Over the last ten years, Amazon has become one of the most successful companies globally, partly due to its streaming service.
Recently, however, Amazon Prime customers have been getting frustrated seeing more and more commercials while streaming.
This article will look at why you’re seeing ads on Amazon Prime Video and whether you can turn them off.
Overview: Three Separate Streaming Services
Remember when Amazon was just a bookstore?
Over the years, they’ve expanded into more and more markets. When Amazon Prime launched in 2005, it was mainly a ‘free shipping’ incentive for shoppers to get them to spend more.
Since then, Amazon Prime has expanded to include Prime Video, Prime Reading, Amazon Unlimited Music, and Prime Gaming.
Amazon Prime has established itself as a significant competitor for mega VOD (video-on-demand) and streaming services. It rivals Netflix with top-tier original content and fan favorites such as The Boys, Man in the High Castle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and The Grand Tour.
In addition, members have access to 150 third-party channels, resembling traditional cable TV but with more perks.
Believe it or not, that’s why Amazon Prime has ads now.
It’s important to realize that Amazon Prime Video isn’t their only streaming platform. Amazon runs three streaming services: Amazon Prime Video, IMDb TV (now called Freevee), and Twitch.
Amazon Prime is the video service available to Prime members. Until recently, you could watch commercial free movies and other shows on Prime Video.
IMDb TV offers free streaming content, although it won’t be ad free. Customers will have to sit through frequent advertising, sometimes more than you’d find on regular TV.
When you select content on IMDb TV that is ad supported, you’ll see a message informing you it’s ‘free with ads‘ on it’s detail screen (see below).
Twitch, a live-streaming service originally popular for gaming content, doesn’t need viewers to log in, but it does roll ads.
Amazon and IMDb host a growing collection of popular content. A recent Lionsgate deal added Mad Men to the platform. Other notable TV series include Chicago Fire, Desperate Housewives, Friday Night Lights, Lost, Malcolm in the Middle, and Schitt’s Creek.
As IMDb TV reached three years of service, it started promoting exclusive streaming content. Some highlights are the new Untitled Judge Judy Sheindlin Project and a season 2 of teen spy thriller Alex Rider.
Why Am I Seeing Commercials on Amazon Prime Video?
On the surface, it seems like a fair deal.
Amazon Prime members pay for the platform, while IMDb TV members and Twitch users watch ads in exchange for content.
However, all three Amazon video services see advertising, depending on what you’re watching.
The OTT (over-the-top) and online video ads appear on Amazon and affiliated sites and devices. That includes Amazon Prime, IMDb, and the new Fire TV interface.
IMDb TV lets you know upfront on their streaming service that you’re going to see ads. But why are there commercials on Amazon Prime?
The answer is pretty simple, actually.
IMDb TV has over 55 million viewers and an additional 200 million active users on Amazon Prime Video. All of those users have access to IMDb TV as well. Since Amazon integrates IMDb TV\Freevee content into their Amazon Prime Video interface, ads appear on both platforms.
That isn’t to say that the added platforms are entirely to blame.
There have always been commercials on Amazon Prime, but they’re not as subtle as they used to be.
The most egregious ad is the pre-show advertisement, like trailers in a movie theater.
The pre-show ads promote either Amazon Prime itself or Amazon Prime original content. If you’re a frequent binge-watcher, likely, you’ve also noticed the ads between shows.
Additionally, banner ads or OTT are typical. Although, banner ads are often quickly dismissed with a click.
How Common are Ads on Amazon Prime Video?
Amazon shoppers are also familiar with the lack of subtlety. Squares of video advertisements interrupt product browsing, and banners are everywhere. But shoppers are immune to the effect because it’s a shopping website, and overwhelming ads are the norm.
But, increasingly, users logging into their Prime Video app are finding more ads than usual.
There’s no way to change this in your Amazon ad preferences. Worse, unlike YouTube, there’s no third-party application to get rid of ads on Amazon Prime Video.
This is because IMDb TV content is blended seamlessly into the main Prime Video content. In other words, users are clicking on a show with ads attached without any apparent markings.
The ads appear in blocks or sections.
For example, a 100-minute film might have seven ad sections containing two or three short ads. While the advertisements only add a few minutes each to the run time, it is disruptive to the experience.
Imagine watching A Quiet Place II, remaining eerily quiet as the monster creeps past a character. Then, suddenly, an ad section jump scares you, ultimately breaking the immersion as you wait.
While a minute of ads might not seem too bad at first, it can add up if you’re binge-watching a show or film series. Although, you could use ad-time for bathroom breaks, snack refills, or take a minute to stretch.
One Possible Solution
It’s unlikely that Amazon will ever separate Prime Video and IMDb TV. It’s also possible that Twitch will influence Amazon’s video practicing choices in the future.
Come what may, ads are here to stay.
But, that doesn’t mean Amazon should rest on its laurels and continue to frustrate users. There are ways to improve the experience for members.
What makes a difference is the lack of warning. Registered users logging into IMDb TV expect the ads. But Prime Video doesn’t tell members if they’re accessing IMDb TV ad-supported content. It can be frustrating to have an unexpected block of advertisement thrust upon you.
Some people have proposed an ad-supported tab in Prime Video’s top menu.
If you’re familiar with the current setup, the top menu banner displays Home, Store, Channels, and Categories. For the Olympic season, they created a new Olympic Games tab. Prime Video could clear up some content confusion with a tab labeled Ad-Supported.
The Verdict: Ads on the Prime Video App Make Money
But joining hand-in-hand with IMDb TV isn’t the only reason for increasing ad time.
Remember, Amazon is a for-profit company, first-and-foremost. Unlike Netflix, Amazon Prime Video is just a service to diversify their business and drive more traffic to their retail site.
Advertising plays a huge role in how online retailers make money.
Amazon might be hosting shows and films, but the point of it all is to get additional customers and make a sale.
Even though it’s customers subscribe to Amazon Prime for the free shipping, Amazon will squeeze in Amazon Channels and movie rentals to tempt them to purchase more.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to turn off ads on Amazon Prime Video. Worse yet, I think it’s only a matter of time before you start seeing Amazon ads on Prime Video featuring products made by Amazon Basics.