Pushing the needle with OTT, direct-to-consumer video options, Amazon has begun to sell standalone access to Showtime and Starz and other services to its Prime membership base without the need for a separate cable subscription through a new initiative called the Streaming Partners Program.
Showtime and Starz, offered for $8.99 per month each following a free seven-day trial, are two of a batch of other “featured” add-on subscriptions offered via Amazon Prime. Overall, Amazon Prime’s add-on subscriptions feature dozens of offerings, including Acorn TV, Comedy Central Stand-Up Plus, Lifetime Movie Club, Gaia, and Qello Concerts. Others on board with the Amazon streaming program include DramaFever Instant, Shudder, CuriosityStream, Smithsonian Earth, and Urban Movie Channel.
Starz’s involvement comes soon after the programmer’s CEO, Chris Albrecht, indicated that Starz was closing in on deals for OTT distribution. Showtime, meanwhile, launched a standalone OTT service over the summer year that regularly sells for $10.99 per month (and $9.99 per month to Sony PlayStation Plus members), and as a bundle with Hulu.
Amazon said the new Streaming Partners program enable its partners to reach “tens of millions” of Prime subscribers. Under the program, Amazon said it’s responsible for driving all subscriber acquisition, billing (using the subscriber’s credit cards that are on file with Amazon), customer service, delivering content through its streaming infrastructure, and managing device compatibility.
Early on, content via the program is offered on the Amazon Video app on TVs, streaming media players, mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, and Fire tablets, or on the Web at Amazon.com/amazonvideo.
Other perks include a unified “Watchlist” across all subscriptions, IMDb “X-ray” integration, unified voice search on Fire TV, and making partners’ newest episodes simultaneous with broadcast.
“The way people watch TV is changing, and customers need an easier way to subscribe to and enjoy multiple streaming subscriptions,” said Michael Paull, VP 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 offering’s 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), CuriosityStream, 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.