Amazon is planning to add a free, live news app to its Fire TV platform, and is in talks with several news outlets that could provide the content, according to The Information. With a launch date expected in the coming months, the app would give Amazon a much-needed way to compete with the news channels that Roku added to its ad-supported Roku Channel in 2018, featuring content from ABC News.
Exactly which media outlets will be part of Amazon’s news strategy is still unknown, as is whether or not Amazon will generate revenue from the content via advertising. The timing of this free app, if correct, is intriguing as it would likely coincide with the launch of Apple’s redesigned TV app, which will not only be available on its existing iOS devices and Apple TV set-top streamers, but also on Roku devices, and smart TVs from companies like Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio.
Apple’s move to expand when and where you can view its TV experience mirrors Roku’s decision with its Roku Channel, which is now built into the free Roku app, and thus available to almost anyone, regardless of whether they own a Roku device or not. Of course, for the moment, Apple’s experience lacks any free or ad-supported options, but that will likely change as it gradually evolves the TV app over the coming months and years. If Amazon is working on a free news experience, it’s very likely that it won’t be confined to the company’s streaming devices for long.
Ad-supported streaming content, both live and on-demand, is accelerating thanks to the increasing trend toward cutting the cord. Customers who abandon their cable or satellite companies don’t really want to go cold-turkey on watching TV, they simply don’t want to pay as much for the pleasure. New services like PlutoTV are starting to fill that gap, as they provide people with on-demand and live content that they can’t get from broadcast channels alone.
Free options like the Roku Channel and Amazon’s reported news channel for Fire TV are a part of this new mix of TV content, which may one day completely supplant the cable TV model.