Amazon has been sprinkling its own free ad-supported TV (FAST) content throughout the Fire TV interface for several years. It started with free live and on-demand news and has more recently expanded to include cooking, sports, and music videos. Amazon is now rebranding all of this FAST content under a new umbrella called Fire TV Channels. Additionally, the content selection is expanding today with a promise of even more new content this summer.
The FAST content falling under the new Fire TV Channels label is entirely separate from Amazon’s other repository of FAST content, which is its Freevee streaming service. Fire TV Channels is now the new name for all the free content that can be found in various rows across the Fire TV home screen and the recently launched Free tab which seemingly isn’t being streamed from any specific app or service. It’s just free content that is only available through a Fire TV device from the main Fire TV interface.
The origin of what is now being called Fire TV Channels all started with the launch of the Fire TV News app in 2019. Interestingly, all of this newer FAST content is still being streamed through that same news app, even though it’s no longer just news content. Content in the news app expanded several times to include both national and local news, as well as weather channels and clips. The big expansion of Fire TV’s FAST content occurred with the addition of sports news, sports highlights, movie trailers, and cooking videos last year. That later expanded even further with the addition of entertainment news, gaming news, viral videos, and music videos at the end of last year.
Amazon has now announced that content from the NHL, Xbox, and TMZ is being added to the FAST lineup with content from PGA golf coming soon. Travel videos are also now being added with content from Tastemade Travel, Rick Steves’ Europe, Travel Hacks, and coming soon, Condé Nast Traveler.
Once again, all of this free content, which Amazon says comes from over 400 different providers, is now being called Fire TV Channels. The word “channels” is used very vaguely in this context. It’s not a list of traditional live channels that you can flip through or browse in a channel guide. These channels consist of live streams, on-demand short clips, and on-demand full-length TV show episodes. For example, if you select the Sports Highlights Fire TV Channel, you’ll currently see three live streams followed by a long list of on-demand sports clips ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. But if you select the newly added Travel Inspiration Fire TV Channel, you’ll see three on-demand full-length episodes from AWE Travel followed by a bunch of short clips from Tastemade Travel that are about 1 minute long each. The Food & Cooking Fire TV Channel is a mix of all three types of content, including live streams, full episodes, and clips in seemingly random order.
To find Fire TV Channels, load up the Free section of your Fire TV. If you have a device without inputs, like a Fire TV Stick, you should see the new Free tab, designated by a checkmark, just to the left of the Home icon in the main navigation menu. If you have a Fire TV Smart TV or the 3rd-gen Fire TV Cube, which don’t have room for the free tab in the navigation menu, you’ll need to either use my shortcut app or find the “Free” category under the find/search menu of the Fire TV. Once in the Free tab/section, look for a series of white squares with orange text. It should be the second row in the free section. You’ll also find various rows of content on the home screen and down the free tab with labels that start with “Fire TV Channels.”
It’s all a bit of a jumbled mess right now since there is no central place to find all of this free content. Amazon says that will change this summer with the launch of “a single, easy-to-navigate service with the launch of the Fire TV Channels destination.” Whether that means there will be a new dedicated app for all this free content, as we have with the Freevee app, or if it will be a dedicated separate section of the Fire TV interface that has nothing but Fire TV Channels content is anyone’s guess.