Amazon's Prime Video will show ads unless you pay $3 more per month

They'll start appearing in the US, Canada and parts of Europe in 'early 2024.'

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Prime Video users will soon see ads on shows and movies unless they pay an extra $3 per month on top of their regular Prime subscription, Amazon has announced. "Starting in early 2024, Prime Video shows and movies will include limited advertisements," the company wrote, noting that pricing for the ad-free tier will be announced for additional countries "at a later date."

The news represents a significant change to Prime Video, which hadn't previously served ads next to movie and TV content as part of Amazon's Prime subscription. The streaming service is currently included for free with a Prime or $9 per month if purchased separately, offering third-party content (movies, TV series, etc.) and Amazon Original content produced by Amazon Studios. That includes series like The Boys and The Citadel, along with movies including Air, Manchester by the Sea and The Big Sick.

It didn't say how many ads you'll have to watch, though Variety suggests "limited advertisements" could mean around four minutes per hour. "We aim to have meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers," the company said. "Ads in Prime Video content will be introduced in the US, UK, Germany, and Canada in early 2024, followed by France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Australia later in the year. No action is required for Prime members. We’re not making changes in 2024 to the current price of Prime membership."

The news follows a report early this summer that Amazon was planning some kind of ad-supported Prime Video tier. Now, it turns out that's just the regular subscription, with the new tier effectively an add-on.

Amazon justified the decision, saying it will allow it to "continue investing in compelling content and keep increasing that investment over a long period of time." It also cited the "vast selection of movies and series, including Amazon Originals and live sports, along with critically acclaimed series like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel". The company recently spent millions to acquire rights to NFL Thursday Night Football and acquired MGM Studios in 2021 for $8.5 billion.

Amazon has already dallied with ads, as it currently shows them next to live sports streaming on Prime. Amazon also offers the FreeVee ad-supported site with over 100 Prime Video original series, available on its Fire TV stick, on other devices and as an app.

Ad-free Prime Video certainly made Amazon's $139 per year ($15 per month) Prime membership compelling. With that now watered down, and Amazon also introducing new fees for same-day deliveries, it will be interesting to see if there's any impact on subscriber numbers.