The debut Amazon Upfront maps out the future of ad-supported streaming

May 14, 2024

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Joined by top talent, Amazon made its upfronts debut on May 14 in New York City, where it highlighted the ways it’s transforming advertising for customers. Amid appearances from the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Will Ferrell (You’re Cordially Invited), Jake Gyllenhaal (Road House), NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr., and a performance by 16-time Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter and musician Alicia Keys, Amazon gave the audience a tour of its expansive entertainment portfolio. Across movies, shows, sports, and more, Amazon highlighted the scale of its premium content offerings anchored by Prime Video, which has an average monthly ad-supported reach of 200 million global customers, 115 million of whom are in the U.S. 1

“Today is all about bringing together the vast reach of Prime Video, with ad tech that leverages Amazon’s billions of customer signals,” said Paul Kotas, senior vice president of Amazon Ads, in his Upfront opening statement. “It’s about delivering relevant advertising in Prime Video to over 200 million customers. It’s about directly measuring outcomes from the very top of the funnel to the very bottom—for all brands, and not just those in our stores.”

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Paul Kotas, senior vice president of Amazon Ads, welcomes advertisers to the debut Amazon Upfront.

Throughout the presentation, Amazon leaders and some of the biggest stars in show business displayed an inspiring streaming experience where scale, insights, ad tech, and top-notch storytelling converge to connect brands to customers through culture, community, conversation, and more.

Here are the five biggest takeaways from Amazon’s first-ever upfronts presentation:

Prime Video offers reach and scale across an entertainment experience that customers love

With hit shows and movies ranging from The Idea of You, The Summer I Turned Pretty, Reacher, Fallout, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and more, Prime Video has established itself as a premier entertainment destination with an ad-supported reach of 115 million in the U.S. Prime Video offers hit movies, great series, award-winning Amazon Originals, and the best in live sports, all in a single destination, available through one application across thousands of devices.

“No other streaming service can reach the number of customers with premium entertainment that we can. And our audience is not just a number on a page,” said Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon MGM Studios. “We know them. And we want to help you get to know them, too. They're highly engaged viewers who are passionate about the deep and broad selection of programming we deliver, including live sports, series, and films.”

Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon MGM Studios, speaks at the Amazon Upfront.

As Hopkins explained, Amazon will continue to invest in premium programming, which will help provide advertisers the opportunity to deepen their relationships with viewers. Along with the original series and films from Amazon MGM Studios that audiences love, Prime Video offers sought-after licensed series and movies across every genre, more than 500 free ad-supported channels, live events like the Academy of Country Music Awards, and, of course, an ever-expanding offering of live sports.

Reese Witherspoon and Will Ferrell unveiled the teaser trailer and first look at their upcoming Prime Video comedy.

Amazon MGM Studios reveals a stunning lineup of forthcoming content for Prime Video

Stars from Amazon MGM Studios, Prime Video Sports, Amazon Music, and Wondery appeared on stage including Christopher Briney, Gavin Casalegno, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Will Ferrell, Roger Federer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tony Gonzalez, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jenny Han, Aldis Hodge, Alicia Keys, Patton Oswalt, Keke Palmer, Alan Ritchson, Octavia Spencer, Charissa Thompson, Lola Tung, Hannah Waddingham, and Reese Witherspoon.

“Welcome to the next hundred years of Amazon MGM Studios,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon MGM Studios. “Only Amazon has the ability to dive into IP and spark new obsessions across books, podcasts, music, fashion, and games. No other studio offers creators so many ways to engage with an audience. And this has made Amazon MGM Studios the home for talent.”

Amazon revealed details on upcoming Original series and films:

  • Elle: Prime Video has ordered the Legally Blonde prequel series Elle from Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. Creator Laura Kittrell (High School, Insecure) is set as showrunner, with Reese Witherspoon, Lauren Neustadter, Lauren Kisilevsky, and Marc Platt serving as executive producers.
  • Untitled Road House sequel: Amazon MGM Studios confirmed that a second Road House is in the works with Jake Gyllenhaal reprising his role as Dalton. Plot details are being kept under wraps for the sequel. The studio also announced that Road House has attracted nearly 80 million worldwide viewers to date.
  • Noir: MGM+ and Prime Video have ordered Noir, a live-action series based on the Marvel comic Spider-Man Noir. Academy Award–winning actor Nicolas Cage is set to star in the series. Emmy Award–winning director Harry Bradbeer is set to direct and executive produce the first two episodes. Oren Uziel and Steve Lightfoot will serve as co-showrunners and executive producers. Uziel and Lightfoot developed the series with Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Amy Pascal, the Academy Award–winning team behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse who will also serve as executive producers.
  • Tomb Raider: Prime Video has ordered a Tomb Raider series with Phoebe Waller-Bridge set as writer and executive producer. The series is based on the iconic Tomb Raider video game franchise, which follows the adventures of world-famous archaeologist and adventurer Lara Croft. The project comes as part of a deal between Crystal Dynamics and Amazon MGM Studios, originating through dj2’s first-look deal with the studio, to develop additional Tomb Raider stories into series and films. Tomb Raider will premiere exclusively on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith: The critically acclaimed television series Mr. & Mrs. Smith has been renewed for a second season. From co-creators and executive producers Donald Glover and Francesca Sloane, the series, a reimagining of the 2005 film.
  • Cross: Cross has been renewed for a second season. From Paramount Television Studios and Skydance Television, Cross is a complex, twisted, pulse-pounding thriller created by Ben Watkins, based upon the characters from James Patterson’s best-selling Alex Cross book series. Joining the Season 2 cast are Wes Chatham, Matthew Lillard, and Jeanine Mason. The first season of Cross will premiere later this year exclusively on Prime Video.
  • The Boys: The Emmy-winning hit drama series The Boys has been ordered for a fifth season. The Boys will premiere its diabolical fourth season on June 13, 2024, with three episodes, followed by a new episode each week, ending with the epic season finale on Thursday, July 18.
  • Pop Culture Jeopardy!: Prime Video has ordered Pop Culture Jeopardy! from Sony Pictures Television. This collaboration marks the first time that the SPT Game Show Division will expand the Jeopardy! franchise into streaming, creating a new extension series exclusively for Prime Video’s global audience.
  • Wish List Games; Buy It Now; Are You Smarter Than a Celebrity?: Prime Video announced it has new unscripted series Buy It Now hosted by JB Smoove on the way, joining the holiday event Wish List Games hosted by Nick Cannon. Prime Video also revealed the celebrity classmates set to appear on Are You Smarter Than a Celebrity? hosted by three-time Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce.
  • The 1% Club: Trailer and key art for The 1% Club, hosted by award-winning comedian and actor Patton Oswalt (The Goldbergs, A.P. Bio, Ratatouille), were revealed. The show will test the nation’s intelligence through a series of questions backed by scientific surveys. New episodes of The 1% Club will be available Mondays at 9/8C on FOX beginning June 3 and next day on Prime Video. Trailer available here.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Attendees were transported back to Middle-earth with a first look at the upcoming second season of the hit series. The series’ first season was an unprecedented global success and one of the top original series for Prime Video, viewed by more than 100 million people worldwide, and driving more Prime sign-ups worldwide during its launch window than any other previous content to date. Teaser available here.
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty: Season 3 of the generation-defining phenomenon from writer, creator, and showrunner Jenny Han will debut in summer 2025 and be supersized at 11 episodes.
  • You’re Cordially Invited: Reese Witherspoon and Will Ferrell unveiled the teaser trailer and first look at their upcoming Prime Video comedy. Teaser available here.

Amazon expands its investment in game-changing live sports experiences for brands and fans

With appearances by tennis great Roger Federer, NASCAR legend and newest Prime Video analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Thursday Night Football’s Charissa Thompson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Tony Gonzalez, Prime Video outlined its continued investment in live sports.

Over the past two seasons, as the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football, Prime Video has delivered award-winning coverage with game-changing, AI-driven innovations to weekly audiences that scale in excess of 10 million viewers. Jay Marine, Prime Video’s VP and global head of sports, took the stage to talk about the success of TNF, whose viewers average seven years younger and watch more of the games than linear NFL audiences. In addition, last season’s viewership grew by 24% over the previous year. In 2023, Prime Video launched a new holiday tradition on the national sports calendar with the first-ever NFL Black Friday Football game. Prime Video will also cap its season by presenting its first-ever NFL playoff game, with an exclusive Wild Card matchup in January. This year, the third season of TNF on Prime Video will kick off with the Miami Dolphins hosting the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 12.

“Here at Amazon, we combine the huge reach and passionate fan base that you get with live sports, with the intelligence of customer insights and ad innovations—in a way that no linear broadcaster can,” Marine said.

Building on the success of TNF, Prime Video continues to grow its portfolio of compelling sports offerings to drive even more appointment viewing among mass audiences. This expansion includes an investment in women’s sports, including the WNBA and the National Women’s Soccer League.

“We are so proud that we’ll be the home of Caitlin Clark’s first WNBA home game this Thursday, exclusively on Prime Video,” Marine said.

Additionally, in 2025, Prime Video will also become the exclusive home of five NASCAR Cup Series races, and Earnhardt joined the presentation to celebrate his recent appointment as an analyst when Prime Video launches its live race coverage next May.

The lineup of sports entertainment on Prime Video also includes compelling stories from behind the game with sports documentaries and docuseries, like an upcoming feature-length documentary about Federer and a four-part docuseries on Dale Earnhardt Sr. Both Federer and Earnhardt made onstage appearances at the presentation to tease their upcoming projects.

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Alan Moss, VP Global Advertising Sales, at the Amazon Upfront.

Amazon Ads has tools that streamline the ways brands connect content to customers

To connect the dots between this robust universe of premium content and audiences, Amazon Ads has the scale, insights, and ad tech to deliver results for brands. Prime Video’s average unique audience compared to other streaming services is 47% 2 and it drives 56% incremental lift among adults 18 to 49 compared to linear TV. 3

“Prime Video is reaching viewers that aren’t being reached by other streaming services and linear TV,” said Tanner Elton, vice president of U.S. ad sales at Amazon Ads.

Even brands that don’t sell products or services on Amazon can connect to customers through this premium world of content. Amazon Marketing Cloud is the Amazon Ads clean room solution that enables advertisers to measure and optimize spend regardless of where the customer conversion takes place, as if they were selling a product in the Amazon store. Amazon Ads leverages first-party signals, alongside the advertiser’s own, to deliver ads across their entire media campaign.

“It doesn’t matter whether you sell on Amazon or not,” said Alan Moss, vice president of global ad sales at Amazon Ads. “With our clean rooms and other leading ad tech, we can help all advertisers connect awareness and brand objectives directly to sales outcomes and category growth.”

Ahead of the upfronts presentation, Amazon Ads unveiled an expanded suite of new interactive and shoppable ad formats for Prime Video with remote-enabled capabilities for living-room devices. These new formats for advertisers include: shoppable carousel ads, which make it easy for customers to browse and shop multiple related products on Amazon during ad breaks on Prime Video; interactive pause ads, which enable customers to discover and engage with brands when they decide to pause the show or movie they’re streaming; interactive brand trivia ads, which help advertisers elevate their storytelling by entertaining customers with factoids about their brand while giving them the opportunity to shop on Amazon, learn more about services and products, and even unlock rewards.

Tanner Elton, vice president of U.S. ad sales at Amazon Ads, and Sarah Iooss, director of U.S. agency development and Twitch at Amazon Ads, speak at the Amazon Upfront.

Twitch, Amazon Music, Fire TV, and Wondery build on the expansive Amazon entertainment universe

Beyond the shows, movies, and sports, the Amazon entertainment universe expands to music, gaming, devices, and podcasts.

“Our customer reach extends beyond Prime Video. If you look across our entire streaming TV offering, the Amazon Ads Streaming TV offering has an average monthly reach of more than 175 million customers,” said Sarah Iooss, director of U.S. agency development and Twitch at Amazon Ads. 4

On Twitch, where streamers build communities around their shared passions, Amazon is currently creating The Glitch, a galaxy of brand-customized, playable worlds, distributed in Fortnite, and built specifically for gaming communities on Twitch.

During her opening performance, Alicia Keys performed a stunning set presented by Amazon Music, and spoke to the audience about the various ways Amazon has brought her music catalog to global audiences through exclusive content, and the lifestyle beauty brand she founded, Keys Soulcare, and its offering for Amazon customers. Amazon Music has announced Amazon Music Live, its concert series after Thursday Night Football on Prime Video, will return for its third season this fall. The livestream event has become a massive stage for artists to share culture-defining new music after the game. Fans are increasingly coming to Prime Video and Twitch to watch Amazon Music Live. Viewership was up by 313% compared to its first season, with the first three episodes exceeding the total viewership numbers for Season 1. Amazon Music will also continue livestreaming some of the biggest global music festivals, such as Primavera Sound and Stagecoach, and City Sessions, an exclusive series showcasing intimate and stripped-back performances from artists.

Emmy-winning and multihyphenate artist Keke Palmer took the stage during the upfronts presentation to showcase her Wondery podcast, Baby, This Is Keke Palmer. With over 55 global No. 1 shows and shelves of awards, Wondery is home to stories destined to top podcast charts and win the hearts of listeners around the globe. Last week, Wondery announced that actor/comedian Nick Cannon and Courtney Bee will host the second season of the hit podcast, We Playin’ Spades, and that social media sensation Annie Agar will be joining the network with a new sports podcast titled The Offensive Line. Wondery has sold projects to networks, studios, and streamers (like Dr. Death, WeCrashed, and Joe vs. Carol), and builds robust, 360-degree franchises that foster fan communities with books, board games, merch, and more. With Amazon Ads, Wondery can bridge the gap between podcasts, digital video, and streaming TV to deliver audio and visual advertising opportunities.

Customers in the U.S. can now shop alongside their favorite creators, brands, and celebrities like Lala Kent, Kandi Burruss, and Paige DeSorbo on Amazon Live’s new interactive, shoppable, and free ad-supported TV (FAST) Channel on Prime Video and Freevee. In 2023, more than 1 billion customers in the U.S. and India watched Amazon Live streams across desktop, mobile, and Fire TV. With this launch, customers in the U.S. will now have more ways to shop with Amazon Live creators, brands, and celebrities. The new channel will also feature Amazon’s “shop the show” technology that enables customers to more seamlessly browse, shop, and engage with content they are watching on the TV screen by using their mobile device.

As Palmer mentioned onstage, there are over 5,000 videos added to Fire TV Channels every day. And now, Fire TV is expanding that even more for customers who prefer content in Spanish. Fire TV customers in the U.S. can access Spanish-language content on the Fire TV Channels app: En Español. It will offer Spanish-language news and entertainment, as well as English-language coverage of Latino culture from providers like Univision, Telemundo (local and national channels), AFV Español, Bloomberg en Español, Estrella, The Weather Channel en Español, WAPA+, Hemisphere Media, and Xite. Additional content providers coming soon include People en Español, Tastemade en Español, and more. The Fire TV channels app launched last year as a FAST destination that gives customers in the U.S. instant access to short-form live and on-demand video content that covers trending topics—all with no downloads, sign-ups, or fees.

1 Amazon internal, April 2024, WW; Amazon internal, March 2024
2 GWI, US 18–64, Q1–Q4’23; Comparison set includes Disney+, Hulu, Peacock, Max, Paramount+, Netflix.
3 MRI-Simmons, US 18–49, Jan 2024
4 Amazon internal data, US Q2’23–Q1’24