Amazon Prime Video’s new ads are such a disaster I might cancel

Amazon Prime Video logo on a phone being held by someone
(Image credit: Kicking Studio/Shutterstock)

Last weekend Amazon Prime Video managed to do something that I thought was impossible; the streaming service made watching “The Notebook” even more tedious. 

During a recent movie night, I was forced to rewatch the 2004 romantic drama starring a young Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. If having to sit through the whole vapid two hours of this ponderous and melodramatic movie wasn’t painful enough, thanks to a new ads rollout that puts advertisements on all Prime content (unless you pay an extra $2.99 a month), I was also forced to also endure periodic sales pitches for products that are conveniently all sold on Amazon...

Of course, nobody likes ads (unless they’re during the Super Bowl), but I've watched my fair share of ad-supported content and can tolerate a few commercial breaks. My objection to Amazon’s new strategy of putting ads on all Prime Video content isn’t solely because ads suck, it’s also because the service handles advertisements in just about the worse way possible.

Prime Video ads are super intrusive 

As noted, I’m not unfamiliar with ad-supported content, and I’ve watch enough movies on traditional TV networks in my youth to be able to handle watching a flick punctuated by ad breaks. It never makes for the ideal experience, but I’ll at least give most networks credit for taking the time to insert ads in relatively harmless places. 

Prime Video is totally fine with inserting ads in the most chaotic way possible. I’m talking ads in the middle of dialogue, or at the height of a dramatic moment.

Typically, when watching a movie on a TV network, somebody has been assigned to find places where ads can inserted that have the smallest possible impact on the flow of the movie. That usually means that ads happen in between scenes, and are less frequent towards the end of a flick where the pacing usually ramps up and the pivotal moments are happening. 

I guess Amazon never got that memo because, in my experience, Prime Video is totally fine with inserting ads in the most chaotic way possible. I’m talking ads in the middle of dialogue, or at the height of a dramatic moment. The first time an ad popped up, I initially thought somebody had accidentally sat on the remote such was the abrupt switch from the 40s American South of "The Notebook" to a flashy sales pitch for the latest Samsung Galaxy phone. 

“The Notebook” already has pacing problems — it has no business being two hours long — but with advertisements breaking up the flow, it was an even more monotonous experience. Mercifully there were only a few ads in the whole movie, but it was enough to have me wondering if it wasn’t time to pack in my Prime Video subscription and stick to Netflix instead.  

Why am I paying for Prime Video?  

When picking a membership tier for a streaming service I will always opt for the ad-free option. I’m not against paying a little bit extra to avoid advertisements, but the way that Amazon has handled this ad rollout just doesn’t sit very well with me. 

Rather than take the same strategy as the majority of its streaming rivals, including Netflix and Disney Plus, and launching a cheaper ad-supported tier, Prime Video is instead punishing its pre-existing subscribers with a stealth price hike dressed up as an optional charge. That’s a pretty poor way to make a customer feel valued. 

I’m okay sitting through ads in a movie (so long as they’re strategically placed), but only if I’m able to stream the content for free. In that situation, I’m paying for the movie by watching the ads. It’s a fair deal. With Prime Video’s new ad rollout, I’m being asked to cough up a premium subscription fee and still being forced to watch ads. That’s not what I signed up for, and the cancel button is looking pretty tempting. 

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team. 

  • barrem01
    "Prime Video is instead punishing its pre-existing subscribers with a stealth price hike dressed up as an optional charge."

    That's not what it looks like to me. I signed up for ad-free Prime for a year last October. To me it looks like false advertising.

    At one time I had Prime, Max, Netflix, Hulu, Disney, ESPN, and BritBox at the same time. I've switched from being an "Everything Everywhere All at Once" kind of customer to a pick and switcher. I thought I'd probably never dump Prime because of the other benefits, but comercials takes it off that pedestal.
  • Bettencourt
    Smack talking one of the most popular romantic movies ever made i don't agree.
    but slipping ads to a service people pay for ads free content is definitely going to shoo a % of the customer base.

    Personally i think ads are an intrusion of privacy and should never exist without permission.
    you cant flash naked on a highway because it may cause crashes, but you can have large bright distracting ads confuse the crap outta me.

    im ad free for over 15 years. if i like the service ill gladly pay to remove the ads.
    but i will never pay for a service with ads. ever. i don't care, im not interested, i feel like its forced propaganda.
    whatever i want and need i look for it, and i find it myself. i don't need random spaghetti thrown at the wall garbage coming my way wasting my time.

    there were zero cases i bought anything ever because of an ad. zero.

    maybe im different. maybe im just a fluke. but this is my reality.
  • rcamedia
    Amazon ad inserts are as bad as Paramount+. Ad inserts interrupt story continuity and return the viewer to the program at a different time in the story line. Learn from over the air TV networks how to handle then maybe. Meanwhile have shifted my viewing to no ad options with no interest going back to Prime or Paramount+.
  • ljredux
    I unsubscribed three months ago (December 2023), directly in response to the news that ads were going to be rolled out (October-ish 2023). I just had to wait a couple of months for my subscription to expire.

    I must have been a Prime Subscriber for about 14 years, so I thought leaving would be painful... but the opposite has turned out to be true. Bricks and mortar stores have changed a lot since I first subscribed to Prime. Most have got their act together and their click and collect services are more convenient for me than Amazon's deliveries. For everything from greetings cards, hay fever tablets and dry eye drops to clothing and electronics, local stores are undercutting or equalling Amazon's prices and I've got a feeling a lot of people (like me a couple of months ago) don't even realise it.

    To be honest, even if Amazon does a u-turn (doubtful) and drops the ads, I don't think it will be enough to make me return. I was always disappointed with the video quality, the poor content organisation, the additional subscriptions required to watch some content, and a UI which seems designed to trick users into accidentally purchase stuff. Then they began making it harder for those of us who have no interest in buying stuff from third party sellers to filter out their stuff.

    Good riddance, honestly. I feel like a fool for not unsubscribing years ago.