What is Amazon Prime Video?
Amazon Prime Video is one of the top leading on-demand streaming providers. It gives 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. The service purchased pay-TV channel Epix in 2012 and merged with Amazon’s UK subsidiary, LoveFilm, in 2014. By the end of the first quarter of 2021, Amazon Prime Video counted 200 million users, an increase of 50 million users from the previous year. The service is quickly catching up to Netflix, which has 207.6 million subscribers.
Amazon Prime Video plans and pricing
|Amazon Prime Video|
|Free trial length||30 days|
|Number of TV shows and films||About 2,100 TV shows, 24,000 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 similar to 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 $35 per month for just over 30 channels.
Another benefit of Amazon Prime Video is that it’s included with a Prime membership, which is $12.99 per month or $119 per year. 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 “Amazon Originals”, “TV Shows,” “Movies,” “Kids”, “Sports”, 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 a computer or laptop browser. 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, Tivo, and Xiaomi media players, and set-top boxes
- Google Chromecast
- LG, Panasonic Samsung, and Sony Blu-ray players
- Microsoft Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox 360, and Xbox One
- Prime Video VR for Oculus
- Sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4/Pro, and PlayStation 5
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
- Black Voices
- Children & Family
- Coming of Age
- Exercise and Fitness
- Military and War
- Music Videos and Concerts
- 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 the Emmy-Award winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which stars Rachel Brosnahan as a stand-up comedian in the late 1950s; Goliath, starring Billy Bob Thornton as a washed-up lawyer; Hunters, based on the true story of Nazi hunters in America in the 1970s, featuring Al Pacino;The Man In The High Castle, an action-packed series based on the concept that the Germans and Japanese won World War II; and Upload, a sci-fi comedy in which people can upload their consciousness to the digital afterlife. 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 service’s original movie line-up is smaller, but new original movies include The Tomorrow War, whichstars Chris Pratt in a sci-fi drama of time travelers arriving from 2051; Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, which stars Michael B. Jordan as an elite Navy SEAL; and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, starring Sacha Baron Cohen in the sequel to Borat. Previous releases include Casey Affleck in the gripping Manchester By The Sea, a 2016 hit romantic comedy; The Big Sick, about a couple from different cultures; and the South Korean crime thriller, The Handmaiden from Park Chan-Wook, director of Oldboy. Amazon Prime Video 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, with about 24,000 titles, but it helps viewers with helpful categories like “New Releases,” to find the most recently distributed movies, and “Award Winners”, showcasing movies that have been nominated or won awards. It offers a combination of free movies and those that can be rented or purchased. Select movies in the top-rated category include Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9, about the 2016 presidential election; Burn After Reading, starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt; the romantic comedy This Means War, starring Reese Witherspoon; and Knives Out, starring Daniel Craig and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Among the current most popular movies are Billionaire Boys Club, about a group of wealthy boys in Los Angeles who started a get-rich-quick Ponzi scheme; and The Circle, about a powerful social media platform, that stars Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.
The service also groups movie collections. Among the popular movie bundles are 2-movie collections such as Spiderman and Jumanji; 3-movie collections such as The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Bad Boys, John Wick, and 50 Shades; 4-movie groups like The Hunger Games, Avengers, Indiana Jones, and Men in Black; and even the 5-movie Rambo and Jurassic Park collections, 6-movie Mission Impossible group, 8-movie Harry Potter set, and 9-movie Star Wars collection.
Prime Video TV Shows
Amazon Prime Video offers a large selection of binge-worthy TV series such as HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, starring Steve Buscemi, about an Atlantic City politician during Prohibition; Downton Abbey, about the lives of a British aristocratic family and their servants; Hugh Laurie starring in House, about an antisocial doctor specializing in diagnostic medicine; the epic mafia drama, The Sopranos; and gritty Baltimore police wire-tapping thriller, The Wire. In all, you can choose from about 2,100 TV shows, about 200 more than what is available on Netflix.
Prime Video Sports
Sports fans are also well served by Prime Video, with a choice of shows, movies, and live-action. Among the action fans can watch are MLB, NFL, NBA, and WNBA games, along with the PGA Tour.
The service excels when it comes to sports-related documentary series. All Or Nothing takes viewers behind the scenes for a season with several NFL teams, including the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, and Philadelphia Eagles; along with Premier League soccer teams Arsenal, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur; the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs; and other teams. Take Us Home focuses on the exploits of English soccer side Leeds United, while Venus and Serena showcases the U.S.’s top female tennis players. The 6-part documentary, This is Football explores the sport of soccer’s influence across the world.
Top sports movies include Friday Night Lights, which stars Billy Bob Thornton and is about high school football in Permian, Texas; and Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, about the Oakland Athletics.
You can find live events, including sports, in the “Live & Upcoming” row on your 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 more. You can access X-Ray on devices such as Fire TV remotes, iOS, and Android phones, plus iOS and Android tablets.
Add On Channels
Subscribers can enhance their viewing options even further with Amazon Prime Video Channels. Cinemax ($9.99/mo.), Epix ($5.99/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.
You can also add entertainment choices like Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access) ($5.99/mo.), Hallmark Movies Now ($5.99/mo.), Lifetime Movie Club ($3.99/mo.), and Sundance Now ($6.99/mo.). And there are few sports add-ons in MLB.TV ($24.99/mo. for the all-team pass and $44.99/yr. for the single team pass), NBA TV ($6.99/mo.), NBA League Pass ($28.99/mo. for the all-team pass and $17.99/mo. for the single team pass), and PGA Tour Live ($9.99/mo.).
Amazon Prime Video features
New in 2020 is Amazon Prime Video’s Watch Party. With this feature, 100 people can join the same stream to watch movies and shows and chat online. However, it’s only available on select computer browsers (not Apple Safari or Internet Explorer) and FireTV devices. You cannot watch the video on your mobile devices, but you can join the Watch Party chat on your mobile phones and tablets. If the movie or show is only available to buy or rent, then everyone in the Watch Party must buy or rent it to be able to participate.
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.