Amazon Prime is one of the few subscription services that just about anyone can make use of, but one of its best features is frequently lost in the crowd of competitors. Amazon Prime Video has a huge library of content that rivals even the most popular services like Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu.
In fact, the service has grown to the point that there is a standalone Amazon Prime Video subscription in several markets that’s cheaper than a full Amazon Prime subscription. It includes a wide variety of movies and shows, as well as hit Amazon Originals like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Man in the High Castle.
Whether you’re considering a new Amazon Prime subscription or want to know more about what your existing subscription has on offer, we’ve put together this complete primer to everything you need to know about Amazon Prime Video, from pricing to best movies and more. Looking for details about Amazon Prime beyond just the video? We have a great guide here.
Ready to start your free trial? Just click the button below to try it out today!
What is Amazon Prime Video?
Amazon Prime Video (or just Prime Video) is an online media streaming service that’s typically bundled with the company’s popular Amazon Prime service. It features thousands of movies and shows available to stream right away, including full 4K quality for select titles. On top of the content included in the subscription, there are also many many more digital titles available to buy or rent.
Read also: The best streaming services of 2020
Prime Video was first made available more than a decade ago in the United States, but it’s slowly rolled out to nearly every country in the world. Amazon has also launched a number of original shows and movies, both under its own Amazon Studios and third party studios.
In select countries the service can be further expanded with Amazon Channels. This allows you to subscribe to specific channels like HBO, Showtime, Shudder, and more with no long term commitment.
How does it work?
Like most other streaming services, Prime Video works by hosting shows and movies on a remote server that you connect to through your computer, phone, smart TV, or other connected device. As long as you have a consistent connection, your content should buffer and provide a stutter-free experience. You can also download media to your device to watch offline.
If you’re already an Amazon Prime subscriber, all you need to do to access the service is download the app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, or head over to the Prime Video website on your computer.
Once you select a show or movie to watch, the streaming will start right away or after a short (skippable) trailer for another Amazon Prime Video series or movie. As you watch more and more, the platform’s algorithm will recommend content it thinks you will like. New content is frequently added to the platform as well, so you will always have something new to watch.
Amazon Prime network usage and requirements
Many consumers in the US are still working with limited internet connections, but thankfully Prime Video’s minimum requirements are attainable for just about anyone. You will still need a high speed connection to stream supported content in UHD (4K), but SD and HD streaming have remarkably low requirements.
- .5 Mbps — Minimum required speed.
- 1.5 Mbps — Recommended speed.
- 3.0 Mbps — Recommended speed for SD streaming.
- 5.0 Mbps — Recommended speed for HD streaming.
- 25 Mbps — Recommended speed for UHD (4K) streaming.
These requirements are the same as competitors like Netflix, and Amazon also lists the average data usage right on the main interface. You can even switch between different qualities on the fly without having to restart your stream. Here is what Amazon’s estimated data usage is:
- Good quality — .38 GB per hour
- Better quality — 1.4 GB per hour
- Best quality — 6.84 GB per hour
Is Amazon Prime Video worth it?
Leaving behind streaming quality and content catalogs, Amazon Prime Video has an enormous advantage over competitors because of its ties to Amazon Prime. It’s just one of many elements included in the subscription, and it’s not even the main reason most people pick up the subscription.
On top of Prime Video, the subscription gets you free two-day (or less) shipping, access to Prime Music, Twitch Prime, free Kindle books, and more. Learn more about everything Amazon Prime offers at the link below.
These perks tip the scales heavily in favor of Amazon Prime Videos compared to other leading streaming services. Netflix’s standard plan, for instance, costs the same amount per month as Amazon Prime (or more if you pay by year instead of by month), and it doesn’t include 4K streaming or support for more than two streams.
The standalone Amazon Prime Video subscription (without the other perks) is more difficult to recommend at $8.99 a month, which isn’t much cheaper than a full Amazon Prime subscription. Prime Video’s library is good, but doesn’t have as many blockbuster hits or television series as Hulu or Netflix.
What the experts think
Amazon Prime Video isn’t in the news much, despite being one of the biggest, most popular streaming services on the market. It’s also been around for more than a decade, and the slow rollout of new features and content over the years means any initial reviews of the service are woefully out of date.
Here is a quick roundup of what experts around the web have said about Amazon Prime Video:
- Android Authority‘s own Mitja Rutnik noted in early 2020 that the service is highly underrated and often lost in the conversation about streaming services, with Netflix getting all the attention. In his opinion the service is just as good as Netflix, with a healthy library of original content at a cheaper price.
- PCMag‘s Ben Moore gave the service excellent scoring for having great original content and up to 4K quality on the base plan, but worries about the future of the service as it loses more and more third-party content to other streaming services.
- Cnet‘s Alison DeNisco Rayome was overall positive about the service, but wrote that “Prime Video is more of a companion service to Netflix and Hulu, and weaker overall than both.” That said, she also criticized the service for not having profiles, which have since been added to the platform.
- Jesse Schedeen from IGN gave the service a high score for great original content, although its original programming doesn’t quite live up to the high standards set by Netflix. He was also critical of Amazon Prime Video’s interface, which still lags behind its competitors after all these years.
What everyday users think
Amazon might not be the most popular company these days (or any time in the past two decades), but Amazon Prime Video remains a popular service. We polled our users in early 2020 asking them which streaming service is their number one choice, and the results can be seen below.
If you could only pick one, which streaming service would you choose?
Netflix, unsurprisingly, captured the majority at 63.92% of the vote, with Amazon Prime Video in a distant second at 13.32%. Still, it’s an impressive showing for Prime Video, which is far above other major streaming services like Disney Plus, Hulu, and HBO Now (which has since been largely replaced by HBO Max). Check out the full analysis here.
It might not sound like a glowing review, but you have to keep in mind that the question is only about users’ first choice. It doesn’t take into account second or third choices, and given Netflix’s domination over the field this would open up things considerably.
Where is Amazon Prime Video available?
Amazon Prime Video is available everywhere Amazon Prime is available, which includes more than 200 countries around the world. Subscriptions are available in all countries except for those with strained relationships with the US, or more specifically Mainland China, Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
The exact content (aside from Amazon Originals) will differ between marketplaces, but the experience should largely be the same. Amazon Channels, however, may not be available in all marketplaces.
How much is Amazon Prime Video?
Amazon Prime Video isn’t the cheapest video streaming service available, but it comes bundled with Amazon Prime, which offers incredible value for online shoppers. Here’s how much Amazon Prime costs in different marketplaces around the world (without any discounts):
Amazon Prime prices
- United States — $12.99/mo or $119/year
- Canada — CDN$7.99/mo or CDN$79/year
- United Kingdom — £7.99/mo or £79/year
- India — Rs.129/mo or Rs.999/year
- Australia — AU$6.99/mo or AU$59/year
- Europe — Varies by country
Of course, if you’re not interested in shopping on Amazon there is a cheaper subscription that only includes streaming in many countries. Generally it isn’t much cheaper than a full Amazon Prime subscription, so you won’t get quite as much value out of it. Still, it has a large catalog of content that could justify the cost for heavy streamers.
Amazon Prime Video standalone cost
- United States — $8.99/mo or $108/year
- United Kingdom — £5.99/mo
Finally, Amazon Channels allows Prime customers to subscribe to specific channels for an extra monthly fee. There are more than 100 channels available in some markets (scroll down a bit for more info on channels), but here’s a short list of some of the most popular channels on Amazon Prime Video and how much they cost.
Amazon Channels cost (US)
- HBO — $14.99/mo
- Showtime — $10.99/mo
- Cinemax — $9.99/mo
- Stars — $8.99/mo
- Britbox — $6.99/mo
- CBS All Access — $5.99/mo
- Boomerang — $4.99/m0
- Shudder — $4.99/m0
- MLB.TV — $24.99/mo
- PGA Tour Live — $9.99/mo
How to get Amazon Prime Video for free?
Amazon Prime, particularly the yearly subscription, can be quite an investment for households on a tight budget. If you’re not sure whether or not it’s worth paying for you’ll be happy to learn that there is a 30-day free trial for new accounts. 30 days is more than enough time to watch a few Amazon Originals (and take advantage of other perks).
The deal is even sweeter if you’re a student. For people who can verify that they are a student with a .edu email address or other documentation, the free trial is extended to six months. After that, you can get 50% off a yearly subscription, which makes it cheaper than just about any other streaming service, none of which have the same extra perks.
If you’re just looking to stream video, you might also want to consider sharing an Amazon Prime Video account with friends and family. The service recently added profile support so you can keep your watching history separate from other users, and it supports three simultaneous streams so sharing isn’t an issue.
Another way to get Amazon Prime Video for free is by subscribing to other services. Many mobile carriers and cable subscriptions come bundled with a year of Amazon Prime, so check out the latest deals and offers at the link below.
Read also: How to get Amazon Prime for free
How do I get Amazon Prime Video?
If you already have an Amazon account, it takes just a few moments to start streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Click the button below to learn more about what it has to offer in your region.
What devices does Amazon Prime Video support?
Although it wasn’t always the case, nowadays Amazon Prime Video can be streamed from a wide variety of devices. Not all features will be available on every device (for example subtitles, UHD, or live streaming), and the best experience is often on one of Amazon’s own devices.
Read also: The best media streaming devices you can buy
Streaming from your PC or Mac might seem like the most convenient solution, but the quality is limited to HD. Not even the dedicated PC app can stream in UHD, even though it is possible on certain Android devices. The ideal devices are smart TVs and streaming sticks like the Amazon Fire TV, although you can find a full list of supported devices below.
Amazon Prime Video supported devices
- Amazon Fire TV/Fire TV Stick
- Android devices
- Blu-ray players (LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony)
- iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
- PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles
- Set top boxes (Chromecast, Nvidia Shield TV, and others)
- Smart TVs (most manufacturers)
- Web browsers
- Xbox One and One X consoles
What’s on Amazon Prime Video?
Amazon Prime Video is often overshadowed by Netflix and others, but it truly does have a superb catalog of great shows and movies, including tons of great Amazon Original shows and movies that aren’t available on any other platform. Check out the latest titles added to Prime Video at the link below.
Read also: What’s new on Amazon Prime Video
There are even more high-profile shows and movies to come, with Amazon Studios acquiring the rights to huge IP like The Lord of the Rings. Combined with a host of classic movies and more recent series it has a well-rounded offering that has something for everyone.
The exact content on the platform will depend on where you are in the world, but keep reading for a preview of what’s available.
Best shows on Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video’s original shows are one of its strongest offerings, with acclaimed series like The Man in the High Castle and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel available exclusively on the platform. Check out a full list of the best series in the US at the link below.
If you’re still on the fence about the service, here’s a brief list of some of its most popular shows you can stream today:
- The Boys — A superhero drama based on a comic book of the same name. It takes place in a world where those with superpowers aren’t always treated as heroes, with the titular Boys dedicated to tracking down and eliminating them.
- The Expanse — A science fiction drama picked up by Amazon after it was canceled by Syfy after three seasons. It takes place in the future where a cold war between the forces of Earth and Mars is threatening to thaw into terrifying full blown war throughout the solar system.
- Good Omens — A limited comedy series based on a book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It’s about an angel and a demon who team up to prevent the armageddon in order to continue their comfortable lives on Earth.
- Homecoming — A thriller based on a hit podcast of the same name from Gimlet Media. It’s about a social worker at a mysterious program for veterans, and there are currently two seasons to binge on the platform.
- The Man in the High Castle — A drama that takes place in an alternate universe where the axis powers won WWII. It’s based on a book of the same name by Philip K. Dick, and it finished its run last year after four seasons.
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — A comedy-drama taking place in the 1950s about a spunky housewife who finds out she has a talent for stand-up comedy. It’s won numerous awards throughout its run, and it’s one of the most acclaimed series on Amazon Prime Video.
- Modern Love — A romance anthology series about various aspects of love in the modern world. It features a who’s who of famous actors and actresses, and was just picked up for a second season.
- Transparent — A comedy-drama about a family who find out that their patriarch is a living as a trans woman. It was one of the first original shows for Prime Video, and it remains one of the best more than five years later.
Best movies on Amazon Prime Video
An Amazon Prime Video subscription includes hundreds of movies to stream right away, and usually they have full subtitles and multi-language support. Check out the best options currently on the platform in the US below.
Read also: The best movies on Amazon Prime Video
Even if you don’t find something to watch, there are thousands more movies available to rent or buy and stream right away. This actually gives it a much larger effective catalog than its competitors.
Below we’ve listed a few Amazon Prime Video Original movies to give you an idea of what’s on the platform no matter where you live.
- Chi-Raq — A musical crime comedy produced and directed by Spike Lee. The story centers around gang violence in Chicago, and it was the very first movie produced by Amazon Studios.
- Honey Boy — A drama written by and starring Shia Labeouf that’s based on his difficult childhood and dealing with his father. Even if you’re not a fan of Shia’s antics, it’s a powerful film that’s worth the watch.
- I am not your Negro — A documentary based on an unfinished work by the American writer James Baldwin. It’s a reflection on the history of racism in the United States, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.
- Manchester by the Sea — A drama about a man who suddenly finds himself responsible for raising his teenage nephew. It won numerous awards in 2016, including Academy Awards for Best Actor (Casey Affleck) and Best Original Screenplay.
- The Report — A drama-thriller about investigators who uncover the CIA’s use of torture after the September 11 attacks. It stars Adam Driver as the lead investigator, with flashbacks to the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
Amazon Prime Channels
If you want even more streaming content within Amazon Prime Video, you should check out Amazon Prime Channels. These are on-demand or live channels that Prime subscribers can access for an extra monthly fee. Plus, each one comes with its own seven-day free trial.
Granted, you’re really only getting convenience since all of these channels cost the same amount as they do on other services or their own standalone subscriptions. Still, it’s a nice feature for cord cutters who are always hungry for more content.
Amazon Prime Channels list
- Acorn TV
- CBS All Access
- Comedy Central Now
- Hallmark Movies Now
- Lifetime Movie Club
- Nick Hits
- PBS Kids
- PBS Masterpiece
- PGA Tour Live
- Smithsonian Plus
- Sundance Now
- Up Faith & Family
More great Amazon Prime Video shows and movies
If you still haven’t found something to watch, we have many more lists by genre to browse through. Check them out at the links below!
- Horror movies on Amazon Prime Video
- Family movies on Amazon Prime Video
- Classic movies on Amazon Prime Video
- Documentaries on Amazon Prime Video
- Halloween movies on Amazon Prime Video
- Anime on Amazon Prime Video
- Comedies on Amazon Prime Video
- Action movies on Amazon Prime Video
- The best Christmas movies on Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video alternatives
While Amazon Prime Video is a solid choice for most people looking to stream movies and TV shows, it’s worth checking out a few alternatives before pulling the trigger.
Be aware that none of the services listed below have the same extra benefits as an Amazon Prime subscription, which is how most people around the world get Amazon Prime Video. But if that’s not important to you and you just want more content to stream, here are your best options.
Amazon Prime Video vs Netflix
Netflix is always the elephant in the room when talking about streaming services, and for good reason. The service is home to a massive amount of content, including more hit originals than any other streaming service.
Netflix’s base plan only allows 480p quality, but it costs the same amount as a standalone Prime Video subscription at $9 a month. If you want better quality (which let’s be honest, you should), the 1080p plan is $13 a month and the 4K plan is $16 a month.
An Amazon Prime subscription offers more perks for less money, but if you’re just looking at streaming content Netflix is a more attractive service. Ultimately though, there isn’t much crossover between Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, so it’s still worth subscribing to both.
Amazon Prime Video vs Hulu
For more budget conscious streamers who are less interested in movies and more interested in the latest TV shows, Hulu is where it’s at. The ad-supported streaming plan is just $6 a month, which is even cheaper than a standalone Prime Video subscription.
A Hulu subscription gets you access to tons of hit shows like Seinfeld, Futurama, and ER, as well as next-day streaming on current shows as they air on live TV. If you want to watch them live, you can also get a Hulu + Live TV subscription and cut the cord for good.
To save even more money and have more streaming content than you could possibly watch, check out the Disney Plus-Hulu-ESPN Plus bundle available for just $13 a month.
Disney Plus vs Amazon Prime Video
Disney Plus is the new kid on the block when it comes to online streaming services, but it’s really gotten off to a running start. Not only is it one of the best streaming services for families with young children, it’s also home to every Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar movie ever released.
The service is also home to many shows that you won’t find anywhere else, like High School Musical, Muppets Now, Lady and the Tramp, Hamilton, and The Mandalorian. Check out the full list of Disney Plus shows and movies to learn more.
To make matters even better, the service is very affordable at just $7 a month. Like above, you can pay a few bucks more to get Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Now bundle and cover all of your streaming needs on a single subscription.
Q: How many people can stream at the same time on Amazon Prime Video?
A: Up to three people can stream simultaneously, although the same media can only be streamed on two devices at once.
Q: Does Amazon Prime Video have 4K shows and movies?
A: It includes quality up to UHD (4K), although the number of supported titles is limited. Learn more here.
Q: Does Amazon Prime Video have ads?
A: Amazon Prime Video doesn’t have ads for other products or services, but it does often have trailers for other shows on the service before streaming episodes or movies.
Q: Can you watch Amazon Prime Video on a Chromecast?
A: Yes. Amazon recently added support for all models of Google Chromecast. Learn more here.
Q: Can Amazon Prime Video detect VPNs?
A: There are some VPNs that work with Amazon Prime Video, but using them is in direct violation of its terms and services.
Q: Can I share my Amazon Prime Video account with friends and family?
A: Yes. Profiles in the same Amazon account allow multiple users, and a Prime subscription can be shared with one other adult via the Amazon Household program. Learn more here.
Q: Does Amazon Prime Video work offline?
A: Yes. Movies and shows can be downloaded for offline viewing, although only on supported devices. Learn more here.
Q: Can you delete your search and watch history in Amazon Prime Video?
A: Yes. It just takes a few moments to delete your history. Learn how here.
Q: How do I unsubscribe from Amazon Prime Video?
A: It’s easy to unsubscribe from the service. Learn how here.
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