What is Amazon Prime and an Amazon Prime membership? Is it still worth it to shell out the $120/year? Depending on who you ask, the answer might be different.
If you ask a book lover, Amazon Prime might mean unlimited access to Kindle Books and the Kindle First early access feature. If you ask online shoppers or sellers, then it might mean Lightning Deals and Free shipping.
Considering its price tag, is getting an Amazon Prime membership going to be worth it for us cord-cutters? In this guide, we will explore all the nooks and cranny’s about an Amazon Prime membership.
What Is Amazon Prime Membership?
Amazon Prime is a paid-for membership to ALL of Amazon services. For $119/year, it is certainly not cheap, but the membership offers a variety of features not available for “normal” Amazon customers. We will discuss this long list of extra features below.
Amazon Prime Membership Price and Features
Amazon offers three different Amazon Prime plans:
Amazon Prime Video ($8.99/month)
- Stream all Prime movies and TV shows
- Stream content on TV, tablet, PC, phone, console
- Download content and watch online
- Cancel or upgrade to other plans anytime
Amazon Prime ($12.99.month or $119/year)
- All Prime Video features
- Free one/two-day shipping (same-day delivery in some areas)
- Add Amazon Music Unlimited for $ 7.99/month or $79/year for an annual subscription
- Unlimited music streaming with Prime Music
- Unlimited reading on any device
- Unlimited photo storage
- Free 2-hour grocery delivery in select areas
- Save more with the annual plan
Amazon Prime Student ($6.49/month or $59/year)
- All Amazon Prime features
- Add Amazon Prime Music Unlimited for $0.99/month
- Save more with the annual plan
- Unlimited photo storage on Amazon Drive (Prime Student exclusive)
Breakdown of Amazon Prime Features
So, as we can see the Amazon Prime membership comprises of various different platforms and features, and it’s better to discuss each of these features one by one:
We can say that Amazon Prime Video is Amazon’s alternative to Netflix or Hulu to cater to the current trend of online streaming services. It’s important to note that Amazon Prime Video doesn’t offer live TV and local TV streaming. Instead, it offers thousands of TV shows, movies, and documentaries, including exclusive content created by Amazon (the Amazon Originals).
Probably the biggest reason for subscribing to Amazon Prime Video is the Amazon Originals line up, with shows like Good Omens, The Grand Tour, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, among others. There are also series and movies that are not produced by Amazon but are exclusively streamed on Amazon (dubbed Amazon Exclusives.
In short, it’s about content.
As we have discussed above, you can subscribe to the Amazon Prime Video plan without any other Prime Benefits. However, keep in mind that it only costs $4 a month more to get a full Prime membership, so it might be a worthy consideration.
The gaming streaming service Twitch was bought by Amazon in 2014, and now the Twitch Prime service is a part of both Amazon Prime and Prime Video memberships. Twitch Prime offers various exclusive in-game content, one channel subscription every month at no additional cost, exclusive emotes, and more.
For cord-cutters that also love to watch video game streams, the inclusion of the Twitch Prime might be a good deal.
Amazon Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited
Prime Music is an on-demand music streaming service, much like Spotify or Pandora. At the moment, Prime Music offers more than two million songs and is included with a Prime subscription.
The Amazon Music Unlimited offers more than 50 million tracks (per March 2020) and is not included with Amazon Prime membership. Music Unlimited costs $9.99/month for non-prime
members, $7.99/month or $79/year for an annual subscription for Prime members, and $ 0.99/month for Prime Student members. Also, as of the time of writing this post, there’s a free 3-months trial for Amazon Music Unlimited
Deals on Amazon Prime Day
Every July, Amazon offers huge discounts with their Amazon Prime Day event. It is Amazon’s biggest shopping event with amazing deals being offered every hour for two days. The discounts and offers can cover any items from smart appliances to cleaning products, and many items are sold out in a matter of minutes.
While this feature is not directly related to cord-cutting, it’s still a great opportunity to save money and find great offers.
Unlimited Free Delivery
The original Prime program was usually established to offer free one-day delivery on various items on Amazon. Today, as we have discussed, the Prime membership consists of many more features, but this very first offer is still intact.
Depending on the item and your location, with the Prime membership you are eligible for free two-day, one-day, and even same-day delivery.
Again, a great feature to have even if it’s not directly related to cord-cutting.
Amazon Prime Now
Amazon Prime Now service means you get free 2-hour delivery for Prime Now-eligible items ranging from groceries, household items, electronics, gift items, and more. As long as you meet the $35 minimum purchase, the delivery is always free. In total, Prime Now covers around 15,000 items in Amazon, including the best of Amazon items.
Also, there’s an option to “upgrade” to one-hour deliveries by paying $7.99 per delivery. Prime Now is only available in limited locations, but it covers many big cities in the US including Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington D.C.
Amazon Prime Reading
Many of us have forgotten (or, never experienced) the fact that Amazon was originally an online bookstore. This bookstore aspect is now still there in Amazon Prime in the form of Prime Reading.
You can read thousands of books, magazines, comics, and more with Kindle apps on various platforms or on Kindle readers. Also, you get access to Audible content (Amazon’s audio book) including various Audible Originals content.
Amazon Prime Photos (Free for Prime Student)
With Prime Student, you get Amazon Prime Photos as a part of your Prime membership, giving you unlimited photo storage on Amazon Drive (Amazon’s cloud service). So, you can save every photo from all of your devices. There are apps for both Android and iOS to easily upload your photos, and you set up Amazon Photos to backup your pictures automatically as you take them.
Lightning Deals Early Access
Lightning Deals, for those who don’t know, is Amazon’s limited-time bargains offering big discounts all-year-round. There is a finite amount of stock for each item, and when it’s sold-out, the Lightning Deal is over.
Prime members get a 30-minute head start on all Lightning Deals before non-members can make their purchase. This can be a very attractive feature for shoppers especially during certain periods like Black Friday deals and the holiday seasons.
With Prime membership, you can register for Amazon Family service for free. Amazon family provides various family-related offers like discounts on diapers and baby foods. Also, Amazon Household can allow you to share your Prime membership features with one other adult (your partner). You can also manage parental control if your have children in kids-related services in Amazon (like Amazon Freetime Unlimited or Kindle for Kids).
What’s NOT Included in Amazon Prime Membership
Due to how big Amazon is today with its large variety of features, not all of Amazon features are included in Amazon Prime membership and so must be purchased separately. Here are some prominent ones that might interest cord-cutters:
Amazon Freetime Unlimited
Freetime Unlimited (or Fire for Kids Unlimited in the UK) offers unlimited access to more than 1000 of children-friendly content from books, TV shows, educational apps, games, and books without any advertising. Children can stream the content on compatible Fire tablets, Fire TV, iOS, Android, and Kindle devices.
Freetime Unlimited can be a very attractive Amazon product for cord-cutters with kids, but unfortunately, it’s not included in Amazon Prime Membership. However, the Freetime Unlimited is offered cheaper for Prime members: it costs $2.99/month for 1 child, $6.99 for up to four children. If you are not a Prime member, it’s going to cost you $4.99/month and $9.99/month respectively.
Prime Channels on Amazon Video
To cater to the current demands of live TV channels and local channels in online streaming services, recently Amazon Video introduces a feature called Prime Channels. Prime Channels are essentially premium channels that you must subscribe monthly on top of your Prime membership, and here is a look at the pricing:
Should You Consider Amazon Prime Membership?
Above, we have discussed the key benefits offered by the Amazon Prime Membership. So, it’s time to ask the million-dollar question: is subscribing to Prime going to be worth it? Below we will discuss the pros and cons of the Amazon Prime membership, especially from a cord-cutter’s point of view.
For cord-cutters, obviously the Prime Video will be the most important, and so let us first discuss how Prime Video compares to other video streaming services.
How Does Amazon Prime Video Compare?
First things first, Amazon Prime Video offers a massive library of video content.
In this section, we will compare the Prime Video’s library compared to the other major streaming services. For this comparison purpose, we will divide the content into two different types: licensed third-party content, and Amazon Originals.
For the licensed third-party content, we will focus on comparing quantities, and how many popular titles offered. On the other hand, for Amazon Originals, we will compare its content to top competitors also offering original content, namely Netflix, Hulu, and HBO.
The two tables below are the results of our research:
Licensed Content Comparison
Original Content Comparison
Based on these two results, here are the key takeaways:
- Amazon Originals is probably the key reason to get Prime Video compared to other competitors. Amazon offers a growing library of original content that has amassed mainstream popularity like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Emmy award-winning), Good Omens, Bosch, and so on.
- Quantity-wise, Prime Video offers more original content than Hulu and Apple TV+ but loses to Netflix and HBO Now, so it ranks third out of five.
- Prime Video offers significantly more licensed movies (22,876) than its competitors (Netflix only offers 3.751), and also offers the most shows out of the four other services we’ve compared. However, Prime has fewer movies and shows in IMDb’s top lists compared to Netflix.
- For its original content, Amazon Originals’ shows and movies are comparable to Netflix and Disney+.
To summarize, you have more options with Prime Video compared to other streaming services, and quality-wise, you can find a lot of things to watch. Also, you can add Prime Channels (HBO, Showtime. Cinemax, STARZ, and CBS All Access) if you need even more shows and movies.
As we have mentioned, however, the biggest factor to consider is Amazon Originals. Below we will discuss some FAQs related to Prime Videos and Amazon Prime Membership.
FAQs About Amazon Prime and Prime Videos
Why do I have to pay for some content?
With Prime Video, some titles are available to rent or purchase for an extra charge, even if you already have a Prime Video or Amazon Prime membership. There are also Prime Channels selections (HBO, Showtime. Cinemax, STARZ, and CBS All Access) if you want to access even more content.
However, with Prime Videos alone you get access to 22,876 movies and 1,984 shows without paying any extras.
Do I need Amazon Prime to access Prime Video?
No, there is a standalone Prime Video plan you can pay for $8.99/month. Also, you don’t even need to subscribe to Prime Video, as you can purchase or rent a selection of titles from the Prime catalog without needing Prime Video or Amazon Prime membership.
Can I cancel any accidental purchase or rental?
Yes, you can return any order from the Prime Video catalog within 48 hours if you haven’t watched or downloaded it. So, if you make any accidental purchases, make sure not to watch the video and cancel right away by following these steps:
- Go to your orders.
- Find the order you’d like to cancel.
- Select Cancel Your Order.
- Choose a reason for the cancellation from the drop-down menu, and then click Cancel This Purchase. After the cancellation is complete, your refund is issued to the payment method used for the order. The video is also removed from Your Video Library as a part of the refund process.
Can I watch Prime Videos abroad?
Outside your home country, only a selected Prime Video and Amazon Originals titles are available to stream. There are selections of titles marked “Watch While Abroad” that shows the available titles. However, you can download titles before you travel, so you can watch the content offline anywhere in the world
What devices can stream Prime Videos?
The Prime Video app is available for any iOS and Android devices, game consoles (PS4 and Xbox One), various Amazon devices, various Blu-Ray devices with Prime Video app, and Smart TVs capable of running Prime Video App.
Is Prime Video included with Amazon Prime membership?
These Amazon Prime membership will get access to Prime Video:
- Annual Amazon Prime membership,
- Monthly Amazon Prime membership,
- 30-day Amazon Prime free trials, and
- Amazon Prime Student memberships.
Pros and Cons of Amazon Prime and Prime Videos
Here, we will discuss the pros and cons of the Amazon Prime membership and especially Prime Video, based on the cord-cutter’s point of view.
- Versatile video streaming service: as we’ve discussed above, the Prime Video service is a versatile online streaming service with a wide variety of shows and movies offered. Considering the quantity of content offered, the Prime Video (only) plan is also among the most cost-efficient plans compared to its competitors like Netflix or Hulu.
- Great free shipping features: the very first feature of Amazon Prime services is its free shipping, and it is still a good deal even today in 2020. If you often buy stuff from Amazon, then being a Prime member for its free two-day, same-day, and even 2-hour shipping is a very great perk to have. If you are an active Amazon buyer (or seller) besides being a cord-cutter, this reason alone makes the Prime membership worth it.
- Fast and reliable shipping: another one about shipping, showing its importance to Amazon’s services as a whole. Two-day shipping is now the Prime standard, but there are other options to receive your products even sooner, even two-hour free delivery for groceries and household essentials
- Prime-exclusive brands: there are products on Amazon that are only available to Prime members, some are owned by Amazon. There are many great companies that offer Prime-exclusive products and as a result, we get a wide range of valuable commodities. This will include valuable pre-sales and exclusive items not available anywhere else.
- Special deals and saving opportunities: since our main purpose as cord-cutters is to save money, Amazon Prime membership can help us achieve that by offering us Prime-exclusive discounts and special bargains.
- Price increase: Amazon has been guilty of increasing their membership fees on customers. The Amazon Prime membership used to be only $99, and there’s a possibility that we’ll get another increase.
- Quality content selection: while Prime videos offer a wide variety of content, as we’ve discussed in the comparison section above, the quality is not that great compared to Netflix and HBO Now.
- Location: many of the valuable perks of Amazon Prime membership is only available in certain locations. There are many cities and even countries that can’t get the full benefit of the membership.
- Encourages unnecessary purchases: Amazon is infamous for its ability to tempt users to purchase things they don’t actually need. If you are not careful with your Amazon Prime membership, you can end up losing money instead.
End Words and Verdict
There are two different ways to value Amazon Prime membership:
Whether you are a cord-cutter only looking for a streaming service to replace your cable or satellite TV, or whether you’d appreciate all the other perks offered by the membership:
- Free shipping
- Unlimited access to Prime Music and Prime Reading
- Access to limited-time bargains, and so on.
For the former, Amazon Prime Video is a pretty versatile service offering a wide range of content, it offers the most licensed shows and movies compared to Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, and Apple TV. Of course, there’s also the Amazon Originals, and you can even add Prime Channels to your subscription if necessary.
So, as an online video streaming service, it is a great option for cord-cutters, especially if you like the Amazon Originals content.If you are an active Amazon shopper, however, and/or if you enjoy other types of content offered by Amazon (books, Amazon Audible Originals, and music), then getting the full Amazon Prime membership is going to be more cost-efficient.
All in all, Amazon Prime or Prime Video alone is worth considering as your cord-cutting alternative to stream online videos and replace your cable TV.