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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."

Protocol | China

China’s edtech crackdown isn’t what you think. Here’s why.

It's part of an attempt to fix education inequality and address a looming demographic crisis.

In the past decade, China's private tutoring market has expanded rapidly as it's been digitized and bolstered by capital.

Photo: Getty Images

Beijing's strike against the private tutoring and ed tech industry has rattled the market and led observers to try to answer one big question: What is Beijing trying to achieve?

Sweeping policy guidelines issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on July 24 and the State Council now mandate that existing private tutoring companies register as nonprofit organizations. Extracurricular tutoring companies will be banned from going public. Online tutoring agencies will be subject to regulatory approval.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

After a year and a half of living and working through a pandemic, it's no surprise that employees are sending out stress signals at record rates. According to a 2021 study by Indeed, 52% of employees today say they feel burnt out. Over half of employees report working longer hours, and a quarter say they're unable to unplug from work.

The continued swell of reported burnout is a concerning trend for employers everywhere. Not only does it harm mental health and well-being, but it can also impact absenteeism, employee retention and — between the drain on morale and high turnover — your company culture.

Crisis management is one thing, but how do you permanently lower the temperature so your teams can recover sustainably? Companies around the world are now taking larger steps to curb burnout, with industry leaders like LinkedIn, Hootsuite and Bumble shutting down their offices for a full week to allow all employees extra time off. The CEO of Okta, worried about burnout, asked all employees to email him their vacation plans in 2021.

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Stella Garber
Stella Garber is Trello's Head of Marketing. Stella has led Marketing at Trello for the last seven years from early stage startup all the way through its acquisition by Atlassian in 2017 and beyond. Stella was an early champion of remote work, having led remote teams for the last decade plus.

It’s soul-destroying and it uses DRM, therefore Peloton is tech

"I mean, the pedals go around if you turn off all the tech, but Peloton isn't selling a pedaling product."

Is this tech? Or is it just a bike with a screen?

Image: Peloton and Protocol

One of the breakout hits from the pandemic, besides Taylor Swift's "Folklore," has been Peloton. With upwards of 5.4 million members as of March and nearly $1.3 billion in revenue that quarter, a lot of people are turning in their gym memberships for a bike or a treadmill and a slick-looking app.

But here at Protocol, it's that slick-looking app, plus all the tech that goes into it, that matters. And that's where things got really heated during our chat this week. Is Peloton tech? Or is it just a bike with a giant tablet on it? Can all bikes be tech with a little elbow grease?

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Karyne Levy

Karyne Levy ( @karynelevy) is the West Coast editor at Protocol. Before joining Protocol, Karyne was a senior producer at Scribd, helping to create the original content program. Prior to that she was an assigning editor at NerdWallet, a senior tech editor at Business Insider, and the assistant managing editor at CNET, where she also hosted Rumor Has It for CNET TV. She lives outside San Francisco with her wife, son and lots of pets.

Protocol | Workplace

In Silicon Valley, it’s February 2020 all over again

"We'll reopen when it's right, but right now the world is changing too much."

Tech companies are handling the delta variant in differing ways.

Photo: alvarez/Getty Images

It's still 2021, right? Because frankly, it's starting to feel like March 2020 all over again.

Google, Apple, Uber and Lyft have now all told employees they won't have to come back to the office before October as COVID-19 case counts continue to tick back up. Facebook, Google and Uber are now requiring workers to get vaccinated before coming to the office, and Twitter — also requiring vaccines — went so far as to shut down its reopened offices on Wednesday, and put future office reopenings on hold.

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Allison Levitsky
Allison Levitsky is a reporter at Protocol covering workplace issues in tech. She previously covered big tech companies and the tech workforce for the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Allison grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley.
Protocol | China

Livestreaming ecommerce next battleground for China’s nationalists

Vendors for Nike and even Chinese brands were harassed for not donating enough to Henan.

Nationalists were trolling in the comment sections of livestream sessions selling products by Li-Ning, Adidas and other brands.

Collage: Weibo, Bilibili

The No. 1 rule of sales: Don't praise your competitor's product. Rule No. 2: When you are put to a loyalty test by nationalist trolls, forget the first rule.

While China continues to respond to the catastrophic flooding that has killed 99 and displaced 1.4 million people in the central province of Henan, a large group of trolls was busy doing something else: harassing ordinary sportswear sellers on China's livestream ecommerce platforms. Why? Because they determined that the brands being sold had donated too little, or too late, to the people impacted by floods.

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Zeyi Yang
Zeyi Yang is a reporter with Protocol | China. Previously, he worked as a reporting fellow for the digital magazine Rest of World, covering the intersection of technology and culture in China and neighboring countries. He has also contributed to the South China Morning Post, Nikkei Asia, Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. In his spare time, Zeyi co-founded a Mandarin podcast that tells LGBTQ stories in China. He has been playing Pokemon for 14 years and has a weird favorite pick.
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