Amazon is spending lots of money to build up its Prime Instant Video offering — the Netflix-like streaming video service it gives away free to its Prime customers. It just agreed to drop more than $300 million on HBO shows, for instance.

But it’s not clear that its customers know about the service. Data from outside observers and anecdotal reports from people who sell programming to Amazon suggest that its usage lags very far behind Netflix.

And until recently, it was often hard to find much evidence that Prime Instant exists when you visited

Here’s another indicator that Amazon thinks it would be good to get a few more eyeballs on its videos: A letter — an actual letter, printed on paper and delivered via the mail — that my colleague Jason Del Rey found in his mailbox today, sent by Amazon video head Bill Carr.

The letter gets right to the point: “As you may already know, you have access to unlimited instant video streaming as part of your Prime membership. I wanted to take a minute to remind you of just how much great viewing is available to you as we continue to add new TV shows and movies to the service.”

Carr goes on to explain how you can go about watching that video, including instructions on how to download the company’s video app, etc.

He also tells you which devices you might be able to use to watch the stuff, including Amazon’s new Fire TV set-top box.

One interesting omission: Apple’s Apple TV box, which doesn’t have an Amazon video app, but which does allow you to watch Amazon video in conjunction with an iOS device, using its AirPlay streaming feature.

You can read the whole thing below. Click on the image to see a larger version:


A lot of it is stuff I don't care about, and the interface is so bad that I don't want to take the time to look.  There has been a forum post on their site for months, with hundreds of comments, begging for a new interface.  No reply, the last time I checked. 

Netflix is going to be hard to cancel with their in-house programming.  House of Cards and the new Marvel stuff will make them hard to walk away from.  Smart move by them.


It's kind of shocking how bad Amazon can be at marketing, and that is certainly evident with how they market their media products.  FireTV is an amazingly undifferentiated product – a late comer to a crowded, commoditized market that was introduced with a feature set and price point that does nothing to set it apart.  And to make up for that they fabulously flubbed the launch.  From the “who cares” product plan to letting PR get out of hand ahead of time and setting expectations that couldn’t be met, to the baffling choice of Gary Busey as the face of the product, the FireTV marketing strategy has been a total head scratcher.  The Busey spots might be funny as an SNL skit but as paid media???  Really??? What target market would Busey possibly appeal to?  I was so excited to check our FireTV when I first heard rumors about it.  And I was hugely disappointed to see what it actually was once it was announced.

On the instant video front, of course people don’t realize they have a huge library to choose from.  How could they?  Have you see the UI?  Not to mention they don’t actually market it.  At all.  Every day I get a mail from Redbox with what’s new and what I might like; I get nada from the Amazonians.  If you actually take the time to log into the service to see what’s new, you’ll quickly realize what a horrible job  they do merchandizing their content as well.  If you think your cable box does a bad job in the user experience department just try using AIV, especially through a browser.  Anyone who thinks they can sell media in the same way they sell diapers, shoes and garden supplies needs to go back to marketing school.

Bill, you need some real help in the marketing department.  Call me J.  I’m actually a big Amazon fanboy but, man, you’re letting me down.


lots of free video doesn't mean that much if it is video you wouldn't watch normally anyway.  


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