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Amazon reveals plans for live streaming Thursday Night NFL

Amazon will begin live streaming Thursday night NFL games tonight. The coverage will offer unique features not seen before for this type of coverage.

Amazon may make a free, ad-supported streaming service for Fire TVs

It could offer old shows and movies for free, similar to The Roku Channel.

Twitch is going to start forcing to all Twitch Prime members to watch ads

One of the most popular features of Twitch’s Amazon-esque Prime benefits program is going away in a little less than a month.

Twitch Prime members, say goodbye to ad-free viewing. The company announced in a blog post today it’s nixing that feature for new subscribers starting Sept. 14, while it’ll be another month before it goes away for users on annual subscriptions.

If you really love an ad-free Twitch, the company wants to move you over to a different tier, Twitch Turbo, that you’ll need to sign up for.

“Advertising is an important source of support for the creators who make Twitch possible,” the company explains in the post walking through details of the update. “This change will strengthen and expand that advertising opportunity for creators so they can get more support from their viewers for doing what they love. We want Twitch to remain a place where anyone can enjoy one-of-a-kind interactive entertainment, and ads allow us to continue making Twitch the best place for creators to build communities around the things they love and make money doing it.”

Twitch Turbo subscriptions, for $8.99, will allow viewers to keep getting an ad-free experience across all channels. Twitch Prime subscribers can also still get channel-specific ad-free viewing, according to the company, as part of Prime memberships by using a monthly subscription token on a channel that has ad-free viewing for subscribers turned on.

All other Twitch Prime benefits, like monthly channel subs, monthly games and loot and chat badges are staying the same.

Here’s the thing, though. This announcement, coupled with a separate announcement that Amazon is ending a 20 percent Prime discount on video game preorders, has some people seeing red. (Amazon, of course, also owns Twitch.) This Twitch streamer, for example, tweeted that the combined announcements are, in a word, “awful.”

Amazon announced today its 20 percent game preorder discount will last through Aug. 28. Prime members, The Verge notes, will get store credit as an incentive to pre-order video games through Amazon, “marking a major change to one of the membership’s best benefits.”

Video games are nice, but Amazon badly wants Twitch to be the next YouTube

This could get interesting. Twitch has reportedly been approaching big stars like Will Smith about streaming live, and it’s likewise been quietly making overtures to a variety of top YouTube talent. Twitch CEO Emmett Shear in a recent staff meeting said he wants to hit $1 billion in ad sales, which would double the current sales figure. And the company is talking to creators like Rafi Fine, who with his brother runs high-profile YouTube channels through their Fine Brothers Entertainment, about making original shows for Twitch.

All of that, because Amazon-owned Twitch badly wants to go way beyond video game livestreams, which the service is currently known for. Because the service is gearing up to make a run directly at YouTube — indeed, to be the next large video service aimed at a mass audience.

Since it’s Amazon that owns the deep pockets behind this, this is not an insignificant threat looming in YouTube’s shadow. We reported just Monday, in fact, that YouTube is trying to keep creators happy by flat-out paying some of them, while trying to make its community of creators as a whole more aware of YouTube’s new monetization tools.

Now comes a Bloomberg report today noting that Amazon and Twitch are aggressively signing up livestreaming deals with “dozens” of big media figures and companies currently on YouTube. Some of those deals, said to be worth a few million dollars a year, have already successfully closed.

“Twitch is offering minimum guarantees of as much as a few million dollars a year, as well as a share of future advertising sales and subscription revenue, according to several people who’ve been contacted by Twitch,” Bloomberg reports. “The company has approached everyone from lifestyle influencer Gigi Gorgeous to actor Will Smith about streaming live. While some talent has resisted a few of Amazon’s terms, such as a minimum number of hours of livestreaming per week, a few deals have closed.”

The piece goes on to remind readers of how far the service has come from when Amazon paid almost $1 billion for it in 2014, at a time when Twitch didn’t let users post videos that weren’t related to gaming. The company in 2015 then introduced Twitch Creative, geared toward livestreams from non-gamers like artists, and it’s also broadcast everything from live sports to old Saturday Night Live episodes.

YouTube, to be sure, has also brought some of this on itself. Proving once again the wisdom of that old saying about how money talks and the other stuff walks, many creators have been looking for a new place to take their work after YouTube in May tested out a non-chronological video order in subscriber feeds and moved to aggressively de-monetize videos with problematic content.

Twitch Plans to ‘Aggressively Broaden’ its Content and Expand Beyond Gaming as it Battles YouTube

Twitch, the platform known as a place to watch streamers play games like League of Legends, Fortnite, and Overwatch, is now looking into becoming a “broader video service” that would cater to lifestyle vloggers from rival company YouTube.

According …