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Amazon Is Developing A Free Version Of Amazon Prime

Good news for all you holdouts—Amazon is developing a free version of its video streaming service, clearing the way to make all of Amazon's original programming free for all, according to a report by AdAge

In its quest to continue disrupting traditional content models and get all the world to cut the cord, the company is exploring the idea of a version of its streaming video service supported entirely by advertisements rather than subscriber fees.

Currently, Amazon's catalog of streaming video is only available to members of Amazon Prime, a service which typically costs $99 a year, with a reduced fee of $49 a year being available for college students. There's no word on when the company might try to launch the service at this time.

The news arrives in an environment increasingly populated with new players to the streaming video game, including CBS All-Access, Facebook's Watch service, or the upcoming streaming platforms from Disney and Apple. With all of this new competition hustling about, Amazon is trying to attract as big of a share of the viewing audience as possible, and pivoting toward a free ad-supported platform might be just the way to do it.

The company reportedly began exploring the idea of using ads in its content this year, when it began streaming NFL games with commercials baked in, to evidently encouraging results. The idea of using ads during streaming content would be very similar to how, well, using ads during mainstream broadcast television works—but considering Amazon's got so much data on its customers, it may be able to target these ads much more hyper-specifically than a terrestrial television network is able to. 

In addition to the broadcast television-esque advertising model, Amazon is also seeking to give content creators their own channels, with payments being doled out by the company to a creator based on how much content gets watched, similar to the way creators monetize their channels on YouTube.

It may not feel like it in the moment, but the advent of the Internet and the rise of streaming video really has made content production into something of a wild west situation, and if Amazon manages to develop a premium and a free version of its service that can co-exist harmoniously, they may be able to tame the lawless frontier, if you will. Whether or not that's something that audiences will go for is something that remains to be seen.

If the company pulls off the move, the strategy would theoretically make Amazon's video service available to everybody, whether they pay for it or not. The company is trying to position itself in a way that attracts the most eyeballs, and you know what? It may well work. After all, nothing's more attractive to a consumer than the word "free".