We all know Amazon is a game changer. The business that set out to be the world’s largest bookstore has become the go-to online shop for just about everything, and Amazon Prime set the expectation that anything could be on your doorstep in two days.
Here comes the next big revolution. Amazon Channels is the portal for nearly every video or streaming service created. Like you’d expect from the company that sells almost everything, the choices are extensive. It’s a fresh way to build a broad cord-cutting TV alternative.
Amazon Prime Video already had a vast library of content and original series. This new subscription offering will let you stream HBO, Showtime, Starz and more than a hundred specialized streaming channels.
You must be a Prime Member
Resistance is futile. To use Amazon Channels you must be an Amazon Prime member. At $99 per year, Amazon Prime is already a great deal. For an annual fee, you get free, fast shipping on tangible purchases and a whole bunch of content and storage space like Prime Video,
Prime Music, and Prime Photos.
Most of us have already given in and signed up for Prime membership. It’s like the Sam’s Club of the new millennium. Add Amazon Channels to that list and you could probably manage the majority of your life through Amazon.
In all fairness, Amazon Channels does go a long way toward giving you a one size fits all solution for entertainment. Members of Amazon Prime already have access to Amazon’s huge collection of original and acquired content. This new tier of subscription service gives Prime members monthly access to premium channels without a cable subscription.
Any of these types of Prime accounts will make you eligible for Amazon Channels:
- Amazon Prime membership
- 30-day Amazon Prime free trial
- Annual Prime Student membership
- Prime Student free trial
- Amazon Prime Free Preview
- Amazon Prime Fresh
- 30-day Amazon Prime Fresh free trial
- Amazon Household shared Prime benefits
What it looks like
I’ve got a Roku, Roku stick, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, and a TiVo. I downloaded the Amazon Prime app on each of my devices to access the library of available videos. I used the app to add STARZ to my Amazon Prime membership, so there’s no call to the cable company required. You don’t have to add HBO, Showtime and AMC and negotiate a whole new tier of cable service. You just add the channel via the app with no commitment contract or any signup or cancellation fee. It’s billed on a monthly basis to the credit card on my Amazon account.
Each channel has an individual price, for example, HBO is $14.99 per month and PBS Kids is $4.99. Channels generally have a free trial period so you can determine what content is available.
Instead of entering cable or satellite TV credentials to gain access to watch Game of Thrones on HBO Go, you just enter in your Amazon account information and access HBO on the Amazon Video app.
All under one roof
This is the first time I’ve been able to order streaming content a la carte from premium networks and digital-only video providers through a single provider that isn’t cable or dish. If you’re only interested in one or two channels, you can get access directly without having to have a cable package. The benefit of this setup comes from being able to organize your subscriptions to these services all in one easy to use, access from anywhere app.
“Only pay for the channels you want, watch anywhere, and cancel anytime—no cable required.” – Amazon
The service offers access to premium movie networks, but also small and indie digital-only video providers, like NBCU’s comedy network SeeSo, Tribeca Shortlist, or Fullscreen.
Once you’ve subscribed, you have access to everything that channel has to offer, on demand, on any compatible Amazon video devices.
This is the kicker. Amazon Video is available on hundreds of devices. You can watch it on your Smart TV, Blu-ray player, Fire TV, computer and Android or iOS device. Every channel, everywhere, on every device. Be still my heart.
Sadly, life isn’t always about convenience and I have to consider the cost. If you subscribed to every channel available on Amazon Channels, you could rack up an impressive bill. The beauty of Amazon’s model is that you can pick and choose and it’s all billed in one place and you watch it all in one app. This is where the service hits the spot. In my experience, Amazon’s customer service is stellar. Instead of individually contracting with every premium channel you want to watch, and monitoring your bill for individual charges, it’s all managed in one place with one login.
There is one area that isn’t quite as seamless as the rest of the product. Some shows are included in Prime Video, even if they originally ran on a premium network. Prime Video will often let you watch the first season of a show for free, but then charge for the second. Say you have every possible upgrade – there’s still shows you have to pay for. Even with a Prime membership, you can buy or rent shows that aren’t part of the membership fee.
It sounds more confusing than it is.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve cut the cord but want to watch Game of Thrones, Amazon Channels offers a simple, easy to use one login, one app solution. You only pay for the channels you want. It’s billed to your card on a month-to-month plan. You can start or stop without an extra fee. You have access to everything that channel has to offer, on demand, on hundreds of devices. Smart TV’s, Blu-ray players, Fire TV, computer and both Android and iOS devices.
Any channel, almost any device, everywhere. Except for the second season of that one show you like.
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