Future of TV Media Planning and Buying Amazon

How saving Aussie soap Neighbours fits into streamer Freevee’s marketing strategy


By Hannah Bowler | Senior Reporter

January 6, 2023 | 7 min read

We catch up with the UK head of Amazon Prime Video’s younger (and free) sibling to hear how it plans to stand out in a cluttered streaming marketplace.

Amazon's free ad supported streamer FreeVee

Amazon’s free ad-supported streamer FreeVee

Freevee is looking to capitalize on the soaring demand for advertiser-funded streaming, but first it needs its new brand to impact with audiences.

Amazon launched Freevee in the UK in September 2021 under its previous name of IMDb TV. Its programming spans all genres and is a mix of acquired content and original productions, housing shows such as Judy Justice, comedy series Mike and Molly and box office films including A Street Cat Named Bob and Sex Tape.

The service was still relatively unknown in the UK until it resurrected Australian soap Neighbours, which has been canceled after nearly 40 years on the air.

Freevee’s UK head Lisa Rousseau tells The Drum the streamer wants to be seen as a “modern-day broadcast network that has a large supply of broad appeal content“. Amazon’s ambition for it, she says, is to “build a customer-centric premium ad-supported video service, free and convenient for millions of customers”.

In May 2022, IMDb TV was rebranded to Freevee and with it came a major education project, says Rousseau. In an incredibly competitive marketplace with a multitude of services all putting out different messages, Rousseau’s team had a big job to do.

For Freevee, Rousseau explains the messaging was around being “a joyful brand that leans into being free to watch lots of content, free to create different content and free from the constraints from linear schedules”. The Freevee name, she says, captures very quickly that it’s a free video proposition – ’free’ TV.

Rousseau’s team started 2022 with a major full-funnel campaign in cinema, BVOD and out-of-home. The second half of the year was then focused on social and digital marketing, with Rousseau saying that working with influencers was a really easy way to help audiences find Freevee.

One of the things the UK team understood was that, as a new service for UK consumers, the brand messaging has to be repeated over and over to be reinforced. This means running ”always-on” marketing, Rousseau explains. ”We will continue to build awareness in many different ways, launching on new devices and have always-on engagement with customers.”

This year, Freevee UK will drop new episodes of the resurrected soap to stream every day, as well as have back catalog episodes available on the dedicated Neighbours CTV channel. “As Neighbours comes around, that will enable us to build the momentum and education about Freevee,” says Rousseau.

The soap’s savior comes in the shape of Shahina O’Mahoney, the brand’s head of licensed content, who adds: “If the outcome is that more people know about Amazon Freevee and how great the service is, then that is a bonus.”

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What do advertisers need to know about Freevee?

Amazon’s intention with Freevee is to reach a broad audience – an audience that appeals to advertisers.

The focus right now is on mid-roll advertising, but the intention over time is to introduce new ad products like sponsorships or shoppable. ”The proposition for advertisers will continue to evolve,” says Rousseau.

O’Mahoney describes Freevee’s content as “lean back TV you can dip in and out of,” where audiences can be “fed content like they are used on traditional TV”.

Amazon first conceived an ad-supported streamer after noticing high levels of searches for free content on Prime Video. The two services, O’Mahoney explains, have been designed to ”complement” each other and have limited overlapping content. Simply put, Freevee gives Amazon’s video streaming offering more content.

Freevee Fast channels

Free ad-supported streaming TV (Fast) has boomed in the US, where it is worth $4bn in ad revenue, but it’s just building momentum in Europe. ”It’s pretty new in the UK compared with the US where it is much more established,” Rousseau adds. Freevee has plans to majorly scale its UK Fast channel offering and last month alone it added a suite of new channels such as Deal or No Deal and Hell’s Kitchen.

The UK has a little way to go to normalize Fast viewing habits, but Freevee is one of the primary services that could do that job, along with ITVX, Samsung TV Plus and Roku.

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