What Are YouTube’s Primetime Channels?

Once upon a time, whether or not your favorite movie or TV show was on YouTube was guesswork. Now, there’s a growing selection of premium content on YouTube. We’re not just talking about monetized creators; we’re talking about production studios producing quality content on YouTube.

Primetime Channels is a YouTube feature that changes the whole dynamic of finding and watching premium content on the streaming service. Here we’ll look at what it is, where to find it, and how to use it.

What Are YouTube Primetime Channels?

Primetime Channels is a collection of streaming services with content streaming on YouTube. That includes streaming platforms creating and hosting their own original content, like SHOWTIME, but it also includes streaming platforms that are curated collections of content by other producers, like Curiosity Stream.

Buying or renting movies on YouTube isn’t new, but Primetime Channels offers new ways to discover premium content. It offers the opportunity to pay for a subscription to access the channel’s shows, movies, and events instead of buying titles individually. Of course, if you really only want to watch one title that a channel offers, you might be better off buying that title individually.

You can see what is on a Primetime Channel without subscribing to it, which can be a good way to determine if the subscription will be worth your money. Some Primetime Channels also post free full episodes that anyone can view without a subscription – but it’s usually just a season premiere to get you hooked.

How to Find Primetime Channels

From YouTube’s main page, scroll down the column menu on the left until you get to the Explore section. Click Movies and TV. On this page, scroll down to Primetime Channels. As of this writing, there are forty Primetime channels to choose from, with content ranging from horror to Hallmark and classic movies to crime.

Click on any thumbnail to view what the channel has to offer. Most of the Primetime Channels have some free content, which appears as a normal YouTube video. However, most of the content on the Primetime Channels has green Pay to watch buttons underneath them.

The Curiosity Stream YouTube Primetime Channel

There are two buttons at the top of a Primetime Channels page: Subscribe and Try it free. The Subscribe button subscribes you to that YouTube channel. The Try it free button is how you pay to unlock premium content from the channel—after a one-week free trial. It’s also how you learn the monthly price of each Primetime Channel.

Managing Your Primetime Channels

Even when you try the channel for free, you have to enter your payment information, even though you can cancel your subscription before the trial ends to avoid making a payment. When you do this, the Try it free button changes to Manage purchase, and those green Pay to watch buttons become Watch now buttons.

Watching premium content on YouTube is the same as watching other content on YouTube, except the comments are turned off. So, even after agreeing to pay $10/month for Paramount+, you’ll have to find another way to interact with the Danny Phantom fan community.

You can get to your Primetime Channels in the same way we showed you before. They still appear with the other channels, though there’s a gray Purchased button underneath.

Accessing paid YouTube Primetime Channels

Your Primetime Channels also appear on the Purchased tab at the top of the Movies and TV. You can also find them by selecting Library from the main menu along the left side of the screen and scrolling down to Primetime Channels.

If you decide that a Primetime Channel isn’t for you (or you watched that one movie you wanted to watch for free), go to that channel and click the Manage purchase button we found earlier. Then, click Manage membership next to the Primetime Channel subscription you want to cancel, and click Cancel from the revealed dropdown menu.

Managing YouTube Memberships

It Looks and Smells Like Cable

Is this just another weird attempt by web companies to replace cable? Yes, it is. But consider this: Suppose you already have even two or three of the forty streaming platforms represented on YouTube’s Primetime Channels.

That’s two or three monthly payments going to two or three different services that you have to access with two or three different apps. Subscribe to those same services through YouTube Primetime Channels, and you have one payment going to one servicer for content in one app. So, it’s a more convenient post-cable option.

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