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Power

Amazon is looking to add live TV to Prime Video

The company has plans to add live and linear programming to complement its on-demand catalog.

Prime Video logo on a phone

By adding live programming to Prime Video, Amazon could differentiate itself from services like Netflix and Disney+ that are focused exclusively on on-demand video.

Photo illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Amazon is looking to add 24/7 live programming to its Prime Video service, according to multiple job listings posted over the past several weeks. The new channels could include live news, music and sports as well as scheduled movies and TV show showings.

Speaking under the condition of anonymity, an industry insider told Protocol that Amazon has been "actively pursuing" deals to license live and linear programming. "You should assume they're talking to everybody," he said. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.

By adding live programming to Prime Video, Amazon could differentiate itself from services like Netflix and Disney+ that are focused exclusively on on-demand video. The move is also a response to the growing popularity of linear streaming services like Pluto and Xumo, and ultimately could be part of a different take on live TV: Instead of licensing the same costly programming bundles as traditional cable services, Amazon may be looking to combine its existing on-demand content and a much more narrow take on must-see live TV.

Video subscription services like Netflix have long focused on on-demand viewing, allowing their subscribers to access movies and TV shows at their own pace. However, a significant chunk of overall TV viewing is still dominated by live and preprogrammed linear content, as Amazon points out in one of its job listings: "Although video on demand is on the rise, the global viewing hours weighs in favor of live or scheduled TV."

Amazon has been experimenting with live programming for Prime Video over the past several years, which included licensing NFL Thursday Night Football as well as the English Premier League. In the future, it may also stream live concerts, political debates and news programming, according to a job listing for Amazon's Prime Video live events team. "This is a transformative opportunity, the chance to be at the vanguard of a program that will revolutionize Prime Video," that job listing reads.

Beyond individual live events, Amazon is also looking to license complete 24/7 feeds. "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," one job listing details. Another specifically singles out live broadcasters and cable networks as potential partners.

The ecommerce giant began to stream live programming from news networks like Cheddar and ABC New Live on its Fire TV devices via a dedicated news app last October. The company also built a basic programming guide for TV channels sold via Amazon Channels, as well as live broadcast TV watched through compatible devices.

Now, it appears that a new guide will be key to a bigger focus on live programming: "We … are building next gen linear catalog systems to provide best-in-class Linear TV experience to Prime Video customers," one of the company's job listings states. "It is Day 1 for the linear TV experience on Prime Video."

Most of the big tech companies were at one point or another looking to launch live TV subscription services to compete directly with traditional cable TV. Amazon gave up on those plans in 2017 to instead focus on reselling video subscriptions via Amazon Channels, Bloomberg reported at the time.

A few companies did launch internet-based live TV services, including Google with YouTube TV and Dish with Sling TV. But these services have been hobbled by the TV industry's long-standing insistence on licensing networks in bundles and high licensing costs for popular networks. Sony shut down its PlayStation Vue TV service last year, writing: "Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected."

Amazon may now be looking to avoid a similar fate by combining Prime Video's existing on-demand catalog with a smaller selection of live and linear programming. This may not include the same lineup of channels as YouTube TV and Sling TV, but instead rely on programming, sourced in part from companies that already provide linear feeds to Pluto and Roku, to build what one of its job listings calls "the next-gen worry-free linear TV experience."

Transforming 2021

The future of retail is hiding in an abandoned mall

The warehouse is moving closer to customers' houses as ecommerce eats the world of retail.

Microfulfillment centers could help retailers compete with the largest ecommerce companies.

Photo: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The American mall has been decimated by the rise in ecommerce. But soon, it may also be their savior — sort of, at least.

Long before the pandemic kept people at home in front of their computers, buying everything they needed to see out lockdown online, malls were on the decline and ecommerce was on the rise.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Sponsored Content

The future of computing at the edge: an interview with Intel’s Tom Lantzsch

An interview with Tom Lantzsch, SVP and GM, Internet of Things Group at Intel

An interview with Tom Lantzsch

Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corporation

Edge computing had been on the rise in the last 18 months – and accelerated amid the need for new applications to solve challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tom Lantzsch, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corp., thinks there are more innovations to come – and wants technology leaders to think equally about data and the algorithms as critical differentiators.

In his role at Intel, Lantzsch leads the worldwide group of solutions architects across IoT market segments, including retail, banking, hospitality, education, industrial, transportation, smart cities and healthcare. And he's seen first-hand how artificial intelligence run at the edge can have a big impact on customers' success.

Protocol sat down with Lantzsch to talk about the challenges faced by companies seeking to move from the cloud to the edge; some of the surprising ways that Intel has found to help customers and the next big breakthrough in this space.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing with edge computing and IoT?

A few years ago, there was a notion that the edge was going to be a simplistic model, where we were going to have everything connected up into the cloud and all the compute was going to happen in the cloud. At Intel, we had a bit of a contrarian view. We thought much of the interesting compute was going to happen closer to where data was created. And we believed, at that time, that camera technology was going to be the driving force – that just the sheer amount of content that was created would be overwhelming to ship to the cloud – so we'd have to do compute at the edge. A few years later – that hypothesis is in action and we're seeing edge compute happen in a big way.

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Saul Hudson
Saul Hudson has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, especially in understanding and targeting messages in cutting-edge technologies. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, in helping companies to build passionate audiences and accelerate their growth. Hudson has reported from more than 30 countries, from war zones to boardrooms to presidential palaces. He has led multinational, multi-lingual teams and managed operations for hundreds of journalists. Hudson is a Managing Partner at Angle42, a strategic communications consultancy.
Power

Google wants to help you get a life

Digital car windows, curved AR glasses, automatic presentations and other patents from Big Tech.

A new patent from Google offers a few suggestions.

Image: USPTO

Another week has come to pass, meaning it's time again for Big Tech patents! You've hopefully been busy reading all the new Manual Series stories that have come out this week and are now looking forward to hearing what comes after what comes next. Google wants to get rid of your double-chin selfie videos and find things for you as you sit bored at home; Apple wants to bring translucent displays to car windows; and Microsoft is exploring how much you can stress out a virtual assistant.

And remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Policy

Here are Big Tech’s biggest threats from states

The states are moving much quicker than Congress on privacy, taxes and content moderation.

Virginia is expected to be the second state to pass a comprehensive privacy law.

Photo: Ron Cogswell/Flickr

When critics say that Virginia's new privacy bill is "industry-approved," they're not totally wrong, said David Marsden, the state senator who has been working for months to shepherd the law through the state legislature.

It was an Amazon lobbyist who originally presented Marsden with the text of the bill, which hews closely to the failed Washington Privacy Act, versions of which have been pushed by Microsoft across the country.

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Emily Birnbaum

Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.

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