Are Amazon Add-On Subscriptions Worth The Money?

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You may have considered one of those new Amazon Add-On Subscriptions in the Amazon Video store, but you’ve probably wondered if you’ll be getting your money’s worth. As with most tech and digital media questions the answer is, “It depends.”




I subscribed to the Comedy Central Stand-Up Plus channel for three reasons:

1. I am a stand-up comedy NUT.

2. Many of the stand-up specials included in this subscription are excluded from the pretty generous Comedy Central offerings in the Prime Video catalog.

3. This subscription costs only $3.99/mo (as of this writing, on 1/14/16), which is what I’ve sometimes paid in the past just to rent a single stand-up special.

It’s SO worth the four bucks a month to me to have instant, unlimited access to all those great stand-up specials I’d otherwise have to rent or buy.


Movie Channel Subscriptions Cost More
Comedy Central Stand-Up Plus may seem like a no-brainer to comedy fans, but what about all those other subscription options?

You’re going to pay more for the movie channels, Starz! and Showtime. Each of those is $8.99/month, which makes the math a little trickier.

The main reason many people will consider these subscriptions is to get access to the networks’ exclusive original shows, like Penny Dreadful, Homeland, Outlander and Black Sails. But consider this: you could buy an entire season of the show you have in mind for $33 or less in HD, and you’ll spend that much on your monthly subscription for a given channel within four months. Many seasons of these series are priced considerably lower than $33; for example, as of this writing season 1 of Black Sails is $9.99 to own in HD and season 2 is $14.99 to own in HD. Most series are about $25/season to own in HD.

Even if you are considering the subscription because there’s more than one original show you’re interested in on a given channel, remember that you can buy a full season of three (or more) of those original series for less than the roughly $108 you’ll be paying per year for your subscription.




It Might Make Sense If You’re Playing Catch-Up
One scenario I can imagine where subscribing will save you money is if you’re new to a series that’s already on at least its second season, because the premium channel networks typically make past seasons of their shows available to stream at no extra charge to subscribers.

However, be sure to check the product page for each show you’re interested in to verify that you’ll be getting access to all past seasons of the show when you subscribe. Look for “Included with add-on [channel/network name] subscription” in the ‘buy/rent’ box. If the past seasons you need are included, go ahead and subscribe for a month or two to binge-watch all the past seasons, then cancel your subscription and start buying new seasons going forward.

It can also make sense to subscribe for just a month or two if you’re not sure which shows you might be interested in, and want to sample them first.




It Might Make Sense For Specialized Interests
Other channels available for subscription cater to specialized interests, and cost about half as much as the premium movie channel subscriptions.

For example horror fans will probably find that at $4.99/month, their subscription to the Shudder: Curated Horror channel is money well-spent. I’m considering this one myself, because my daughter is a HUGE fan of the genre and I already rent two or more horror movies for her each month. At least with this channel, we can spend less time scanning the listings looking for something with a strong average review rating.

Similarly, at $3.99/month the Dramafever channel is probably a great buy for fans of drama series from around the world, not just because the price is so low but because it may not be possible to easily get access to these series in any other way.

As for the many other channels available, doing the math is much the same as the examples I’ve given.

If you’re already paying more per month in rentals or purchases for the same type of content, subscribing will definitely save you some money. On the other hand, if you’re already getting much the same content from channels you already pay for or get free as part of a package, or if it would cost you less to simply buy seasons of series outright, subscribing won’t make much sense.


Click here to browse all available Amazon Add-On Subscriptions.


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