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Amazon launches live channels on Prime - but you'll need a TV licence to watch

Tuesday, May 30th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Amazon has added live subscription TV channels to its Prime Video service – but users will need a TV licence to watch them.

Prime members can now add more than 40 premium channels to their account, each for an individual monthly fee.

Prices range from £1.49 a month for cooking channel Panna to £9.99 for on demand and live workouts on Daily Burn.

Access to live content and ad-free programmes via ITV Hub+ is £3.99 a month, Eurosport Player is £6.99 a month and Amazon’s own Bollywood channel, Heera, is £3.99.

These prices are on top of Amazon Prime membership at £79 a year or £7.99 a month.

Alex Green, managing director Europe at Amazon Channels, said: “For the first time, Prime members in the UK and Germany will be able to choose to watch premium TV channels without having to sign up to a bundle or a contract, giving them the freedom to pay for only what they want to watch.”

But if they’re going to be watching live TV, viewers in the UK will also need a TV licence – currently £147 a year – because its illegal to watch any live television, even if it’s being streamed online, without one.

It is also illegal to watch on demand content on the BBC iPlayer without a licence after the so-called ‘iPlayer loophole’ was closed last year.

The launch of Amazon Channels comes alongside a focus by the streaming service on investing in big-budget Amazon Originals such as American Gods, The Man in the High Castle and The Grand Tour.

Analysis by JP Morgan shows that Amazon is planning to spend 4.5bn USD on original and licensed content this year.

Infographic: The Billion-Dollar Race for Streaming Supremacy | StatistaAmazon is estimated to be spending 4.5bn USD on video content this year. Graphic by Statista

In October, it was rumoured that Amazon was about to start offering broadband services in Europe, potentially bundled in with a Prime subscription.

The fact that companies such as BT in the UK and Deutsche Telekom in Germany share their infrastructure with other providers is thought to make the prospect of launching a broadband service in Europe an attractive one.

In order to offer fibre services in the US, Amazon would be faced with the expensive task of building its own network.

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