The Man in the High Castle’s next season could be free (with commercials) if Amazon moves forward with new Prime service

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Mar 26, 2021, 5:00 PM EDT (Updated)

Is Amazon about to make it easier to get your fix for alternate-history dystopias, superheroes, and maybe even the next binge-worthy sci-fi hit? There’s good reason to believe the retail giant is counting on it — in a big way.

Ad Age reports that the online retail giant is preparing to launch a new, “freemium” tier for its Amazon Prime streaming service — one that will be free to everyone with an internet connection… and a tolerance for good old-fashioned commercial interruptions.

That’s right, if you’re not a Prime member but you’ve been wanting to get in on Philip K. Dick’s vision of what a post-war America might’ve looked like if the Nazis had actually won, The Man in the High Castle, Orphan Black, and a slew of Amazon-exclusive sci-fi content may soon be just a payment-free sign-up away.

Just today, the company committed to an all-new, multi-season Lord of the Rings series, which is huge news in its own right. And Electric Dreams, a 10-installment anthology based on another Philip K. Dick sci-fi novel, will release next year with a boatload of star power (Anna Paquin, Terrence Howard, Steve Buscemi, Greg Kinnear, and Bryan Cranston, to name a few). And, lest we forget: a live-action reboot of The Tick just came online this year.

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Amazon’s acknowledged nothing official yet, but today’s report points to a new, free streaming option that’s paid for by advertisers instead of subscribers. The new tier would apparently offer all of Amazon’s Prime video content for free to non-Prime members willing to sit through the commercials.

The play for more audience share comes at a time when Amazon — along with just about everyone else in the streaming world — is going all in on the broadening appeal of fantasy, sci-fi, and niche programming. In addition to High Castle and exclusive rights to beloved classics like Doctor Who, Amazon has ambitious plans for new content.

The supposed new tier would stand alongside — and not replace — the Prime service, which Amazon could begin teasing as a premium upgrade to fans it manages to hook with the free package.

Does that sound appealing? Would you rather pay to skip through commercials — or would you happily sit through them to get at all the free stuff Amazon may soon be tossing our way?