Amazon Prime: Download Shows and Movies, View Offline For Free

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Amazon has announced that Amazon Prime members can download select movies and TV episodes for offline viewing, at no additional charge. This works on all Apple iPhones, iPads, and Android-based devices. You may need to update your apps to the most recent version to enable this feature (iOS / Android). Here is their announcement page and the official press release.

Most people agree that Amazon’s catalog is not as good as Netflix, but this is a perfect backup for all those times you don’t have access to WiFi or want to use up mobile data. This would include commutes on public transportation, airplane trips, car rides, or international travel. I always keep a bunch of videos for the kids on our phones and on their iPads.

Here are some sample movies that are eligible for download:

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Captive, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and The Wolf of Wall Street, in addition to exclusives such as Life After Beth, Palo Alto, Starred Up, The Bling Ring, If I Stay, and The Spectacular Now

I am an Amazon Prime member and was happy to see that Sesame Street was eligible for download. This is much easier and cheaper than buying an episode on DVD and ripping it. I downloaded an episode and confirmed that it would play offline in Airplane mode. For the curious, a 1 hour episode at “Better” quality (the middle option) took up 600 mb of space. Here are some screenshots (click to enlarge):

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One concern is that the videos that you download aren’t there “forever”. Thanks to commenters below for sharing this link and this link. Combining the information from both:

You’ll typically have 15 to 30 days to begin watching the video and once you start watching it, you’ll typically have 48 hours to finish watching it. We’ll usually notify you when the viewing period for a title is close to expiring.

You’ll need to connect to WiFi in order to reset that 48-hour clock. Some people report having trouble when in a foreign country, while others were able to reset without issue. I suspect it matters which country? In the end, it might not be as convenient for international travel or when you don’t have occasional WiFi access.

Comments

  1. on the kindle hdx, i believe once you started watching an episode/movie you had 48 hours to finish (unless you reconnect to the internet). thus, the episode/movie could be on your tablet indefinitely, but once you started watching you had 48 hours…

  2. All the disclaimers are here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201422770
    – Once you start watching, you need to be on WiFi within 48 hrs.
    – Only 25 movies can be downloaded at a time from your Prime account.
    – Downloads are only valid for 30 days

  3. I concur with Billy – with any of the Kindles, you could download and wait as long as you want to start watching. But once you start watching, you have 48 hours to watch before it will be removed. Very helpful for when traveling out of the country with children (although it would be nice if they wouldn’t be removed after 48 hours).

    Also, regarding “the videos that you download are there forever “no matter what”” – I haven’t played with the new app yet, but on the Kindle it was pretty easy to remove a video from the app, freeing up that space.

  4. Thanks for the links. I have updated the post with what I think are the pertinent parts. I am glad to see that the timer only starts once you start watching it.

  5. I downloaded the movies and kids shows but as soon as you play them, you need to be on the internet to validate the 48 period. Otherwise you can’t play it at all. And if you’re traveling on air or in another country and try to connect to the internet for their validation. then it stops completely as you will violate the copyright rules. so in essence, you really can’t watch offline without internet connection and only in the US.

    That’s the true state of the fake 48 hours offline viewing.

    • I had to deal with this over the summer as well. If you’re traveling in the US, it’s not a huge problem as you’d just have to have WiFi once every 48 hours. Internationally, the online accounts conflict as to if they will kick you off with an IP address in a different country. (You could also use a free/paid VPN service.) Also there are two different rules:

      For downloaded videos, you’ll typically have 30 days to begin watching the video after you download it and once you start watching it, you’ll typically have 48 hours to finish watching it.

      So I’d avoid starting an episode until you’re sure you want to watch it, otherwise it will expire within 48 hours. But overall, yes, I agree it’s a moderate hassle for international use and in the future I’d use more reliable forms of entertainment.

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