Amazon Prime Introduces Offline Viewing for iOS and Android

Oriana Schwindt
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Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The Great Streaming War of 2015 got a little more interesting this morning: Amazon Prime is now offering offline video viewing for iOS and Android devices. That means you can download Season 1 of Catastrophe (for example) to watch while you're 10,000 feet in the air and the plane WiFi won't let you stream, or use all 13 episodes of Wishenpoof to keep your rambunctious nuggets occupied on a road trip from Cleveland to Hilton Head. Offline viewing was already available on Fire devices, but adding in Apple and other hardware opens up the playing field.

The list of shows includes:

  • Bosch
  • The Good Wife
  • The Americans
  • Teen Wolf
  • Justified
  • Catastrophe
  • Under the Dome
  • Veronica Mars
  • Sons of Anarchy
  • Orphan Black
  • Hannibal
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm (and other past HBO shows)

The movie list isn't half-bad either:

  • Star Trek Into Darkness
  • The Spectacular Now
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

(In a rare international victory, not just Americans, but Brits, Germans, and Austrians will also be able to squirrel away movies and shows.)

This is just the latest move by Amazon to dispel the notion that Prime Video is just a small bonus to free two-day shipping for $99 a year. There was the "More to Prime" ad campaign. There was "Prime Day" in July, a series of flash sales to prod Prime users to make use of the service and, theoretically, reel in more subscribers. And they're ramping up original programming—five original series have premiered each year since 2013.

Whether these gambits have actually worked isn't clear. Amazon replies with a hearty "Nope" (paraphrased) when asked to disclose subscriber numbers, but analysts estimate the service has about 44 million users in the U.S. (For comparison, Netflix currently has 42 million U.S. subscribers, and analyst estimates should be taken with a grain of salt.) What percentage of these Prime-ates actually use the video service remains a mystery, but the ability to download programming ought to lead a few more of them to water at least.

Perhaps best of all, Amazon called out Netflix specifically: "Amazon Video is the only online subscription streaming video service that enables downloads of titles, meaning unlike other subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Prime members can enjoy movies and TV shows as part of their membership even when they don’t have an internet connection available." Their target had no comment on those particular shots fired.

Your move, Netflix.