Amazon to launch free, ad-supported VOD service?
James R | On 23, Nov 2014
Amazon may be planning to launch a free, ad-supported VOD service.
The streaming platform, which the New York Post says is a “definite go”, would be yet another alternative to its paid Prime Instant Video subscription service.
Amazon already has Instant Video, which offers pay-per-view rentals and download. A free service would be a new way to draw in consumers unwilling to part with their cash. The retailer’s end goal, though, is to sign people up to Prime memberships. Would it ever actually consider going in the opposite direction?
Reports have been circulating for some time, with Amazon once telling Variety: “We’re often experimenting with new things, but we have no plans to offer a free streaming-media service.”
Since then, though, Amazon has started a free streaming service in the US, offering the first episode of TV programmes to users on iOS devices, as well as the Kindle Fire. These are supported by ads, although the lack of a full series is designed explicitly to tempt viewers into a Prime subscription or a purchase.
Adverts on their own, though, can be a lucrative field. Techcrunch pegs Amazon’s existing ad revenue at around $1 billion a year, but with streaming a growing pastime among consumers, videos are increasingly becoming the ad method of choice. Channel 4 has recently launched its own programmatic service, Yahoo! just bought up Brightroll and YouTube is rolling out more detailed metrics for advertisers to judge campaign successes.
For Amazon, offering video adverts is a reliable way to boost revenue – much needed revenue, as its move into mobile phones is losing the firm lots of money. The technology development arm of the company, though, highlights just how happy it is to try out risky new ventures.
When it comes to broadening its VOD scope even further, the company has certainly changed its tune in the past year.
“We currently offer the first episode of some television shows free with ads through our First Episode Free feature on Amazon Instant Video, and there are display ads on some short videos such as movie and game trailers,” spokesperson Sally Fouts told Techcrunch.
After adding that the company is “often experimenting”, though, she said they it has “not announced any plans to offer an ad-supported video streaming service”.
The word “yet”, you sense, isn’t that far off.