The Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick have just gained new apps for Discovery Channel, Science Channel, Investigation Discovery, TLC, and Animal Planet. All of these networks are owned by Discovery Communications, which is why these apps have all arrived at once. All five apps share the same layout and features; just with different programming. They require activation with a TV subscription service to unlock all content within each app, but they do offer a small selection of free content, which includes full episodes, even if you don’t activate the app. If you do unlock the app, you’ll also be able to watch a live stream of each network.
Since all of the apps are identical as far as features and layout, I’ll focus this overview on just the Discovery Channel app. The home screen of the app displays featured content. At the top is a list of featured shows, followed by episodes that aired the previous day. Scrolling down lists a banner with what is currently airing live and a list of “unlocked” episodes, which are free to watch if you don’t activate the app. Below that are popular shows and curated lists.
Next is a section of the app that lists all the shows available to stream through the app. At this time there are about 70 different shows available, which is probably the largest collection of shows I’ve seen from a network app. Many of the shows only have a small number of episodes available. Highlighting a show will display how many episodes from how many different seasons are available.
Selecting a show will list all the episodes available to stream. Each episode includes a short description, the episode length, maturity rating, and when the episode originally aired. A key icon will be present on the episode thumbnail if the episode requires activation to view.
The browse section of the app shows curated lists and categories of similarly themed shows. There are currently 10 different lists, such as History, Survival, Investigations, and Wild Animals. Selecting a category will list shows that fall in the theme.
At the very front is a list called “Unlocked Episodes” which lists all the shows with full episodes available to stream for free that don’t require activating the app with a service provider to view. At this time, there are only eight shows with free episodes, and most, if not all, shows have just one episode available for free. It’s not always easy to find the free episode, since you have to flip through the list of episodes until the free one comes up and it might be buried several seasons in.
Each app has access to a live stream of what is currently airing on the network. I was unable to test the live stream at this time, so I do not know if pausing and/or rewinding is supported.
Within the app, you are able to mark shows as favorites and mark episodes to watch later. The shows and episodes you mark will appear in a “My Videos” section of the app. Also in this section is a list of shows you started watching but haven’t finished.
The apps have search functionality, but it’s fairly useless since it appears that it only searches within a show’s title. Searching for the word “snake,” for example, did not bring up any results for the show “Venom Hunters,” which you’d expect it would.
As with most network apps, the settings section just gives you the option to sign in and out of your subscription service provider and read various terms and policies.