Fans of Amazon’s Prime Video service are in for some bad news today, with Amazon officially confirming earlier speculations: Adverts are coming to its video streaming service.
Amazon’s Prime Video has been a cornerstone of the streaming landscape in the UK since its launch, successfully battling giants like Netflix and Disney+.
Initially part of Amazon’s Prime membership, which offered fast and free delivery on a wide range of products, Prime Video has since evolved into a comprehensive entertainment platform.
However, a major change is on the horizon. Starting in 2024, Amazon’s Prime Video will introduce limited adverts for its UK audience (as well as a few other countries).
And, in a similar fashion to Netflix and the upcoming Disney+ ad-supported tier – those who want to continue watching without adverts, will have to pay more.
Adverts Are Coming To Prime Video
Known for its ad-free, seamless viewing experience, Prime Video has been more than just a supplement to Amazon’s Prime delivery service.
Prime Video boasts an extensive library of TV shows and films, including highly acclaimed originals like Jack Ryan and The Boys, as well as The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which is one of the most expensive TV productions in history.
However, a significant change is looming that could alter how subscribers perceive and interact with the service.
Amazon had previously experimented with an ad-supported version of Prime Video, in India, back in June 2023 – but that was a separate entity from the main service.
Today, Amazon announced that starting in 2024, Prime Video will introduce limited adverts to its content for UK viewers (as well as the US, Germany and Canada, followed by France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Australia later in the year).
While Amazon frames this as a strategic decision to sustain and increase investment in high-quality content, it’s hard to ignore the fact that this fundamentally alters what has been a major selling point for the service: an ad-free experience.
The company assures that these ads will be “meaningfully fewer” than those on traditional TV or other streaming platforms, but the introduction of any adverts at all could be a sticking point for subscribers who have come to appreciate an uninterrupted viewing experience.
What’s more, although Amazon states that the current Prime membership pricing will remain unchanged in 2024, this is not exactly true for everyone.
For those who wish to retain an ad-free experience, Amazon will offer a new, separate ad-free tier.
In the US, the ad-free tier will cost $2.99/month (on top of your Prime subscription). The exact cost for this tier in the UK has not yet been disclosed, but it’s clear that subscribers who opt for it will face a de facto price increase.
So, if the price in the UK ends up being £2.99/month (or slightly less than that), that’s £35/year – on top of Amazon Prime’s £95/year. So it’s a new total of around £130/year for the same service you’re getting now – Amazon Prime, with an ad-free Prime Video service.
In essence, Amazon’s announcement signals a controversial shift for Prime Video.
While the company portrays this as a necessary step for continued growth and content investment, subscribers may see it as a compromise of the platform’s original value proposition.
The Rise Of Ads In Streaming Services
As Amazon’s Prime Video prepares to introduce adverts, it’s crucial to place this development within the broader context of the streaming industry.
Amazon is not alone in this shift towards ad-supported models – other major players like Disney+ and Netflix have also been experimenting with similar changes, indicating a significant industry trend, which often spells bad news (and price increases) for consumers.
Disney+ recently revamped its subscription offerings in the UK, introducing an ad-supported tier called “Standard With Ads,” priced at £4.99/month. It will launch on November 1, 2023.
This tier offers a more budget-friendly option for viewers willing to tolerate adverts. Alongside this, Disney+ is also rolling out a new “Standard Without Ads” tier at £7.99/month, while renaming the existing single tier to “Premium,” priced at £10.99/month.
This diversification in subscription plans is seen as a strategic move to remain competitive and open up new revenue streams, much like Amazon’s upcoming changes.
But, as with Amazon – it means that those who wish to continue watching Disney+ without adverts – will have to move up to the £10.99/month tier.
Netflix has also been proactive in altering its pricing models. The platform initially introduced an ad-supported tier known as ‘Basic with Ads,’ which was later rebranded to ‘Standard with Ads’ and priced at £4.99/month.
In a more radical move, Netflix then discontinued its original ‘Basic’ tier, effectively making ‘Standard with Ads’ the lowest-cost option for new subscribers.
This not only pushes viewers towards an ad-supported model but also eliminates a previously available ad-free, budget-friendly option.
It’s worth noting that Amazon also has its own ad-supported streaming service known as Freevee.
Freevee offers a range of TV shows and films from various studios and production companies, along with its original content and “live” themed channels.
The service is available for free but features adverts during shows and films. When Freevee made its debut in the UK, it initially only offered on-demand content, and then added “live”, ad-supported channels as well.
What sets Freevee apart from many other free streaming services (at least in the UK) is its inclusion of premium original content. One example is the crime drama Bosch: Legacy which is a spinoff of Prime Video’s popular series Bosch.
Furthermore, Freevee is the home of the new Neighbours reboot.
A Paradigm Shift in Streaming
The moves by Amazon, Disney+, Netflix and others signal a paradigm shift in the streaming industry.
As these platforms face challenges related to revenue generation and market saturation, there’s a noticeable lean towards ad-supported models.
For long-time subscribers who have enjoyed ad-free viewing, these changes can feel like a significant compromise.
The introduction of ads into traditionally ad-free platforms is a contentious issue, and while it may financially benefit the companies, it risks alienating a segment of their user base.
Moreover, for those who wish to maintain an ad-free experience, these changes effectively translate to a price increase, as they’ll need to opt for more expensive ad-free tiers.
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