Amazon Prime Video. At times it feels like the Luigi to Netflix’s Mario but, like Luigi, some see it as the superior option.
Being tied in to Amazon's Prime subscription means millions of people have the Prime Video streaming service ready to go, whether they use it or not. It's very much a five-star platform, though, packed with 4K and HDR content. And, if you're not sure what you're looking for, then we've pulled together a list of the best TV shows on Prime Video right now.
But whether you’re a Prime Video professional or just thinking of signing up, here are a few tips and tricks to get the most out of the service.
Prime Video: pricing
You don't need to be an Amazon Prime subscriber to access the content on Prime Video but it definitely helps. Without any kind of monthly payment to the service you can still rent and buy titles on a pay-as-you-go basis much as with movies and TV on iTunes.
Things get better with a subscription though. A subscription to Prime Video alone costs £5.99/$8.99 per month and brings access to thousands of TV shows, boxsets, Amazon Originals and movies too in 4K HDR and with Dolby Atmos where available. Amazon Prime membership isn't much more, though, (£7.99/$12.99) and that offers the same access plus all the same-day and next-day shopping freedom on the rest of the site.
Even with a subscription, you'll still find that quite a few premium titles are are not included. You'll need to rent/buy these as extras.
Of course, you don't have to decide to sign your life away for another £5.99/$8.99 per month. Amazon offers a 30-day free trial for its Prime Video service. Bags of goodies in 4K, HDR and in glorious 5.1 and Dolby Atmos. No brainer.View Deal
Prime Video: profiles & parental controls
Household account and profiles
Amazon Prime Video will recommend TV shows and films based on your past viewing history but what if you’re really into crime thrillers, your other half loves romantic comedies and the kids love cartoons?
The answer is by linking together two Amazon accounts that will both have access to Prime Video. You can also add up to four children who can watch without needing an Amazon account.
To do this, go to: Your Account > Shopping Programmes > Amazon Household. There you can can add another adult or profiles for children, and then click ‘Create Household’.
You can stream up to three programmes at once (although not the same one) from the same Amazon account.
Parental controls are also important if don’t want your little ones coming across adult content. The solution is to set up a four-digit PIN. You can do this on the web by going into the 'Settings' of the Prime Video section of Amazon’s site, and also in the mobile app's settings.
Prime Video: buy or stream?
Amazon Prime Video has a mixture of content available to purchase and to stream with your Video subscription - but how do you know which is which?
If there’s a blue Prime banner in the top left corner of the show’s icon, that means the series is free to stream with your subscription. However, just because a show is part of a Prime Video subscription, it doesn’t mean that each and every episode or series will be. The first four series of The Americans, for example, are included in Prime Video, but you’ll have to purchase or rent the latest one.
The most recent series eventually become free but it can take a while - usually around a year - but if you can't wait you’ll have to cough up some extra cash. Amazon Originals, however, don't usually suffer from this issue.
Prime Video: 4K, HDR
Streaming 4K Ultra HD video
With all Prime Video subscribers getting access to 4K Ultra HD content, it would be remiss not to make the most of it. On Amazon’s TV app for smart televisions there’s an Ultra HD category with some of its most recent, or promoted, content.
Similarly, you can search for ‘4K’ or ‘Ultra HD’ in the search bar to bring up the top-resolution videos. However, the search results might not be complete. You can only tell for sure if a TV show or movie is 4K by clicking on it.
Unfortunately, if you're on a mobile device, this doesn't show up at all.
Streaming HDR video (or Dolby Vision)
HDR video - and Dolby Vision on compatible televisions like LG's OLEDs - is a little more difficult to spot than 4K, as there isn’t a set category for it on the main screen. Amazon’s search function is also incomplete. When typing in ‘HDR’ it recommends The Man In The High Castle, but leaves out other HDR shows like The Last Tycoon.
Much like finding 4K content, it’s a case of trial and error. Clicking on shows to see if they come up with the HDR or Dolby Vision symbol seems the best way to find out.
Prime Video: audio & subtitles: 5.1 and Dolby Atmos
Prime Video content comes with both 5.1 soundtracks and Dolby Atmos too, although the latter is limited to a handful of titles at the moment. However, this audio is available across a range of products such as most smart TVs, games consoles, Amazon devices, Android devices, Chromecast, some Blu-ray players and set-top-boxes too.
Unfortunately for iOS users, this doesn’t extend to them. Apple devices are stuck with simple stereo soundtracks.
Sometimes you might want to enjoy the sound of silence, so you flick on the subtitles. To do that, press the up arrow on a smart television remote and navigate to the ‘Closed Captioning’ icon, or use the options button on an Amazon Fire remote. In the mobile app, simply tap the dialogue box in the top right corner while watching.
You can change how they look too. In Prime Video's website settings, you can choose between four editable presets.
It’s worth noting, however, only selected films and TV shows support subtitles, so this won’t be a universal solution. Hopefully, more will get updated over time.
Prime Video: Mobile mastery
The Prime Video app is available on both iOS and Android whether in tablet or mobile form and given that you'll be taking these devices all over the place, you'll want to think about downloads, resolution and your mobile connection.
For those using tablets or smartphones to watch their shows and want to save on a bit of data, you can download content to your device for offline viewing.
On selected films and TV shows (usually, but not exclusively, ones made by Amazon or solely available on their platform) you can tap the little download arrow to save it to your device. Amazon kindly runs a few sections on the home page where it's grouped all the downloadable shows.
The ones you’ve got offline can all be found in the ‘Download’ tab under 'My Stuff' on the menu at the bottom of the main screen of the mobile app. You can download between 15-25 pieces of content depending on your region which is plenty of storage space if you're doing so in 4K.
Of course, you might not want a three-hour film downloaded in its highest quality - it's going to fill up your smart device's storage space mighty fast. So go to the app's settings (the cog icon under 'My Stuff' and click on ‘Download Quality’.
There, you can change between three tiers of video quality: Good, Better, Best or Data Saver. These range from using around 0.14GB per hour of footage to 0.46GB per hour.
And if you want to ensure content is only downloaded over wi-fi (saving you from using up your precious mobile data), there’s a toggle switch for that too.
As with downloads, the Prime Video app also has settings for changing the quality of the shows you’re watching over mobile data - again on a Good, Better, Best, Data Saver scale.
You can also decide whether you want to stream exclusively over wi-fi and, if not, whether you want a notification when the app is using up your data.
You’re on a long train journey, you open up your favourite TV series, nod off and wake up to discover you’re seven seasons deep and you’ve used up all your data allowance.
Amazon can help with that. Under the Settings menu is a toggle for turning Auto Play on or off. No more unintentional binges of Parks and Recreation for us.
One of Prime Video’s most interesting features is X-Ray, which lets you see actor biographies, trivia and other information on top of your show. It's taken straight from IMDb (which is owned by Amazon).
Tapping anywhere on the screen on iOS, Android or Fire devices will bring it up, so no more struggling to recall a supporting actor.
Prime Video: watchlists & recommendations
Adding to your Watchlist
Too many shows, not enough time? Add them to your Watchlist so you're never stuck for anything to watch again.
Choose a TV show or film, either on the website or in the mobile or television app, and just press the ‘Add to Watchlist’ button.
If you're a Prime member, some Prime titles also display a 'Watch Now' option once you open them from your Watchlist, so you can get to it faster.
Of course, if you’ve watched something particularly embarrassing (or just something you disliked) and don’t want it interfering with Amazon’s recommendation algorithms, you can remove it from your history.
On the Amazon website, go to ‘[Your first name]’s Amazon’ tab (it's next to ‘Today’s Deals’ on the top left corner) and then go to ‘Your Browsing History’. There you can remove videos completely, or just tick a box that tells Amazon not to recommend any other similar shows.
Of course, if a box-set or film isn’t available to stream, you can always buy a digital copy. Any content purchased through Amazon Video appears in the ‘Your Video Library’ section online, or in ‘Library’ on mobile.
But proceed with caution: not every film with a 4K HDR Blu-ray will be available in that quality on Prime Video. A digital copy of The Martian, for example, can only be bought in HD or SD quality.
Prime Video: Bonus tips
So you’ve decided to sell your Android or iOS device, money has been exchanged and you’re driving away. But wait! You’ve left your Amazon Video account logged in!
Rather than relinquish your streaming service to someone else, you can go into the app’s settings on another device and click ‘Registered devices’. There, you can disconnect any unwanted devices from your account.
Submitting a script
Sadly, Amazon Studios no longer accept script submissions from all and sundry. However, filmmakers can share their work direct with Prime Video's audience with Prime Video Direct. You can also share work with industry professionals on IMDB Pro and see what goes from there.