Amazon Insists “No Changes” Coming To Freevee Despite Reports Of Potential Shutdown

Amazon is pushing back against recent industry chatter and a new press report indicating that it is planning to shut down Freevee.

“There are no changes to Freevee,” a company spokesperson said in a statement provided to Deadline. “Amazon Freevee remains an important streaming offering providing both Prime and non-Prime customers thousands of hit movies, shows, and originals, all for free.”

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The ad-supported streaming outlet traces its roots back to January 2019, when it launched as Freedive, a service from subsidiary IMDb. Five years later, with Prime Video having recently introduced advertising on its scripted series and movies, the thinking has been that maintaining Freevee could involve redundancy, both internally and for ad buyers.

Adweek, citing three unidentified sources, reported earlier Wednesday that Amazon plans to address that confusion and inefficiency by shutting down Freevee in the coming weeks, ahead of the NewFronts. The tech giant has been cutting costs of late, including in its entertainment operations, implementing layoffs recently at Amazon Studios and also the gamer-centric streaming division Twitch.

Some recent programming decisions do seem consistent with a potential consolidation. Series originally ticketed for Freevee like American Rust: Broken Justice have migrated to Prime Video, fueling speculation about Freevee’s future.

Video advertising is playing a growing part in the broader strategy at Amazon, especially with the company making significant investments in sports rights. In the fourth quarter of 2023, which saw most of the second season of exclusive NFL Thursday Night Football streams, the tech giant reported a 27% rise in advertising services revenue.

The decision to put ads on Prime Video scripted programming beginning last month (unless subscribers ponied up an extra three dollars a month to avoid ads) was addressed on Amazon’s fourth quarter earnings call. CFO Brian Olsavsky told Wall Street analysts that executives “feel good” about initial results from the move, calling it “an important part of the total business model” of Prime.

Amazon first put a stake in the free streaming sector in 2019, when subsidiary IMDb launched Freedive, which eventually was rebranded as IMDb TV and then Freevee.

At last year’s NewFronts presentation to ad buyers in New York, Amazon made Freevee one of the pillars. James Marsden and Shea Serrano took the stage to talk about their series for the free streaming outlet, Jury Duty and Primo.

Jury Duty proved a breakout hit for Freevee, earning four Emmy nominations, including one for Outstanding Comedy Series. Amazon hasn’t broken out viewership stats, but said in 2022 when it rebranded the service to Freevee that its monthly active user base had tripled between 2020 and ’22.

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