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What are YouTube’s Primetime Channels?

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 is a growing selection of premium content on YouTube. We’re not just talking about monetized creators; we’re talking about production studios that produce quality content on YouTube.


Primetime Channels is a YouTube feature that changes the entire dynamic of finding and watching premium content on the streaming service. Here we will 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. It includes streaming platforms that create and host their own original content, such as SHOWTIME, but it also includes streaming platforms that are curated collections of content by other producers, such as Curiosity Stream.

Buying or renting movies on YouTube isn’t new, but Primetime Channels offer new ways to discover premium content. It offers the option of paying 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, it may be better to buy that title individually.

You can see what’s on a Primetime channel without subscribing to it, which can be a good way to find out if the subscription will be worth your money. Some Primetime channels also post free full episodes for anyone to watch without a subscription — but it’s usually just a season premiere to get you hooked.

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How to find Primetime channels

Premium content on YouTube

From YouTube’s main page, scroll down the column menu on the left until you get to 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 a thumbnail to see what the channel has to offer. Most of the Primetime channels have some free content, which is shown as a regular YouTube video. However, most of the content on Primetime Channels has green Pay to see the buttons below them.

The Curiosity Stream YouTube Primetime Channel

There are two buttons at the top of a Primetime Channels page: Subscribe and Try it for free. The Subscribe button subscribes to that YouTube channel. The Try it for 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 for each Primetime channel.

Manage your Primetime channels

Even when you try the channel for free, you must provide your payment information, although you can cancel your subscription before the trial period ends to avoid paying. When you do this, you will Try it for free the button changes to Manage purchases, and the green ones Pay to see buttons become Look 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 have to find another way to interact with the Danny Phantom fan community.

You can get to your Primetime channels the same way we showed you before. They still appear with the other channels, although it is a gray one Bought button below.

Access paid YouTube Primetime channels

Your primetime channels are also shown on Bought tab at the top Movies and TV. You can also find them by selecting Library from the main menu along the left side of the screen and scroll down to Primetime channels.

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

Manage YouTube memberships

It looks and smells like cable

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

There are two or three monthly payments that go to two or three different services that you have to access with two or three different apps. Subscribe to the same services through YouTube Primetime channels and you have one payment going to one service provider for content in one app, so it’s a more convenient option after cable.

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