What is Amazon’s new streaming service Amazon Channels, and is it worth the money?

From today, Amazon Prime subscribers in the UK can pay to watch individual channels like Discovery, Eurosport and more

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New on demand TV service Amazon Channels is available in the UK from today, Tuesday 23rd May, giving Amazon Prime subscribers the chance to pick and choose from over 40 different channels directly through Amazon.

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The new service aims to give viewers the opportunity to pick the individual channels they actually want to watch rather than buying whole TV bundles. When you sign up to a channel, you can watch shows live, binge watch series on demand or download to watch episodes when you don’t have an internet connection.

So, for example, if you buy a subscription to Discovery, you can tune in to whatever’s going out live on their channel, or find something you like the look of from their archive (whole series of Deadliest Catch anyone?).

“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,” said Alex Green, managing director of Amazon Channels for Europe.

So, how do you get all these new channels – and are they worth paying for?

What are Amazon Channels?

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The new service allows Amazon Prime subscribers to pick and choose between individual TV channels and services, paying for only what you want rather than buying whole packages of channels you’re not interested in.

If you’re an Amazon Prime customer, start by looking through the Amazon Channels website. When you’ve found a channel you like the look of, you pay a monthly subscription fee and are then able to watch everything they have to offer through the Amazon system – online via the website, on mobile via their apps or on your smart TV.

There’s no contract, you can cancel any time you like, and many channels come with free trials so you can see if they’re worth paying for.

Some channels are best designed for live viewing, like Eurosport for example. Tennis fans can pay for Eurosport in time for the French Open later this month without having to buy a full Sky or BT Sport package.

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Other channels are there for whenever the mood takes you, like hayu’s huge library of reality TV series or MGM’s classic movie catalogue.

The idea of Amazon Channels is that it’s meant to make keeping track of all these different services much easier, by bringing them all to one place and all paid for through your Amazon account.

It’s like creating your own tailored TV package – although, as we’ll talk about later, there are limits to what’s available.

So Amazon Channels won’t have any ‘original’ content?

No, it’s not like Amazon Prime Video or Netflix. The services you choose to pay for are all available elsewhere. Horror on demand service Shudder for example is available to sign up for separately here, but if you’re an Amazon Prime customer you might find it easier to buy a subscription through Amazon Channels.

It costs the same wherever you sign up (£4.99 a month), but doing it through Amazon means you can look through Shudder’s library directly from the Amazon website, or watch any of their shows through Amazon’s mobile and TV apps.

Think of Amazon Channels as a hub for a number of different services.

What channels are available in the UK, and how much do they cost?

There are over 40 Amazon Channels available now, with Amazon promising more to come over the next few months.

Highlights include Discovery, the first time the channel has been made available outside of a TV ‘bundle’, and Eurosport, which has live coverage of the French Open later this month as well as the Tour de France. Discovery costs £4.99 a month, Eurosport £6.99 a month.

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ITV also has its own channel, ITV Hub+, which allows you to watch many of its biggest shows including Grantchester and The Durrells ad-free for £3.99.

There are films too, from Hollywood classics from movie studio MGM for £4.49 a month, and sci-fi and genre movies on Comic Con HQ for £4.99 a month.

Really though it’s the niche channels which will be the most intriguing for viewers. For horror obsessives there’s Shudder at £4.99 a month, while Scandidrama fans can subscribe to Nordic Noir and Beyond for £4.99 per month.

Gaia offers yoga, nutrition, meditation and more for £7.99 per month, while Daily Burn aims to beat the cost of gym membership with on demand and live workouts for £9.99 per month (the most expensive channel currently on the service).

However, there are some BIG absentees here. Netflix – perhaps unsurprisingly – is not available via Amazon Channels.

More worrying, none of Sky’s services are available either. In the US, Amazon Channels includes HBO and Showtime, both home to prestige American series like Game of Thrones and Twin Peaks.

However, because Sky has partnerships with both those channels here in the UK, none of their content is available on Amazon Channels.

For a full list of Amazon Channels and their prices, click here.

Is it worth the money?

If you know what you like and have a clear idea of the kinds of shows you’re missing in your life, chances are you will find what you want here. The number of niche channels is really impressive, and their relatively low cost compared to big TV packages make them very tempting.

Also, if you don’t end up using a channel as much as you thought you would, it’s easy to cancel.

The inclusion of Discovery and Eurosport is important, and will become even more so when Discovery’s new deal to broadcast the Olympics comes into force. Those channels until now have been off limits to people without expensive Sky, Virgin or BT deals.

However, as we explained above, the lack of Netflix and Sky channels is a big problem. Amazon Channels aims to be your one stop shop for film and TV, bringing together loads of confusing services under one roof. But without Netflix and Sky, you’re missing out on some of the biggest shows on TV right now. That means you will still have to choose between Amazon, Netflix and Sky, rather than having one place where you can access them all.

Remember, too, that the prices quoted here are on top of your £79 a year Amazon Prime membership (roughly £6.58 a month). If Discovery alone costs £4.99 per month on top of that, you will have to make a call on how much you really value what they offer, especially when by comparison a standard Netflix membership costs £7.49.

And for a truly personalised TV selection the price soon adds up. Say you signed up for Discovery and Comic Con HQ; combined with your Amazon Prime subscription, that works out at over £16.50 a month.

The advantage of Amazon Channels of course is that you can pick one channel one month and then choose something else again the month after. The disadvantage is this a la carte method of choosing what you want soon starts costing a lot more.

Sky too has its own ‘choose your own’ service in the form of NOW TV, with monthly subscriptions based on whether you’re a fan of movies, sport or TV drama. £6.99 buys you a NOW TV entertainment pass giving you access to Twin Peaks, Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and more.

Amazon’s ambition to let viewers cut out the dross and pick the channels and shows they really want is a laudable one, and execs are quick to point out that this is very much a starting point. There will be more channels added all the time, and it will be interesting to see who else comes on board and embraces the Amazon platform.

Unfortunately for viewers, the big three players in TV and entertainment are far from ready to share their hard-won subscribers. Amazon, Netflix or Sky? If you want it all, you’re still gonna have to pay for it.

Amazon Channels UK – full list of channels available now

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  • Acacia TV – Hundreds of fun and effective workouts for every fitness level for £5.99 a month
  • Alchemiya – Great films and documentaries about Muslim culture and life for £3.99 a month
  • Arrow Video – On demand cult classics and horror from Arrow Films for £4.99 a month
  • BFI Player+ – On Demand classic British and critically acclaimed movies for £4.99 a month
  • BeFit UK –  Get fit fast with unlimited streaming of hundreds of workouts for £5.99 a month
  • Comic Con HQ – Fan-favourite films, original programming, exclusive access and more for £4.99 a month
  • Curiosity Stream – Exclusive documentaries from the world’s best filmmakers in HD for £5.49 a month
  • Daily Burn – On Demand and live workouts including dance, strength training, yoga, cardio and more for £9.99 a month
  • Discovery  – Documentaries and unscripted entertainment from Discovery for £4.99 a month
  • Eurosport Player – Live and On Demand sports programming, including Grand Slam tennis, cycling and winter sports for £6.99 a month
  • Fandor – A hand-picked collection of the most talked about indie, foreign and classic films for £3.49 a month
  • Filmbox – Hollywood movies, favourite evergreens and popular series for £3.99 a month
  • Full Moon Features – All the Full Moon classics and new releases on demand for £3.99 a month
  • Gaia – Yoga, nutrition, meditation and more for £7.99 a month
  • Horse & Country Play – The home of equestrianism and British country lifestyle, now on demand for £3.99 a month
  • ITV Hub+ – Watch live and tons of ad-free episodes to catch up on from ITV for £3.99 a month
  • hayu (NBC Universal) – On Demand reality TV programming including Keeping Up with the Kardashians for £3.99 a month
  • Heera – An Amazon-exclusive on demand channel with over 600 Bollywood, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, and Telegu movies and series including blockbusters like Sultan and Kabali for only £3.99 a month
  • Hopster – Make screen time smart with safe, ad-free content for kids for £3.99 a month
  • Ketchup TV – Hundreds of episodes of shows for kids, packed with their favourites for £2.29 a month
  • Love Nature – Ad-free, family friendly nature documentaries on demand for £3.99 a month
  • MGM – Hollywood hits, timeless classics and cult favourites movies from MGM for £4.49 a month
  • Motorvision – On Demand TV dedicated to the automotive world including car reviews & tests, motorsports and lifestyle shows for £2.99 a month
  • MUBI – A new, critically acclaimed movie to stream every day for £5.99 a month
  • Nautical Channel – The network focused on sailing lifestyle, available live and on-demand for £3.99 a month
  • Nordic Noir and Beyond – The best thriller, crime and drama series from the Nordics and beyond for £4.99 a month
  • Panna – Easy-to-follow video recipes from master chefs and cooking courses for £1.49 a month
  • Pinoy Box Office – Filipino movies and series on demand for £1.99 a month
  • Planet Knowledge – Exciting and informative HD documentaries on nature, history, culture and more for £2.29 a month
  • Pongalo Next – Latin American movies and series on demand for £2.99 a month
  • Qello Concerts – The greatest concert films from icons and new artists like The Who, Queen, The Beatles, Muse and more for £5.99 a month
  • Realeyz – Independent films by award-winning filmmakers on demand for £4.99 a month
  • Rooster Teeth  – Original sci-fi, gaming and comedy for £3.99 a month
  • Shudder – Backed by AMC Networks, Shudder super-serves fans of thrillers, suspense, and horror for £4.99 a month
  • Studio Universal Classics – Classic movies from Universal Studios for £3.99 a month
  • Sweatflix – Stream HIIT workouts and yoga flows for £9.49 a month
  • Tastemade Plus – Our network of Tastemakers bring great food and travel to the world for £1.99 a month
  • The Great Courses Signature Collection – A curated collection of educational courses On Demand for £5.49 a month
  • UP Family – Entertainment for the whole family for £3.49 a month
  • Viewster Anime – ad-free anime on demand from Viewster for £2.99 a month
  • Yoga Anytime Channel – HD yoga videos on demand for £6.99 a month