Friday, August 08, 2014
Excluded from Amazon Prime
Oh the joys of living in the European Community! The EU has 28 member states. In five of them Amazon.com has a national subsidiary: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and the UK. Now for getting a book that is no problem: If you live in one of the other 23 member states without their own Amazon site, you can freely order books or DVDs or most other goods across borders. But now that Amazon is pushing more and more into the video streaming business, cracks begin to appear in the system: For license reasons any Amazon site can only stream videos in the national territory where it is located.
I wrote to both the UK and the German Amazon site, and got the same response: The Amazon Prime service, with the offer of Amazon Instant Video streaming of films and TV series, is not available outside their national borders. And because I live in Belgium and there is no Amazon.be, I am effectively excluded from that service. So is everybody else in Europe who doesn't live in one of the five represented countries. Needless to say the same license restrictions prevent me from getting Netflix, Hulu, or any other major video streaming service. The only exception is the BBC iPlayer, but only the iOS version of it.
I have a hard time understanding why Amazon is rolling out a service in Europe and then excludes half of the continent from accessing it. Film and TV licensing rights are a global mess!