Amazon’s Instant Video Catalog Search Needs Work

Ever since we ditched cable TV a few years ago, the amount of purchases using Amazon’s Instant Video service has gone up. We’re willing to buy the few shows that we really want to watch as well as movie rentals. I recently noticed, though, the Amazon instant catalog search feature is a bad user experience and probably costs Amazon sales.

On March 9th, we were trying to find a movie to watch. We ultimately settled on “Argo” after it popped into my head. I searched by title using the search box and it was the first result. However, I noticed “Argo” (released on DVD on February 19th) never appeared in the Instant Video section that I had narrowed down to “Movies & TV>Amazon Instant Video>Last 30 Days>Movies” by using the filters provided by Amazon on the left hand side of the screen.

As I wrote this post (March 16th), I decided to see if it showed up at all. After going through 10 pages of results, “Argo” isn’t even listed. Doesn’t matter whether I sort by Release Date, Most Popular, Price, etc. It simply doesn’t show up at all. This is a horrible user experience and it may cost Amazon sales. What if I didn’t think of “Argo”? I would have never searched and found it, but if it had been in a list of suggestions it may have resulted in a sale. How many movies rentals is Amazon missing out on because users never see a title they might find interesting?

Another problem is that titles are often listed twice. For example, with the sort to Release Date, the movie “Curandero” (which I’ve never even heard of) appears at #13 and #22. I suppose it’s possible that it’s because there are two formats: one in HD and one SD. Wouldn’t it make more sense to list it once and then allow me to see the formats in which it is available?


Their search results also include things that certainly aren’t released within the last 30 days. The title “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” was most definitely NOT released within the last 30 days. Now, it is possible that it is showing up because it’s new to instant video, and I understand that. But what I want, and I suspect most people are looking for, are movies that were recently released on DVD for the first time. Perhaps Amazon should add a category “Fresh From Theaters” or something to indicate that this isn’t a 20-year-old title new to instant video.

I find the whole experience of searching for instant video using Amazon’s search features cumbersome and useless. It surprises me that a company the size of Amazon can’t make this experience more enjoyable.

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