Amazon Prime Video’s Pay Titles Free: How Long?

Here’s how long it takes before pay titles become free on Amazon Prime Video:

This depends on many factors that include the popularity of the content, the studio that produced it, and the many legally binding agreements that dictate publication rights. 

For most content, you can expect it on a streaming service within a year of its original release, but that doesn’t guarantee it will be on Prime.

So if you want to learn all about when pay titles become free on Amazon Prime Video, then you’re in the right place.

Keep reading!

Pay Titles Free on Amazon Prime Video: How Long? (~1 Month)

What Is the Average Time Before Pay Titles Are Free on Amazon Prime Video?

It's movie time, brother and sister eating popcorn while watching a movie at home.

Since the whole thing is so variable, it’s not entirely meaningful to slap an average time onto the whole thing and go with it.

But, since you’re looking for at least a ballpark estimation, let’s start there. 

Generally speaking, you can look for titles to move to the free category on Prime Video after about a month.

Let’s dig a little deeper into that. Movies typically release at the box office first (with more exceptions all the time).

So, that one-month average is after the opening weekend for a new movie. 

The general idea is that movie publishers expect to make the bulk of their revenue from the release in the first month that it is out. 

Once the movie ticket sales die down, they can move the movie into streaming services, and you might see it on Amazon Prime Video.

There are a lot of factors that go into this, and we’ll cover the important ones in a bit.

But, we can start by addressing a thought you might have.

A lot of movies that you want to watch aren’t on Prime Video a month after release.

It takes a lot longer. 

Well, that’s based on box-office performance.

Movies that continue making a lot of money will not be moved to streaming platforms right away.

The movie studios and publishers want to get as many ticket sales as they can.

But, the one-month number is an average across all movies.

Most movies don’t do well in theaters, and they can move to streaming a lot sooner. 

So, the big blockbusters and super popular movies take longer, and the movies that fly under the radar move to Prime faster.

TV shows follow a similar philosophy, but the process is certainly different.

Most TV shows still air on broadcasting networks, which means they are aired live for the first time. 

Most TV shows are also filmed and released in seasons.

So, your one-month average is going to start the timer after the last episode of the season airs.

Let’s talk about common exceptions.

First, very popular TV shows aren’t going to move to Prime that fast.

In fact, a lot of publishers hang on to popular shows perpetually. 

As you can imagine, these decisions are money-motivated.

If the publisher thinks exclusivity is worth more, they will hang onto streaming rights. 

If they think more money is made by diversifying platforms, then you’ll likely see the show on Prime Video.

Also, some shows want to drum up hype in the middle of a season.

So, they’ll actually let episodes move to streaming services before the season is over.

Those services won’t always include Prime Video, but sometimes they do.

So, even with this average of 30 days, you’re going to see tons of deviation from that expectation.

That’s because Prime Video content is published as a result of a lot of different contracts and negotiations. 

Each video is subject to its own copyright and licensing agreements.

How Long Before a Show Gets Added to Amazon Prime Video After It Airs?

Woman watching TV at home and relaxing

Have you ever wondered how long it takes for a show to be added to Amazon Prime Video after it airs?

There’s no simple or short answer to this. 

Whether Amazon can stream a show on Prime Video depends entirely on contracts with the copyright owner, and those contracts come in all shapes and sizes. 

You can watch a show today, or years from now, or never if another site gets exclusive rights.

Learn all about how long it takes for a show to be added to Amazon Prime Video after it airs here.

How Do Copyrights and Licensing Agreements Work For Amazon Prime Video?

business partners handshaking after successful agreement in office.

This is the part that really matters. 

Each negotiation is unique, and it can get very complicated. 

You might assume that Amazon just has to negotiate with the studio that created the show or movie, but that’s often not the case. 

A lot of potential publishers might be involved in negotiations, and a studio will come up with a long-term streaming schedule where content stays at Netflix for a while before moving to Prime, just as an example.

So, let’s start with copyrights. 

With exceptions, the person who creates a show or movie owns the copyright to that content. 

Typically, the production company is the true copyright holder, but movies and shows made out of books or other properties can run into very complicated scenarios. 

The gist of it, though, is that someone is in charge of the copyright. To keep things easier, let’s just assume that the content creator is that someone.

So, the creator has a copyright, and they want their show or movie to be accessible to an audience.

That’s kind of the point. 

They can try to distribute the content to movie theaters. 

They can license it to broadcasting companies (like NBC or the BBC). They can put it on streaming platforms. 

They can make it for rent or sale on publishers like Apple and Amazon. There are many options.

Because content creators have a lot of options, they try to get the best deal that they can, and that’s usually a matter of licensing the content to multiple major publishers (which can be any of the groups just mentioned). 

Licensing agreements come in all shapes and sizes, and they dictate who can distribute the content. 

The agreement determines how much the copyright holder gets paid and whether or not any one group has exclusive rights to distribution (more on that in the next section).

For popular content, the major distributors have to compete with each other, and you’ll see many shows and movies available on multiple platforms because of that.

The best deal, in such a case, was to share the right with more than one company.

Instead of a licensing agreement, big companies can also try to purchase the copyright completely.

This is where you get “original” content on the major platforms. 

Netflix, Amazon, and other distributors regularly purchase copyrights. This allows them exclusive control over the content. 

They usually dub this content as their own original product, and you’ll never see these shows and movies on other platforms (although sometimes they later sell copyrights to each other).

If Amazon purchases copyright, you can expect to see that show or movie for free on Prime Video from the start. 

Amazon invests heavily into this type of content, and they want it to feel like a great perk of being a Prime member.

What Does It Mean for Amazon Prime Video When Another Service Has Exclusive Streaming Rights?

Young couple watching media content online in a tablet sitting on a sofa in the living room.

The last thing we need to cover is exclusivity. 

Exclusive access can be the result of purchasing copyright, but let’s focus on exclusive licensing agreements.

This is when the content creator makes a show or movie and then only lets one company distribute the video(s).

This type of licensing is why many shows can only be found on Netflix, Hulu, Prime, or any other single service. 

The other platforms have to wait until the exclusive license expires before they can put it on their own service.

How long does this take?

It’s all over the place. 

You might have noticed that major streaming services tend to rotate their content every few months.

This is related to the time it takes to amass new content, and it revolves around typical licensing agreement durations. 

But, even though content does rotate in and out of platforms, it’s impossible to say how long any one show or movie will stay on a single platform.

So, the one-month average isn’t a good rule in this case.

If a show is available on Netflix and not Prime, and it’s not a Netflix original, you still can’t expect it to migrate to Prime in a 30-day window.

It could be that short, or it could be much longer. The general average just doesn’t apply.

How Long Does It Take Before Amazon Prime Video Adds a Movie After Its Box Office Release?

cheerful woman sitting on couch at home watching tv and holding remote control

Similar, but also different to shows, is when Amazon Prime Video adds movies after they have been released in theaters.

Depending on many factors, this will vary wildly.

Typically, a movie comes to Prime Video after it loses popularity at the box office, which can take from 1 to 12 months. 

However, competition can snag exclusive rights that prevent a movie from coming to Prime Video.

Learn all about how long it takes before Amazon Prime Video adds a movie after its box office release here.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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