Amazon unplugs cable…and recent e-book price drops

Amazon unplugs cable…and recent e-book price drops


That’s the sound of cable cutters leaving their $100 a month and more cable subscriptions thanks to what was announced yesterday in this

Amazon press release

It’s called the “Streaming Partners” program, and it enables

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

members, who can already watch thousands of movies and TV shows as part of their $99 a year membership, to subscribe to additional video services.

There are a few particularly interesting elements to this, and why I think it is really significant.

First, it’s the appeal to people who are already Prime subscribers.

Many Prime members are already satisfied with the service. People who subscribe tend to stay subscribed…in marketing parlance, it’s “sticky”. Among the benefits:

  • Free two-day shipping on many items (and reduced faster shipping)
  • Prime music: stream lots of music, including currently popular songs
  • Prime video
  • Free storage of photos
  • The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library…if you are a Prime member and you have a hardware Kindle, you can borrow up to one book a calendar month from over a million titles. I get reminded when I go to the Prime page above that I am not using that benefit, but it’s because we pay to be Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) members
  • Kindle First: get one book a month (to own) out of a few soon to be published titles

All of those benefits (and that’s not all of them) are why it’s also good to

Give the Gift of Prime (at AmazonSmile*)

If you are already a member of Prime, you don’t really think about the roughly $8.25 a month you pay for it (and there have been some opportunities to get it at a reduced price). If you start paying $4.99 a month for an add-on  subscription, you aren’t going to think of that as $13.24…and you shouldn’t, unless you don’t use any of the other benefits ever.

I was hoping to just find a simple list of the add-on subscriptions with prices at

Amazon’s add-on subscriptions page (at AmazonSmile*)

but from what I could see, I had to click on the services and then click on the trial subscription button to see the details.

These are some of what was listed (from high cost to low):

  • Gaia $9.95 a month
  • Showtime $8.99 a month
  • Starz $8.99 a month
  • Qello Concerts $7.99 a month
  • Curiosity Stream $5.99 a month
  • hooplakids $5.99 a month
  • Acorn TV $4.99 a month
  • ConTV $4.99 a month
  • Screen Junkiez $4.99 a month
  • Shudder $4.99 a month
  • Tribeca Shortlist $4.99 a month
  • Comedy Central Stand Up Plus $3.99 a month
  • Lifetime Movie Club $3.99 a month
  • Dramafever Instant $3.99 a month
  • NatureVision TV $2.99 a month

There are quite a few others, generally of specialized interest.

If you were already paying for Prime, might you pay $8.99 a month more to get Showtime and drop your premium cable package?  Sure. Might you also want to get foreign drama series (including Boys Over Flowers, based on a popular Japanese manga series)? Yes, I think you might want to get that for a family member…or ConTV, based on geeky cons, but including movies, TV series, and more.

They all seem to have free trials (I saw both seven days and fourteen days), and it looks to me like it is month to month (no commitment). That is a huge option! You could pay $8.99 for a month, and binge watch, say, Outlander.

The second thing about the program is the attraction to get new Prime members. I’m not sure how many people would join just to get the video services, but if they were considering Prime, they could drop cable and pay for the year…with about what it costs for a month of Premium cable. 😉

Oh, by the way…one reason people get cable is to get local channels. Another option is an HDTV antenna…

Amazon suggests this one:

HDTV Antenna (at AmazonSmile*) $23.99 for a 35 mile range

You don’t pay anything a month to use these antennae…

The third thing, and this is something that has been integral to Amazon’s strategy, is the appeal to content producers (and/or distributors).

Have your own video channel? Start here

Amazon handles the streaming infrastructure, billing, and does some level of promotion…similar to what they do with Kindle Direct Publishing.

I didn’t see much about the requirements…I assume it’s not an exclusive deal, even if you aren’t a big name like Showtime.

Here’s a wild speculation: would Netflix join this?

I’m already a Netflix subscriber, but I’d much rather have it be just part of my Prime subscription as an add-on…especially if it was a bit cheaper, but even if it was the same, it’s just easier to have one bill.

Commentators on the news noted the possible impact on Netflix, but I think Dish TV, Comcast, and those places should be more concerned. Netflix has original content…but I would say most people who subscribe to premium Comcast cable do so for just a few channels. That get a whole lot of others, and they may watch them from time to time, but they’d let that go, in many cases, I think.

This has the potential to reshape the TV market…there will be winners and losers out of it. Here’s one reason, and I’m going to coin this new slogan: “It’s easier through Amazon!” 🙂

I don’t like to do a post without giving something to my readers who are really all about the books (and the EBRs…E-Book Readers), so here are some books which have recently dropped in price (they are all at least 30% off…check the price before you click or tap that “Buy” button, since the prices can change at any time):

  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain $3.50
  • A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley $6.99
  • The Ghost House (Annie Graham #1) $3.99
  • Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition by Nisid Hajari $9.99
  • Luring a Lady by Nora Roberts $3.99
  • Rickey & Robinson: The True, Untold Story of the Integration of Baseball by Roger Kahn $4.99

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

12 Responses to “Amazon unplugs cable…and recent e-book price drops”

  1. Phink Says:

    I saw this yesterday on Amazon’s web site and it is interesting. However, it does not seem to save any money. I have been thinking about ‘Curiosity Stream’ for a couple of months now. For documentary lovers it looks like a great channel. The problem is going through Amazon does not save money over going through the company itself. Well, I don’t guess that’s a problem but I don’t see the benefit if it cost the same. I only checked Curiosity Stream but I bet all the others cost the same through the company as it does through Amazon. Curiosity Stream is $2,99 a month through the company for SD or $5.99 for HD.

    There is a ROKU app for it as well. I guess the benefit would be that you stay logged onto your Amazon app on the ROKU to see these channels rather than having to jump around to different apps. I am assuming that’s how it works. I guess staying in the Amazon app would be nice and a little easier. I hope I’m not coming across as bashing this new feature. That is not my intention. It’s just, unless I’m missing something, I only see a very slight benefit here.

    Oh, one more thing. I reckon if you are going to subscribe to quite a few it’d be convenient to have your billing in one place with an easy way to cancel your service rather than having to deal with 5 or 6 different companies.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Well, “It’s easier with Amazon” (I think “with” is better than “through”, which I said in the post) isn’t just about when you drop a service. 🙂

      First, I’ve already made the decision to trust Amazon with my financial information. When we start dealing with video content suppliers we don’t know, that’s going to make a difference. That’s also one of the pluses for the content supplier, of course.

      Second, let’s take what happens when my debit/credit card gets renewed. I don’t want to have to go to multiple places to give them the new expiration date.

      I assume the $5.99 for CuriosityStream through Amazon is for the HD, so, as you say, it’s the same price.

      Showtime is $8.99 through Amazon, $10.99 on Roku. That $8.99 is the same on Hulu and Playstation Vue.

  2. Phink Says:

    I have already found a flaw to what I said above. I guess not all of these are available through the company. I looked at Starz and unless I’m mistaken, Starz Play is only available with a Starz subscription to a cable company. I know HBO is offered on it’s own for streaming but I guess Starz isn’t. So I’m sure some of the above channels are only available through Amazon. Now that would be a real benefit to Prime if a person really want’s Starz after cutting the cable.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      You are right about STARZ Play…you need to also have a cable/satellite subscription.

  3. Zebras Says:

    Thanks for listing the pricing, it felt like you had to commit to the free trial to find out what the charge was going to be down the road. I hate free trials that you have to remember to cancel before they start charging you.

  4. Tom Semple Says:

    The other (I would say major) advantage over Roku (or Apple TV etc.) is that all of this content is hosted by Amazon and plays through Amazon Video: you do not need separate apps for each thing, and need to remember which app/service provides which content. Fire TV is often criticized for being Amazon-centric, but now we can see where things are heading: the ‘everything store’ for video.

    It might indeed make more sense for Netflix to integrate with Amazon Video. They would save money on streaming infrastructure (much is probably hosted with AWS in the first place), and anything content that’s available from both Prime Video and Netflix would defer to Amazon, so they wouldn’t have to pay royalties on that. It would certainly be more convenient for customers of both.

    It would be good to see broadcast networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, BBC etc.) make their content available on a subscription basis as well. Where I live, there is no broadcast TV and the only way to get it is via cable or satellite subscription. The rationale of cable cutting is not just about trying to save money (it often does not) but the desire to watch on demand rather than having to watch in real time or TiVo it.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Yes, and I think there are two elements to home automation (which will become increasingly significant) that are greatly enhanced by having content in one source.

      The first is launching the service. If our Hulu and Netflix content was in the same “place” as the Amazon Video, I could default the Harmony to go there…much simpler.

      Second, I would guess they will be available to the same search database…not necessarily, but possibly. That makes voice search much simpler.

      I’ve heard that Amazon is negotiating with CBS. They’ve been, I would say, less easily accessible in the past on, for example, Hulu. Prime did have the first episode of Supergirl, though.

      I keep going back to Amazon and infrastructure. This is an example of where them having the infrastructure could be enough to get somebody like CBS on board. It’s complicated to host your own video, collect payment, and deal with Customer Service. It’s a whole lot easier to give Amazon a reasonable cut, and in exchange, just get a check for the money (not that they’d actually use physical checks, but you get the idea). 😉

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