The rumors of Amazon releasing a free ad-supported video streaming service have been around for at least 3 years and now they’re being refreshed once again. According to sources who spoke with AdAge, Amazon is actively talking with “TV networks, movie studios, and other media companies” to procure content for a new free streaming service to compliment Prime Video.
Amazon technically already has a free ad-supported video streaming service. They launched Amazon Video Direct last year which allows content creators to make their movies and TV shows available on Amazon Video for free with ads, among other monetization choices. However, it doesn’t seem like the service has taken off with content creators.
Instead of just relying on content creators to come to Amazon, the new free streaming service relies on Amazon actively making deals for content. Those deals may include sharing audience information, in addition to ad revenue, with content providers. There’s even mention of paying creatures for the number of hours people watch their content, which is similar to the YouTube Red model. This would be the first time Amazon applied such a model to watching video, but they’ve used the model in the past with their Amazon Underground appstore and currently use the model to pay Alexa skill developers.
Amazon has also been rumored to release an OTT cable video service, similar to Sling TV and Playstation Vue, so this ad-supported service may be a part of that service as well. The report says that Amazon “is talking about giving content creators their own channels,” which would fit right in with an OTT video service. This would allow Amazon to provide free ad-supported channels in their own OTT video service in addition to traditional paid networks.
An Amazon spokesperson has reached out to me stating that “We have no plans to create a free, ad-supported version of Prime Video.”