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Amazon beats Netflix and Disney to the punch with launch of ad-supported FreeVee streaming platform

Most in the world of media are aware of the imminent arrival of ad-supported tiers to global streaming services Netflix and Disney+, both of which are due to hit our screens by the end of the year. But have you heard of FreeVee? You may be surprised to hear that Amazon beat both Netflix and Disney to the punch with the launch of FreeVee in April 2022 in the UK and US, a rebranded version of their original AVOD (advertising-based video on demand) service IMDb TV which has been running in the US since 2019. So why isn’t FreeVee making more headlines? And what can it offer as a platform to marketers?

FreeVee is free to anyone with an Amazon account and can be accessed through the existing Prime Video portal. As they look to compete in the AVOD space, Amazon have targeted a 70% increase this year in its FreeVee Originals slate, with a stated goal of becoming the most premium streaming service for free content in the US and UK. As well as this year-round, home-produced premium content, FreeVee also has an expansive library of films and TV shows.

Since the year began, 9.2M viewers have watched FreeVee in the UK, with 3.9M watching in the last 30 days. Considering UK Netflix viewership stands at 17 million households in Q2 2022, FreeVee’s numbers are nothing to be scoffed at. That said, on average audiences watch 1.9hrs of film content and 3.5hrs of TV content a week, figures that lack the serious clout of the most popular SVOD services. Amazon have identified that 84% of their shoppers in the UK are considered light TV viewers, with 59% stacking linear consumption with streaming services, and 25% streaming all content with no linear consumption at all, so there is strong appetite amongst their retail audience to drive uptake of the AVOD platform. Both these segments, perhaps as expected, skew towards younger viewers, particularly 25 to 34 year-olds, which are a sought-after demographic given their propensity to consume less linear TV than their older peers. FreeVee viewers are also 91% more likely to be in a high-earning household than linear TV viewers, meaning that, despite their demand for free content, they still have sufficient spending power to entice brands.

As expected with CTV, creative should be premium and high-quality as 94% of viewers watch on the biggest screen in their home. Currently only one ad format is available: full-screen, non-skippable ads which are grouped into ad breaks as you’d experience with linear TV. There are, however, three ad length options to choose from, namely 15”, 20” and 30”. In-platform reporting includes expected metrics like impressions, reach, frequency, completion rate, and device split, but advertisers can also analyse product sales, ROAS and retail impact, given FreeVee’s logged-in viewers are using their shopping accounts to stream content. Currently media can be bought programmatically or direct via IO, with CPMs of £25 for broad, untargeted activity and £35 for specific targeting. Targeting is a combination of Amazon 1st party segments, category and competitor segments, and client-matched audiences imported through CRM or DMP.

Given the age profiles and spending power of FreeVee’s current user-base, it is an enticing proposition that brands already activating through Amazon’s DSP would be well-placed to test now, before competition increases. Additionally, the direct link through to retail impact and measurement that is guaranteed through the unified logins across Amazon’s retail site and FreeVee streaming is a real point of difference compared to other streaming platforms – so FreeVee could be a really interesting test case for FMCG and retail brands who list their products on Amazon.