users to download videos for offline viewing, with files taking up about the same amount of space on your device as the streaming settings. Here are the numbers provided by Amazon within the iOS and Android apps:
- Low quality: 270MB – 300MB/hour
- Standard definition (SD): 270MB – 600MB/hour
- High definition (HD): 460MB – 900MB/hour
The fact that Amazon Prime Video has been active in some international markets for years before its global launch means that there’s a solid line-up of devices you can use to access the service. In addition to the standard web browser, there are dedicated apps for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. For iOS you’ll need to be running iOS 7 or above, while Android users will need Android 4.0 or above.
Being that Amazon also plays in the hardware space, it’s not surprising to learn that its range of Amazon Fire tablets also support Prime Video streaming. You can also stream through the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can also access the service via popular LG, Sony and Samsung Smart TVs if you own them.
If you do want the full smart TV experience for Amazon Prime Video in New Zealand, you’ll need to ensure you own one of the compatible LG, Sony or Samsung Smart TVs. There’s also no native support for Chromecast. You can cast your screen to the big screen on Android devices, but native support is much better for your mobile’s battery life. Still, as it usually happens with streaming services, it wouldn’t be surprising to find that the compatible device list will improve consistently over time.
Don’t have a smart TV? No problem. The Prime Video app is available on the Fire TV stick, Android TV by Sony, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Apple TV.