Looking to target the growing number of cord-cutters who are opting out of costly pay-TV all-in subscriptions, Amazon is adding another swathe of video content to its Prime, its members-only video, music and free delivery subscription service. Today the company announced the Streaming Partners Program, dozens of TV streams for Prime customers, including subscriptions for Showtime, Starz, A+E Network, AMC, Ring TV Boxing and more. Unlike other Prime services, which are bundled in free with Prime membership, Amazon will be charging for these streams after a free trial period. Showtime and Starz, for example will cost $8.99 per month.
For context, this is the same price you pay for Showtime if you are on Hulu, but lower than the $10.99 fee that people pay if they take it as a standalone service for Apple devices, Roku and PlayStation Vue.
In keeping with this Amazon has also redesigned its video homepage to incorporate the new streaming services, alongside Amazon Original Series, and other Prime video content.
Amazon is not always thought of as the most groundbreaking of businesses when it comes to new tech and new services, and in this case it’s also wading into the cord cutting market not as an early mover, but possibly doing it just as it’s gaining momentum among a wider and more critical mass of consumers more interested in streaming.
“The way people watch TV is changing, and customers need an easier way to subscribe to and enjoy multiple streaming subscriptions,” said Michael Paull, Vice President of Digital Video at Amazon, in a statement. “With the Streaming Partners Program, we’re making it easy for video providers to reach highly engaged Prime members, many of whom are already frequent streamers, and we’re making it easier for viewers to watch their favorite shows and channels.”
The announcement from Amazon feels as much as a notice to consumers, as it is to video content owners who may want to become a part of the platform. “With the Streaming Partners Program, video providers have access to a highly engaged streaming audience, and viewers have a more convenient way to manage their streaming subscriptions,” the company notes.
With the Streaming Partners Program, Amazon is offering to handle various parts of the customer relationship on behalf of video owners. This includes subscriber acquisition, customer service, managing billing — using the cards that are already on file with Amazon — and running the streaming over Amazon’s own infrastructure and making sure the streams work on whatever devices people are using to access the service.
“We’re excited to work with Amazon to offer our streaming service featuring all of our award-winning original series, plus our exclusive sports, news-making documentaries and blockbuster movies, to millions of Prime users,” said David Nevins, President, Showtime Networks Inc. in a statement. “By marrying SHOWTIME with the powerhouse retail capabilities of Amazon, we continue to greatly expand our footprint, making sure our service is available to new subscribers whenever and however they want to watch us.”
On the user side, in addition to free trials and discounts on the individual stream subscriptions, Amazon is hoping that the fact that they are already paying for Prime and watching video on Amazon will lure people to adding more services in that single account. That will also mean a unified playlist/watchlist for videos. Other features will include a unified search feature across all subscriptions, voice search on Fire TV and IMDb X-Ray integration.
Amazon notes that initial launch partners include: SHOWTIME, STARZ, A+E Network (Lifetime Movie Club), AMC (Shudder and SundanceNow Doc Club), Gaia, RLJ Entertainment (Acorn TV, Urban Movie Channel, Acacia TV), DramaFever (DramaFever Instant), Tribeca Short List, Cinedigm (Dove Channel, Docurama, CONtv), Smithsonian (Smithsonian Earth), IndieFlix (IndieFlix Shorts), Curiosity Stream, Qello, FlixFling (Cinefest, Nature Vision, Warriors and Gangsters, Dox, Monsters and Nightmares), BroadbandTV (Hooplakidz Plus), DEFY Media (ScreenJunkies Plus), Gravitas (Film Forum, Daring Docs, Fear Factory), and Ring TV Boxing.