This story is part of Amazon Prime Day, CNET's guide to everything you need to know and how to find the best deals.
Want to change your current streaming service lineup, but prefer to keep your subscriptions in a centralized location? Prime Video Channels could be a solution for that, offering access to Starz, Showtime, Paramount Plus, AMC Plus, BET Plus and more.
Instead of launching a standalone subscription, creating a new login and downloading new apps, you can simply add these subscriptions into your Prime Video account.
Prime Video is best known for its original series such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Boys, Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan and the upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel, but is also stacked with perhaps the biggest selection of add-on channels, compared to other services with premium channels. These range from big-hitters like Starz and Showtime to more special interest channels like PBS Masterpiece, Noggin, Shudder and PGA Tour Live.
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But are these channels worth your money in the long run? How do they compare with standalone options like HBO Max? How does the selection compare with Roku and Apple TV channels? Where do other services like Netflix or Disney Plus fit in? Let's break it down.
What exactly do you get with Amazon Prime?
Before we get into Channels themselves, it's worth breaking down what your basic Prime membership gets you. Here are the highlights.
- Free overnight shipping on millions of products
- Free release-date delivery
- 5% cash back with an Amazon Prime card
- Alexa deals
- Unlimited Amazon Prime Video streaming
- Free Grubhub Plus food delivery
Those are just some of the many benefits every member gets. The cost of a Prime membership, before adding any Amazon Prime Video channels, is now $139 per year.
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What are Amazon Prime Video Channels, and how do I get them?
Channels are optional add-ons for Prime subscribers, for an additional monthly fee, that provide on-demand or live streaming access to TV shows, movies and other video content from a provider. Subscribers can access the content from all compatible Prime Video devices, including via the Amazon Prime Video app on smart TVs and streaming devices, Android and iOS phones and tablets, computers and Amazon's own Fire TV devices and Fire tablets.
Signing up for a particular channel is easy for Prime members.
1. Sign in to your Amazon account.
2. Browse Amazon's list of channels.
3. Find the channel you want and select it.
4. Click through to the main banner above the list of shows and movies.
5. You'll see a button, typically 7 day free trial or Get started (if no trial is offered). Click it.
6. Enter your PIN (if you have one set up).
7. Confirm details to purchase.
That's it. Once you confirm the purchase, your Amazon account will be charged, typically on a monthly basis, for the cost of the Channel, and you'll have instant access to all of its TV shows and movies.
I don't have a Prime subscription. Can I use Prime Channels?
No. Only active Prime subscribers can add Prime Channels. Amazon also doesn't give access to users previously invited to share shipping benefits with a Prime member. See the Prime Video Channels section here for details.
What are the major Prime Video Channels?
Amazon has more than 100 different channels, and many of them are small specialty channels that fit into genres like Kids, British, Fitness, Comedy, Romance and LGBTQ. Here's a look at some of the major ones and how much they cost.
Select Amazon Prime channels
|Amazon channel||Monthly cost||Subscription link|
|NBA League Pass (all teams)||$15||Subscribe at Amazon|
|MLB.TV||$25||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Showtime||$11||Subscribe at Amazon|
|BET Plus||$10||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Cinemax||$10||Subscribe at Amazon|
|PGA Tour Live||$10||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Starz||$9||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Noggin||$8||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Discovery Plus||$5||Subscribe at Amazon|
|BritBox||$7||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Sundance Now||$7||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Hallmark Movies Now||$6||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Paramount Plus||$10||Subscribe at Amazon|
|PBS Masterpiece||$6||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Shudder||$6||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Acorn TV||$7||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Boomerang||$5||Subscribe at Amazon|
|PBS Kids||$5||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Up Faith & Family||$5||Subscribe at Amazon|
|LIfetime Movie Club||$5||Subscribe at Amazon|
|Curiosity Stream||$3||Subscribe at Amazon|
Can I watch live TV on Amazon Prime Video Channels?
Yes, but the selection is limited.
Typical live "channels" in the cable TV sense, like ABC, CBS, CNN, ESPN, Fox and the rest, are not available as Prime Video Channels. To watch those you'll need to subscribe to cable or a live TV streaming service like YouTube TV or Sling TV, which starts at $35 per month.
Amazon does offer a "live guide," however, that includes TV shows and movies arranged in a channel grid form. Some are free, no subscription required, and some are unlocked when you subscribe to a channel. The Fixer Upper Channel, for example, is available in the live guide when you subscribe to the Discovery Plus Prime Video Channel. Some subscribers who have Paramount Plus may also be able to see live streams from their local television stations.
Are you able to subscribe to HBO Max through Prime Video Channels? What about other channels like MLB.TV?
In September 2021, HBO canceled all subscriptions purchased through Prime Video Channels, so users no longer have the option to stream HBO content through Prime.
Surprisingly for Amazon, subscribing through Channels doesn't save money compared with subscribing to the services directly. As for other channels like MLB.TV, the monthly fees for Prime channels and their standalone equivalents are the same for every service we checked.
If Prime Video Channels cost the same (or more), what's the appeal of going through Amazon?
The main benefit of using Prime Channels is that it provides one place -- the Prime Video app, a Fire tablet or Fire TV -- to access content from multiple providers. Instead of watching Grand Designs via the separate BritBox app, for example, you watch it within Prime Video. Billing is also handled by one central source (Amazon itself). Content from channels is also often included in Amazon's search indexes, making it easier to find on Fire TV devices or via Alexa voice search.
Some services like BritBox, Acorn TV and CuriosityStream do offer yearly discounts that aren't available through Prime Channels. For example, the BritBox channel costs $7 per month as both a Prime Channel and via its standalone app, but the standalone subscription is also available for $70 per year, which works out to $5.83 per month. Aside from MLB.TV, nearly all Prime Video Channels are monthly subscriptions only.
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Can I bundle all my streaming services with Amazon? Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus?
Sorry, nope. None of these stand-alone services is available as an Amazon Channel yet. To watch content from those services you'll have to use their individual apps.
Read more: 10 Ways to Keep Your TV Streaming Bill Low
PBS content is already free. Why would I pay extra for it through Amazon Prime?
Because Amazon gives you more. PBS has a few Channels like PBS Kids and PBS Masterpiece ($5 and $6 per month, respectively) that include content that's also available elsewhere -- including a basic Amazon Prime subscription and the separate PBS Kids and PBS apps -- for free. In general the PBS Prime Channels have a larger selection and more current episodes than the free alternatives.
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How are Prime Video Channels different from Roku or Apple TV?
With the popularity of Amazon Channels, other streaming providers are following suit. Apple's TV app offers channels in a very similar way to Amazon, albeit with fewer choices. And Roku has its own premium subscription system at The Roku Channel that's similar to both, but again with a smaller selection of add-on channels than Amazon.
Where can I find out more about subscribing to Prime Video Channels?
Check out Amazon's Prime Video support page and main Channels page for more details.
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