On March 27th, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon has pitched a free, ad-supported video streaming service to its potential partners. After the report landed, an Amazon spokesperson came out and denied the rumors, claiming the company has “no plans to offer a free streaming-media service.”
As the WSJ laid it out, Amazon’s service would feature both originals, such as its four upcoming comedy and drama series, and licensed content. The most attractive aspect of the service would be Amazon’s ability to tie in products featured on the site to relevant videos. “A search for Bruce Springsteen CDs, for example, might yield an option to watch the “Born in the U.S.A.” video,” explained the WSJ’s source.
A few hours after the WSJ article hit the presses, Amazon spokeswoman Sally Fouts wrote an email to Variety shooting down the report, though she did note that “We’re often experimenting with new things.”
Amazon has been seen as a potential competitor for YouTube, since it has both the scale and profitable revenue streams needed to challenge the undisputed king of the online video industry. At the same time, changing to an ad-based model instead of the current subscription-based Amazon Prime model would be a curious choice, since many analysts consider ad-supported web content to be an outdated model.
Even though it is denying any plans for a video streaming service, Amazon will launch its proposed set-top box next week, according to a report in Recode. I’m not going to say I don’t believe Amazon’s denial of the WSJ report, but I do think an exclusive video streaming service would be exactly the sort of killer app that could turn Amazon’s box into a must-have product.