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Amazon Prime Video app redesign arrives on TV devices

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Amazon’s Prime Video app is going to look very different.

An update this week will overhaul the entire interface on TVs, with a new sidebar for navigation, a grid-based live channel guide, and a greater emphasis on Amazon’s burgeoning sports catalog. It also more clearly differentiates the core content that comes with an Amazon Prime subscription from Amazon’s ad-supported offerings, a la carte purchases, and add-ons.

The new Prime Video app could help address some of the complaints with the previous design, which critics have described as “really impossible to browse”, “sometimes almost unusable,” and “the worst UI in streaming.”

But it also speaks of a broader shift in streaming TV. Where services like Prime Video once focused on streaming on-demand movies and shows, they’re now branching out into linear channels, live sports, and news as they slowly replace the cable bundle. That, in turn, requires a fundamental rethink of how their apps work.

Emphasis on live TV

Browsing Prime Video’s on-demand catalog should be easier with the new design. The redesigned home screen includes filtering options for movies and TV shows, along with quick links to “Categories,” such as Comedy and Action & Adventure. Those genre menus also appear in the search section, which is called “Search.” By taking a page from Netflix, the home screen will have a “Top 10” list, making trending shows easier to find.

Amazon’s original shows get oversized banners on the home screen.

But Amazon is also making some big changes to focus on live TV. The app’s left sidebar now features a dedicated “Live” menu, with a cable-like grid guide to Amazon’s free streaming channels, along with live feeds from premium add-on channels, such as Paramount+ and AMC+. (Here’s a new complaint, though: you can’t hide channels you don’t pay for or modify the guide in any other way.)

The “Live” portion of Prime Video includes a cable-like channel guide.

Meanwhile, the Live TV tab will line up for live and upcoming sporting events, both from Prime Video and add-on services. It’s a meaningful change as Amazon buy more live sports streaming rights. Prime Video, for example, will become the exclusive provider of Thursday Night Football this fall, and it has begun offering a number of regional sports coverage, including select New York Yankees and Seattle Storm games in those markets.

More than just Prime

“Prime Video” has long been a misnomer for Amazon’s app. In addition to movies and shows for Prime subscribers, it also includes free ad-supported video from Amazon’s Freevee service (formerly known as IMDb TV), movie rentals, a la carte TV shows to buy, and a range of subscription add-ons.

The redesign tries to better understand those options. A new “Free with ads” menu shows Freevee movies and shows, replacing the old design’s “Free to Me” section, which contained both ad-free and ad-supported content. And while Amazon’s “Store” menu isn’t going anywhere, it now covers all forms of steamy video Amazon sells, including a la carte purchases and Prime Video Channels subscriptions.

Prime Video Channels subscriptions are now easier to find on the home screen.

Accessing content from those subscriptions will also be a bit easier. A “My Subscriptions” row on the home screen contains quick launch icons for add-ons you’re already paying for, along with suggestions for add-ons you don’t.

At the same time, Amazon is trying to be clearer about where its recommendations come from, with color-coded descriptions for everything on the home screen. Rentals and add-ons have a gold shopping bag icon next to them, while a blue “Included with Prime” tag appears below the main Prime Video content.

Understanding more things

The underlying theme here is that Amazon’s app isn’t as simple as it used to be.

While the Prime Video catalog was once somewhat analogous to premium cable channels, such as HBO or Showtime, over the years it has become more of a miniature cable bundle, with a mix of movies, shows, linear channels, and sports. The redesign feels like an attempt to step back and better reflect this new reality.

The Prime Video app now shows popular trending shows.

Other streaming TV apps are heading in the same direction as their catalogs expand. Paramount+ and NBC’s Peacock both have live channel guides and sports sections, with the latter having to juggle both free and premium subscription levels within one app. (It accomplishes this by displaying a purple “Premium” tag over subscription-only content for users on the free tier.) Hulu, meanwhile, has now an embedded version of ESPN+ so subscribers to both services won’t have to juggle two separate apps.

Blue checks indicate when a show is included with Prime.

Change is likely coming to other streaming services as well. Live news and sports always have been in the cards for HBO Maxand those plans could accelerate now that Warner Bros. Discovery is acquire more sports streaming rights. Netflix is ​​reportedly considering live streaming for unscripted shows and stand-up specials, and it has kicked the tires on live sports. Apple TV’s sports offerings are growing fast with Friday Night Baseball and major league football, and it has dabbled in free streaming for past seasons of the original shows.

Amazon’s new app offers a glimpse into this many-headed future for streaming services, where the biggest try to be everything to all people. It might not make streaming TV as a whole any easier, but at least it makes Prime Video itself a little easier to navigate.


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