Just a few months ago Amazon said it would never offer a free media streaming service, but today the company back-peddled on that claim. Streaming video fans can now watch ad-supported episodes of some TV shows using the Amazon Instant Video app for iOS without paying a cent.
The new feature is part of an update that also brings some HBO content to the app, but the inclusion of free videos for non-Prime members comes as a surprise. You won’t be able to burn through entire seasons of your favorite series for free though. Instead, the company is offering the first episode of certain TV shows in an effort to get you hooked on the service. Amazon already offers a similar feature on Kindle Fire tablets as well as Roku, and it seems to be working.
The updated iOS app includes a new “First Episode Free” tab, but the selection is largely limited to older shows including Roots, Gilmore Girls and Wonder Woman. If you’re looking for something a little more recent Amazon is also offering the first episodes of Catfish and Two and a Half Men for free.
It’s still unclear if we’ll see the same feature show up on Android, though we’re guessing the Google Play app is due for an update in the near future. Then again, it’s also possible Amazon is simply experimenting with offering free episodes, in which case the feature could disappear from iOS if it doesn’t work out. Either way it should push more people to sign up for Prime, which includes free unlimited streaming for a number of these same TV shows and more.