Amazon Prime Members Can Now Subscribe to Showtime and Other Channels à la Carte
Ordering up TV channels a la carte has long been the dream of cable cord-cutters. Now that dream is closer to coming true thanks to Amazon.
The online retailer said today that Amazon Prime members will now be able to buy subscriptions to Showtime, Starz, and dozens of other streaming channels. The company’s “Streaming Partners Program” lets TV networks and other video providers team up with the e-commerce giant to reach tens of millions of Prime members via Amazon’s site and Amazon Video app.
Prime members, meanwhile, get free trials on all subscriptions and discounts on pricing. You can get CBS’ Showtime, for instance, as a standalone streaming service for $11 monthly; on Amazon’s Partners Program, Showtime costs $9 per month. Other available subscriptions include everything from on-demand music performances through Qello Concerts to the Lifetime Movie Club to the SundanceNow Documentary Club.
“With the Streaming Partners Program, we’re making it easy for video providers to reach highly engaged Prime members, many of whom are already frequent streamers, and we’re making it easier for viewers to watch their favorite shows and channels,” said Michael Paull, Amazon’s vice president of digital video.
The new effort suggests Amazon wants to wade even deeper into traditional television’s territory, but with a twist more attuned to modern cord-cutting trends. The company has already stepped up its efforts in creating its own original video series, like its critically acclaimed comedy-drama, Transparent. With Streaming Partners, the company is also experimenting with new forms of distribution to set itself apart from streaming competitors Netflix, Hulu, and HBO.
More Complexity in Streaming Services
Unlike those rivals, the most interesting thing about Amazon’s plan is that it’s offering itself as more of a platform for others’ content. Especially for smaller services, the option of simply plugging into Amazon’s built-in audience might seem appealing. Amazon says it will help these providers acquire more subscribers, handle customer service, manage billing and credit cards, and deal with streaming their content to different devices. That’s a lot of work taken off their hands. At the same time, those smaller services get to keep their name and brand intact, rather than just making a deal with, say, Netflix and losing their identities among everything else Netflix offers.
Amazon also seems likely to benefit by touting these subscriptions as yet another perk of Prime. Amazon doesn’t say how many customers have subscribed to Prime, but analysts estimate as many as 60 to 80 million members globally—members who likely spend more than double what non-members do.
Whether or not these deals attract new members to Prime, the rise of more a la carte options for TV feels like yet another step toward a world where TV is truly on demand. The technology to make this happen is already available, as Amazon’s experiment here shows. Now it’s just a matter of the businesses catching up.
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