Amazon has announced it will offer live television channels via its Prime Video service, for an extra fee. People will be able to subscribe to popular channels such as Discovery and Eurosport individually, without paying for a bundle of channels. Until now, Prime Video has offered only on-demand films and TV shows in the UK.
But one analyst said the launch line-up of channels was “not immediately desirable” and would struggle to attract satellite TV customers.
“Amazon launched a similar thing in the US, and the big selling point was that you could get HBO and Showtime programmes, all under one umbrella,” said Tom Harrington, an analyst at Enders.
“That’s not going to happen here. Sky have HBO and Showtime locked down, at least for now, and will hold on to them aggressively. “When you look at what’s available in the UK, it does lack the wow factor.”
Discovery Communications is providing the best-known pay-TV channels to the service, offering Eurosport for £6.99 a month and Discovery Channel for £4.99 a month. Viewers must also pay for an Amazon Prime membership at £79 a year.
ITV will offer an ad-free version of its streaming service and access to its free channels – such ITV 2 and ITV Be – for a monthly fee of £3.99. “This is a starting point,” said Alex Green, managing director of Amazon Video.
“We’re offering linear TV channels where it makes sense. We have a good spread of big partners and I’m sure that will only grow.”
As well as the traditional television channels, viewers will be able to pay for curated “channels” of programmes to stream on-demand, such as the Yoga Anytime Channel, and Horse & Country Play, which is billed as the “home of equestrianism”.
“The core of the experience on Prime Video is on-demand streaming, and that will still be the core of the experience,” said Mr Green. Difficult market Mr Harrington said it would be difficult for streaming services to offer traditional television services at a competitive price.
“In the US, YouTube, Amazon, Apple and Facebook have been vocal about getting TV bundles together, but YouTube is the only one to have done it so far,” he told the BBC.
“It’s very hard to build from all these different suppliers and put these channels together at a price that is compatible to a cable offering.” Mr Green said Amazon wanted to offer customers more flexibility, by letting them subscribe to individual channels.
“Often people say they are subscribed to a big TV package but don’t watch a lot of the channels,” he told the BBC. “Now people can try it out, pick and choose, and cancel at any time.”