Amazon Prime Video free with ads? Not quite

The online retail giant is reportedly toying with the idea of a video service supported by ads, but it doesn't appear to be a free version of Prime Video.

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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

Amazon is again reportedly mulling an ad-supported video service.

Claudia Cruz/CNET

It's a little late for Halloween, but one of the great Amazon ghosts is back -- rumors of a free version of Prime Video. 

Amazon is reportedly developing a free, ad-supported service to complement Prime Video, its streaming-video rival to Netflix, according to Ad Age, which is citing people familiar with its plans. 

But rather than offering an outright free version of Prime Video -- known for original shows like "Transparent," "The Man in the High Castle" and "The Grand Tour" -- the company appears to be talking with TV networks, movie studios and other media companies about licensing programming like back-catalog TV and movies, as well as children's programming, lifestyle, travel and cooking content, for the new service. 

An Amazon spokeswoman said the company has no plans to create a free, ad-supported version of Prime Video.

Prime Video is part of the company's $99- and £79-a-year Prime membership, best known for free, two-day shipping. You can also subscribe solely to Amazon's streaming video service for $8.99 a month in the US and £5.99 in the UK. While Amazon Prime is not available in Australia, the Prime Video service is available for $6 per month, which roughly converts to AU$8.

Reports that Amazon is prepping a free, ad-supported service have been around almost as long as Prime Video. Most recently, CNBC reported last month that Amazon is meetings with advertisers and technology companies about supporting more of its video content with ads. Way back in 2014, the New York Post reported that Amazon was close to launching an ad-supported service the following year. 

Amazon has already experimented plenty with video advertising. Currently, it runs promos for its own shows on its paid Prime Video service, and its new streams of NFL games this season include advertising. The company already ran a fully-ad-supported show, "The Fashion Fund," last year, which was available for anyone to watch free -- and didn't strip out any ads even if you were a Prime member.

First published Nov. 13 at 2:19 p.m. PT.
Update 2:19 pm PT: Adds Amazon comment. 

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