Amazon Denies Report Of Free Video, Music Streaming Service

We're just hoping that next week's big announcement is a Kindle that only shows video of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, 24/7.

We’re just hoping that next week’s big announcement is a Kindle that only shows video of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, 24/7.

The Internet has been buzzing since yesterday afternoon with all manner of speculation about what streaming video thingamajig Amazon plans to unveil next week. The report that has gotten the most traction is the one that is the least interesting — that Amazon would be launching a free, but ad-sponsored, streaming service. Most companies are fine with letting the media have fun guessing what’s behind the curtain, but Amazon apparently thought this was such a dumb idea that it felt compelled to deny the rumor.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that, in addition to the expected set-top box (or possibly a dongle) that allows users to stream Amazon and other services to their TVs, Amazon would be announcing a service that streams video and music to users without a monthly fee. The service would be paid for by the interstitial ads we all have come to know and hate while watching videos online on network sites or places like Hulu or Sony’s Crackle.

Which is exactly why this struck us as an idiotic idea that didn’t merit writing about. Advertisers have still not rushed to flood the online video space, as you can tell by the fact that you’ll see the same five commercials repeating over and over again during any online watching of a network show, so why would Amazon be rushing into the business?

The Journal’s sources had claimed that this was an effort to boost Amazon’s relatively new online ad business, which currently allows it to offer free episodes of shows it sells and rents, and places ads around movie trailers and video game previews.

But a rep for Amazon tells Reuters that this is enough for them right now.

“[W]e’re often experimenting with new things,” explained the rep. “But we have no plans to offer a free streaming media service.”

So it’s back to the speculation board…

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  1. theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

    currently the big(ger) services are
    netlfix: not super new content, paid, no ads
    hulu regular (pc only): mix of old and new content, limited by broadcaster (not every channel allows last night’s shows to be seen free) ad sponsored, free
    hulu plus: available on multiple devices, paid, ad sponsored, most recent content
    amazon prime streaming: not super new content, paid, no ads
    crackle: free, ad sponsored, older content with short licences (items expire in rotation)

    should this become a real thing, my questions would be
    which content would amazon have for free, ad sponsored? would it be last night’s, like hulu plus? or would those episodes still be paid and the free stuff would all be six months old or older?
    would it be available on as many devices at netflix and hulu plus?
    would it even be worth it in light of the existing competition?

    • JoeBlow says:

      Well, since Amazon isn’t coming out with this service, any answer would be personal speculation, but if that’s what you’re looking for, here goes:

      I would assume that Amazon would have some of it’s own Amazon studios content for one. From there, it would have to work out licenses with whoever they get content from. Maybe there would be some overlap with what’s available on Hulu, who’s to say? Even with Hulu, it’s hard to say what episodes are going to be available: some series will have the current episode. Some will have the last 2-6 episodes, be missing the first part of the season, and have 2 out of 5 previous seasons available for Hulu plus members, but as “web only” available on PC but not set top boxes or other apps. Another service with free and premium membership would be the anime service, Crunchyroll, which typically has new content delayed by a week for the ad-supported free members, as well as a slightly smaller selection of catalog series. The south park studios website typically hosts new episodes for a week after they air, followed by 2 weeks of the episode being unavailable, before they are returned to being available to stream. Those details are going to differ on a case-by-case basis, whether it’s to provide incentive to network sponsors, or because the rights holders feel that they could be better compensated somehow.

      Would it be available on as many devices? Probably not, at least not immediately. As there are rumors of an upcoming set top box, they may tie this hypothetical service to said box for a while at the expense of other set top boxes and consoles, and possibly skip android devices as their current instant video app already does. Of course, another possibility is that it could just be available as an update to their current instant video apps; Right now, videos appear with a prime logo in the corner if it’s free with prime. They could just have another label for “free with ads.” That would bring it to a microsoft and sony game consoles, the roku player, I believe the iPad, and of course the amazon kindle fire family.

      Would it be worth it? Well, it’s hard to say, it depends on the variables. If it has no unique content, and requires a new device, no, it wouldn’t be worth it. If it has content you absolutely need to see that you can’t find anywhere else, then yes, it would be worth it. Anywhere in between is going to be a personal judgment call. We are talking about a hypothetical ad-supported free service; presumably the cost is going to be the time spent watching ads, and any investment on a specialized set top box if one is required.