This week, cord cutters were presented with a new option for streaming online video content as Amazon unveiled plans to offer its “Prime” customers monthly subscriptions to Showtime, Starz and other pay TV services through its new “Streaming Partners Program.”  Announced on Tuesday, the new Amazon offering provides further evidence of the transformative impact of online video distribution (OVD) services on the multichannel video program distribution (MVPD) market, which, in recent years, has seen increasing numbers of customers abandon traditional cable and satellite TV subscriptions for video content provided exclusively by OVD providers such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.  Amazon’s announcement comes on the heels of a similar offering by Hulu, which recently rolled out an add-on subscription to Showtime at a monthly rate of $8.99.  Like Hulu, Amazon will be marketing Showtime to its Prime customers at the same monthly rate of $8.99, which provides a $2 discount off of the $11 rate that Showtime charges customers for unbundled, online streaming.  The same $8.99 rate also applies to Starz, and both channels may be accessed through Amazon mobile device apps, streaming boxes and connected televisions.  AMC’s SundanceNow film service, A&E’s Lifetime Movie Club and other pay TV channels are also available through the Streaming Partners Program, and Amazon executives confirmed that the company intends to sign additional content providers to the service. 
 
Amazon, which says it has “tens of millions” of Prime customers worldwide, will handle sign-in and billing functions for all channels provided through the Streaming Partners Program.  In announcing the program, Michael Paull, Amazon’s vice president of digital video services, remarked that “customers need an easier way to subscribe to and enjoy multiple streaming subscriptions” as “the way people watch TV is changing.”  Meanwhile, Showtime president David Nevins told reporters that, “by marrying Showtime with the powerhouse retail capabilities of Amazon, we continue to greatly expand our footprint, making sure our service is available to new subscribers whenever and however they want to watch us.”