Amazon Prime starts bundling Showtime and other streaming services

Amazon is getting serious about slaying the cable bundle by adding a bunch of a la carte streaming options to Amazon Prime.

Atop the basic $99 per year Prime subscription, members can add Showtime for $9 per month, which is $3 per month less than a standalone subscription. Starz is also available for $9 per month, marking the first time the premium movie network has appeared outside of a traditional pay TV bundle.

Amazon’s program also includes several established streaming services, such as Qello Concerts ($8 per month), British TV service Acorn TV ($5 per month), and Asian TV service DramaFever for $3.99 per month. Meanwhile, some cable TV networks have created unique packages just for Prime. Comedy Central, for instance, is offering a collection of stand-up for $4 per month, while Sundance is curating documentaries into an 8 per month service.

Although some of these services are already available outside of Prime, going the Amazon route affords a single source for billing and customer service. It also ties in Prime features such as iMDb X-Ray integration, unified search, and a single watchlist that works across all services. And instead of having to bounce between apps, everything’s available through Amazon’s existing video apps on phones, tablets, smart TVs, game consoles, and (some) set-top boxes. (One downside: Prime streams are limited to two devices at a time, compared to three for Showtime alone.)

Over time, Amazon is hoping to add more video services to the lineup. You can view the current list on Amazon’s website.

Why this matters: One of the main criticisms against ditching cable TV is that it’s too complicated to manage a half-dozen streaming services, each with their own separate apps. Amazon’s new partner program is an attempt to replicate the simplicity of cable, while still giving users more control over what they’re paying for. If Amazon can rope in more recognizable channels, it could provide a much easier path for people who want to cut the cord.


Jared Newman

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