Amazon Announces Paid Subscriptions To Help Devs Monetize Alexa Skills

Amazon seems to have struck gold with its push into smart speaker territory. The company's digital assistant, dubbed Alexa, is every bit as recognizable as Siri, and Amazon's been able to monetize its AI assistant across a growing line of products. Now third-party developers will get their chance. Amazon is introducing paid subscriptions for Alexa skills, allowing developers to charge a fee for advanced app features.

This also allows Amazon to add another perk to its Prime membership—Prime members do not have to pony up a fee to unlock premium skills. To kick things off, Sony's Jeopardy! app includes a subscription feature that runs $1.99 per month. Those who pay the fee become Double Jeopardy! subscribers and receive six extra clues every weekday.

Amazon Echo Show

"Just say 'Alexa, open Jeopardy' and play to get started. Double Jeopardy! is $1.99 per month without a Prime membership," Sony explains on its Jeopardy! app page.

This marks the first time third-party developers can take matters into their owns and collect some extra coin for utilizing Alexa's skills. However, it is not the first time developers have been able to earn money from Alexa's skills. Prior to this new subscription model, Amazon rewarded the best performing Alexa skill developers with payments. It started with games, which proved popular, and later expanded to include cash rewards for education, lifestyle, and several other categories.

Amazon is rolling this feature out slowly. The developer tools that allow for subscription content are only available in preview form, and so far only with Sony Pictures Television. Depending on how that goes, we could see the subscription model pushed out in force, with greater availability of the necessary tools to more developers.

"Bringing a subscription model to skills for Alexa will bring customers the benefit of new, engaging, and high-quality experiences while providing developers an additional way to earn money from their skills," Amazon said.

Developers will need to tread carefully as this program expands. As it pertains to Jeopardy!, the core app experience is exactly the same as before—Sony did not remove any features, but added new ones (more clues) that are only accessible with a subscription or Prime membership.