Amazon Prime Video now allows in-app rentals and purchases on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon’s Prime Video iOS and Apple TV apps now let customers make in-app purchases, including renting and buying films and TV shows. The change marks a huge shift in Amazon’s approach to the App Store, which mandates a 30 percent cut on all in-app purchases.

Prior to the change, Amazon would not allow you to rent or buy content on the Prime Video app, instead, directing users to a web browser to avoid the App Store fee. You could still sign up for a Prime Video subscription through the iOS app if you are not an Amazon Prime subscriber, but even then, you could not make individual content purchases from within the app.

Now, when users log in to the Prime Video app, there should be a message reading, “Browse, rent, or buy new release movies, popular TV shows, and more — now within the app.” (Big thanks to George Watson, who tipped us off to this change.)

Screenshots by Nick Statt / The Verge

The prices do not appear to have been raised to account for the 30 percent fee, as some platform owners like Spotify have done in the past. It was not immediately clear whether Amazon reached a deal with Apple or whether it is indeed deciding to pay the full cut. But Apple has since confirmed that it entered Amazon Prime Video into an established program for “premium” video providers.

“Apple has an established program for premium subscription video entertainment providers to offer a variety of customer benefits — including integration with the Apple TV app, AirPlay 2 support, tvOS apps, universal search, Siri support and, where applicable, single or zero sign-on,” Apple said in a statement given to The Verge. “On qualifying premium video entertainment apps such as Prime Video, Atlice One and Canal+, customers have the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method tied to their existing video subscription.”

Photo by Nilay Patel / The Verge

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

In the new Prime Video app, which does not require an update, there’s now a full-blown store tab at the bottom. It features lists of popular and new movies to buy or rent, including many of the recently released films like Invisible Man and Sonic the Hedgehog that were in theaters in February and March but had runs cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to user reports and Apple’s statement, Amazon is processing purchases using its own stored payment methods and through its own processor so long as a user has an Amazon account with that information on file. That’s a notable change in how all forms of in-app purchases have been handled before.

Typically, Apple takes its 30 percent fee and handles all payment, processing, and security upfront — Apple takes only 15 percent from subscriptions so long as a customers signed up for the services within the iOS app and has maintained it for more than a year.

According to app developer Guilherme Rambo, the Prime Video app began using a special request related to payment processing that first suggested an arrangement between Amazon and Apple, prior to Apple confirming the new program.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the deal struck between Amazon and Apple is not a wholly unique one; it’s been in place for some time although it is unclear when it was started. The program allows a company to use its own payment methods, Gurman says, and it’s already in use by apps from more niche premium video providers like Altice One and Canal+.

Gurman, in a report for Bloomberg published after the change, later explained that the program also extends to supporting a number of Apple apps, services, and features — including the “Apple TV app, AirPlay 2 support, tvOS apps, universal search, Siri support and, where applicable, single or zero sign-on,” according to Apple’s statement.

Regardless of how long this program has existed and the exact terms of the deal that was struck between the two companies, the change should remove a long-lasting headache to buying and renting movies and shows through Amazon’s app and on Apple TV.

Update April 1st, 4:51PM ET: Added clarity around how in-app purchases are processed by Amazon.

Update April 1st, 5:26PM ET: Added comment from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman regarding the existence of an Apple program allowing premium video providers to use their own payment methods.

Update April 1st, 6:15PM ET: Added Apple’s statement and more clarity around how its program works.

Comments

Look’s like someone made a deal. Good for both entities to reduce the friction between the devices and services.

The real question is: Why does Amazon get a deal meanwhile others do not, if this is in fact a deal? I bet Epic is looking at this very closely since they absolutely hate the app store fees.

We don’t know what the terms of the "deal" are. For all we know a deal may not even have been made, Amazon may have broke down and just decided to pay the 30% App Store tax.

Probably because amazon represents billions of dollars in purchasing power where others do not?

Real question is: Do you still have to go through the App Store for payment, or will your usual Amazon payment method be used instead?

You can use your Amazon payment, we’ve learned. The story has been updated.

Now do Kindle.

YES!

I opened my Kindle app so fast once I realized I could make purchases in the Prime Video app; so much disappointment.

And Comixology! I remember the good old days before Amazon acquisition where you could – and I know this is crazy – browse books and buy them all within without leaving the app.

When I’m in the iOS Prime Video app and select a movie or TV show to buy or rent, when I tap on the buy or rent button, the typical iOS in-app purchase confirmation window does not appear. All that appears is within the Prime Video app, a screen appears that says "Review Purchase" and it shows my default payment method for Amazon website purchases which is a credit card that I have saved on file in my Amazon account. Then right below where it shows my default Amazon payment method with the last 4 digits of my credit cart, there is another button that says "Buy Movie for $X".

So it really looks like Apple isn’t getting any cut from Amazon in a per purchase basis because without it being an in-app purchase processed by Apple, I do see how that would be possible.

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