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Amazon hires Disney executive to oversee Prime Video ads

Jeremy Helfand. (Courtesy image)
Jeremy Helfand. (Courtesy image)

Amazon has poached a top executive from the Walt Disney Company to oversee its advertising initiatives within Prime Video.

Jeremy Helfand was in charge of similar advertising initiatives at Hulu, and later across Disney’s streaming products, including Disney Plus. One of his top innovations was the development of pause screen advertising that appeared on-screen whenever a customer paused their in-progress film or TV show.

“It’s time for the next chapter, and I’m thrilled to share that I’ve joined Amazon to lead Prime Video Advertising,” Helfand wrote in a statement on his LinkedIn profile, where his hiring was first announced. “I’ll be working with a talented team of customer-obsessed business builders to create something special, starting with our upcoming launch!”

Late last month, Amazon began notifying customers of its intention to incorporate short advertising breaks during Prime Video content, a move that the company says will help it make more financial investments in original television series and movies.

Amazon already includes advertising breaks during some live events, including National Football League games streamed on Thursday nights and content imported into Prime Video from its ad-supported service, Freevee.

Streaming services purchased by customers through Amazon’s marketplace Prime Video Channels won’t experience advertising when they stream content from services like Max, Paramount Plus and AMC Plus, unless they opt for the ad-inclusive versions of those services.

Additionally, customers will have the option to remove ads from Prime Video content by paying an extra $3 per month or $36 per month, which will be charged in addition to their Prime membership (most customers pay $15 per month or $150 per year for Prime). Live events and Freevee content will still include ads, even if customers pay to remove them from Prime Video shows and movies.

Amazon is the latest video provider to launch an ad-based tier as media companies seek additional sources of revenue beyond subscription payments. Netflix, the Walt Disney Company and AMC Networks have all launched ad-supported tiers on their flagship streaming products within the past two years, joining peers like Paramount Global, Comcast’s NBC Universal and Warner Bros Discovery with ad-lite products.

In most cases, customers have the option to upgrade their service plan in order to remove commercial interruptions from on-demand movies and TV shows. The cost of upgrading to ad-free streaming has steadily increased over the past few years: Netflix charges $15.50 per month for the privilege of streaming its content without commercials, and Disney’s triple bundle — which includes Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus — costs $25 per month to stream content without advertising.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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