Amazon is showing signs it may be ramping up its efforts in linear TV streaming, confirming longtime speculation about the tech giant’s evolving streaming strategy.
Several postings for jobs at the company’s Prime Video division point to a bulked up effort to furnish Prime subscribers with live offerings. One of the postings heralds “Day 1 for the linear TV experience on Prime Video.” Already, Amazon-owned Twitch offers live streams of Premier League soccer, NFL games and other sports programming. Amazon also has a stake in the YES network in the U.S. and is expected to begin pushing live New York Yankees broadcasts in due course.
Live offerings would complement on-demand programming from Amazon Studios as well as third-party streaming apps. Roku, a smaller but resourceful rival, has recently amplified its live offerings and is seeing a significant influx of advertising, especially as the traditional pay-TV ecosystem endures serious pressure. Ad revenue is one of many potential rewards for Amazon from a linear push, which could also help limit Prime churn and promote its Fire TV and Alexa lines. Amazon has recently solidified its position as the No. 3 seller of digital ads behind Google and Facebook.
“We are seeking an experienced Product Manager for the Prime Video Linear TV team to redefine how customers watch 24/7 linear broadcast TV content. Linear TV enables customers to watch 24/7 streams of their favorite TV stations airing programs including sports, news, movies, award shows, special events and TV shows.” Under “preferred qualifications,” the post listed “experience with linear tv broadcast technology.”
Another posting says, “Linear (24/7 Television or broadcast programming) is one of the key options for Prime Video customers. We in Prime Video Catalog are building next gen linear catalog systems to provide best-in-class Linear TV experience to Prime Video customers. It is Day 1 for the linear TV experience on Prime Video.”
Protocol, a tech media brand launched this year by the publisher of Politico, was the first to report on the Amazon plans and said the company is “actively pursuing” licensing deals.
Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels was asked Wednesday in a virtual session held Wednesday by Bank of America Securities if the unscripted powerhouse would consider a distribution deal with Amazon.
“We make it one of our priorities to distribute our content as broadly as possible, but it has to fit the overall business model,” he replied. “An à la carte offering with individual channels in our portfolio is very unlikely. But it is very unclear what they are going for. We will have to see.”
Even if it didn’t outright license existing channels, Amazon could potentially curate channels as players like Pluto have, creating a branded array of always-on linear channels that don’t compete with pay-TV deals.
Jill Goldsmith contributed to this report.