Amazon launch pay-per-channel TV service
AMAZON have announced the launch of Amazon Channel, a new TV service that will enable Amazon Prime customers to pay for TV stations separately.
Launched on Tuesday, the service will remove the need for customers to subscribe to an entire TV bundle, something which will save them money if they're interested in viewing only a handful of channels.
By offering such flexibility, Amazon have arguably brought television further into the digital age, where it can become more of an accurate mirror to the tastes of the viewer.
However, if customers do have a varied TV diet and watch a wide range of programming, it would still be more cost effective to subscribe to one of the bundles on offer from the likes of Sky, BT and Virgin Media.
As of its launch, Amazon Channel offers 41 stations to UK customers, with the list below offering a representative snapshot of what's currently available:
- Discovery: £4.99 per month
- Eurosport Player: £6.99 per month
- Fandor £3.49 per month
- ITV Hub+ £3.99 per month
- hayu (NBC Universal) £3.99 per month
- MGM £4.49 per month
- Motorvision £2.99 per month
- Planet Knowledge £2.29 per month
- Up Family £3.49 per month
- Yoga Anytime Channel £6.99 per month
To watch any of these channels, customers will need the existing Amazon Prime Video app, which can be found on smart TVs, smartphones, Amazon Fire tablets or TV Sticks, or on games consoles.
Yet aside from the app and an appropriate device, this is all they will need, with the minimalism and flexibility of the service making it perfect for the kind of person who's only really interested in watching the Discovery Channel.
This is more or less what Alex Green, the Managing Director of Amazon Channels Europe, implied in announcing the launch, declaring, "For the first time, Prime members in the UK and Germany will be able to choose to watch premium TV channels without having to sign up to a bundle or a contract, giving them the freedom to pay for only what they want to watch".
However, as laudable as the increased flexibility of Amazon Channels undoubtedly is, it's clear that it really is meant only for people who would only ever watch three or four channels.
For example, a Sky Original bundle currently costs £22 per month (disregarding any special introductory offers that may be running at the moment), granting customers access to 286 channels in total, including Discovery and Eurosport.
Taking the average monthly cost of the 10 stations listed above (i.e. £4.37), this same £22 would cover only five Amazon Channels, representing a reduction in purchasing power of approximately 98%.
Given this reduction, anyone likely to watch more than four channels is probably better off going for a more traditional bundle, especially since the choice of stations available via Amazon Channels remains fairly restricted.
That said, the service is meant more as a supplement or top up to Amazon Prime Video than a direct rival to the established TV providers.
Added to this, it does already boast a couple of exclusive channels (Curiosity Stream, Heera). As such, if it can expand on these with additional content customers can't find elsewhere, than it may find itself coming close to matching the success of Prime Video.