Why Amazon Twitch Prime has Australians twitching with rage

Angus Kidman 4 October 2016


When will the bonus features for Prime subscribers arrive down under?

Every time Amazon announces a new feature for Amazon Prime, Australians everywhere ask the same question: when are we finally going to get this service?

Amazon Prime's key benefits are free express delivery on goods from Amazon and free access to the Amazon Prime library of streaming TV, movies and music. And now there's an additional benefit: users of Twitch, the popular video game streaming platform, can access Twitch Prime, a new service that offers free games, discounts on pre-ordered games and a free Twitch account. It's an unsurprising move: Amazon acquired Twitch back in 2014.

Equally unsurprising: Australians won't be able to take advantage of it, because Australians can't get an Amazon Prime subscription. That's an option if you live in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, but not down under.

The reasons are complex, as I noted recently when Amazon announced the latest version of its nifty Echo Dot gadget. Amazon would only be able to offer cheap high-speed delivery if it set up warehouses in Australia, as it has in the US and Canada. That's not necessarily going to be economically viable in a country as small as Australia, since the warehouse wouldn't be able to serve anywhere else except perhaps New Zealand. And that's before you factor in the generally slow and expensive service that Australia Post offers.

On the streaming front, Amazon faces the challenge of not being able to get the rights to many shows. This was a problem for Netflix when it launched in Australia, with its list of shows available locally much smaller than in the US. With Stan, Presto and hayu all scooping up various titles, if Amazon Prime did launch locally, it might not have the rights to much more than its own exclusive titles, such as Transparent. And to date, Amazon has licensed those shows to Stan, rather than attempting a local presence.

When former Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May signed up with Amazon for their new show The Grand Tour, there was speculation that the launch of that show would see Amazon Prime officially appear. The Grand Tour debuts on 18 November, so that doesn't leave a lot of time to start the launch campaign. I'd love to be surprised and see that happen, but right now the indicators aren't great.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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