Amazon is the latest streaming entertainment service that is pushing its members to pay for the privilege of not watching commercials that have been rudely interspersed throughout their favorite movies and TV shows.
Starting early next year, Amazon Prime Video will begin inserting commercials in its entertainment content in what is shaping up to be an industry-wide shift toward ad-supported streaming.
Prime members who don’t want to see commercials will have to pay an additional $2.99 a month on top of their existing Prime membership, which currently costs $139 a year.
A standalone Prime Video membership — which doesn’t come with free-shipping perks — costs $8.99 a month.
This means Prime members who don’t want commercials will see their Amazon bills skyrocket by 26 percent to 33 percent.
The move follows similar decisions by Disney+ and Netflix, which have both introduced ad-supported tiers while jacking up the prices on their commercial-free services.
Disney+ recently announced it is once again hiking its monthly subscription price for its commercial-free option to $13.99 from $10.99 — a 27 percent increase.
Amazon already has an ad-supported service called Freevee, which features a wide range of movies and TV shows with commercial interruptions. It remains unclear how the new Prime Video will differ from Freevee in terms of the frequency and duration of those interruptions.
Prime Video viewers in the U.K., Germany, and Canada will also start seeing commercials in early 2024, with a rollout to France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Australia later in the year.
Streamers are embracing ad-supported options as a way to juice their revenue as their subscriber figures — particularly in the U.S. — are either plateauing or declining. Disney+ lost 300,000 domestic subscribers in the most recent quarter while Netflix has seen its domestic market level- off in recent months.
U.S. consumers are being hammered by Bidenflation, which is causing the prices of food, energy, and other essential goods to skyrocket. As a result, many are cutting back on their streaming entertainment subscriptions.
In addition, streamers are seeing high levels of consumer churn, with subscribers cancelling after just a few months, maybe to re-join months or years later.
Like other major Hollywood streamers, Prime Video has pursued a left-wing political agenda under Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Prime Video censored the 2020 Republican National Convention by refusing to offer a live stream of the multi-night event. The service livestreamed all four nights of the Democratic National Convention the previous week.