Amazon has dropped a huge hint that it’s working on an ad-supported TV service, releasing a job posting looking for a ‘head of Prime Video channels, free to air TV and advertising TV partner channels’. The job description, spotted by Facebook’s director of gaming Damian Burns, gives us some initial clues of how an ad-supported TV service on Amazon might look.
The post describes one of the main responsibilities of the roles as developing Prime Video’s European strategy for free-to-air and advertising funded channels. It says whoever us hired will be required to work with broadcasters across Europe, translating their requirements into Amazon capabilities, and to act as an “internal champion” for free-to-air and ad funded content.
There are two possibilities for what exactly this could be referring to, but both would be a significant step into the video ad world for the e-commerce giant.
Amazon may be looking to develop an ad-supported, free-to-air version of Amazon Prime Video, with subscribers able to avoid the monthly subscription fee by watching ads instead. Currently, Prime Video only runs ads for other Amazon shows as pre-rolls or post-rolls, but the company runs targeted video ads elsewhere, meaning opening up ads on Prime Video to other brands shouldn’t be too difficult tech-wise.
Ad Age reported rumours that Amazon was developing this kind of service last November, though a company spokesman denied that this was the case.
Such a move would mark an acceleration of Amazon’s TV strategy, where premium content isn’t used primarily to make an Amazon Prime subscription (which includes free delivery and a variety of other benefits) more attractive to consumers.
Currently the vast majority of VOD services available through Amazon Prime Channels only offer ad-free, paid subscriptions, even when that service has a cheaper or free ad-supported subscription tier on its native platform. A few broadcasters have made live streams of their linear channels available through Prime Video in Europe, but these still come as part of paid memberships.
The introduction of free to air channels would suggest that at the very least some of these channels would be made available without paying an extra fee, and possibly without a Prime Video subscription too.
Regardless of the end product, it will be another big step into ad land for Amazon and in the UK market it will provide additional competition for the likes of Freeview, YouView and FreeSat, as well as to paid services like Sky and Virgin Media.