Report: Amazon's Planning a Free Streaming Service For Original Shows

The WSJ is reporting that Amazon has its sights set on an ad-supported streaming media service that would be available outside of its existing streaming offerings on Prime. Think of it as an all on-demand Amazon TV network.

Per the report:

The new service, which could launch in the coming months, likely will feature original series and may include licensed programming, these people said. As part of the project, Amazon has held talks with the creators of "Betas," a series about a Silicon Valley startup that Amazon produced last year for Prime, these people said.

The service would mean that Amazon's original content would be seen by more eyes, beyond the ones that pony up $100 a year for Prime. One thing that's unclear, however, is how the ads would be delivered. The WSJ says content might appear on a special section on Amazon. Or think of the way Hulu does it—you'd possibly see one big long ad before you watch a show, or you'd watch shows like you do on a regular old TV, with ads in between to break things up. The service would also feature free music videos. Say you searched "Beyonce" on Amazon. Then the video for the song "Drunk in Love" would subsequently appear.

If anything, the ad-supported service could be a way to entice people to upgrade to Prime in the first place. Pay 100 bucks, get rid of annoying ads, presto change-o. In fact, look to the precedent Amazon has set with its hardware. You can get a Kindle for cheaper if you get it with special offers, or ads, for example. Pay a little bit more, and the ads go bye bye. This streaming service sounds like a similar idea, applied to movies and TV shows.

Related, Amazon is hosting an event in New York next week where it will reportedly unveil its very own streaming device a la Roku or Apple TV. From the WSJ report, it doesn't sound like we'll be seeing a streaming service announcement to go along the box. [WSJ]

Update: Amazon reached out to Gizmodo to say it's not planning on a free streaming service. Per spokeswoman Sally Fouts:

We have a video advertising business that currently offers programs like First Episode Free and ads associated with movie and game trailers, and we're often experimenting with new things, but we have no plans to offer a free streaming media service.