The news was first exclusively reported by Broadband TV News this weekend.
The channels in the UK include Discovery Channel, MGM, Shudder, Comic Con HQ, Eurosport Player and ITV Hub+ plus Amazon’s own Bollywood channel, Heera, and in Germany Syfy Horror, GEO Television, MGM, Studio Universal Classics, E! Entertainment, Terra X, Motorvision TV, sportdigital HD, Fix&Foxi, Kixi Select and others.
In the UK, customers will be able to pick and choose with no fixed contract, paying between £1.49 and £9.99 per channel per month. A number of main UK broadcasters, including the BBC and Channel 4, are not part of the proposition. ITV is offering its catch-up service ITV Hub+ for £3.99 per month. The BFI Player and Discovery each cost £4.99, wile the Eurosport Player is offered at £6.99, and Horse & Country Play is available for £3.99. In Germany, the price range lies between €1.99 and €7.99 per month, depending on the channel.
Programming is available both as linear live TV streaming and on-demand. Eurosport will start live streaming premium sports content, beginning with Grand Slam tennis tournament French Open.
Amazon Channels is available to Amazon Prime members only. A Prime subscription costs €69 per year in Germany and £79 per year in the UK. The new OTT service which is also accessible in Austria complements the Amazon Video platform featuring Amazon Original Series and exclusive TV shows such as The Grand Tour, The Man in the High Castle and Mr Robot.
Amazon Channels are available via the existing Prime Video app to watch anytime, anywhere on smart TV sets, iOS and Android mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick and Fire tablets, games consoles and through the web at www.amazon.co.uk/channels (UK) and www.amazon.de/channels (Germany).
Alex Green, managing director of Amazon Channels for Europe, said: “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.”
Susanna Dinnage, President of Discovery Networks UK and Chief Content Officer, International, added: “We are delighted to bring our premium factual and sports content to Amazon Prime members. This partnership underlines our strategic ambition to reach every person across every service and every screen. Amazon Prime members can now experience the shows that are loved by Discovery fans as well as enjoy an exciting line up of premium sports events – from summer favourites such as Grand Slam tennis and Cycling to next winter’s sport season and the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.”
Simon Pitts, ITV managing director, Online, Pay and Interactive, said: “The ITV Hub is all about giving viewers more choice about how and when they access their favourite ITV shows, including watching without the ads via ITV Hub+ for £3.99 per month. We’re delighted to be part of the Amazon Channels launch line-up in the UK.”
Amazon wants to add further channels to its OTT service in the coming months. In the US, Amazon Channels launched in December 2015 and now carries more than 100 channels.
Amazon’s pay-TV platform could have strong impact on the pay-TV market, according to Paolo Pescatore, Director, Multiplay and Media, at research company CCS Insight: “A highly disruptive move and one that threatens Sky’s dominance in the pay-TV market both in the UK and Germany.”
Pescatore also points to another aspect: “The addition of Discovery’s channels is hugely significant. This is the first time that its channels have been made available outside of the Sky universe and out of a bundle. In our opinion, this will force many households to think twice about their pay-TV subscription and cut the cord as we’ve seen in the US. Especially if Amazon will add more live TV such as sports in the future.”
Broadband TV Views. The launch of Amazon Channels is a significant improvement of the streaming service’s offer. The service is available on quite a lot of devices, but in Europe there is only a limited choice of smart TV sets with a pre-installed app. Of course, Amazon Channels can be streamed to any modern TV set using the Fire TV stick, but a lot of work needs to be done here. Competitor Netflix already managed to get prime position on most smart TV sets as well as on Liberty Global’s set-top boxes.
Content-wise we notice that there are quite a lot of niche channels available from providers that have difficulty getting access to major cable and IPTV platforms. Here Amazon shows its strength: It can offer any type of niche content without giving up valuable bandwidth or EPG slots.
On the other side, looking at the price tags of the offers in both Germany and the UK shows us that à la carte pricing is very expensive if you want to subscribe to a lot of services. In some countries, consumer associations are asking cable and IPTV providers to offer à la carte selection instead of just bundles. Amazon’s pricing shows that this can be a rather costly solution for the viewer. (RB)