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Amazon rules out Prime Video AVOD plans

Amazon has said it has no plans to launch an ad-supported version of its Prime Video service but declined to comment on speculation that an IMDb-branded AVOD service is in the works.

On the company’s third quarter earnings call, Amazon executives were asked to shed light on recent reports that it is working on an ad-supported video streaming service under the IMDb brand name.

Amazon director of investor relations, Dave Fildes, answered indirectly by commenting: “We have no plans to build an ad-supported Prime Video offering for free at this time.”

Earlier this month tech news site The Information and CNBC reported that Amazon is close to launching an AVOD service for Fire TV users via its IMDb subsidiary, which will feature films and TV shows and will be similar to the Roku Channel and parts of Hulu.

According to these reports, the service will feature ads between content, will allow marketers to wrap ads around a video player, and will be available to all of Amazon’s Fire TV users – not just its Prime Video customers.

While Amazon was not forthcoming about its IMDb plans, it did list a number of Prime Video developments among its third quarter highlights, including its agreement to launch Prime Video on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 in the US.

Amazon also said that NFL Thursday Night Football reached more than 8 million combined viewers worldwide in the first four games on Prime Video and Twitch, after it returned to the Amazon this year for a second season.

On the content front, Prime Video debuted original series Tom Clancy’s Jack RyanThe Romanoffs, and season three of The Man in the High Castle. New series that will debut in 2018 include Homecoming and season two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

During the quarter, Amazon also launched monthly Prime membership in Canada and Mexico, quarterly Prime membership in China, and monthly Prime Student membership in Germany.

In terms of financials, Amazon’s net sales increased 29% year-on-year to US$56.6 billion in the third quarter. Net income increased to US$2.9 billion, compared with US$256 million, in third quarter 2017.

However, sales were behind some analyst estimates and a fourth quarter forecast of 10-20% sales growth compared to Q4 2017 missed targets, according to Reuters.

Amazon said its Q4 guidance anticipates an “unfavourable impact of approximately 80 basis points from foreign exchange rates,” and CFO Brian Olsavsky added on the earnings call that Q4 is “always a very difficult period for us to estimate”. Nevertheless, Amazon’s share price dropped more than 10% in after hours trading.