Amazon Prime takes the next step toward becoming a cable TV alternative


Amid the numerous Amazon Prime perks, there are a few lesser-known gems. For instance, did you know that Amazon Prime subscribers can augment their already extensive Instant Video library by subscribing to more than 100 different “channels,” and that several of those channels can be watched live? In essence, Amazon Prime can supplant a cable TV subscription, much like the numerous other services out there such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu Live TV, and more. However, until now, Amazon’s handling of its live TV content has held it back and while Amazon Prime isn’t yet a true competitor to the likes of Sling TV and its rivals, Prime has taken the first step by adding some important new features that make watching a finding live content easier.

On Tuesday, January 16, Amazon is adding a search functionality to its Fire TV streaming devices, which will allow Amazon Prime subscribers to browse all live content on select premium channels. Specifically, HBO, Cinemax, Stars, and Showtime will have a dedicated “On Now” column on the Fire TV homepage. As the name implies, whatever is currently being aired on those channels will show up here, and can be viewed simply by selecting the channel. Another new inclusion is the channel guide feature, which will show all video programming, including what’s currently airing live, as well as what you will be able to watch later.



Of course, it wouldn’t be an Amazon announcement if Alexa wasn’t involved. Users will be able to use the same Alexa commands they always have to browse content, but Alexa will now pull up whatever channel you want to watch when specified, and can be used to open and browse the channel guide and On Now sections of the Fire TV interface.

While HBO, Cinemax, Stars, and Showtime are currently the only supported channels, Amazon promises more channels will be added soon.

Bear in mind that in order to see HBO, Showtime, et cetera, in the On Now feed, you must be subscribed to the supported channels through Amazon Channels. If you watch any of these channels via other means — such as an HBO Go account, or as an add-on for another service — they won’t be available.

All Fire TV users will find the channel guide available now, while those with the necessary channel subscriptions will have immediate access to the On Now feed as well. If you aren’t yet subscribed to these channels through Amazon, a free trial is available to check them out.