Prime Video might get an ad-based tier, but it doesn't need one

An image of the Prime Video logo on a TV with someone watching it
Amazon's main streamer could get its own ads-based subscription tier. (Image credit: Future)

Prime Video could be the next big streamer to offer an ad-supported subscription tier to customers.

According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Amazon's main streaming platform could join Netflix, Max and other popular services in the race for more subscribers by offering a cheaper subscription model.

The WSJ's report suggests Amazon is looking at multiple ways to entice potential subscribers to sign up to an ad-based Prime Video plan. One option reportedly being considered is to simply introduced ads to the company's $14.99 / £8.99 / AU$9.99 monthly Amazon Prime membership, which includes access to one of the world's best streaming services. This is a move that would likely infuriate existing subscribers, however, who may decide to cancel their subscriptions in protest over the introduction of ads at this price point.

Another possibility for Amazon is to roll out ads on its standalone Prime Video membership, which currently costs $8.99 per month in the US (the UK and Australian prices are the same as an Amazon Prime membership). Again, though, users may kick up a fuss over the ad-based intrusion, especially when Netflix's Basic with Ads plan costs $6.99 / £4.99 / AU$6.99 a month and Disney Plus' US-only ads-based tier is priced at $7.99 per month, making them cheaper alternatives. For the record, Max's ads-supported subscription will set you back $9.99 a month, which means that Prime Video's offer is ever so slightly less expensive. 

A TV screen on an orange background showing the new Max streaming service logo

Max With Ads would still cost more than introducing ads to Prime Video's current basic tier. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Discovery)

Then there's the prospect of Amazon following Netflix, Disney Plus, Paramount Plus and Max in creating a whole new tier centered around ads. That would allow it to offer Prime Video at a more competitive price to consumers and make it an appealing streaming option amid the ongoing cost of living crisis. 

Amazon's primary streamer is packed with brilliant content – check out our best Prime Video movies and best Prime Video shows guides for what's on offer – that deserves to be seen. Introducing an ad-based tier, at a monthly cost of around $4.99 / £4.99 / AU$4.99, would surely entice people away from Prime Video's rivals, especially with the amount of first- and third-party content in its stuffed catalog.

The problem Amazon has, though, is that it's already in possession of a streaming service that negates the need for an ad-supported Prime Video subscription tier: Amazon Freevee.

For the uninitiated, Freevee is a free, ad-supported streaming service that's packed with quality TV shows and films. A quick look at Freevee's stacked content library reveals viewers can watch popular series like Parks and Recreation, The West Wing, and Neighbours on its platform. Fan favorite films, including La La Land, Carrie, The Nice Guys and Sin City are also available to stream at no extra cost.

Even better, on May 1, Amazon revealed it had begun to bring 100 of its most popular Originals to Freevee. The Grand Tour, Bosch: Legacy, and Modern Love are three of the shows that have already debuted on the platform in recent weeks. Other big hitters, including The Terminal List, and critically acclaimed series like Paper Girls are also set to join soon.

James Reece looks shock at something off screen in The Terminal List

Chris Pratt's The Terminal List is expected to join Amazon Freevee's library soon. (Image credit: Prime Video)

Freevee is only available in the US, UK and Germany, so Amazon could still roll out an ad-supported Prime Video subscription in other nations if it moves forward with its rumored plan. 

Even so, the fact that Freevee is already available in two of Amazon's biggest markets – the US and UK – means that it's on a hiding to nothing if it introduces an ads-supported tier in these Western nations. Why would Freevee subscribers join Prime Video on a cheaper, ad-based subscription when they can watch some of the streamer's best content on a free service? And, if Amazon decided to shutter Freevee to try and convince its subscribers to sign up to Prime Video instead, wouldn't that irk existing subscribers and subconsciously persuade them not to create a Prime Video account?

Thanks to Freevee, Amazon doesn't need to join the ad-based tier race. It's understandable why Amazon would want to do so – it's a business, after all. For me though, it can't justify the need for an ads-supported subscription when it already owns – and has tried to heavily promote for years, don't forget – a free streaming alternative.

If Freevee users enjoy the Prime Video Originals content on offer on this service, they might independently decide to sign up to Prime Video and check out movies and shows that aren't on Freevee, such as The Rings of Power, The Boys, and Invincible. However, force them to do so by removing Prime Video content from Freevee one month after bringing said content to the platform, or closing the service down completely, and Amazon might find itself losing users rather than gaining them.

For more Prime Video-based coverage, check out our new Prime Video movies guide. Additionally, read everything we know about The Rings of Power season 2, Invincible season 2, and The Wheel of Time season 2.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.