Amazon Brings Free, Ad-Supported TV Episodes To iOS, Plus HBO Content

Amazon may have denied earlier reports that it would launch a free, advertising-supported TV and music video service, as a departure from Prime Instant Video, but it has at least begun dipping its toe in to the waters of ad-supported TV, it seems. In the most recent example, today’s update of the Amazon Instant Video application on iOS now includes free episodes for selected TV shows, which are supported by ads.

In addition, the update brings the recently acquired HBO content to the iOS app, too.

According to the description on iTunes, Instant Video users will be able to stream the “first episode” of selected TV shows for free. These shows will also include advertising breaks both before and during video playback.

This is not the first time Amazon has rolled out free, ad-supported episodes, however. The company already offers this feature on Kindle Fire devices and on the Roku, where it could be discovered by way of browsing the “First Free Episode” carousel from the TV or Video section.

IMG_0131Many of the supported free shows are also in the Prime catalog, so Prime subscribers would not see the ads if they chose to watch these titles. But for those that are not in Prime, both subscribers and non-subscribers would see the ads.

Today, there are hundreds of free episodes thanks to this feature. Some tend to be either older, or lesser known shows, including The O.C., Roots, Wonder Woman, Two and Half Men, V, Catfish, Invasion, Leverage, The Flash, The Hills, 21 Jump Street, Eight is Enough, and more.

However, we understand now that Amazon has expanded this selection to include more high-profile titles from a number of networks, including Duck Dynasty (AETN); The Good Wife (CBS), Grimm, Covert Affairs, Suits (NBC); Glee, Sons of Anarchy, How I Met Your Mother (Fox); and Orphan Black (BBC).

Amazon, of course, is “often experimenting” with different ways of monetizing its content, as it confirmed to Variety, while denying its plans to launch a fully ad-supported free media service. But the expansion of the “first episode free” feature from Amazon’s own Kindle Fire platform to iOS is a positive in terms of whether or not this particular experiment may be working, and worth further investment on Amazon’s part.

Also included in today’s update is the addition of HBO fare to iOS, like The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, True Blood and Boardwalk Empire, as previously announced.

The update has not yet made its way to Android, as of the time of publication.

Note: Post has been updated 12:40 PM ET with more details on Amazon’s selection of free shows. More accurately, hundreds of shows, not dozens, are available.