Who’s ready for the latest, bad change to yet another streaming service you subscribe to as we march, inevitably, to everything just being cable TV all over again?
Amazon has announced that Amazon Prime Video will now have commercials. But it is not just introducing a lower priced ad tier the way most services have. The price remains the same and now you will have to pay an extra $3 a month, or $36 on top of the existing $140 a year for Prime, to skip ads that you never had to deal with until this moment.
Amazon says it will “run fewer ads on Amazon Prime Video” than cable TV, which is not terribly reassuring given how absurdly long those traditional ad breaks remain. All this will begin in early 2024, and yes, the US will be in the first batch of countries where this happens, also including the UK, Germany and Canada. Then France, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Australia will be added later.
The problem, as evidenced by the Writers and Actors strike and the studio intransigence to make a deal with them, is that streaming is starting to feel like a failed state. All of these services spend tons of money building up streaming platforms and making content, only to end up making less money and much slimmer profits than cable TV ever did.
In turn, they A) refuse to pay writers and actors under the same terms as the broadcast era, including poor residuals, and B) they pass those costs onto consumers with constant price hikes or these new “ad tiers.” Usually companies are at least offering that as a lower tier price, but Amazon is simply saying you have to pay more to avoid it. Deeply annoying.
It is also a bit hard to take Amazon seriously, more so than even other platforms, when we can see how badly they’re mismanaging Prime Video funds as is. A billion dollars for a Lord of the Rings series that is just okay. Hundreds of millions for Citadel, a world-spanning thriller that is actually quite bad. The list goes on, and is not offset by its few actual hits like The Boys and Jack Reacher. But now we’re all paying for it and helping to fund four more seasons of Rings of Power, when all this should be backed by the $1.35 trillion megacorp behind it all.
This is hardly the first time we’ve seen Amazon raise prices or make irritating cuts to its products. On Amazon-owned Twitch, we’ve seen poor terms for streamers get worse over time. At the Amazon-owned Washington Post, they just cut their entire video game news section for no reason other than some bare minimum balance sheet adjustments. Outside of Amazon.com itself printing money and AWS doing the same, all these other side projects are being mismanaged and it’s hurting both those doing the work and those doing the consumption between layoffs, pay cuts and price increases.
But it’s happening, and I mean what, are you going to argue with Amazon? You can’t, and that’s kind of the point.
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