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Amazon Planning Free Ad-supported Video Service

Tim Maytom

AmazonFireTVHomeScreenAngleAmazon's streaming video service, which is currently bundled with its $99 (£63)/year Prime membership, could soon be joined by a separate, free service supported by advertising.

The Amazon Prime streaming video service has been gaining ground on Netflix – while still a distant second, it has more than doubled its traffic in the past 18 months. The new service, reported by the New York Post as beginning in early 2015, could well see a massive surge in Amazon's popularity.

The rumours echo similar plans reported by the Wall Street Journal in March, which were roundly denied by Amazon at the time. It's likely that any free service would be primarily seen by the company as a way to up-sell viewers to Prime memberships, or to undercut Netflix's lead.

Amazon already allows non-Prime users to stream the first episodes of select TV shows for free, supported by ads, as a way of encouraging consumers to sign up for Prime services.

A free streaming service would also help expand the company's ad inventory, and enable cross-marketing of devices such as the Kindle Fire, or much-maligned Fire Phone. With the exploding popularity of online and mobile video advertising, having another channel to exploit certainly wouldn't do Amazon any harm.

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