Amazon is to offer a month-by-month subscription to its Instant Video package in the US. It’ll be poor value for permanent subscribers, but may win over those who like to pick and choose.
The company already offered standalone video subscriptions in some markets, including the United Kingdom, but until now American customers could only get it as part of the $99 a year Amazon Prime Service.
That will remain, but customers will also have the option to get just the video service for $8.99 a month with no minimum commitment (hit the “see more plans” option at the link.) There’ll also be an option to get Amazon Prime for just one month at $10.99.
The move is interestingly timed give Netflix has just ended a grandfathered pricing period for long-time customers. By the summer almost all customers will have to pay $9.99 a month for HD access. The old $7.99 a price will now only get SD streaming.
That means Amazon Video is now at the very least competitively priced against Netflix for one-month’s access. That’s a smart move given many streaming video customers may now be concluding that between Amazon, Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu Plus and others, it’s no longer viable to subscribe to everything going all the time. Amazon Video going month-by-month recognises that many customers will start picking out one or two services for a particular month and binge watching shows.
One big question now is whether streaming services try to spread the debuts of original content around the year in the hope of keeping customers on board permanently, or if they start scheduling with their rivals in mind. For example, services other than HBO might conclude it’s not worth throwing out their best shows during Game of Thrones season.
A streaming marketplace with no monthly commitments might also mean a rethink of traditional TV calendars. Broadcast networks often go into reruns during the summer and save new seasons till September, figuring people will be out during the lighter evenings. Streaming services targeting monthly purchases might take that as an opportunity to launch high-profile content aimed at customers who don’t necessarily watch during traditional peak hours.