Amazon started on the scene as an online bookseller, yet the company has expanded to sell its own tablets and phone, as well as a stocked online inventory of almost anything you could want. The company provides a Prime membership option for users looking to get two-day shipping on items online. This $99 annual subscription, or $50 if you’re a student, also comes with an added bonus: streaming services. Amazon Prime Instant Video grants users access to a library of movies and television shows to watch at their leisure. While the Amazon Instant Video mobile apps could use improving, it is one of the top contenders to Netflix’s streaming service.
Amazon Prime Instant Video Content Offerings
Having entered the streaming service market a few years later than most of the competition, Amazon seemingly adapted its content offerings to position itself as a challenger to Netflix. Like its competitors, Amazon has signed deals with several major studios and networks to stream their content. The service dons a vast library of movies and television shows, ranging from cult classics to newer releases. In an apparent jab at Netflix, the Amazon video library features a sectioned dubbed “Prime Member Exclusives: Not on Netflix,” which houses shows like “The Americans” and “Orphan Black” that are not available on Netflix.
While Amazon Prime Instant Video has a leg up on Netflix in its collection of fresh-from-the-theater movies and currently on-air shows, users have to pay extra for such content. For example, if you are looking to watch an episode from the current season of Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” it will cost you $2.99 to purchase each episode or $24.99 to buy the entire season. While this pricing is in line with Google Play Movies and TV and iTunes, it’s in addition to the annual membership fee. Depending on how often you watch new content, this could add up quickly.
Similar to Netflix, Amazon streams its own original content, including shows like “Transparent” and “Alpha House.” While these shows haven’t been as popular as Netflix’s megahit “House of Cards,” they have found enough of a following for Amazon to keep producing its own content. (Check out our Amazon vs. Netflix comparison for more details.)
Amazon is also looking to tap into the kid-friendly market, developing programming aimed at children, including “The Stinky & Dirty Show” and “Just Add Magic.” Additionally, Amazon has a contract with Nickelodeon to stream childhood favorites like “Dora the Explorer.”
Like most streaming services, Amazon Prime Instant Video is available on a variety of devices. Amazon offers an app for Android and iOS, however these could benefit from some improvements. For example, iPhone users must be connected to Wi-Fi in order to stream videos, which is frustrating for those looking to stream content on the go using their data plans. Android users are also faced with some complicated features, as they need to download the app from the Amazon Appstore instead of Google Play. While this doesn’t seem like a nuisance, users must also have the Amazon store app installed, adding an extra step to the process.
The service is also available via a computer, major gaming consoles and Roku. Of course, users can also purchase Amazon’s own Fire TV or the Fire TV Stick for direct streaming to a TV. Amazon Prime Instant Video is available on the Kindle devices and Fire phone. Amazon even offers a few perks to Fire users, allowing them to download certain videos for offline streaming when out of range of an Internet connection.
Ease of Use
Overall, Amazon Prime Instant Video is easy to navigate and provides an enjoyable viewing experience. While the previously stated mobile app limitations make watching content at certain times impossible, the quality of videos is usually top notch. Finding the movie or television show you are looking for is simple, as you can search manually by name or sort by genre, popularity or other pre-determined filters.
For Amazon binge shoppers, Amazon Prime Instant Video is simply a benefit in addition to getting two-day shipping for online purchases. Additional Prime perks like unlimited cloud photo storage, ad-free Prime music streaming, and the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, to name a few, sweeten the deal. For those evaluating different streaming services, Amazon is a serious contender to Hulu Plus and Netflix and could be the more cost-efficient choice depending on one’s viewing preferences. Overall, the service provides quality streaming for thousands of movies and television shows.