‘We have no plans for an ad-supported tier,’ says head of Amazon Prime Video Australia

One of Amazon’s most senior Australian executives has divulged Prime Video Australia has no plans for an ad-supported tier anytime soon, as it cements itself around delivering an affordable premium service focusing on local content.

Amazon Prime Video Australia chief Hushidar Kharas told Mumbrella at the Prime Video Showcase: An Evening with our Producers, Prime Video Australia: “Our premium service is great value, and at a price point of $6.99 per month,” adding that as great content is at the forefront of the business he’s open to any new opportunities, including sports rights “if that’s what the customers want.”

(L-R) Amazon execs including head of Prime Video Australia Hushidar Kharas, Tyler Bern, head of content, and Sarah Christie, senior scripted development executive.

“We have no plans to launch an ad-supported tier,” said Kharas, “but what we do have is Freevee, which is an export business that is currently live in the US, the UK in Germany, and that will continue to expand territories around the world giving customers more choices. So, that will continue to happen.”

Amazon Freevee offers a selection of digital movies and TV shows for no additional cost. Amazon Freevee is a free, ad-supported video streaming service available in the United States and U.S Territories

After being probed on how many subscribers the platform currently has locally, he swiftly shut it down and turned to global numbers. “We have more than 200 million Prime members globally, which is public, but, we can’t share specific country data,” said Kharas.

After asking whether we’ll see more sport on the platform, Kharas admitted: “I mean, sport is a big part of Australian culture. So, you want to be a part of that as well, again, if our customers want to see something, we want to provide it to them, whether that’s through sporting documentaries, which we’re doing a really great job of, and our customers are loving, we are definitely investing there. And then we’re open to every other opportunity as it comes along.”

Amazon’s head of content for Prime Video Australia, Tyler Bern, added: “We also had our live swimming, the 2022 Australian Age Swimming Championships, and our customers were very happy with our broadcast, and that was our first foray into live sport in Australia, and as Hushidar said, it [sports] is something that we will continue to evaluate as time goes on.”

Asked whether the service would be interested in putting its hat in the ring to snatch the rights to the Olympics, with the broadcast deal including the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and the 2032 Summer Olympics in Brisbane, Kharas said, “We can’t comment on specific opportunities, but we are open to anything that our customers want to see and make sense for us to do so.”

In terms of local content and how the platform differs from other SVOD services, Amazon Studios Australia senior scripted development executive, Sarah Christie said: “We really want to be known as our home of talent at Amazon, and we just go off to the best stories and working with world class producers that Australia has to offer. So, we’re really driven by local stories first.

“We believe that to be successful globally, we have to be successful locally. But we have a great diversity across our slate. We’ve got everything from high-concept comedy to compelling mystery and emotional drama. So, we want to offer a breadth of content for our customers so there’s really something for everyone.”

Bern added:” Our local content is very successful. Why we keep commissioning it is our customers want to watch it. We’re 23 Australian originals now, and we have plans to commission a lot more, and announced six projects last night at the Showcase. There’s a lot more in our development pipeline. A lot of projects that we’re really on the cusp of announcing but we weren’t able to because of timing.

“I think what we think is really cool about our service and what we see that our customers enjoy is the blend of local and global content. From Lux Listings to The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power launching in the same month It’s wild. It’s really fun that we’re able to give such a unique diversity of content offerings to our customers, and our plan is to keep that mix going and keep commissioning, both locally and globally.

As for Prime’s local productions being government-subsidised, Bern said: “We access the Offset like any other production or any commissioning entity, but outside of that, no.”


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