Amazon Prime Video. The name may be quite the mouthful, but it might just be one of the easiest entries into on demand TV.
Why? The service is free for Amazon Prime members (if you have free delivery, you probably have Prime), and all the shows are available through the Amazon website, so if you’ve used it for shopping then the service will be familiar.
Amazon is investing heavily in original TV series, and the service has an extensive archive of movies and TV shows to watch.
But before jumping into a subscription, what do you need to know? Here’s a quick guide to what Amazon Prime Video is, how much it costs, what subscribers can watch and how to sign up below.
What is Amazon Prime Video?
Prime Video is a streaming TV and movie service from online shopping company Amazon. Launched in 2014, it allows Prime members to watch TV via an internet connection, without having to download. If you’re using a tablet or mobile device, you can also download episodes to watch later – handy if you’re a binge-watching commuter.
You don’t buy individual series or films on Amazon Prime Video. Instead, you pay a monthly subscription which gives you access to a whole library of programmes to watch. Any programme that is included in the membership will have a Prime symbol over the image in search results (see screenshot below).
Confusingly, there’s also a service called Amazon Video (not Prime), which is essentially an online video rental/buying service like iTunes. With this service, you pay for individual TV episodes, whole series or movies, and can either download and keep them or rent them for a limited period.
It can be annoying arriving at a series you like the look of only to discover it isn’t included in your Prime subscription – but you quickly get a feel for what’s included and what comes extra.
How much does Amazon Prime Video cost in the UK?
If you sign up for Amazon Prime, you sign up for a whole bundle of services, from free next day delivery, music streaming service Amazon Music, unlimited photo storage, as well as, of course, TV series and films.
Prime membership costs £7.99 per month if you go for a monthly subscription.
However, you can also opt for an annual subscription costing £79 per year, which works out at £6.58 per month.
If you are sure you only want to use Amazon’s video service, there is a separate membership just for Amazon Prime Video that costs £5.99 per month. However, that subscription does not include any of the other services. See all the available plans here.
If you want to see what the service is like before paying for it, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial.
What can I watch on Amazon Prime Video?
Netflix‘s original series may have made the most noise early on, but Amazon has scored some surprising successes too with original TV series not available anywhere else.
Sharp US comedy drama Transparent became the first ever online series to win a Golden Globe in 2014, while the company followed that success up with award ceremony darling The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.
Amazon is also the only place in the UK to watch US series such as time-travelling drama Outlander.
And then there is The Grand Tour. Clarkson, Hammond and May are the unlikely poster boys for Amazon Prime Video, with a third series released in 2019 and plans for more to come.
2018 proved an expansive year for the service, with big budget series including Jack Ryan, Homecoming and The Romanoffs all released.
But that’s nothing compared to 2019, with the hugely anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen coming to Prime Video.
With a big budget Lord of the Rings TV series slowly building too, Amazon is not short of prestige TV.
What else can I watch on Amazon Prime Video?
As well as the TV shows listed above, there is an extensive film library with a host of award winners and blockbusters available to stream.
But that’s not all.
In May 2017, Amazon launched its new TV service Amazon Channels in the UK. The new service gives Amazon Prime subscribers the chance to pick and choose from over 40 different premium channels, from Discovery and Eurosport to classic movie channel MGM and Scandidrama channel Nordic Noir and Beyond.
Instead of paying for large TV bundles full of channels you’re not interested in, Amazon Channels aims to give you the chance to pick the channels you actually want to watch.
Amazon Channels UK full guide
The streaming service is also investing heavily in live sports rights. The US Open was streamed live online in the UK on Prime Video in 2018, and from the 2019 season a certain number of Premier League football matches will air exclusively on Amazon.
Expect more to come in this field, including sports documentaries such as All or Nothing and more live sports rights deals as they become available.
How to sign up to Amazon Prime Video
If you are already an Amazon Prime member, then you already have access to Prime Video. All you have to do is start searching for shows to watch.
To sign up as a new member, go to the Amazon Prime page, pick a membership plan that suits you and enter your details. Remember, you can start a free trial to check out what’s available first.
Like Netflix, it is possible to share your subscription with other people. By linking up different Amazon accounts into an Amazon ‘Household’, you can share benefits such as free delivery and free streaming.
You keep your own personal account (so you can watch shows at your own pace), but can share all the benefits (and therefore costs) between members of the same ‘household’. Find out more here.
How to watch Amazon Prime Video
After signing up, you can start watching from thousands of movies and TV shows on your computer, phone, tablet, games console or supported TV. Start searching for shows and movies here.
If you’re watching on the go, the Prime Video app is worth downloading. If you want to watch on your TV, find out more about which devices are supported and how to set up here.
Prime Video is designed for streaming, but many shows are available to download and watch offline. This is useful when you’re travelling or when you know you’re not going to have internet access.
Amazon Channels is not included in your standard Prime Video membership. Instead, each channel comes with its own small monthly cost. Sports channels such as Eurosport are particularly highly valued as they feature live events that aren’t available elsewhere. If you think that Sky or BT contracts are too expensive, this service could well be worth exploring.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Amazon Channels click here, or if you just want to search through the channels available go to the Amazon Channels website.
Are there any good alternatives to Amazon Prime Video?
Read our guide to Netflix, and check back for more information on every on demand TV service currently available.