Amazon Prime Video Ad Plan Prompts Backlash, Boycott Calls

Original Article:

Mike Vorhaus is quoted in this article:

After Amazon announced that Prime Video will start showing ads with its content on January 29, 2024—as well as become more expensive—there has been strong backlash online.

When a plethora of streaming services first entered the market they offered free trials in abundance and had incredibly low monthly fees. For example, Disney+ sold for just $6.99 per month, while Apple TV+ charged an even lower $4.99.

But with all of the big streaming services—Netflix, HuluDisney Plus, Max, Apple TV Plus, Paramount Plus and Peacock—raising their costs this year, it seems the days of cheap subscriptions are firmly behind us. This is a result of challenges faced by businesses, such as declining subscriber counts and rising production expenses. Initially hailed as an inexpensive, ad-free, and on-demand substitute for a traditional cable provider, consumers are now having to pick and choose their streaming services.

Netflix’s most expensive plan has officially crossed the $20 threshold, and other services are steadily headed in that direction. The video subscription service offered by Amazon as part of Amazon’s Prime subscription currently costs $14.99 per month or $139 annually. If consumers want Prime Video as a standalone service, it can be subscribed to individually for $8.99 a month. Soon, users will have to pay an additional $2.99 per month for the ad-free option. The new charge for ad-free streaming would bring Prime to just under $18 and would push standalone Prime Video to just under $12.

Amazon Prime Video logo on television

In this photo illustration, a remote control is seen in front of a television screen showing a Prime Video logo on March 28, 2020, in Paris, France. Amazon is facing backlash from customers for increasing its prices.CHESNOT/GETTY IMAGES

“This will allow us to continue investing in compelling content and keep increasing that investment over a long period of time,” the company said in an email to customers.

“We aim to have meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers. No action is required from you, and there is no change to the current price of your Prime membership.”

Newsweek reached out to Amazon Prime Video for comment over email on Wednesday.

After a variety of entertainment news accounts shared the news to X, formerly Twitter, people took to the comments to express their disgust.

“It’s time to boycott Amazon Prime I will not pay for this bulls***,” one person posted.

“I have been on the verge of canceling Prime anyway once my student discount ends and this seals the deal,” said another.

“I already pay them 140 dollars a year for Prime. This is just greed,” a third person wrote.

“Crazy how streaming was supposed to be superior to cable and now it’s just become the very thing it destroyed,” someone else commented.

A fifth added: “I’m sick of platforms ruining our experiences with ads.”

While the response is overwhelmingly negative online, it isn’t all bad, as one person tweeted: “That will be good.”

Mike Vorhaus, CEO of Vorhaus Advisors, has been studying consumers and video streaming for 15 years and he told Newsweek that this news comes as no surprise.

“I’m not surprised Amazon is increasing their prices for a number of reasons, including the strength of their brand, the continued need by consumers for more online shopping/shipping and for more video content to choose from,” he said.

This isn’t the first time that Amazon has received backlash as in November, people were upset with the company for selling pro-Palestinian merchandise.

Amazon chairman Jeff Bezos was criticized by a New York state legislator over the company’s decision to continue allowing the sale of merchandise featuring the pro-Palestinian slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

In a letter to the online retail giant’s chief, seen by Newsweek, Charles D. Lavine, a Democratic assemblymember for Nassau County and chair of the state’s National Association of Jewish Legislators chapter, urged Bezos “to use your position of authority to direct that Amazon NOT be involved in the sale or distribution of these death glorifying items.”

“The overwhelming majority of Amazon shareowners and customers would be nauseated,” the chairman of the state legislature Judiciary Committee wrote. He added: “You may as well sell clothing bearing the words ‘Kill all Jews.'”

It comes after Newsweek highlighted 10 instances of garments bearing the slogan being sold by vendors on the platform—including one which was listed a day after the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants, which it said was retribution for worsening conditions for Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Israel declared war on Hamas and launched hundreds of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, followed by a ground invasion.

At least 1,200 people were killed in Israel, The Associated Press has reported, and more than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to health authorities in Gaza, the AP said.