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Amazon hunts executive to lead its ad-funded free-to-air TV business in Europe

July 4, 2018 | 4 min read

Following months of speculation, Amazon has posted a job ad seeking a UK-based executive to lead an ad-funded free-to-air TV offering in a move that would appear to unify its burgeoning paid-for media and content rights efforts.

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The job ad requests that potential candidates apply for a “Head of Free To Air TV & Advertising” role and specifically requests a “senior leader” with extensive experience to join its London-based European Channels & Sports team.

The role will entail widening Amazon’s content range, and specifically the development of Prime Video’s free and advertising-funded channels, by working with major European broadcasters, as well as act as an “internal champion” for the model internally.

In addition, it requests that the successful applicant will “work with major broadcasters across Europe, translating their requirements into Amazon capabilities and execution for customers.”

It goes on to stipulate that the candidate will have to develop a “test and learn approach to continually impress the offering for customers.”

Reports of Amazon working on a sustained rollout of such a model date back to November of last year, with AdAge quoting sources close to the negotiations claiming that the e-commerce giant is talking with TV networks, movie studios and other media companies about providing programming to the service

At the time of the 2017 reports, Amazon declined to comment on the nature of its negotiations and was unable to respond to requests for comment on the latest developments from The Drum by the time of publication.

However, Amazon is well documented as having gone about quietly building a media empire of its own in recent years with the company disclosing that its advertising business generated $2bn in revenues during the three months to March 31 this year.

Amazon’s growing presence in the digital advertising market has seen it hotly tipped by leading names in the advertising business with WPP founder and S4 Capital chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell earlier stating that it had the ability to “strangle” Google which currently dominates the digital media sector.

More recently, it went on to make its much-anticipated move into live sports by snapping up one of two final Premier League rights packages making it the first streaming-only platform to show Premier League.

This added to Amazon's live sports offering which also includes the exclusive UK rights to the US Open Tennis, in addition to three of the four grand slams via a deal with Eurosport. It also has a hold on the ATP World Tour rights, as well as $130m worth of NFL streaming rights.

Speaking with The Drum, Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal Research, said he didn’t think that Amazon would offer 100% of its programming on a purely ad-funded model in the near future, pointing out that it had earlier experimented with the model as far back as 2014.

“There will likely be select programming where things like pre-roll ads will make sense,” he added.

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