Amazon, cut this crap out. Seriously, I'm getting really sick of it. As someone who pays you for media on a regular basis, to say nothing of my recurring Amazon Prime payments, I feel like I'm more than justified in telling you to stop sabotaging your own damn products.
Ahem. A little backstory, before we get to the central point here. After years of pretending that their customers simply didn't want to watch Amazon Instant Video on non-Fire devices, while concurrently giving iOS owners free access to their bought-and-paid-for video libraries, Amazon finally relented and released an Android app. Not a great Android app, mind you. Not one you could get from the Play Store, and said app still doesn't support Chromecast, presumably because Google's streaming stick competes directly with the Amazon Fire TV Stick. But it's a start.
Amazon Instant Video running on Android TV.
Amazon hasn't released an Android TV app for Amazon Instant Video, presumably because the new platform competes with the Fire TV. Except, for some reason, on Sony's new generation of Android TV-powered smart televisions. I'm guessing this is because Sony and Amazon had some kind of pre-existing agreement in place for smart TV service before Sony switched to Google-powered software for its new integrated televisions. Whatever the reason, an XDA user grabbed the Amazon Instant Video APK from the Sony televisions and uploaded it for others to use on non-Sony Android TV hardware, currently limited to the original ADT-1 developer box, the Nexus Player, and the Razer Forge TV. Lo and behold, it worked! And there was much rejoicing among Amazon customers, for they could now access the content that they paid for on the streaming device they wanted.
But now it doesn't work. "License Error" codes have started showing up when running the Instant Video app on the Nexus Player, presumably because someone at Amazon saw that it was running on non-blessed hardware and shut it down. Read all about it on XDA. And by the way, this isn't the first time that Amazon has deliberately disabled work-arounds for Google hardware.
Amazon Instant Video not running on Android TV. Image credit: XDA user parkerlreed.
This is some grade-A horse piss, Amazon. You know how this works, or at least how it's supposed to. People buy your digital content, and as a provider, the decent thing to do is to make sure said content is available as far and wide as possible, whether or not it competes with whatever box you happen to be selling at the moment. You do this with Kindle books - buy any eBook from Amazon, and you can read it on Android, iOS, the web, downloaded locally on a PC, and hell, probably on your microwave if you can hack it together with a Raspberry Pi. All this despite the fact that Amazon would really appreciate it if you bought an e-ink Kindle for reading said books. Ditto for Amazon's music, shopping, and cloud storage options.
The content is the platform, and if people are paying for it, give it to them where they want it. You were just fine with people watching Amazon Instant Video on Google TV, back before you started selling your own set-top boxes. And indeed, you continue to allow smart TV vendors of all kinds, not to mention de-facto competitors like Roku, access to your videos. Apple, and to a lesser extent Google, sometimes play keep-away with their digital goods, but as the world's largest retailer you should know that there's no bad way to sell content.
I don't have another screenshot to balance out these last few paragraphs, so here's a photo of Corona Extra. Like Amazon's video distribution policy, it is roughly analogous to horse piss.
But no, I suppose you'll continue these passive-aggressive tactics in order to try and sell Fire TV hardware, perhaps even shift a few of those phones collecting dust in Amazon warehouses around the country. If that's the way it's going to be, then I'll just buy my movies and television from a company that makes it easy to actually watch them wherever I want. I know this might come as a shock to you, but I'm not suddenly inclined to drop a hundred bucks on your set-top box because you've intentionally made your streaming content service worse.
For those who are as frustrated as I am with Amazon's aforementioned horse piss, there's still a hacky and uncomfortable way of accessing the Amazon Instant Video content you've already purchased and the free Amazon Prime library on Android TV. Check out this post for instructions.