Amazon Is Killing Its Streaming Originals

By Michileen Martin | Updated

This past January, Amazon made the cheap move of turning what had previously been ad-free Prime memberships into plans with “limited” ads with the explanation that the company wanted a new revenue stream with which to fund more original content. Ironically, I predict this move will guarantee that within the next few years, the only new original Prime TV shows and films will be those attached to already proven hit franchises like The Boys, the Lord of the Rings, and Reacher. There won’t be room for anything but the biggest hits.

We All Have Our Own Red Road

Who doesn’t have a story about randomly finding something on Netflix or Max–something we’d never even heard of–and giving it a try only to fall in love with it?

The one I remember best is when I found The Red Road on Netflix–a compelling crime drama starring Jason Momoa, Julianne Nicholson, and Martin Henderson. I found it by literally put nothing but “A” in the search field and then scrolling down until I found something that looked interesting.

I will no doubt find more movies and TV shows like that on Hulu, Netflix, Crunchyroll, Disney+, Peacock, AppleTV+, or Max–but you can bet I won’t find one on Amazon Prime, precisely because of their ads.

We All Have Our Own Spectral

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Just like we all have our own version of The Red Road, I’m sure we all have our own version of Spectral.

For as long as the Netflix original sci-fi flick Spectral has existed, the streamer has assured me I need to watch it. I dig sci-fi, I dig the supernatural, Netflix knows this, and the algorithm is convinced this is the flick for me. But something about the promo images makes me think, “Nah… I still have issues of Hulk 2099 to read and Red Wedding reaction videos to rewatch, I’m good, thanks.”

One day, though, I will finally give in and watch Spectral. It will happen because Netflix, unlike Amazon, doesn’t force ads on me.

What Do Ads Have To Do With It?

the red road

What does any of this have to do with Amazon’s ads?

Returning to the Netflix examples–it was already a longshot I was going to watch The Red Road and it remains iffy that I could watch Spectral. How much do you think the chances would drop that I would watch either if, like on Amazon, I had to deal with ads?

It would drop a lot–like, through the floor.

Streaming Without Ads Encourages Trying New Things

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Part of what makes streaming so attractive–part of why so many people have abandoned network and cable TV altogether for streaming–is the ability to watch what you want, when you want, without ads. If, like Amazon, you put ads back into the mix, any kind of adventurous spirit that made me watch The Red Road is going to wither.

Have you ever spent months watching little to nothing outside streaming services, and then you go to someone’s house and they’re watching network or cable TV with ads? It’s infuriating. It would be like if you inexplicably had to abandon all streaming and were forced to watch nothing but VHS tapes. You sit there thinking, “how did we ever do this?”

So why, in the holy name of the Incredible Hulk, would I ever purposely expose myself to Amazon’s ads to try something new, something untested, something that has yet to convince me that its quality makes it worth T-Mobile’s constant attempts to purchase my soul?

If I look through Amazon Prime’s original content, it’s got so much that I might want to watch, but with ads?

What’s Bosch? Bosch looks interesting. Its lead is the kind of guy whose name I never know but he always plays bad guys so I always recognize him (his name is Titus Welliver). Like The Red Road, like Spectral, I might want to try that.

Swarm? I’m not always a horror guy, but I know Donald Glover co-created it. That’s a Spectral right there.

I’m a Virgo? No idea what it is, but I am also a virgo so it might be for me.

Hunters? The Power? Sneaky Pete?

Maybe, maybe, maybe–but Amazon gives me ads and turns all those maybes into “I’d rather be napping.”

The Big Guys Will Survive

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Of course we will be willing to endure Amazon’s ads for The Boys, Fallout, Invincible, The Rings of Power, The Expanse, Reacher, and Fleabag because we already know their quality. I’ll endure a little more T-Mobile condescension if I can see the next epically vile and disgusting scene The Boys delivers.

But Bosch? Outer Range? Patriot? All the series someone told me I should try, but I’m not quite convinced? Why would I sit through Amazon’s ads for them?

It’s foolish. For real. Call me close-minded all you want–it’s just foolish. If I have a half dozen other streamers to choose from which all give me movies and series I know I love, spinoffs in franchises I know I love, and completely original content I’ve never seen but that I can try without ads, how will you convince me it’s anything but foolish to endure Amazon’s ads for anything but the content I already know is worth it?

Actually, not only are Amazon’s ads de-incentivizing me from trying new (to me) content, I’m not even sure if I’ll keep watching some of the shows I’m already invested in.

Will I bother to watch Season 2 of Carnival Row now that I not only had to wait what felt like a few dozen years to get it, but I’ll also probably have to watch those stupid cartoon bears who are obsessed with toilet paper?

Or The Rig? I watched Season 1 of The Rig. It was okay. Would I have watched Season 2 without Amazon’s ads? Sure, if I wasn’t busy reading Hulk 2099.

Now? Eh. There are so many options to watch people with accents die horribly besides The Rig, and most of them don’t come with Amazon’s ads.

There’s too much content. There’s too much of it on my TV, on my phone, on my gaming console, in my comic book boxes, and in my bookshelves for Amazon to sway me with “yes, ads are annoying, but doesn’t Citadel look cool?”

No. Not that cool. Not bears obsessed with their butts cool. Come on.