The adverts are upon us: Starting today, Amazon’s Prime Video service in the UK has introduced adverts into its shows and movies – a big change for viewers used to watching without interruptions.
Now, to avoid adverts, subscribers need to pay an extra £2.99 per month or endure multiple ad breaks.
This update challenges the traditional value of a Prime membership, as viewers must decide if they’re willing to pay more for an ad-free experience.
The good news is that the ad breaks on Prime Video are indeed minimal – for now. But will more adverts get added in the future, once viewers are used to the idea? Here’s everything you need to know.
What’s Changing On Prime Video?
Since its inception, Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service has been known for its ad-free experience – much like most of the other dedicated streaming services (at the time).
But, as we previously reported, Prime Video in the UK has now introduced adverts into its streaming service (in the US, ads were introduced last week).
This transition entails the insertion of ad breaks before and during video content (both TV shows and films), a significant shift from the previously ad-free viewing experience.
Subscribers who wish to continue watching without adverts, will have to pay an additional £2.99 per month (on top of what you’re already paying for Amazon Prime).
This change applies to both new and existing subscribers, who will now start seeing adverts when watching TV shows and films included in their Prime Video subscription.
All in all, this new model means a total cost of approximately £130/year for Amazon Prime with an ad-free Prime Video service, compared to the current £95/year for Amazon Prime (or £72/year for the standalone Prime Video option).
The change represents a de-facto price increase, for those who wish to maintain their current viewing experience.
Also, keep in mind that Freevee and Prime Video channel subscriptions will continue to have adverts, even if you pay the £2.99/month – as those are not a part of Prime Video, even though they’re on the same platform.
Live TV will also continue to include adverts, as expected.
According to Amazon, the company is determined to limit the number of adverts on Prime Video, aiming to have fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming providers.
Early Days of Adverts: A Slow Beginning
My observations on the first day of Prime Video adverts in the UK reveal a nuanced approach to ad integration within the platform.
Episodes of popular series like Jack Ryan are now accompanied by a 22-second pre-roll ad break (that may include one or more adverts), followed by another ad break mid-viewing.
There’s a countdown during the ad breaks, so you at least know how long you have to wait (or how fast you need to run to the kitchen).
For those who hate interrupted viewing, you do have the option to manually jump ahead – watch the second (and third, if it’s there) ad break – and then rewind to the beginning to watch the film/episode without any further interruptions.
You can’t, however, skip an ad break altogether – if you try to skip forward to a point in the film after the ad break – you will have to watch the adverts first.
Film content, at the moment at least, exhibits a varied approach. While some movies remained ad-free for me, others were punctuated with a single, slightly longer ad break of 30 seconds, in addition to the initial pre-roll.
I’ve also noticed a few ad-free shows where a short promotional message said that the programme is ad-free thanks to… a specific advertiser (so basically, you’re getting one 5-second advert instead of multiple ones).
This inconsistency suggests a testing phase, with Amazon gauging viewer tolerance and adjusting their strategy accordingly.
Currently, the volume of adverts is relatively low, though history suggests this could be the calm before the storm.
Platforms that have introduced ads gradually increase their frequency and duration over time, a trend that Prime Video subscribers might witness in the foreseeable future.
As expected, many have taken to social media to complain about adverts being added, even before today.
But it remains to be seen whether this change will have any effect on subscriber numbers. Netflix, which added a cheaper ad-supported tier last year, has reportedly seen great success with it.