It’s one of the biggest streaming services, but is it better than Netflix? In this Amazon Prime Video review, you’ll find out.
Amazon is a company that needs no introduction. The massive online retailer led by billionaire Jeff Bezos is clearly a corporate juggernaut. Yet while Amazon Prime has nearly 150 million members in the United States alone, it often feels its streaming service doesn't get nearly the same level of attention as it competitors. In this Amazon Prime Video review, I'll highlight the best features of Amazon's streaming service and explore if it can really compete with Netflix in 2021.
This review will cover the Amazon Prime Video app, membership options and pricing, plus the shows and movies currently on Amazon Prime Video.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on these links and make purchases, the site owner may receive compensation
Amazon Prime Video Overview
For the uninitiated, Amazon Prime is a membership service that offers free one-day, or in some cases same-day, shipping on Amazon purchases. There are a myriad of other features, too. Some of those include free two-hour grocery delivery, free music streaming, free Kindle books, prescription delivery, and, of course, access to their streaming service Amazon Prime Video.
They now also offer a standalone subscription for Prime Video, in case online shopping isn't your thing.
Amazon Prime Video features an extensive library of shows and movies, including Amazon Originals. Their content catalog is massive, surpassing even Netflix and Hulu in its size. They feature entertainment for both kids and adults, Plus, they differentiate themselves by offering live sports and additional premium channels that can be added to the Prime Video app.
Amazon Prime Video App
What Makes the App Different
The app itself is a little bit different from say, Disney Plus or HBO Max. It acts as a hub for your content, similar to the Apple TV app. Flipping through the rows of content, you'll find shows that are included with Prime at no extra charge, shows that are available to purchase or rent from Amazon, ad-supported content from IMDb TV, premium channels, and shows or movies you've purchased.
If you want to filter out just the content that is available for Prime members at no charge, you'll need to navigate to the “Free to me” section at the top of the screen. This all comes across as being a bit cluttered and unnecessary.
The Best Features
Notable features of the app that are a bit more welcome are the premium channels, sports, Watch Party, and clever integration with IMDb. On the sports side, they currently air Thursday Night Football for free to Prime members, as well as WNBA games and “select” MLB games.
If you want to beef up your experience in the app, you can pay for extra “channels” like MLB.TV, Showtime, Discovery Plus, Paramount Plus, Acorn TV, HBO, Noggin, and CuriosityStream. Adding these streaming services to your Prime subscription instead of through the separate companies directly allows you to access everything in one place. Plus sometimes you'll get extra discounts, such as on Prime Day.
Meanwhile, the Watch Party feature allows you to stream shows simultaneously with up to 100 (!) friends. The host can pause, fast forward, and rewind. Plus the Party members can chat together.
Finally, they have a feature called X-Ray that lets you pull up info from the Internet Movie Database or IMDb when you're watching a show. This is useful if you want to know who a particular actor is or to get some extra info about a show.
Other Features and Availability
Prime Video allows you to create up to six profiles per account. These can either be kids or adult profiles to limit content. They also offer additional parental controls in the settings.
Certain TV shows and movies are available for download for offline play on mobile devices. Depending on your device, you can also stream in 4K resolution.
The Amazon Prime Video app is one of the most common streaming apps out there, so it is available on a very wide range of devices. These include both Android and Apple mobile devices, Amazon devices (duh!), Roku players, Chromecast, Tivo, game consoles, smart TVs, Blu-Ray Players, and the Prime Video website.
What's on Amazon Prime Video?
As stated before, Amazon has a very wide selection of content. It's important to emphasize the importance of quality over quantity, though. While the quality of the Amazon Originals is consistently good, they have far fewer Originals than Netflix.
This is made up for by a very extensive back catalog of content. The problem is, this content library has significant overlap with other streaming services. Particularly streaming services you can access for free. On top of that, much of the back catalog focuses on lesser-known niche content.
That being said, they do have a very strong line-up of Originals. Popular shows include Emmy nominees like Fleabag, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Transparent. There's action series including Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan and Tom Clancy's Without Remorse. Gripping drama series include Them, Bosch, and the new limited series The Underground Railroad. Plus there's the adult superhero series The Boys and the new animated show Invincible.
I've particularly enjoyed their Original movies from Amazon Studios. They include Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Coming 2 America, One Night in Miami, The Sound of Metal, Late Night, Brittany Runs a Marathon, and The Big Sick.
What could really be a game changer for Amazon Prime Video is their upcoming Lord of the Rings show. Clearly they are trying to go for a Game of Thrones-esque hit. Time will tell if this is the case. Their acquisition of MGM Studios could be fruitful as well.
Amazon Prime Video Cost
There's a few different membership options with Amazon Prime.
- A standard monthly membership is $12.99/month (sign up here). You can also get a yearly membership for $119 (sign up here). Before you get charged, they are offering a 30 day free trial, which both options include for new members.
- If you want a standalone Amazon Prime Video subscription, that is $8.99/month after the 30 day trial (sign up here).
- Amazon also offers discounts to students. Students can get a whopping SIX MONTH free trial, then it goes to either $6.49/month or $59 for the year (sign up here).
- E.B.T. recipients can also get a 50% discount at $5.99/month (sign up here).
Amazon Prime Video Vs. Netflix
Compared to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video offers more content but fewer original shows. While programs like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Boys have their fans, there's no big “hit” like Stranger Things or Bridgerton.
The app itself makes for a cluttered, distracting experience that Netflix doesn't have. Although both services have that annoying autoplay feature in their menus.
Where Amazon Prime Video shines is in the overall value in a standard Prime membership. It sweetens the pot for those like myself who have signed up for Amazon Prime to get free shipping and grocery delivery.
Until Amazon Prime cranks out more new content, however, Netflix will remain the king of streaming.
Amazon Prime Video Review Wrap-Up
A Netflix killer it isn't, but that doesn't mean an Amazon Prime membership isn't still a good deal. It is! There's lots of good content you'll find on Amazon Prime Video, and the promising new content from MGM and Lord of the Rings should make things more interesting.
Shall I stream it? Yes, but only as a bonus for those interested in free, same-day shipping and grocery delivery
Start your 30 day free trial of a standard Amazon Prime membership here
Start your 30 day free trial of a standalone Amazon Prime Video membership here
Start your SIX MONTH free trial of an Amazon Prime student membership here