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Amazon has always handled its streaming video slate a little differently than the competition. Other companies have slyly introduced a cheaper ad-free option while slowly raising prices on non-ad-based subscription tiers, Prime Video is taking a different tack. The streaming service plans to hold ad-free watching hostage, and it’s demanding a $3 ransom starting early next year.
In a Friday release, Amazon said it would start adding “limited advertisements” to Prime Video starting out in 2024. The company promised fewer ads than other streaming TV providers or old-school linear TV. This change will impact all users in the U.S., UK, Germany, and Canada. Other regions won’t have long to savor the lack of ads, as eventually more places like France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Australia will all have ads shoved in front of their unwilling eyeballs.
But don’t worry, all you have to do to help ignore all the ads is slip Amazon an extra $3 a month for a new ad-free option, at least for U.S. Prime members. That bumps the monthly cost of Prime to $18 from $15 a month. Users should get a message in their emails about how they can sign up for Amazon’s latest penny-pinching plan several weeks before ads start flooding Prime Video.
Amazon’s message starts out by proclaiming just how great a deal the original Prime Video proved to be, as it was a free offering to anyone with an Amazon Prime subscription. Of course, this was back in the day when Prime cost $99. It was also before it raised the yearly subscription price to $119 and then to $139 last year. What Amazon isn’t saying is that 2023 has been a year of massive cost-cutting across the company. Earlier this year Amazon announced more mass layoffs from among its office staff. It also cut out its longtime online book store, the UK-based Book Depository.
Most other streaming platforms that have introduced ad-based options have facilitated it through cheaper subscription tiers. The majority of major streaming platforms include an ad-based subscription tier. Even Apple TV+, which is currently ad-free, is reportedly getting into the ad game soon enough as the company reportedly hired a major ad executive earlier this year. Netflix has seen success with its ad-based streaming tier, and other companies may be taking notice. There may come a time when Amazon also looks to stymie users from sharing their accounts with friends and family—again—just like Netflix.
The original promise of streaming services was that it would end the dominance of linear TV and the need for ever-present advertising. What these platforms have instead accomplished is merely depleting, and then replacing cable as the new hotness for ad-centric content.