If you have a Chromecast or Android TV, you've probably noticed the one big glaring hole in content on those devices: Amazon Instant Video. Now, it seems more unlikely than ever that these devices will be getting AIV support, because Amazon is apparently preventing sellers on the US site from listing them altogether, and will remove all existing listings for the devices on October 29th. An email appeared on reddit late last night purporting to be from Amazon is below:
Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime. It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion. Therefore, Amazon has implemented listing restrictions for the followings products:
o Apple TV
o Nexus Player
Effective immediately, you may no longer create new listings for these products, and as of 10/29/15, any existing listings for these products will be removed. There will be no adverse impact on your seller account for the removal, but we request that you refrain from relisting removed products.
Roku, XBOX, and PlayStation all interact well with Prime Video and are not affected by this change.
Thank you for selling on Amazon.
Sincerely, Amazon Services
To summarize: as of now, you cannot list new Chromecasts, Nexus Players, or Apple TVs for sale on Amazon. As of October 29th, all the listings will go away. We're not sure if this means Amazon will stop selling the devices directly, but we can only assume so, as Amazon itself is the largest vendor of them on its store. Bloomberg appears to have verified the email's authenticity. We reached out to Amazon for comment or at least verification of the email a couple of hours ago, but have not received any reply at this time. It seems likely other Android TV devices will eventually suffer the same fate, including the NVIDIA SHIELD console. Sellers on Amazon are already reporting that the three devices listed in the email cannot be sold with new listings.
Let me be clear: this makes Amazon assholes. There is no good reason to do this aside from Amazon playing protectionist with its own Fire TV line of products. No doubt, their justification is that because Google Play Movies & TV and Apple's iTunes content are not available on Fire TV devices, nor should Amazon Instant Video be on Android TV / Chromecast / Apple TV and nor should Google and Apple's devices be sold by Amazon. Amazon actually took an active stance of disabling Instant Video functionality on sideloaded APKs back in May, so this just continues a pattern of dick-like behavior.
To be fair, is there a reason it's OK for Google and Apple to keep their streaming services off Amazon's boxes? Well, in the abstract: no. But given historical context and reality, Amazon is clearly on the far worse side of the argument here. Kindle, Amazon's highly popular eBook service, is available on all Android and iOS devices. Amazon Instant Video is even available on iOS and Android phones and tablets (because popular), just not Apple TV, and Instant Video itself is available on a myriad of devices - even ones Amazon directly competes with - like Roku, many smart TV brands (Samsung, Vizio, LG), and even once upon a time Google TV. Instant Video is also available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which ostensibly compete on some level with the Fire TV boxes that Amazon kind of half-assedly positions as "game consoles." So why the specific hate for Google and Apple? Because Amazon wants you to buy their (admittedly not bad!) stick or box or what have you instead of the other guys' stick or box, particularly when the other guys have video storefronts that you can't get on Amazon's boxes.
This is just another case of a corporate pissing match in which consumers are, in every respect, the losers. Amazon, meanwhile, will likely enjoy single-digit percentage increases of Fire TV sales, which will of course make all of this OK in Amazon's eyes. At this time, only the US store seems affected, though other markets with AIV like the UK will probably see similar restrictions in the coming days or weeks.
Amazon issued the following statement of zero helpfulness to us.
Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime. It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion. Roku, XBOX, PlayStation and Fire TV are excellent choices.