Warner Bros. films return to Amazon Prime Video
Ivan Radford | On 06, Apr 2019
Warner Bros. movies are available to buy, rent and download from Amazon Prime Video again.
The studio’s feature film output, which is currently riding a wave of hits from Crazy Rich Asians to A Star Is Born, was removed from Amazon’s digital store around the start of this year, after the online retailer and Warner failed to agree a new deal.
The licensing dispute was separate to Warner’s ongoing agreement with Amazon Prime Video’s subscription service, with eligible titles still available to stream to those paying for Amazon Prime membership or an Amazon Prime Video subscription. Those wanting to buy or rent Warner movies, though were unable to do so.
Now, after several months of negotiations, terms of a new agreement have been reached by the pair, and Warner’s videos have returned to the online storefront, with films such as Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald available once more.
The departure of Warner titles from Prime Video occurred around the same time as Warner movies were also removed from Sky Store, Sky’s transactional store. At the time of publication, Warner Bros. and Sky have still not come to a deal to sell Warner’s titles once again. We will keep you updated with any further details.
They still remain available to buy or rent on other digital stores, such as iTunes and Google Play.
Why are Warner Bros. films not available on Amazon Prime Video and Sky Store?
21st February 2019
Eagle-eyed viewers in recent months have noticed that a growing number of Warner Bros. titles have been unavailable on Amazon Prime Video and Sky Store. Warner has enjoyed a stellar run of it lately, with smash hits including Crazy Rich Asians, one of the biggest rom-com titles at the US box office in a decade, and A Star Is Born, the soundtrack for which alone has gone platinum. It’s a time, then, when any retailer, online or otherwise, would benefit from having Warner’s library on their shelves. But those looking to buy digital copies will be disappointed, if they’re using Sky Store or Amazon Prime Video, where they and other Warner Bros. titles are unavailable to purchase or rent.
We reached out to Warner Bros. and to Amazon for comments on the situation, with Warner telling us they “do not have a comment or statement at this time”. Amazon, meanwhile, has not responded to our request, but does display the following message on titles such as Ready Player One: “Our agreements with the content provider don’t allow purchases of this title at this time.”
A customer service assistant offered the following advice when we asked them: “Due to licensing restrictions, videos can become temporarily unavailable for purchase. The video will automatically be made available again after that restriction ends.”
“I’ve forwarded your request to the Prime development team,” they added. “I can understand that you want to watch the movie. The video publisher has to agree with our agreement.”
Sky, on the other hand, has publicly addressed the matter on Twitter multiple times, reassuring those asking about the lack of Warner’s films that talks are underway to restore them.
“At the moment, we are negotiating a new agreement with Warner Bros Studios to offer their films in Sky Store,” said @SkyHelpTeam. “Until this is complete we will not be able to offer their titles.”
Warner is hardly adverse to streaming: it is currently planning to launch its own subscription VOD platform in the USA, which will include content from fellow AT&T-owned companies, including Turner and HBO. That reshuffle of assets online led to the closure of FilmStruck last year, but it is likely unconnected to the transactional VOD relationship with retail platforms in the UK. Indeed, Warner Bros. still releases its titles to buy or rent on digital stores such as iTunes and Google Play.
Warner also has an ongoing SVOD agreement with Amazon Prime Video, licensing its titles to stream for Amazon Prime subscribers. That partnership initially began back in 2011, during Prime Video’s previous incarnation as LoveFilm Instant, carving out a second pay-TV window exclusively for the streaming service. While a number of Warner titles have become unavailable to Amazon Prime subscribers in recent months, others, such as Edge of Darkness and License to Wed, continue to be added (or re-added) to the included-with-Prime library. An additional agreement inked in 2014 gave Amazon the SVOD rights to five Warner TV shows too: Arrow, The Following, Hostages, The 100 and Revolution. Of those, Hostages and Revolution are no longer available to stream, but Arrow, The Following and The 100 still are. Even these, however, cannot be purchased on Prime Video, along with other Warner-distributed titles in the UK, such as DC’s Suicide Squad and its array of animated superhero offerings.
The long-standing relationship between Amazon Prime and Warner has even extended to cinemas: last December, in the USA, Amazon Prime members were given the opportunity to see Aquaman in participating theaters up to six days before its official release – an arrangement that appears to have closely coincided with the expiry of Warner and Prime Video’s transactional streaming licence.
In 2018, meanwhile, Sky and Warner extended their SVOD streaming agreement in the UK, Germany and Austria for Sky Cinema (also available via NOW). That renewed agreement saw films such as Wonder Woman premiere on Sky Cinema sooner than before. Wonder Woman is still available to stream on Sky Cinema, but cannot be purchased in Sky Store. The same is true of Ready Player One.
With talks firmly behind closed doors, how Warner’s agreement differs with Amazon and Sky Store and other digital retailers isn’t yet clear, but we’ll continue to keep you updated on any progress.