In June 2023, a California man named Wilbert Napoleon renewed his yearly subscription to Amazon Prime at the recently increased price of $139. Part of that deal, as heavily advertised, was Amazon’s promise of "unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming” of entertainment through Prime Video — its answer to Netflix.

But by January, Amazon had reneged on part of the deal. It announced that Prime Video would no longer be commercial free unless subscribers — even existing ones who had purchased a yearly plan — paid an extra $2.99 a month.

The move was part of a mad dash to boost streaming income after years of rampant investment and spiraling blockbuster budgets. Amazon’s "Lord of the Rings" series cost the company $1 billion in production costs but failed to attract much critical or popular acclaim. And, more broadly, Amazon has been looking to crank up its revenues wherever it can while making cuts in other parts of its business.