In a move that may shake up the streaming landscape again, Amazon this week rolled out a cheaper, ad-supported version of its Prime Video service, albeit currently only in India. But could we see a similar tier launch in the UK?
This new offering is part of ‘Amazon Prime Lite,’ a lower-cost subscription tier that aims to make Amazon’s services more accessible. In India, it is nearly 33% cheaper than the full Amazon Prime version.
This development is particularly noteworthy as it marks the first instance of Amazon incorporating adverts (and not just promos) into Prime Video, a move that could be another game-changer in the streaming market – and is maybe a hint of things to come in other countries.
The launch of ‘Prime Lite’ in India may serve as a testbed for Amazon, as reports have been circulating that the company is considering introducing an ad-supported version of Prime Video in other markets as well.
In addition to the adverts, the Prime Lite version of Prime Video has a few more limitations – such as HD-only streaming and no 4K (see the full comparison below).
In the UK, Amazon’s Prime Video is already a key feature of Amazon Prime, a subscription membership service that encompasses a range of benefits such as free one-day shipping, grocery deliveries, access to Prime Music, and more.
Prime Video is a major player in the streaming industry, rivalling the likes of Netflix and Disney+, as well as Sky’s NOW.
It boasts an extensive library of TV shows and films, including highly-acclaimed Prime Video 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.
Prime Video’s accessibility is one of its strong suits, as it is compatible with a wide range of devices including streaming devices like Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV, Smart TVs, tablets, and smartphones through the Prime Video app.
Currently, in the UK, Prime Video is available to Amazon Prime members for £8.99 a month (or £95/year), and as a standalone service for £5.99 a month, inclusive of 4K streaming.
Amazon Prime Video Lite: How Is It Different?
Prime Lite was introduced in India to offer a more budget-friendly alternative to Amazon’s yearly Prime subscription.
The service, which was discreetly tested with select users earlier this year, before the official full-scale release this week, is aimed at customers eager to enjoy some perks of Prime without the hefty price tag.
Priced at a modest ₹999 (Indian rupees) annually (approximately £10 for a full year), Prime Lite is nearly 33% cheaper than the standard Prime subscription in India (which normally costs ₹1,499/year – around £14.50).
Prime Lite subscribers can enjoy no-extra-charge two-day deliveries, early access to Prime sales events, and, crucially, access to the Amazon Prime Video catalogue, albeit with a few caveats.
Prime Lite’s version of Prime Video is a slightly slimmed-down version of Amazon’s streaming service, compared to the full version.
Subscribers can stream content on up to two devices in High Definition. In contrast, the conventional Prime subscription boasts Ultra HD (4K) HDR streaming on compatible devices,
Additionally, streaming through web browsers is off-limits on the Lite version – viewers can only use iOS and Android apps – which is similar to another India-specific tier of Prime Video that’s been around for a while – the Prime Video Mobile edition.
But one of the main distinctions of the Lite version of Prime Video is the presence of adverts. Prime Lite’s video content comes with ads, though Amazon is keeping mum about how often and for how long these interruptions will occur.
Ad-Supported Streaming: A Growing Trend
Notably, Amazon is not the only one exploring ad-supported streaming. Netflix launched its own ad-supported plan in the UK a few months ago, known as “Standard With Ads,” costing £4.99 per month.
This plan has an average of 4-5 minutes of adverts per hour, which are 15 or 30 seconds long, and play before and during content.
Disney+ also unveiled its ad-supported tier in the US in December 2022, with plans to launch in Europe, potentially including the UK, by the end of 2023.
This growing trend could be Amazon’s motivation to test an ad-supported version in India and possibly bring it to the UK in the future.
Adverts Coming To Prime Video UK?
As we reported last week, Amazon is said to be already considering an ad-supported Prime Video tier, which if true, would be following in the footsteps of Netflix and Disney+.
The streaming landscape in the UK is bustling with competition, with big players like Netflix, Paramount+ and Sky’s NOW.
With the cost of living crisis hitting hard, an ad-supported, budget-friendly version of Prime Video could be another game changer in this market.
Considering Netflix’s recent foray into ad-supported streaming in the UK and Disney+’s plans, Amazon’s consideration might be a strategic move to stay competitive.
If Amazon introduces an ad-supported tier, it would not only offset content creation costs but could also attract more subscribers looking for a more affordable option.
Speculations abound regarding how Amazon might structure its advertising on Prime Video.
Some suggest that existing Prime subscribers might see ads, with an option to pay more for an ad-free experience, mirroring Disney+’s approach – however, that may mean a price increase for those who wish to watch without adverts.
Amazon has already dipped its toes into ad-supported streaming with Freevee (initially launched as IMDbTV in 2019).
This free service, available in the UK and the US, includes adverts during shows and films.
It features an array of TV shows and films, including premium original content like Bosch: Legacy, as well as the upcoming reboot of the iconic series Neighbours.
This existing ad-supported offering is a clear indicator of Amazon’s experience in incorporating adverts into streaming services and could inform their approach if they decide to launch an ad-supported tier for Prime Video in the UK, similar to the new Lite version in India.
What’s Next For Prime Video UK?
Though there’s no official word on whether Prime Lite will sail across to the UK, the Indian venture combined with growing ad-supported streaming trends and Amazon’s existing experience with Freevee, hints at how Amazon is willing to evolve its services to cater to different market segments.
In response to our queries about the ad-supported tier, Amazon maintained its usual stance, “We don’t comment on rumours or speculation.”
However, as the streaming wars continue to heat up, Amazon might be gearing up for its next big move.
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