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Cutting the cord sounds simple enough, but with so many streaming services, cable stations and user-generated content platforms out there, watching TV can be more complicated than ever. Enter the notion of Prime Video Channels, the Amazon service that aims to simplify the viewing experience by putting many of your favorite channels in one place.
As the streamer continues to bolster its own original content with premium TV shows and movies, it’s also teaming with other select broadcasters and streamers to provide their content on a pay-per-channel basis. It’s kind of like having cable again, only if cable was run by a giant e-commerce company.
Since its launch, Prime Video Channels has grown to include more than 100 channels, including recent partnerships with Paramount Plus, Discovery Plus and AMC Plus. With so much selection, you would think it’s a one-stop-shop for all of your viewing needs, but there’s a little more to the story than that.
What Are Prime Video Channels?
Prime Video Channels are monthly subscriptions that new and existing Prime Video users can add to their membership. Each third-party service comes with its own unique monthly fee, and once subscribed, users can access all of that channel’s content without ever having to leave their Prime Video account.
The idea is to give Prime Members the option to subscribe to coveted channels with no long-term commitment. The service also eliminates the need for extra app downloads, because once you’re subscribed you can access these channels on any devices that currently support Prime Video.
How Do Prime Video Channels Work?
Theoretically, subscribe to a Prime Video Channel and you should have access to everything that the channel offers on regular broadcast or through streaming. The catalog of available movies and TV seasons vary by channel, however.
Some of these channels also offer the option to “Watch Live,” which is exactly what it sounds like: users can live-stream programs and events at the same time as they are being broadcasted on TV. (There is even an accompanying guide.) However, in some instances where “Watch Live” is offered, there is no way to manipulate the broadcast. So if you come a few minutes late to the program you want to watch, or you need to rewind something that you missed, for example, you can’t. Additionally, not all programs are uploaded immediately after the broadcast, and you may need to wait a few hours after the program has already aired before you’re able to access it.
How Much Do Prime Video Channels Cost?
Before you can add any channels, you’ll need to either subscribe to Amazon Prime ($13 a month or $119 for the year) or grab a Prime Video standalone subscription at $9 a month. From there you can add Prime Video Channels to your lineup.
The cost of each channel varies, but generally, they run from $2.99 on the low end (Curiosity Stream) to $28.99 on the high end (NBA League Pass). Many of the channels will also allow you to take them for a test drive during a free trial period, which automatically renews for the full month at the end of seven days unless you cancel it.
Note that IMDb TV is also listed as one of the channels, however, it is one of the services’ rare instances of free, ad-supported content. With it, you can stream limited content from the same devices you currently use for Prime.
It’s also worth noting that HBO is available through Prime Video Channels at a cost of $14.99 per month — the same amount it costs to subscribe to HBO Max. Since the latter service gives you HBO in addition to theatrical releases and extra TV show content, this is a case where a straight-up subscription to HBO Max is the better deal.
Other notable services (like Paramount Plus) are the same price for the same content, no matter where you sign up. And then there’s PBS, which is free elsewhere, but on Prime Video Channels, you pay to access even more content and more episodes.
The bottom line is that it’s worth it to do a quick comparison before signing up for any of the Prime Channels because sometimes it might be more cost-effective to open and close a bunch of apps and subscribe separately.
How Do You Add Channels To Your Prime Video Subscription?
Once you sign into your Amazon account, browse the list of channels. Select the one you want by clicking the main banner. You’ll either see a “7-day free trial” or a “Get started” button if no trial is available. Click it, enter your password, and confirm the purchase to get streaming.
To cancel a channel, go to your Amazon Account & Settings. Select Channels from the top menu, select the channel you wish to cancel and confirm. Your subscription to the channel will remain active for the remainder of the month for which you’ve already paid.
Is It Worth It?
In some cases yes, Prime Video Channels are worth it, especially when it means avoiding the hassle of switching between platforms at no extra cost. But it really is a case-by-case basis, as some services offer better year-long subscription rates or extra content on their own platforms. Things could change in the near future though as other streaming platforms adopt similar models. Some services, like Roku and Apple TV, are trying to catch up with Amazon, but as of right now Prime Video still offers the most robust selection of channels.
What the company doesn’t offer is access to other giant streamers like Netflix and Disney Plus, or companies like Hulu. You also can’t subscribe to network television channels and cable stations known for live content like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN or ESPN.
What Are the Best Channels?
With so many channels to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which ones to add first. And while there is a ton of specialty content to suit a variety of tastes, here are a few of the more popular offerings.
- Acorn TV, $5.99 a month
- AMC+, $8.99 a month
- BET+, $9.99 a month
- Discovery+, $4.99 a month
- Epix, $5.99 a month
- Hallmark Movies Now, $5.99 a month
- HBO, $14.99 a month
- MLB.TV, $24.99 a month
- NBA League Pass, $28.99 a month
- Paramount+, $5.99 a month
- Showtime, $10.99 a month
- Starz, $8.99 a month
What Other Channels Are Available?
The full list of channel subscriptions currently available on Prime Video Channels can be found here.