Amazon may be preparing to switch up its streaming strategy in a big way. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is planning a free, ad-supported streaming service that will offer both regular video content and music videos to all customers — not just those subscribed to Amazon Prime. The Journal says this service could stream Amazon's original programming (currently also exclusive to Prime customers) along with other licensed content.
That's to be expected, perhaps, but there are aspects of the rumored service that would mark new ground for Amazon. For example, the Journal claims Amazon may offer free music video streams to its online shoppers. Searching for Lady Gaga or Daft Punk would bring up their recent music videos, for example, turning Amazon into something of a Vevo / YouTube competitor.
A free streaming service could help disrupt a market that's still largely dominated by Netflix and Hulu. Amazon's own instant video service has fared well with consumers, but the company is still playing catchup with regards to original programming. The online retailer recently hiked the subscription cost of Amazon Prime to $99 per year, which many took as a sign that additional membership benefits (i.e. a streaming music service) could be on the way. Presumably some content would remain exclusive to paying customers, but it seems Amazon may also choose to go for broke and upend the streaming category with a free service. The Journal says it could launch "in the coming months" but also cautions — as usual — that Amazon could scrap the project entirely before then. With Amazon holding a press event in New York next week, we may soon hear more about this service alongside whatever streaming device the company plans to unveil.
Update: Amazon denied the Journal report, saying in an email to Variety: "We're often experimenting with new things, but we have no plans to offer a free streaming-media service."