Add Amazon to the growing list of companies that are gunning for their share of TV ad dollars. According to a report in The Information, Amazon is planning to launch a free, ad-supported video service for its Fire TV users that may be called Free Dive. As described, Free Dive looks to be very similar to Roku’s The Roku Channel, which is available to Roku users and as of a few weeks ago also on the web.
For Amazon, the move makes perfect sense in a number of different ways. First, it’s a great complement to the growing array of paid video options Amazon offers (TV programs/movies in Prime, SVOD services in Amazon Channels, transactional, etc.). Free, ad-supported video gives Amazon its own inventory to promote all of these paid services in various ways.
The bigger long-term opportunity for Amazon is to open an entirely new revenue stream with video. Amazon is widely understood to be making an aggressive move into advertising in general and now Free Dive would leverage those efforts. Amazon would be capitalizing on strong advertiser demand for premium ad inventory and given its trove of user data, should be able to offer valuable targeting.
Of course to make the ad opportunity valuable Amazon needs to build a lot of viewership first. And that ties back to what kind of content it will be able to license. Roku has been in the market licensing older TV shows and movies for a while now, though likely non-exclusively. A ton of this content is already locked up by other players like Hulu. And many studios/networks are holding back content for their own services (e.g. CBS All Access, Disney’s upcoming streaming service, etc.). So Amazon building a valuable library isn’t a slam dunk by any means.
Still, given Amazon’s resources, if it wants to go big in licensed content it certainly could bid strongly and gather up enough to start with. All of this is another reminder that Amazon is looking over Roku’s shoulder, willing to emulate what it likes. And more broadly, it’s another reminder that the full scope of Amazon’s eventual video efforts are still far from understood.