Prime Video review: One of Prime's best perks or just a neat treat?

Not a must-have, but still valuable

Dominique McElligott as Queen Maeve and Antony Starr as Homelander in Prime Video's The Boys
(Image: © Amazon Studios)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Prime Video is a great benefit for Amazon Prime members.

Pros

  • +

    Some amazing shows and movies

  • +

    X-Ray mode is neat

  • +

    Live sports events and concerts

  • +

    Included in Prime membership

Cons

  • -

    Library doesn't stack up to Netflix's

  • -

    Interface missing key options on non-Amazon devices

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A Prime Video review is kind of tricky. Many people will get Prime Video with their Amazon Prime membership, though you can buy a Prime Video membership a la carte (we just don't think anyone would). That said, Prime Video has become more interesting as it adds more and more live events and gains new hits here and there. Prime Video may not be the best streaming service overall, but it's definitely one of them.

Prime Video review: Pricing and availability

Prime Video is available on its own for $8.99 per month (opens in new tab), but most people probably get the service as a part of their Amazon Prime ($14.99 per month (opens in new tab), $139 per year (opens in new tab)). Since that's a lot of cash, make sure to familiarize yourself with our guide to the Amazon Prime member deals, which aren't as well-known.

The $15.49 Standard Netflix tier is more expensive, but doesn't have 4K streaming, which Prime Video does. You must pay $19.99 per month for 4K Netflix.

This means that on its own, the ad-free Prime video is less expensive than ad-free Hulu ($12.99 per month), ad-free HBO Max ($14.99 per month). It's only a buck cheaper than the ad-free versions of Paramount Plus and Peacock (both $9.99 per month).

The only ad-free streaming service cheaper than Prime Video is Apple TV Plus ($4.99 per month). 

Prime Video review: Interface

The single best part of Prime Video is that it wants to help you answer the question "wait, who is that?" Swipe up on your remote while watching a show or movie to peek into Amazon's X-Ray feature, which displays a list of the actors who are on screen at that moment. 

The Prime Video home screen on desktop

(Image credit: Amazon)

The biggest gripe we have with the Prime Video interface is that its best version is stuck on the Fire TV devices. After testing it on a Roku Ultra, Apple TV 4K, Fire TV Stick 4K Max and a Chromecast with Google TV, we saw that some valuable menu options aren't available on all devices. For example, the Fire TV Stick is the only one that had the Categories button in the top menu. 

Imagine Netflix hiding the ability to sort by category? On top of that, the Apple TV version doesn't even have the "Free to me" filter that takes out stuff you need to pay more to see (more on that below). Roku and Chromecast with Google TV versions of those apps also have the "Free to me" and Prime Video Channels sections.

it's great that Amazon gives users a wide array of access to content, but what about when you click on a show or movie, only to discover you need to pay or watch ads.

One potentially annoying part of the Prime Video experience is how the service mixes in things that aren't included in your Prime Video membership. That includes paid video on demand content and ad-supported content from sister services such as IDMb TV. On the web, Prime Video uses little flags (Ads, Prime, $) to show you what's what, but on non-Amazon streaming devices, you're having to look out for blue text that says "included with Prime Video" or a little "Prime" logo in the top right corner. While it's great that Amazon gives users a wide array of access to content, but it's annoying to click on a show or movie, only to discover you need to pay for it or watch ads.

Prime Video review: Shows

Amazon's library of original shows has some strong hits, and you can find many of them in our list of the best shows on Amazon Prime Video. That said, the service just doesn't feel like it competes with the heavy hitters such as Netflix. 

Alan Ritchson (as Jack Reacher), Martin Roach (as Picard) in a diner in an episode of Prime Video's Reacher

(Image credit: Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video)

Amazon has its strong set of shows (and the Reacher season 2 renewal shows its latest just got here), but its output rates seem to not be at the same level. We'd include JustWatch's estimates on Prime Video's total movies and shows list (opens in new tab), but those numbers appear to be inflated by including content you can get through Prime Video Channels, which cost extra). 

Prime Video review: Movies

While you can set up a good movie night with our list of the best movies on Amazon Prime Video, its originals don't really get the love or hype that you see on the best Netflix movies or best Hulu movies

For example, The Tomorrow War seemed neat, but it didn't really hit the way Netflix's Red Notice did — which might be a matter of the lopsided star-war of the posters, with Chris Pratt (already in his over-saturation phase) up against Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot. Michael B. Jordan's starring role in Tom Clancy's Without Remorse got a lot of hype, but that came and went as well. The Suspiria remake — which I didn't even know was an Amazon Original — is good, but also proved a bit divisive. For future flicks, note that the next best Prime Video movies may be in theaters first.

The Tomorrow War

(Image credit: Amazon via Facebook)

2020 and 2021 saw Amazon earn some wins off of Coming 2 America and Borat 2, but those feel like they arrived ages ago. Amazon's acquisition of MGM, though, does suggest that the James Bond movies could be coming to Prime Video.

The service is somewhat strong on licensed films, though. A quick scroll through Prime Video shows titles including The Silence of the Lambs, Saving Private Ryan, The Prestige, The Usual Suspects, Heathers and the 2020 version of Emma (only with ads).

Prime Video review: Live events

Serena Williams (L) and Novak Djokovic perform in the US Open

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

There is one aspect where Prime Video does best Netflix: live events. Amazon actually plays ball, with select Thursday Night Football games, Premier League soccer  in the U.K. and Ligue 1 soccer in France. Amazon is also streaming Tennis in the the U.K. and Ireland, granting access to major events including the US Open and both WTA and ATP tours. While Netflix and Disney Plus don't dabble in this part of the pond right now, live sports are a growing feature in streaming services, such as Apple TV Plus getting Friday Night Baseball MLB games.

Prime Video is also getting into the world of live music and concert specials, most recently streaming Kanye West and Drake's event and a new Lizzo special.

These aren't a huge reason to sign up, but much like how Prime Video is a neat perk for Prime members, these events are nice to have — but all the more important for fans of the teams and stars on the field and stage.

Prime Video review: Supported devices

Prime Video, much like Netflix, is available everywhere. The below list should help confirm that your device supports it, but the clear and obvious fact is that Prime Video is ubiquitous. Which makes sense, because Amazon itself is everywhere. Most of these devices will see sales on Amazon Prime Day, for what it's worth.

Trying to squeeze every penny out of your Prime membership? Check out our Amazon buying tricks every Prime member should know so that you're not leaving money on the table. With the cost going up so much this year, there's no reason not to consider all the angles

Prime Video review: Bottom line

As this Prime Video review has shown, the service's biggest flaw is consistency. It doesn't seem to be churning out compelling content as often as say Netflix, and its apps vary across platforms as well. 

That said, I keep the Prime Video app on my streaming devices, even though I don't use it that often. You never know when Prime Video will drop a new season of something interesting, or have a licensed movie that you can't find anywhere else.

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.