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Report: Amazon Prime Members to Get Free Live TV Streaming Bundle

Despite earlier denials, “credible” sources confirm that Amazon may launch a live TV skinny bundle in first half of 2018

Amazon Prime TV in 2018?

A potential bombshell report from TDG analyst Joel Espelien indicates that “credible” sources have confirmed that despite earlier reports, Amazon is still working to launch a streaming TV service in the first half of 2018.

Of special significance, both for Prime subscribers AND to rival streaming services, Amazon is expected to bundle the service as a “FREE” add-on for Amazon Prime subscribers:

TDG spoke with industry sources last week that confirmed Amazon is still working to launch a free skinny bundle of live TV channels as part of its Amazon Prime membership package in the first half of 2018. We’ve heard far too many rumors on the subject to jump at all of them, but these sources were particularly credible and seemed to contradict recent news that Amazon had ‘ditched’ these efforts.Joel Espelien – TDG

Amazon Prime currently has over 63 million subscribers. The Amazon Prime TV package would instantly become the market leader in terms of subscribers, dwarfing current market leader Sling TV’s estimated 2 million subscribers by a wide margin.

Such a service, especially considering that it would essentially be considered “Free” to the millions of Amazon Prime subscribers who would receive it, would be highly disruptive to the emerging streaming TV industry. It would likely peel off customers from rival streaming services DIRECTV NOW, Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube TV, PS Vue and others who have entered the rapidly expanding live streaming TV market.

The core value proposition of the $99 yearly Amazon Prime subscription remains free two-day shipping. For the millions of prime subscribers who order everything from jungle stix to DVR enabled antennas from the e-commerce giant, the $99 yearly fee is justified entirely with the 2 day shipping it affords.  As a result Espelien notes: “Everything else that comes with Prime (e.g., the VOD service, the music, access to e-books, etc.) feels like it’s free”.

Are you an Amazon Prime subscriber? If they offered a skinny bundle including your local broadcast networks, along with the vital sports, news and entertainment channels that existing services offer, would you drop your current provider and use Amazon Prime TV instead?

Do you believe Amazon will launch a live TV streaming service in 2018? Share your thoughts in the comments below or click here to share this article on Reddit:

  • NCAviator

    I hope they do. Having Google and Amazon in this segment will get it moving and disrupt the traditional providers and content producers. I love YouTube TV. Has all the locals in my area. Only one that does.

    Too bad NBC has a lock on the Olympics. Was hoping we would see 4K broadcast by streaming and also split screen like the ESPN App on AppleTV.

    I think streamers need to do things like 2018 not 1950s. Guides and DVR are old school. You should be able to watch what you want, when you want on what you want. Amazon has done a great job with that with the Grand Tour and in 4K HDR.

    Amazon should get sports in 4K and split screen and go from there.

    They have the $ and customers to negotiate some great deals for content. I hope they do it.

    • Amazon has the luxury that they can allow a product/service to lose money longer than just about anyone in order to gain subscriber base. They then scale and game over. Rolling this service out to Prime subscribers for free makes them the market leader overnight – no contest. 63 million reasons to do it.

      And if they get the channel mix and local networks on board, they WILL cause a flight from rival services in short order. If they are serious it could be THE story of 2018 when its all said and done.

      I really like what they’ve done with local OTA channel integration in their Fire TV Edition software (currently only available on TVs that have Fire TV OS built in. Hopefully they will roll this out to their stand-alone Fire TV devices soon.

    • About 4K, I wrote an article last week that sums of my thoughts on it [], but I think that ultimately 1080p HDR (especially Dolby Vision HDR) is ultimately where the industry needs to be. Especially with the data capacity and broadcast infrastructure needed to deliver 4K vs 1080p.

      • NCAviator

        Very few if any broadcasters or streamers are even doing 1080P. Most are still 720P or 1080i. If they have to upgrade their equipment; they might as well do it to 4K. The H265 standard is well understood and very efficient. People buying 4K HDR TVs want the content in full capability. Youtube, Netflix, and Amazon have mastered the technology.

        ESPN is just stupid. They could win/capture the sports market with 4K HDR Live and on demand. They made stupid deals with the cable and satellite companies. They could have owned the day with the College Football Championship games this Monday. Stupid

        • Main point is that 4K is indistinguishable from 1080p at normal seating distances on screens 70 inches and below. For larger screens and closer viewing distances, the differences in resolution are apparent, particularly in text. But at 10-12 feet (which is the distance at which most home users watch TV), the human eye is not capable of resolving a difference between 4k and 1080p, all other things being equal.

          • RBear💩🌳🌲🌳🌲

            and the capacity concern like you said, saves a lot of bandwidth in the process

          • Exactly. Particularly for the consumer. Especially if you are subject to data caps.

          • NCAviator

            The streaming company will have to implement new equipment. If you are going to purchase the equipment, why not get the one that does 4K or 8K. H265 is a very efficient compression technology.

            I have a 65″ Samsung Smart TV. I can very clearly tell the difference in 1080P and 4K in Youtube, Netflix, or Amazon.

            I agree HDR is not understood and is more important then resolution.

            If Netflix, Amazon, and Youtube can do this so can the streamers.

            Will not be a dramatic as going from B&W to Color or from SD to HD. Now that ATSC 3.0 is done; time to get on with it.

          • Your argument makes sense, I just think 4K, similar to 3D is more about selling TVs than adding actual value – and I stand by the fact that the human eye cannot resolve the pixel difference at distances most common in living rooms. On one point we agree, HDR is the more impactful technology of the two.

          • NCAviator

            You focused on HDR, but the other item that is important is frames per second. We are stuck with standards developed when movies first came out 24FPS and when TV first came out 30FPS. When you see sports at 60FPS it is amazing. The other area that 4K is helpful is in slow motion. We have hints from AT&T that they are going to launch 4K. Believe it when it is out. They say a lot and deliver very little and late.

          • +1 Good point about 60 FPS for sports. Frame rate is independent of resolution – 1080p HDR @60fps is perfectly feasible.

  • James Webb

    It would definitely be on my radar & hopefully sooner rather than later. As a GoBig early adopter I would welcome the competition. It might cause DTVNow to quit farting around and get some of their discussed features out of the pipeline.

    • Same. Really have to feel for any remaining GoBig promo subs who have stuck through month to month until now. Especially considering the DVR still not released out of beta.

      • James Webb

        I just canceled my Go Big promo b/c of the ongoing quality issues & disappointing wait for beta. I even got a new Apple tv b/c Roku gave the endless blue rectangle & the Apple tv was working good but then picture quality kept degrading. I just couldn’t give them my money any more. They said they’d hold the promo price until I come back. We’ll see, I may not even go back. YouTube tv, no issues whatsoever, Philo has been great too. I don’t mind paying more to support quality service.

        • Interesting James. Are you casting those apps to tv?

          • James Webb

            I was missing CBS w/ DTVN but YTTV has all of them. I’m in the D.C. market. Running PHILO on Roku & YTTV on my LG tv but will switch to Roku once YTTV releases it or Apple tv for both, once they both release to that. Haven’t written DTVN off completely but it sure is nice to experience two services that have done their homework & built a secure platform to deliver a polished product out the gate, with live tv pause/rewind/ff, no delays or drops in pic quality, nice on demand & DVR’s that work great. Something you’d think DTV should’ve been able to do just as well or better considering their name/reputation & AT&T’s previous years of experience w/ U-Verse. Maybe they’ll turn the corner…who knows.

  • RBear💩🌳🌲🌳🌲

    would that include DD 5.1 audio? a lot of (potential) cord cutters forget this consideration

    • There is no word yet on specifics of the service, channels that would be included or otherwise, including 5.1 audio support or video codecs/quality to be expected or even device support beyond the obvious (Fire TV devices, etc).

      What we know at present is that despite earlier reports to the contrary, the folks inside Amazon are definitely engaged in the process of putting together a live TV service that may be launched sometime in the first half of this year.

      • RBear💩🌳🌲🌳🌲

        would it be safe to assume that this is turning into an Amazon vs Apple/Netflix (rumored buyout)? And, if so- how do you see this possibly playing out?

        • I think the tax legislation is the main driver for the Netflix+Apple discussion. Back when I published this story >

          There was no one who thought the tax bill could get done before the end of the year. Now that its a done deal, analysts expect lots of mergers and acquisitions to occur with the $3 trillion of corporate cash that’s currently sitting in offshore banks and may be repatriated this year.

          I think we will have to wait and see but i believe the tax bill, in particular the part that allows repatriation of offshore cash at a much lower rate than before, is what’s driving the discussion.

          Apple is very hard to predict and their moves rarely make sense to me, but I believe the chances of Amazon rolling out a live TV service are MUCH higher than Apple buying Netflix. Its more likely Apple may buy Time Warner (for their content) since AT&T is having to fight DOJ in court in their bid/attempt to do the same.

          • RBear💩🌳🌲🌳🌲


            Don’t you think that an Apple/Netflix deal would put more of a heavyweight into the fight though- if Amazon (as you described) carries that many subscribers into the mix with their Prime members, whoever wants to step up to that plate had better have something comparable in mind at the git-go. I would think anyway.

          • I don’t think Apple and Amazon are direct competitors like Amazon and Google are. Apple goes after a different type of customer but they do have some overlap. I believe Apple may be waiting to see what Amazon does. Amazon’s leverage is their 63 million Prime Subscribers. Apple’s leverage is their 200+ million iPhone users.

          • RBear💩🌳🌲🌳🌲

            True on who their targets at this point are but if they’re both vying for the same subscriber $ in the streaming market, adding Netflix’s ~110m could change that dynamic- AppleTV’s recent addition of the Amazon Prime Video App was a step I wasn’t sure I’d see and kind of wonder how long it lasts.

            I guess I just look forward to seeing some competition here as that will hopefully bring some quality choices and continue to push this market in a good, technically sound direction.

          • RBear💩🌳🌲🌳🌲


          • Good points. The fact that these companies are all having to compete with no annual contracts beyond 30 days is game changing for the consumer.

  • BigO

    I do not subscribe to a live OTT service except when there is something I want to watch (ex: playoffs). But, as a Prime member for many years, I try to make use of any service they offer as part of the Prime package.

    • Could be a game changer for that very reason. I rarely use any of the prime benefits beyond 2 day shipping and Prime video. But having free live TV service, with the right mix of news, sports & entertainment, would be compelling.