Television commercials are making a comeback—on streaming video.
After years of viewers shunning ads, initially by using digital video recorders to skip through commercial breaks and then by flocking to ad-free subscription services like Netflix, streaming services that put ads in shows are suddenly all the rage. Most of the new streaming services launched lately by mainstream entertainment companies, including NBCUniversal, Discovery and ViacomCBS, have a cheap or free ad-supported tier. Even Amazon, whose Prime Video service is one of the older ad-free subscription streaming offerings, is pumping money into a free, ad-supported alternative called IMDb TV. And the data so far suggest that viewers prefer to pay less and sit through ads.