Amazon’s Fire TV interface is constantly striving to help you find something interesting to watch, but one thing that has always been missing is an easy way to determine if the content being recommended is free to you or if a purchase/subscription is required. That has finally changed because Amazon has added new, very obvious, indicators across the Fire TV interface that let you know which movies and TV shows can be viewed immediately, without needing to pay, subscribe, or install anything. Better yet, these indicators are aware of which apps you have installed, which services you’re subscribed to, and adjust accordingly.
Throughout the Fire TV interface, there are rows upon rows of content suggestions across the home screen, on category/genre screens, on the search result screen, and more. When you highlight any movie or TV show on these screens, information about the content is displayed in the upper half of the screen. At the bottom of this information are now bold indicators that either have a magenta checkmark with the words “Watch now” or a white padlock with the words “Discover how to watch.” The former indicates that you’re all set to start watching the highlighted content without needing to pay or install anything. The latter means the content requires some extra step to be viewed, such as a purchase, a subscription, or an app installation.
These new indicators aren’t just “dumb” icons that are set by the type of row being browsed or only get displayed for Amazon’s own Prime Video and IMDb TV content. The icons are unique to the state of your current Fire TV and adjust according to your installed apps and streaming services. In the image above is a row of recommended movies to buy or rent. Even though these are specifically being shown as options that can be purchased, the movie Big Hero 6 displays the “Watch now” indicator because I happen to already own this movie.
When I initially searched for “Wonder Woman” on the Fire TV in the image above, it displayed the movie Wonder Woman 1984 with the lock icon and “Discover how to watch” indicator because I don’t own the movie and didn’t have HBMO Max installed, which is the only place that the movie can currently be streamed. It wasn’t until after I installed HBO Max and logged into the app that the indicator for Wonder Woman 1984 switched to read “Watch now.”
My one gripe with these new indicators is that I think there should be a distinction between content that is free but requires a new app to be installed, and content that requires a purchase/subscription. As it is right now, both of these types of content show the same “Discover how to watch” indicator. Content that is free but just needs a new app to be installed should have a third unique indicator. In the image above, I’m browsing action movies and you can see that John Wick 2 indicates “Discover how to watch.” Most of the movies on that list require a rental or purchase, so it’s easy to pass over John Wick 2 and assume it too must be purchased.
However, it’s only after selecting the movie that you learn it is available for free on Peacock. Since I don’t have Peacock installed on this particular Fire TV, it displayed the “Discover how to watch” icon for the movie. It should be possible to identify which content is free, without needing to click through, even if the necessary app is not installed. One workaround would be to install all the various apps that offer any free content, but then you risk running out of storage space.
The addition of these new indicators is certainly a step in the right direction for making the Fire TV interface a more pleasant place to browse for content recommendations. While I wish Amazon broke out these indicators into two separate lines, one for the cost (free vs purchase required) and one for readiness to watch (app installed vs needs a new app), it’s great to see that this long-overdue feature has been added to the main Fire TV interface.
Update: I forgot to mention that it seems like this addition is still rolling out to devices since it doesn’t seem to be available on all Fire TV models yet.