6 mistakes to avoid with Amazon Prime Video

Prime Video
(Image credit: Amazon)

For years, Amazon was simply that website you used for online shopping because it was probably cheaper there than it was in a store. For many people and for many products, it still is. Eventually, the retail giant launched its own version of Netflix called Amazon Prime Video, which offers up a library of movies and TV shows to stream for free, as long as you were an Amazon Prime subscriber.

It's great value for those who would have already subscribed, even if the service itself can be a bit awkward to navigate and cumbersome to understand. It's not as intuitive as Netflix; it's often more complicated because it is built into Amazon's wider platform of products and services.

Not to worry, though, because we are here to reveal the top mistakes users make with Prime Video so you don't make them too. Hopefully, they will help you get the absolute most out of your own time with the service. So sit back, strap in, and read on to learn all about what not to do with Amazon Prime Video....

Mistake 1: Thinking Prime Video doesn't have ads

Princess Bride on Prime Video

(Image credit: Amazon)

Prime Video content doesn't cost anything with a Prime sub and it's ad free, right? Well, no, not entirely, but you wouldn't know this if you didn't look into it yourself, as Amazon hasn't made a ton of public noise about this. Here's how it works: when you stream off Prime Video, you're usually streaming from Prime Video – but not always.

Amazon also partners with other third-party sites to bring content to Prime Video, and this content can be ad-supported. The thing is, though, that 'third-party sites' can actually still mean Amazon. For example, you can watch certain content on Prime Video through a service called Freevee. Freevee content is ad-supported. However, Freevee is owned entirely by Amazon and used to be called IMDb TV.

If you want to be sure what you're looking to watch on Prime Video is actually on Prime Video and so comes without ads, use a site such as JustWatch to confirm a particular movie's or show's actual availability on Prime Video.

Mistake 2: Not doing your research before subscribing

Amazon Prime Video home page

(Image credit: Amazon)

Of course, you should always try to make informed purchases, but with Prime Video, it can become extra complicated. Many people, of course, get access to Prime Video through their Prime subscription rather than paying directly for Prime Video. This means Prime Video can be considered both a Netflix competitor and just a fun, free feature to incentivise Prime membership.

Because of the often 'free' nature of Prime Video as a pack-in feature, the service's shortcomings can get looked over. For example, it can be confusing when searching online whether or not a piece of content is available on Prime Video, if you have to pay to rent it from Amazon, or if it's an ad-supported piece of content. It can be frustrating to watch an excellent Prime Video Original pilot but not realise most of those don't get picked up for full series orders.

Moreover, the library of Prime Video is generally less robust than Netflix or Hulu, so if you are somebody who is thinking about signing up for Prime Video directly, as its own service, you will want to make sure there's enough content on the site for you to justify paying for it as a standalone product. Before you part with your hard-earned cash, make sure Prime Video is right for you.

Mistake 3: Forgetting about (or not using) X-Ray

Amazon X-Ray

(Image credit: Amazon)

If you’re on Prime Video, chances are you have got X-Ray on the thing you are watching. What’s X-Ray, you ask? X-Ray is what Amazon calls its set of unique in-video features on Prime Video content. Want to know the name of the song playing in a certain scene? Need the name of an actor? Want to know a cool easter egg? Curious about some trivia? All of this is findable at the click of a button with Amazon’s X-Ray.

Depending on your platform, simply click up on your remote, pause your video, or tap your screen and you will see the X-Ray page for the particular scene you are on if the content supports X-Ray. X-Ray isn’t limited to movies either: it’s on all kinds of content, including live sports where you can see real-time stats, get enhanced replays, player analyses, and more. Not all content on Prime Video supports X-Ray, but a lot of it does, so make sure to check it out next time you’re using Prime Video.

Mistake 4: Assuming region-locked content works the same on Prime Video as it does on other services

Prime Video watchlist screenshot

(Image credit: Amazon)

Like everybody else in the streaming world, Prime Video geo-restricts much of its content, so you have to be in a particular region if you want to access the content available in that region. You can use websites like JustWatch to figure out what content is available where, but that won't help you access the content you want when traveling, for example.

You can check out our list of the best cheap VPN deals and pick one you like, although note that not all VPNs work with Prime Video (it's actually against Amazon's Ts and Cs to use one) so you can often run into error messages and problems with the two together. ExpressVPN works, or you will have to do your research to find another. Just understand that you may not be able to use the VPN you may have already.

Mistake 5: Not getting your other streaming services through Prime Video

Streaming services

(Image credit: Future)

When deciding if you want Amazon Prime, or even if you want just Prime Video, it's easy not even to consider the other services you can tie directly into your Amazon account, because it's generally outside what Amazon actually provides. Prime Video doesn't have content tiers in the sense that you can pay more and get access to a bigger library as it's primarily intended to be a feature of Amazon Prime.

However, you can actually subscribe to a huge number of other services, such as HBO, Starz, CBS All Access, Paramount+, MUBI, Britbox and loads more, through Prime Video. Sometimes you can even get discounts for signing up for one of these other services through Amazon, and at most, you will pay the same as they charge themselves.

Many of us find ourselves attached to a number of different subscriptions, and managing them can become tedious – so it's often convenient to have stuff concentrated as much as possible. If you use any of the services you can get through Prime Video, and you have Prime Video, then you might want to consider signing up for those other services through Amazon, too.

Mistake 6: Never tweaking download/streaming settings

Prime Video

(Image credit: Amazon)

As with any other major streaming service, Prime Video lets you adjust your streaming and download quality, which can be a major lifesaver if you are working with a limited data plan and are trying to cut down on how much you use. With downloads, you can select between Good, Better, Best, and Data Saver, while you can choose between three tiers of streaming quality that range from using around 0.14GB to 0.46GB each hour.

If you're on mobile, there is also a convenient toggle that ensures content is downloaded only when on wi-fi and not over cellular, just as a stop-gap to make sure you don't end up using more of your data than you intended. To this end, on mobile, there's also the option to choose whether you want to stream exclusively over wi-fi or both wi-fi and cellular.


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Ruben Circelli

Ruben is a long-time freelance consumer technology and gaming journalist, and was previously a Staff Writer at What Hi-Fi?. Since 2014, Ruben has written news, reviews, features, guides, and everything in-between at a huge variety of outlets that include Lifewire, PCGamesN, GamesRadar+, TheGamer, Twinfinite, and many more. Ruben's a dedicated gamer, tech nerd, and the kind of person who misses physical media. In his spare time, you can find Ruben cooking something delicious or, more likely, lying in bed consuming content.