What is Amazon Prime Video?
Amazon Prime Video is a leading on-demand streaming provider. It brings viewers a wide choice of movies, TV shows, and original programming at a competitive price point. The service offers unlimited viewing of on-demand movies and shows for a monthly fee. Some titles, however, are only available to rent or buy.
Amazon first moved into the instant video space in 2006 as Amazon Unbox. It was rebranded Video on Demand in 2008 and Amazon Instant Video in 2011. Since purchasing pay-TV channel Epix and merging with Amazon’s UK subsidiary, LoveFilm, in 2014, the service has grown to around 50 million subscribers worldwide — a number bettered only by Netflix.
Amazon Prime Video plans and pricing
|Amazon Prime Video|
|Free trial length||30 days|
|Number of TV shows and films||2,133 TV shows, 23,980 movies*|
|Live sports streaming? (Y)||Yes|
|Movie rentals? (Y/N)||Yes|
|Streaming quality||Up to 4K HD|
When it comes to pricing, Amazon Prime Video is in the ballpark of other major streaming services. It matches Netflix’s “Basic” plan at $8.99 per month, though to get unlimited viewing on Netflix users must pay $13.99/month. Hulu comes in a bit cheaper at $5.99/month for a “Basic” plan with limited ads. SlingTV is a bit pricier, with the cheapest package priced at $30 per month for just over 30 channels.
Another benefit of Amazon Prime Video is that it’s included with a Prime membership. That means customers who sign up for Prime to enjoy free shipping can hop online and start watching videos for no extra charge.
Amazon Prime Video Interface
Amazon Prime Video’s interface is user friendly, especially when compared to the notoriously challenging Hulu platform. Users can log in using any existing Amazon Prime account and create video profiles for up to six people. After signing in, videos are sorted into categories like “TV Shows,” “Movies,” “New to Movies,” etc.
Once a user watches a few videos, the interface will also make recommendations based on previous views. Both free and paid video options are available. If you rent a video using Amazon Prime Video, you have 30 days to begin watching and 48 hours to complete the video once you hit Play.
Amazon Prime Video supported devices
Subscribers can watch Prime Video on any device that supports the service’s app, such as gaming consoles, mobile phones, and smart TVs. Other possibilities include via a browser on a computer or laptop. Prime Video is compatible with the following devices:
- Amazon Echo devices with a screen, such as Echo Show and Echo Spot
- Amazon Fire phones and tablets
- Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV sticks
- Android phones and tablets
- Apple iOS phones and tablets
- Apple TV
- Changhong, Haier, Hisense, Insignia, JVC, Konka, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Skyworth, Sony, TCL, and Vizio Smart TVs
- Comcast X1, Cox Contour, Dish Network, Nvidia Shield, and Tivo media players, and set-top boxes
- Google Chromecast
- LG, Panasonic Samsung and Sony Blu-ray players
- Microsoft Xbox 360 and Xbox One
- Prime Video VR for Oculus
- Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4
What to watch on Amazon Prime Video
Prime Video has a huge video library to satisfy subscribers’ content appetites, from Hollywood movies and popular TV series to original programming. Content categories available to choose from include:
- Action & Adventure
- Children & Family
- Chill Out
- Life & Style
- Military & War
- Science Fiction
Amazon Originals: Series
Prime Video has one of the best line-ups of original programming available in the on-demand streaming market, including its own documentaries and TV series. Amazon Original series include Goliath, starring Billy Bob Thornton as a washed-up lawyer, Hunters, based on the true story of Nazi hunters in the 1970s featuring Al Pacino, and The Man In The High Castle, an action-packed film based on the concept of the Germans winning World War II. Other binge-worthy original shows include David Tennant and Simon Pegg in Good Omens, based on the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett novel, quirky superheroes show The Boys, and Tim Roth playing a British detective who becomes chief of police in a small American town in Tin Star.
Amazon Originals: Movies
The services original movie line-up is smaller but includes Casey Affleck in the gripping Manchester By The Sea, 2017 hit romantic comedy The Big Sick, and South Korean crime thriller The Handmaiden from Park Chan-Wook, director of Oldboy. It makes up for its lack of original movies with a strong line-up of Hollywood hits headlined by the continuation of the Rocky Balboa saga in Creed II, thrilling superhero action in Marvel’s The Avengers, and Henry Cavill and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible Fallout.
Prime Video Movies
The Prime Video movie library is vast, but it helps viewers with helpful categories like Box Office Hits — where viewers can head to find films such as Jigsaw, the eighth installment of the Saw series and Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman In Black. There are plenty of other popular movies available, including horror flick The Cabin In The Woods, John Travolta and Morgan Freeman in detective drama The Poison Rose, and superhero action in Captain America: The First Avenger. In all, users have access to more than 12,000 titles as of June 2020. Including rentals, the number of available movies soars to over 18,000. In addition to featuring popular box office films, Amazon has begun producing and purchasing its own original titles. Some of these movies include Late Night, Beautiful Boy, and Brittany Runs a Marathon.
That is in addition to a good selection of binge-worthy TV series such as HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, British period drama Downton Abbey, Hugh Laurie starring in House, epic mafia drama The Sopranos, and gritty Baltimore police wire-tapping thriller The Wire. In all, users can choose between about 2,200 TV shows. This is about 300 more than are available on Netflix. Amazon original shows include Upload, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Homecoming.
Prime Video Sports
Sports fans are also well served by Prime Video, with a choice of shows, movies, and live action. The service excels when it comes to sports-related documentary series. All Or Nothing takes viewers behind the scenes for a season with the Arizona Cardinals, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Philadelphia Eagles. And Take Us Home focuses on the exploits of English soccer side Leeds United. Users can find live events, including sports, in the “Live & Upcoming” row on their homepage. To gain access to real-time stats, use X-Ray for live sports. This enables features like live play-by-plays, player information, scores, and other information. You can access X-Ray on devices including Fire TV remotes, iOS and Android phones, and iOS and Android tablets.
Add On Channels
Subscribers can enhance their viewing options even further with Amazon Prime Video Channels. Cinemax ($9.99/mo.), HBO ($14.99/mo.), Showtime ($10.99/mo.), and Starz ($8.99/mo.) are just a few of the more than 100 additional available channels.
Viewers can also add entertainment choices like CBS All Access ($5.99/mo.), Comedy Central Now ($3.99/mo.), Hallmark Movies Now ($5.99/mo.), Lifetime Movie Club ($3.99/mo), and Sundance Now ($6.99/mo.). And there are a couple of sports add-ons in MLB.TV ($24.99/mo.) and PGA Tour Live ($9.99/mo.).
Amazon Prime Video features
Amazon Prime Video subscribers can take their favorite movies and shows on the go by downloading content on tablets or mobile phones. The amount of storage is not limited by Prime Video — it is dependent on how much space users have on their devices.
The platform enables three simultaneous streams per account, but the same show or movie can only be watched on two separate devices at the same time. However, unlike services such as Netflix, Prime Video does not permit the creation of multiple profiles. Prime Video also allows users to make it easy to share an account; you can create up to six user profiles, which includes a default primary profile and five others on a single Prime Video account. Users can also designate profiles for children and limit available programs.
Users can manage the content available to users via the Parental Controls feature, which enables them to implement age restrictions on specific devices that can only be modified with PIN access.
Prime Video Mobile App
The Prime Video mobile app is available for most mobile devices, including phones and tablets. The user interface is very similar to the TV and computer interface, including TV and movie categories and “Watch Next” recommendations. Customers can even find the same titles on the mobile app for Android and iOS as are available on a browser.
The mobile app has a specific “Store” icon at the bottom to make it easier to find rentals and videos available for purchase. As you watch a TV program on a mobile device, the app automatically downloads the next episode for you. While Android users have always been able to purchase and rent videos from their device’s Amazon Prime app, Apple users can now do the same as of mid-2020. Previously, users had to leave their iOS Amazon Prime Video app to go to an Amazon Prime browser and purchase content.
Downloading content on Prime Video
Users can also download Prime Videos to a mobile device, which makes it easy to watch videos later when you’re not connected to the internet (like on a plane). It’s worth noting that Amazon says only selected Prime Video titles are available to download and some videos are only available for download in certain locations.
The instructions for how to download a title vary slightly based on whether you’re watching a TV show or movie. Here are some general details to get started:
- Open the Prime Video app on the mobile device.
- Search for a TV show or movie by title or genre.
- Tap on the video to open its “Detail” page.
- Tap the downward arrow. If there is no download arrow, the title is not available for download.
For movies, these are the only instructions necessary. To download TV shows, you can choose to download the entire season or single episodes. Download entire seasons from the “Detail” page, or go to the list of episodes to download specific titles.
In the Android app and in Windows 10, users can select the location where the download will be stored.
The final cut
Amazon Prime Video has one of the largest movie libraries available in the on-demand video streaming market, a strong range of original programming, and plenty of add-ons. That’s why it made our list of best streaming services in 2020. It also offers high-quality viewing with 4K HD streaming, plus all the additional benefits of an Amazon Prime membership.
Learn more about an Amazon Prime Video free trial here.