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Amazon Prime Video: Everything you need to know about the massive streaming service

Amazon Prime Video on Apple TV
(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

Amazon has everything. Think of something. Anything tangible that you can buy. There's an excellent chance you can get it on Amazon. And that extends to all things video. DVDs. Streaming. Hell, even VHS tapes, if you're really old. 

Amazon's video play is massive. It's also a little confusing when it comes to nomenclature, and maybe that's on purpose. Amazon just wants to get you to the thing you want to watch. (Or buy.) It doesn't want you to worry about how.

We can break things down into a couple of categories, though. Which we'll explain below.

Amazon Prime video price

What, exactly, does Amazon Prime Video cost? Like so much else with Amazon Prime Video, it's not quite that simple.

As you'll read about below, the "Amazon Prime Video" name means a few things. But to simplify things as much as possible a subscription to Amazon Prime costs $12.99 a month, or $119 a year. (For those who don't do math in their head, you'll save about $44 by paying annually.)

And for that price, you'll have access to a ton of free content.

What is Amazon Prime Video

The umbrella term for all things video on Amazon is Amazon Prime Video. Search for something to watch inside Amazon, and you'll see the words (and logo) for Amazon Prime Video. That in and of itself makes total sense. 

It also invokes Amazon Prime, which is an optional subscription service that, among other things, gets you free two-day shipping and same-day delivery in some locations. The other major feature of an Amazon Prime subscription is the inclusion of virtually countless shows and movies, all available for free.

Here's the catch: You don't need a subscription to Amazon Prime to watch video on Amazon. You can still rent or purchase any available movie or show that Amazon has to sell. What you won't get is any of the movies and series that are made available for free on Amazon Prime Video. Yes, it's a little confusing. All you really need to do is look for the Prime logo on a video thumbnail. If it's got the logo, it's free with a Prime subscription.

If you rent or purchase a movie or show on Amazon, you're still doing it through Amazon Prime Video. It's just not free is all.

Amazon Prime Video app

(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

What is Amazon Prime Video Channels

Amazon Prime Video Channels also can sound a little confusing. All it is, really, is a series of "channels" or even what could be considered a full-fledged streaming service to which you can subscribe from within Amazon itself. 

One extremely popular example of this is Britbox, which serves up UK shows for an American audience. You subscribe to it via Amazon Prime Video Channels, and Amazon handles all the billing via your Amazon account. And then you'll watch Britbox — or whatever other Amazon Prime Video Channels subscription you've got — from within Amazon Prime Video itself.

One other catch — to subscribe to something via Amazon Prime Video Channels, you'll need an Amazon Prime subscription.

Is all that a little more complicated than subscribing to, say, Britbox on its own, and then using the Britbox app? Maybe. On the other hand if you're all-in on Amazon Fire TV for your streaming needs, it works really well. So it's a great option to have.

MORE: Ten Amazon Prime Video Channels you need to know

How big is Amazon Prime Video?

Here's the thing: We can't really measure Amazon Prime Video the same way we can measure, say, Netflix.

The latter had approximately 207 paid subscriptions as of April 2021. Amazon had about 200 million Prime subscribers as of that date, too. Disney+ about half that at the same point in time.

But while we can safely assume those who subscribe to Netflix absolutely watch videos on Netflix, the same just can't be said about Amazon Prime subscribers watching something on Amazon Prime Video.

What can you watch on Amazon Prime Video?

The short version here is that you can watch what feels like just about anything and everything on Amazon Prime Video. OK, maybe not exclusive shows. Something like Loki, which lives on Disney+, isn't available on Amazon Prime Video, obviously. 

On the other hand, you can rent or purchase the Marvel movies to stream on Amazon Prime Video, even though they're also available as part of a Disney+ subscription. 

Otherwise, go nuts. This is Amazon, after all.

What countries is Amazon Prime Video available in?

Amazon Prime Video is available worldwide. (It had hit more than 200 countries in 2016.) So there's a pretty good chance that no matter where you are, you've got access to Amazon Prime Video.

What you can watch in a particular country may vary, however. That's pretty standard, of course — a movie that's available one place may not be available in all locations.

That said, that's where something like a good, old-fashioned VPN may come into play. A virtual private network lets you rote all of your internet traffic through a specific country. So even if you're not in, say, the UK, you essentially make it so that your computer or phone or whatever is is in the UK, and then you probably can watch whatever is available in that country. Ain't the internet great?

ExpressVPN is one of the easiest and affordable ways to watch what you want from anywhere you want to watch it. Plus it'll help keep your network traffic away from any prying eyes on public networks.

And it's a great way to watch Amazon Prime Video from whatever country in the world you happen to be in.View Deal

Phil Nickinson

Phil spent his 20s in the newsroom of the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, his 30s on the road for AndroidCentral.com and Mobile Nations, is the Dad part of Modern Dad, and is editor of WhatToWatch.com.