“Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos capabilities are only available on the ad free option, on relevant titles,” they told the publisher.
This may be an unpleasant surprise for some users. In September last year, Amazon started charging $2.99 extra for an ad-free streaming video experience. The company’s press release that announced the change, however, made no mention of Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos.
Dolby Vision is a set of standards for HDR (high dynamic range) video, while Dolby Atmos is a set of standards for surround sound. In the simplest of terms, the support for these standards mean better picture and better sound for users who have the hardware that can take advantage of them.
Instead, ad-tier subscribers can now view content in HDR10+ and Dolby Digital 5.1 — not horrible by any means, but not as good as Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
Amazon’s move in some ways reflects similar moves recently made by competitors. Netflix, for example, introduced an ad-supported tier in 2022, with less content available than on pricier, ad-free tiers. The streaming company axed its cheapest ad-free subscription plan earlier this year, making it ever pricier to see content without the intrusion of ads.
Amazon’s pricing is a little different than Netflix’s, however. As a standalone service, Prime Video starts at $8.99 with ads (and without Dolby Vision and Atmos), with the ad-free tier costing an additional $2.99. Amazon Prime membership, which includes other perks besides video streaming, starts at $14.99 per month, and it also costs an extra $2.99 to get the ad-free tier.