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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Three reports out Tuesday suggest that Amazon is pushing harder to corner the entertainment sector, with plans for a free TV streaming app, a live television recorder and a new slate of content deals with two of Hollywood's biggest movie studios.

Why it matters: One of Amazon's fastest-growing business units is advertising, which will continue to explode with investments in content and TV technology. Content investments will also help the streamer take on Netflix in a heated battle for digital streaming subscribers.

Three new investments:

  1. Amazon is planning an ad-supported Fire TV streaming app, nicknamed "Free Dive," that would rival that of Roku, The Information reports. Roku currently offers a free, ad-supported app for Roku devices called "Roku Channel." The Information reports that Amazon, like Roku, is in talks with major studios to license older TV shows to air on the app.
  2. It's also talking to Sony and Paramount for streaming rights to add more programing to its Amazon Prime video service, which is different from the planned "Free Dive" app, Bloomberg reports. (The app is for only for owners of Amazon's connected device, Fire TV.) Bloomberg reports Amazon is talking to Sony's studio division and Viacom's studio, Paramount Pictures.
  3. Amazon is also planning its own DVR service that would rival that of TiVo, Bloomberg reports. The device, nicknamed "Frank" within Amazon, is a new type of digital video recorder for the streaming era. The device would include physical storage and would connect to Amazon’s existing Fire TV boxes.

Some analysts predict that Amazon's ad business is growing so fast that it could reach $16 billion in just two years, surpassing its lucrative Amazon Web Services cloud business. But in order to do so, it needs to get advertisers to put their lucrative brand ads on Amazon — the ones they would typically put on TV.

Amazon has been pursuing content deals for years to help increase subscribers to its Amazon Prime video service, but has not been able to match the unprecedented scope of Netflix's content spend.

  • Analysts think Amazon will spend upwards of $5 billion this year on original content, while others predict that Netflix could be spending up to $12 billion this year.

The bigger picture: Other aspects of Amazon's media business are also helping the Seattle-based company make more money, mostly from advertising, and drive customer engagement which could help fuel its commerce services.

  • Twitch, which Amazon bought in 2014 for $970 million, is by far the most popular streaming platform for gamers, but is tiny compared to rival YouTube. It's looking to expand its user and creator base to sell more ads. Bloomberg reports that Twitch CEO Emmett Shear has a goal of $1 billion in ad sales, over double its current sales.   
  • Social media: Reports from last year suggest that Amazon is also investing in two different social media networks, one for shopping and one for messaging. Both networks could eventually present advertising opportunities, but would mainly be helpful in keeping users engaged on their platform while they use their other commerce and entertainment services, a similar strategy to that of Alibaba.
  • Sports rights: As a part of Amazon's efforts to lure Pay-TV viewers, it has invested millions of dollars in sports rights, like its Thursday night deal with the NFL.
  • Smart TVs: A report from the Telegraph earlier this summer suggest that Amazon is planning a smart television set, as well its own TV service.

Go Deeper: How Amazon is eating the media business

Editor's note: This post has been corrected to show that Netflix could spend $12 billion, not $12 million, on original content this year.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
8 hours ago - Sports

Novak Djokovic loses Australian visa appeal

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a forehand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2022. Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Tennis star Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday evening, facing a three-year visa ban after an appeals court in the country revoked his visa.

Driving the news: Djokovic will not be able to defend his Australian Open title when the tournament starts in Melbourne. The World No. 1 is looking to break a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam men's singles titles.