After getting a taste of ad-supported television with this fall's live streams of Thursday Night Football, complete with ad breaks, Amazon is reportedly taking a serious look at a more comprehensive "freemium" version of its Prime service. The company is said to be in discussion with various studio and TV networks to provide content for the service, which aims to give content creators their own channels where ad revenue would be shared with Amazon.
The release of a free platform could also enable Amazon to target cost-conscious markets, like India, where a significant number of residents aren't in a position to shell out $10.99 a month - or $99 per year - for a Prime membership. There is likely to be one stark difference between the two, however. By creating a free, ad-supported streaming service, of course. It's not for lack of trying, Amazon executives are pushing extremely hard on their Prime Video catalog development, with big budgets and brand name celebrities, but Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, is still rumored to have burst into the Prime offices demanding a "Game of Thrones" hit. The company was hotly tipped to be preparing such a service back in 2014, although that never came to fruition, so the new rumours should be taken with a pinch of salt. Amazon is expected to share audience information and ad revenue to get the project off the ground initially. Advertisers are gradually losing their ability to get in front of customers as TV viewers increasingly cut their cable subscription in favour of online ad-free services such as Amazon Video and Netflix.
Despite showcasing its fair share of acclaimed shows, Amazon continues to lag behind Netflix in the war for streaming domination.
It's not the first time a company has attempted to offer premium content using ads to replace a monthly subscription fee. According to AdAge, even Apple has outbid Netflix for a new series starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.