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Prime Video: cost, channels, app — everything you need to know about Amazon's streaming service

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.

How much does Prime Video cost?

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

As you'll read about below, the "Prime Video" name means a few things. But to simplify things as much as possible a subscription to Amazon Prime costs $12.99/£7.99 a month, or $119/£79.99 a year. And for that price, you get access to a ton of free content.

What is Prime Video?

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

You don't need a subscription to Amazon Prime to watch videos on Amazon. You can just rent, or buy, any available movie or show that Amazon has. 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  Prime Video. It's just not free, is all.

Prime Video app

(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

What are Prime Video channels?

Prime Video Channels also can sound a little confusing. All it is, really, is a bunch of "channels" (or streaming services) that you can subscribe to from within Amazon. 

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

One thing to note — as the name implies, you're going to need an Amazon Prime membership to view these channels. After that, it's just a matter of making your through the dozens and dozens of available channels to find something that tickles your fancy. In addition to add-ons like HBO and Showtime, there are a lot of niche channels, too, including a number of international offerings.

  • HBO
  • Showtime
  • Cheddar
  • CBS All Access
  • Britbox
  • PBS Masterpiece
  • Sundance Now
  • Sports Illustrated TV
  • Hallmark Movies Now
  • PBS Kids
  • Brown Sugar
  • Go Russia
  • Best of British TV
  • Mubi
  • Stand-Up Karaoke

That really is just the tip of the iceberg — the entire list is way too long to publish here. The best thing you can do is just hop on over to the Amazon Prime Video Channels section and flip through it yourself. Find something you want to check out, subscribe — with a free trial — and then pay a monthly subscription once that runs out. And then wonder how you didn't know about this before...

MORE: Ten Prime Video Channels you need to know

What can you watch on Prime Video?

The short version here is that you can watch what feels like just about anything and everything on Prime Video. OK, maybe not everything. Some exclusive shows, like Loki — which lives on Disney Plus — aren't available on 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.

You don't properly appreciate just how much video content Amazon has at its disposal. Just how much video it could throw at you at any given time. Between all the free stuff you can watch on Amazon Prime Video, or all the stuff you could rent or buy long before it hits the free end of things — there's more than enough video to last a lifetime.

And that's still not the end of it all.

For everything else, there's Amazon Prime Video Channels. You can think of this as the add-on end of thing for Amazon Prime Video. It's a collection of individual channels to which you will subscribe individually, in addition to all of that other Amazon Video you're already enjoying.

Make sense?

As the name implies, you're going to need an Amazon Prime membership to view any of it. After that, it's just a matter of making your through the dozens and dozens of available channels to find something that tickles your fancy. In addition to add-ons like HBO and Showtime, there are a lot of niche channels, too, including a number of international offerings.

Here is but a brief sample of what you can get on Amazon Prime video Channels:

What countries is Prime Video available in?

Prime Video is available worldwide — there's a pretty good chance that no matter where you are, you've got access to Prime Video. What you can watch in a particular country may vary, however. That's pretty standard, of course — a movie that's available in one place may not be available in all locations.

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