Bringing together two of its major offerings for the first time, Amazon has announced that all Prime members with an Alexa-enabled device now get up to six additional questions when they play Jeopardy on weekdays. Everyone can play Jeopardy and get six new questions a day for free, but Double Jeopardy is only free to Prime members.
Echo devices owners without Prime membership who want to play Double Jeopardy must pay $1.99 a month, making Jeopardy the first skill with a paid subscription fee. It also marks the first time Amazon has used an Alexa skill to offer an exclusive benefit to Amazon Prime members, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat. Amazon now has more than 80 million Prime members.
Subscription skills will be made available to more third-party developers at a later date.
“Bringing a subscription model to skills for Alexa will bring customers the benefit of new, engaging, and high-quality experiences while providing developers an additional way to earn money from their skills,” an Amazon spokesperson told VentureBeat.
Jeopardy has been available since last year, and Double Jeopardy was made available for the first time Tuesday. Subscriptions can be ordered directly through the Jeopardy skill and canceled anytime with the Alexa app, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email. Users of the skill who just want six Jeopardy questions a day can continue using it for free.
Without question, Jeopardy has been one of the most popular of the more than 20,000 Alexa skills, consistently listed among top skills in the Alexa Skills Store. When Jeopardy is played using a device with a screen like the Echo Show, a portion of the show theme song plays, host Alex Trebek welcomes you, and clues are presented with the same blue background with white letters you see on TV. Alexa ultimately reads the questions though.
A few months ago, Teen Jeopardy and Sports Jeopardy also became available in the Alexa Skills Store.
A paid subscription model would give developers making voice apps for Alexa an additional way to make money. In a program that began earlier this year and was expanded this summer, Amazon now pays Alexa skills developers money based on the level of engagement their skill generates among Alexa users.
The Alexa team has increasingly made games a part of the selling point for its intelligent assistant. Last week, the startup Sensible Object, a graduate of the Alexa Accelerator, debuted the first of six games for $24.99 that rely on Alexa interaction. Echo Buttons and the Gadgets API also made their debuts recently to encourage more developers to make more games.
The extra Jeopardy questions on weekdays is the latest initiative by Amazon to encourage Prime membership. Other benefits made available this year include reduced membership prices for students and people on government assistance, order fulfillment in two minutes or less at lockers near college campuses, and Wardrobe, a service that offers discounts on clothes for Prime members and lets you send back clothes you don’t want at no extra cost. Prime members are also expected to receive discounts when shopping at Whole Foods, the supermarket with more than 400 locations across the United States that Amazon acquired for $13.7 billion earlier this year.
Prime benefits for U.S. customers continue to roll out as Prime begins to become available to Amazon customers outside the United States, an initiative CFO Brian Olsavsky said during quarterly earnings in July has driven higher costs for the online retail giant. Though no specifics were offered, Prime Day this year yielded 60 percent more revenue than Prime Day in 2016.