Saturday, 8 March 2014

Amazon.de Instant Video Bullshit

Okay, so Amazon.de recently announced that the Prime account includes Prime Instant Video, a video streaming service which has been a part of Amazon.com for some while.

So I'm going to cancel my Prime account.

Why?

Previously, Amazon Prime cost €29 a year. Starting in August, it will cost €49. Ah, you might say, but for that extra €20, you get to stream all the videos you want. That's got to be worth €20 a year, right?

But what do I get for that? A bunch of American TV shows and movies, for the most part. That's fine. I like American movies and TV shows. From where I'm sitting, I can on my shelf several volumes of Scrubs, House, 30 Rock, Community, Castle, Psych, The Mentalist, and The West Wing. Hell, I've imported a bunch of anime releases from the States, and have my blu-ray player set up to play both region 1 and 2 discs.

Now, most of the series I mentioned are on Amazon Instant Video, but they aren't up-to-date or complete. Psych is missing Season 1, House is missing Seasons 3, 5 and 7, Community only goes up to Season 3, The Mentalist and Castle only to Season 4, which is the only season that 30 Rock does have. Scrubs has only Season 8, and The West Wing is missing completely.

It also doesn't have any Futurama and it doesn't have any South Park. Of the Simpsons, it has Seasons 1-3 and 20-25. Also, Amazon Instant Video in Germany has about 10 anime movies and series: you can watch the first Eden of the East movie, but not the series that comes before it or the movie which comes after.

So the selection is patchy to say the least. If you actually like the shows, and actually want to watch them all, you're out of luck.

But did you notice what I did there? I talked about Amazon Instant Video, not Prime Instant Video. See, Prime Instant Video contains the 'free' shows and movies that you can watch when you have an Amazon Prime subscription. Amazon Instant Video, on the other hand, is a pay-to-watch service: you can buy the season as a whole, or individual episodes for about €3 a pop. As a quick comparison, Season 4 of The Mentalist will cost you €34.99 on Amazon Instant Video; Amazon is also selling the DVD of the complete season for €9.99. Not all series are so much cheaper on DVD, admittedly, but all seasons of The Mentalist cost 50% less.

And guess what? NONE of the shows I mentioned above are on Prime Instant Video. They're only on Amazon Instant Video.

That is to say, even if you do have an Amazon Prime account, you're still be paying €3 extra an episode to watch those shows.

Awesome.

And you know what I also like? American TV shows and movies IN ENGLISH.

But with Amazon Instant Video in Germany, you can only watch in German.

Of the supposedly 12,000 titles on Amazon Instant Video in German, only 154 have the [OV] tag, indicating that they are in the original language.

I mean, seriously? Have you heard German dubbing? The German dub of Columbo turned him into a supercop badass and completely missed the whole point. Most shows are not quite as bad as that, but with any given comedy, half of the jokes will be missing.

Awesome.

Incidentally, if you are a German who doesn't speak English and is, for some unfathomable reason, interested in Prime Instant Video, then a) you're probably not reading this post, and b) make sure you buy the full Prime account for €49 a year rather than falling for the subscription model of €7.99 a month for Prime Instant Video on its own. At nearly twice as much (€95.88 a year) you actually get less service.

To recap, for a €20 price hike, I get a service which has an extremely reduced selection of videos compared to Amazon Instant Video - to the point where it has hardly any series I might actually want to watch on it. Amazon Instant Video itself is expensive, also has a limited and patchy selection, and only allows me to watch in German.

Amazon Instant Video is basically a weak selection of videos and a rip-off. But you know what? I wouldn't care if it wasn't for the Prime Instant Video component. The service Amazon Instant Video offers is essentially no different to the movie and video part of the iTunes Music Store, and I've never purchased a video there, either. But what Prime Instant Video does, and iTunes doesn't do, is take a service I like (Amazon Prime) and force me to pay extra for a service I don't want and will never use. Amazon Instant Video, and the iTunes Music Store, I can chose to ignore; but with Prime Instant Video, it's like being forced to buy a loss-leader. It's not quite as despicable as the GEZ, mind, you, but the principle is similar.

Bye, Amazon Prime. It was nice knowing you when you didn't, um, suck.

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