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How Bad Are The Ads On Amazon Prime Video? We Took A Closer Look

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Amazon recently introduced ads to Prime Video so we decided to take a closer look to see just how bad the ads are. To cut to the chase, our testing found Prime Video to offer a very light ad load overall. So much so that we would not recommend upgrading to the ad-free plan just yet.

As a reminder, all existing Amazon Prime members and standalone Prime Video subscribers, as well as those signing up for the first time, now get access to the ad-supported plan. Instead of choosing between an ad-supported and ad-free tier, Amazon also now offers the option to upgrade an existing subscription to ad-free for an additional $2.99 a month.

Ads are not included in every title

One thing that’s worth making clear straight away is that ads are not currently shown on every title, and it’s too early to tell if this is intentional or part of the rollout. It was also unclear as to whether there was any logic in terms of which titles included ads and which didn’t.

The exception here is movies, as it was very difficult to find any movie that did contain ads. Of the six times we did encounter an ad when watching a movie, the ad was a pre-roll advertisement. Other than one ad lasting 32 seconds, all other movie pre-roll ads lasted 16 seconds. Following the pre-roll ads, and like every other movie we tested, the film was available to watch completely without ads.

When it comes to shows, ad breaks were a lot more prominent. Even then, however, not all shows contain ads, and shows that did include advertisements didn’t always show an before or during every episode.

Our testing indicates a very light ad load … so far

Here’s a closer look at the frequency and duration of ads we encountered when watching a variety of videos on Prime Video.

DurationPre-roll1st ad2nd ad
20 mins30 secs (1 ad)15 secs (1 ad)N/A
22 mins30 secs (1 ad)30 secs (1 ad)N/A
24 minsN/A16 secs (1 ad)N/A
28 mins16 secs (1 ad)32 secs (1 ad)N/A
36 mins16 secs (1 ad)32 secs (1 ad)N/A
40 mins31 secs (1 ad)16 secs (1 ad)30 secs (1 ad)
41 mins32 secs (1 ad)15 secs (1 ad)32 secs (1 ad)
44 minsN/A30 secs (1 ad)16 secs (1 ad)
44 mins32 secs (1 ad)15 secs (1 ad)15 secs (1 ad)
45 mins8 secs (1 ad)16 secs (1 ad)16 secs (1 ad)
46 mins16 secs (1 ad)16 secs (1 ad)16 secs (1 ad)
51 mins15 secs (1 ad)30 secs (1 ad)30 secs (1 ad)
58 minsN/A15 secs (1 ad)15 secs (1 ad)
61 mins16 secs (1 ad)30 secs (1 ad)32 secs (1 ad)
64 mins32 secs (1 ad)16 secs (1 ad)15 secs (1 ad)

You may have noticed that all of the videos we’ve highlighted in the table above were an hour or less in duration. This is due to longer videos, like movies, typically not including any ads. As mentioned in the previous section, it was unclear if this was intentional, or a result of the ads having not made their way to movies yet.

Overall, our testing indicated that Amazon has adopted a very light ad load so far, and especially compared to other streaming services. While we would expect the ad load to increase in time, we can say that we never encountered more than two ads during a video. This doesn’t include pre-roll ads (advertisements shown before the start of a video), so the very maximum number of ads we encountered when watching a video from start to finish was three.

In addition to the light frequency of ads, the duration of ad breaks was also very light. We never encountered an ad break that was 45 seconds or longer and, in most cases, ad breaks were less than 20 seconds. Most ad breaks also only included one ad, with two advertisements the maximum we encountered during any single ad break.

In terms of the ad experience, Amazon does show the timing of any ad breaks in the timeline, so it is possible to see how many ads are going to be shown, and when, after starting a video.

Prime Video Ad break timeline
Prime Video ad breaks in timeline

Also, each ad break lists the total duration and the total number of ads due to be shown during the break.

Prime Video Ad break time remaining
Prime Video ad including countdown

Should you upgrade to ad free?

No. Based on our initial testing, we would not recommend upgrading to Amazon’s ad-free Prime Video experience. While upgrading will remove the ads, we found the overall ad load to be extremely light and not problematic enough to consider paying more to remove them.

With that said, this is still a change that appears to be in the process of rolling out. Due to this, it is possible that Amazon may increase the frequency and/or the duration of ads in the near future. If we find that to be the case, we will update this guide accordingly.

John Finn
John Finn

By John Finn

John Finn is the Founder and Editor of Streaming Better, a platform created in 2019 to help consumers navigate the complicated live TV streaming and subscription service market.

John has been covering technology for various online publications since 2014. After originally covering the wider tech industry as a writer and editor, John now spends his time focusing on the emerging video-streaming market, including live TV streaming, SVOD, AVOD, FAST, and TVOD services.

In a bid to keep up to date on the industry, John actively subscribes to multiple streaming services at the same time. However, John continues to advocate that the best approach for consumers is to rotate between streaming services as needed.

A Psychology graduate from England, who now lives in the US, John previously worked in the aviation industry as an airline reviewer. While reviewing airlines isn't quite the same as reviewing devices and streaming services, John brings the same analytical eye to all of his reviews and industry analysis, along with a special emphasis on what's best for the consumer.

Connect with John
X: @J_Finns

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