Amazon's Prime Video Is Looking to Buy Its Way Into the Live TV Market

Illustration for article titled Amazons Prime Video Is Looking to Buy Its Way Into the Live TV Market
Photo: Patrick Semansky (AP)

Amazon is “actively pursuing” deals to turn its Prime Video streaming service into something more like Prime TV, an industry source told Protocol on Tuesday. This is backed up by several job listings focused on the project.

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Adding live and streaming options would immediately distinguish Prime Video from competitors like Netflix and Disney+ that only offer on-demand video (and catch up to Hulu, Youtube TV, and Sling TV, which have had live TV options for years). Amazon does have a separate Amazon Channels service, but that’s mostly a clearinghouse for Amazon to resell channel subscriptions from the channels themselves and take a cut.

Per Protocol, Amazon appears to be motivated by the opportunity to capture the majority slice of TV viewers that haven’t ditched watching channels entirely and bypass the TV industry’s pricey network-bundling model. One of the job listings for a senior software development engineer notes that internet streaming of linear programming is still a major growth market:

Although video on demand is on the rise, the global viewing hours weighs in favor of live or scheduled TV and OTT linear streaming is predicted to grow by 64% in next two years.

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Amazon has already offered live, on-demand streams of events like football and soccer games. Another job listing shows that Prime Video plans to expand those offerings to include a wider variety of events, with another mentioning Amazon hopes to offer “sports, news, movies, award shows, special events and TV shows” via way of live streaming traditional TV stations. The listings also indicate that Amazon is planning on building their own version of a TV guide to help viewers navigate the new services.

Competing with TV providers has not proven easy for some other companies. Sony shut down PlayStation Vue earlier this year, citing the slow rate of change in the “highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals.” (It directed subscribers to sign up for YouTube TV instead.) That said, Amazon has industry-annihilating momentum, has aggressively expanded into all kinds of markets, and would be the largest company offering integrated live and linear programming.

According to Protocol, the industry insider told them that “You should assume they’re talking to everybody.”

[Protocol]

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Does anyone still watch “Live TV?” You figure someone like Amazon would be rooting for the “other guy” in that fight...