Amazon Channels — and its free 7-day (or longer) trials of major channels, including HBO — is a major option for those thinking seriously about cutting the cord and streaming their way to entertainment bliss. It's not your typical streaming service, but it's one you should definitely consider.
Amazon Channels, available just to Amazon Prime subscribers, is a way for you to pick the content you want, to watch wherever you want (we'd suggest you take a look at the best streaming devices and the best TVs). With this basic format, Amazon Channels isn't just appealing to cord-cutters right now, but it's a template for the future of streaming.
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Still, there are some who might question what Amazon Channels is and why they should check it out. So, in this FAQ, we'll explain Amazon Channels' key features, how much you'll pay, and how it compares up to the competition. Also see our Amazon Channels vs Apple Channels face-off to see how Amazon's offering stacks up to Apple's competitor.
Amazon Channels is basically a way to build your own streaming service: you pick and choose the channels you subscribe to, and it all goes through Amazon. You just go to the Amazon Channels page, select channel(s) to subscribe to and you're off. Just the stuff you need, none of the channels you'll ignore.
Many of the channels offer free trials so you don't need to worry about doling out cash right away to try it out.
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Amazon Channels cost
The ability to subscribe to Amazon Channels is exclusive to Prime members (who pay $12.99 per month or $99 per year), but you'll need to pay individual subscription fees for individual channels. Of course, those fees vary by how much the service thinks it can charge.
So for instance, if you want access to HBO, you'll get a 7-day free trial and then you'll be required to pay $14.99 per month for access to that programming. If you only want access to PBS Kids, however, you'll need to pay $4.99 per month after a 7-day trial.
Amazon Channels list and prices
Here's a list of some of the better-known Amazon Channels:
- HBO ($14.99 per month)
- CBS All Access ($5.99 per month)
- MTV Hits ($5.99 per month)
- IFC Films Unlimited ($5.99 per month)
- Britbox ($6.99 per month)
- MHz Choice ($7.99 per month)
- Acorn TV ($5.99 per month)
- Showtime ($8.99 per month)
- Cinemax ($9.99 per month)
- Starz ($8.99 per month)
- Mubi ($5.99 per month)
- Sundance Now ($6.99 per month)
- Sports Illustrated TV ($4.99 per month)
- Comic Con HQ ($4.99 per month)
- History Vault ($4.99 per month)
- Comedy Central Stand-Up ($3.99 per month)
- PBS Masterpiece ($5.99 per month)
- IndiePix Unlimited ($5.99 per month)
- DocComTV ($2.99 per month)
- Smithsonian Earth ($3.99 per month)
- Reelz ($3.99 per month)
- Daily Burn ($14.99 per month)
- PBS Kids ($4.99 per month)
- Shudder ($4.99 per month)
- Cheddar ($2.99 per month)
Amazon Channels free trials
While most Amazon Channels start with a 7-day free trial, we've found one exception. CBS All Access has a longer 30-day free trial, to show folks why the service is worth it.
As I always say when talking about free trials, this is a good time to become familiar with the reminders app on your phone. I'd set a reminder for 6 days from the time I started my subscription, to get a warning that makes sure I'm not paying without intending to.
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Amazon Channels' HBO Max problem
Yes, you can get HBO on Amazon Channels, but no you can't get HBO Max on Amazon Channels. Why is that?
Well, it probably has something to do with how HBO Max isn't on Amazon Fire TV or Roku, an issue still plaguing prospective subscribers. We look forward to the day when these companies can see eye to eye.
But we're not holding our breath.
Amazon Channels missing services
When you work your way through Amazon Channels, you'll find that there are some wildly popular streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu, that aren't available. While Amazon hasn't closed the door on supporting those services in the future, it's unlikely we'll see them join Channels anytime soon.
Amazon Channels Alexa support
As of Jan. 16, 2018, users can interact with Amazon Channels using Alexa, with commands including "Alexa, go to the Channel Guide,” “Alexa, tune to HBO,” or “Alexa, go to PBS Masterpiece," that navigate to content.
Amazon Channels' cancelled subscriptions
You never have to deal with the company who owns the Amazon Channels you subscribe to, just Amazon.
When you're ready to cancel an Amazon Channels subscription, simply log into your account and go to Your Memberships & Subscriptions. You'll see your monthly subscriptions, and you can cancel any you wish -- at any time -- right from there.
Amazon Channels FAQ
What devices support Amazon Channels?
One of the great things about Amazon Channels is that you can watch the content just about anywhere you might be. The service works in the browser through Amazon's own video player, but you can also access it on your Android device or iPhone, a slew of tablets, and on several smart TVs from companies like LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and others. Here's a handy list from Amazon that will tell you all the devices Amazon Channels should stream content to.
How Does It Compare to Netflix and Hulu?
Amazon Channels is fundamentally different than Netflix and Hulu. Those are standalone services, requiring a single fee, that enable you to watch all of their content. And the content they offer comes from several different sources and rotates throughout the year depending on content-distribution partnerships they have with content providers.
Amazon Channels, on the other hand, is a collection of streaming content services that you can subscribe to through the e-retailer's offering. So, there's no single Amazon Channels interface where you'll watch all the content you want like Netflix and Hulu. Instead, Amazon Channels is a place where you can subscribe to the content you want and watch it through Amazon Video on any number of devices. Amazon handles all payment processing to the channels you subscribe to.
Simply put, think of Amazon Channels as a hub to access other streaming services.
If you've subscribed to Amazon Channels with live streaming content, you'll see an On Now row for currently-broadcasting content, and your Recent row will include the last live channel you tuned to.
Is This Different Than Amazon Video?
Amazon Channels is part of the broader Amazon Video service. Amazon Video is the catch-all for Amazon's many video-streaming and purchase services. Amazon Channels is part of Amazon Video, allowing you to access content and stream it all through the Amazon Video interface.
How Often Is Content Being Added?
Amazon Channels' popularity has been soaring in recent months, meaning more content providers are signing on all the time. If you don't like what you see or are looking for more Channels to check out, be sure to check back: Amazon Channels is getting new channels on a regular basis.
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.