May 13 Update: iOS 12.3 just delivered Apple Channels, the first major competitor to Amazon Prime Channels.
If you're thinking seriously about cutting the cord and streaming your way to entertainment bliss, Amazon Channels — and its free 7-day trials of major channels, including HBO — should be in focus. It's not your typical streaming service, but it's one you should definitely consider.
Amazon Channels is a service available to Amazon Prime subscribers that gives you the kind of access to content you want, on the streaming devices or smart TVs that you want. And since it's been generally well-received among content creators, it's getting new content all the time. As time goes on, Amazon Channels should get more appealing to cord-cutters.
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, which launched in mid-May in iOS 12.3.
What Is Amazon Channels?
Amazon Channels is a collection of streaming services you can subscribe to via Amazon. You need only to go to the Amazon Channels page, find out which content providers are offering their content through the service, and you're off. Many of the channels offer free trials so you don't need to worry about doling out cash right away to try it out.
Think of Amazon Channels as the e-retail giant's answer to those who want to stream content anywhere and everywhere but don't want to rely on just one service to do it.
How Much Does Amazon Channels Cost?
The ability to subscribe to Amazon Channels is exclusive to Prime members, but you'll need to pay individual subscription fees for individual channels. 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.
Basically, the cost will vary depending on which Channels you want to subscribe to and how many you're interested in.
What Content is Available?
Here's a list of some of the better Amazon Channels:
- HBO ($14.99 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)
Uh, Where's Netflix and Hulu?
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.
Does it work with Alexa?
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.
What devices support Amazon Channels on?
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.
Do You Need to Be a Prime Member?
Yes. Amazon Channels is only available to Amazon Prime members. Now that Amazon's raised the monthly price for Prime, you'll need to pay $12.99 per month (instead of $10 per month), meaning those who pay $99 per year are now saving $56.88 per year.
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 content on a regular basis.
What If I Want to Cancel a Subscription?
Once you sign up for an Amazon Channel, the e-retailer will use the credit card information you have on file through its payment platform and facilitate regularly monthly billing. You won't sign any contracts with the service and you won't be required to keep a subscription for a certain amount of time.
When you're done subscribing to the Channel, simply log into your account and go to Your Video Subscriptions. You'll see your monthly subscriptions, and you can cancel any you wish -- at any time -- right from there.