Amazon Prime's Video Perk Is Getting Ads Unless You Pay Up And Subscribers Are Angry

Holding a remote control in front of a TV with Amazon's Prime Video page loaded.
In case anyone forgot that Amazon is planning to inject ads into its Prime Video service, the online retail juggernaut has started sending out email notices to subscribers letting them know when the day is coming, and how they can sidestep interruptions while watching movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, the only way to avoid it is by paying an extra fee on top of the Prime subscription itself.

Correction—there are actually two ways to avoid it, the other being to cancel Prime, which some subscribers have vowed to do in reaction to Amazon's tactics. More on that in a moment. What you need to know is that effective January 29, 2024, all Prime videos and TV shows will contain "limited advertisements."

"This will allow us to continue investing in compelling content and keep increasing that investment over a long period of time. We aim to have meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers. No action is required from you, and there is no change to the current price of your Prime membership," Amazon states in an email to Prime members.

Amazon's core catalog of Prime movies and TV shows have been ad-free since the dawn of time (or more accurately, over a decade ago when Amazon Unboxed was rebranded to Amazon Instant Video). Starting next month, however, Prime members who don't want to cancel will either have to sit through ads or pay a $2.99 per month fee to retain the perk as it exists right now.
Dear Prime member,

We are writing to you today about an upcoming change to your Prime Video experience. Starting January 29, Prime Video movies and TV shows will include limited advertisements. This will allow us to continue investing in compelling content and keep increasing that investment over a long period of time. We aim to have meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers. No action is required from you, and there is no change to the current price of your Prime membership. We will also offer a new ad-free option for an additional $2.99 per month* that you can sign up for here.

Prime is a very compelling value. Prime members enjoy a wide range of shopping, savings, and entertainment benefits, including:

- More than 300 million items are available with free Prime shipping and tens of millions of the most popular items are available with free Same-Day or One-Day Delivery.

- Access to exclusive and broad streaming video content (including Prime Video exclusives like The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, The Boys,Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Citadel, The Wheel of Time, Reacher, and The Summer I Turned Pretty, as well as blockbuster movies such as Air, Creed III, Dungeons & Dragons, Candy Cane Lane with Eddie Murphy, and exclusive live sports including NFL Thursday Night Football).

- Access to Prime Video Channels, which provides an unmatched selection of subscription channels like Max, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME, BET+, MGM+, ViX+, Crunchyroll, PBS KIDS, NBA League Pass, MLB.TV, and STARZ—with no extra apps to download, and no cable required. Customers only pay for the ones they want, and can cancel anytime.

- The ability to use your Prime shopping benefits—like fast, free delivery, a seamless checkout experience, 24/7 live chat support, and hassle-free returns—on online stores beyond with Buy with Prime. -

Exclusive deals and shopping events like Prime Day.

- Ad-free listening of 100 million songs and millions of podcast episodes with Amazon Music.

- Prescription medications as low as $1 per month and fast, free shipping from Amazon Pharmacy.

- Access to unlimited eligible generic prescription medications for only $5 per month (including free shipping) with RxPass from Amazon Pharmacy

- High-quality health care from One Medical for only $9 per month (or $99 annually), with the option to add up to five additional memberships for the family for only $6 per month (or $66 annually) each.

- Free two-hour Fresh grocery delivery on orders over $100 (and delivery charges between $6.95 to $9.95 for orders less than $100), and in-store savings on select groceries at Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market stores across the U.S.

- Unlimited photo storage with Amazon Photos. - Gaming benefits with Prime Gaming.

- More than 3,000 books and magazines with Prime Reading.

- A free, one-year Grubhub+ membership trial valued at $120 per year, offering unlimited $0 delivery fees on orders over $12.

And, you can expect additional features and programs added in the future for our Prime members.

As mentioned above, no action is required from you. If you wish to sign up for the ad-free option, you can click here. And, as always, if you have questions about your Prime membership, you can manage your account here.

Thank you for being a valued member of Amazon Prime.

Sincerely, The Amazon Prime team
The email goes on to pitch that Prime remains "a very compelling" with many benefits, such as free shipping on millions of items, same-day or one-day delivery in some instances, exclusive deal events like Prime Day, access to ad-free music and podcasts, unlimited photo storage, and more.

It's fair to point those things out, though dissenters will bring up Prime's price hikes over the years. Amazon's Prime membership started out at $79 per year in 2005, then increased to $99 per year in 2014, $119 per year in 2019, and more recently to $139 per year in 2022.

That's a 76% increase since 2005, though also to be fair, the price hikes have mostly kept pace with inflation—$79 in 2005 is equivalent to around $127 today, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' CPI Inflation Calculator tool.

X/Twitter post on Amazon's Prime Video announcement about ads.

Still, the ad-free paywall is not sitting well with some subscribers. Some of the responses on X/Twitter ran the gamut from calling the move "total bulls**t" and "pure robbery" to users saying they plan to cancel their membership and return to physical media.

In short, Amazon's move is being met with a quite a bit of vitriol on social media. It also serves as a reality check that cutting the cord doesn't bring with it the same value proposition that it did a few years—outside of Amazon, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and others have been raising prices and, in some cases, cracking down on password sharing too. Welcome to the new world, folks.