Prime Video UK’s Ad Tier Faces New Surprising Downgrade

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In a surprising turn of events, Amazon’s Prime Video has quietly rolled out a significant change to its UK service, in addition to the recent introduction of an ad-supported tier.

This unannounced adjustment involves the removal of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support for viewers who choose to remain with the new ad-supported option, a decision that has sparked a wave of criticism.

The introduction of adverts was expected to be the major change to Prime Video’s offering, but the downgrade in audiovisual quality for ad-supported viewers adds a new layer of complexity to the streaming service’s tiered structure.

Here’s everything you need to know about these changes.

The Evolution Of Prime Video

Amazon’s Prime Video has recently introduced a significant change to its UK subscription model, transitioning its existing streaming service into an ad-supported tier.

Amazon Prime Video ads change mockup

This means the standard Prime Video subscription now includes adverts throughout its content, a departure from the ad-free viewing experience subscribers were accustomed to.

To maintain an uninterrupted experience, Amazon offers an ad-free tier for an additional £2.99 per month.

This tiered approach aims to provide options for viewers with different preferences and budgets, but the recent changes have added a layer of complexity to what was once a straightforward decision.

However – as it now turns out – adverts were not the only change.

The Unannounced Change: Dolby Vision and Atmos Withdrawal

The discovery of the removal of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support was first made by the website 4KFilme, which noticed that content previously available in the superior Dolby Vision format was now being streamed in HDR10 with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Dolby Vision Dolby Atmos logos

This downgrade affects the visual and auditory experience, particularly for those with compatible home cinema setups.

Dolby Vision is an advanced form of HDR (High Dynamic Range), providing more vivid colours, brighter highlights, and darker shadows. It adjusts the picture quality frame by frame, ensuring the best possible visual experience.

Dolby Atmos, on the other hand, creates a three-dimensional sound space, allowing viewers to perceive the direction and distance of sounds, adding depth and immersion to the audio that accompanies the on-screen action.

Their absence significantly diminishes the quality of the viewing experience, especially for aficionados of high-definition content.

It’s worth noting, though, that only select titles on Prime Video support Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision – even if you do have the right equipment and subscription).

The decision to remove Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support from the ad-supported tier without clear communication to subscribers has been met with criticism.

Amazon confirmed to Cord Busters that the change, affecting several countries, also applies to the UK. A spokesperson told us that “Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos capabilities are only available on the ad-free option, on relevant titles”, in the UK.

Amazon’s initial lack of transparency has led to some frustration among users, who were caught off guard by the downgrade in their viewing experience.

Tiers, Prices And Video Quality

Amazon’s Prime Video is not alone in its approach to offering different technical specifications based on the subscription tier (in addition to adverts).

This practice is becoming increasingly common among streaming services, as they seek to cater to a wide range of viewer preferences and budgets, with Netflix and Disney+ being two prominent examples

Streaming services on phone prime netflix disney 1200
(Photo: Deposit Photos / Miglagoa)

Netflix has refined its subscription model to include several tiers, each offering different video quality and viewing options. Recently, Netflix UK also restructured its plans, moving away from its ad-free basic tier.

The platform now offers an ad-supported tier at a lower cost (£4.99/month), but with limitations on video quality, capping it at Full HD (1080p).

The highest Premium plan offers better video quality, providing up to 4K HDR streaming and the ability to watch on multiple screens simultaneously. 

Netflix UK Plans October 2023
Netflix’s UK Plans

Disney+, on the other hand, also introduced a new subscription strategy late last year, that includes an ad-supported tier:

  • The Standard with Ads (£4.99/month) offers Full HD 1080p video quality, two concurrent streams, and 5.1 and Stereo audio but doesn’t support downloads.
  • The Standard (£7.99/month or £79.90 annually) provides the same video and audio quality as the ad-supported tier, with the added benefit of downloads.
  • The Premium (£10.99/month or £109.90 annually) tier offers up to 4K UHD & HDR video quality, four concurrent streams, Dolby Atmos audio, and download capability.

When comparing the video quality across the tiers offered by Prime Video, Netflix, and Disney+, it’s evident that each service has structured its offerings to cater to a broad spectrum of viewer preferences and budgets.

Netflix’s restructuring towards promoting its ad-supported and higher-tier plans reflects a strategic pivot to balance revenue growth with subscriber satisfaction.

Disney Plus and Netflix on phone
(Photo: Deposit Photos / Daniel Constante)Disney+’s introduction of tiered plans, including an ad-supported option, aims to make its service more accessible while offering a premium option for those desiring the highest quality viewing experience.

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8 thoughts on “Prime Video UK’s Ad Tier Faces New Surprising Downgrade”

  1. Nowadays, I’m disappointed with the content provided from all three – Disney+, Prime and Netflix. Which is why I stick with BBCiPlayer, ITV X, CH4 and Five streaming sites – some of the content is featured (in terms of movies) is exactly the same that all the 3 streaming company giants provide…so why pay to access these, when you can get them for free.

  2. If you have to pay more for 4k, dolby vision and atmos it must be available on every single show and movie. If not it creates the ludicrous situation that you could be paying for those features while watching at the same quality as a lower paid tier.


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