Amazon Prime VS. Amazon Instant Video (comparison)

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Updated June 27, 2022

The best shows on Amazon are just getting started. You might think these two services are the same since they’re both offered by Amazon, but they are actually two different services customers can opt for. At first Prime sounds great since it offers more than streaming movies, BUT you can’t watch ALL of Amazon’s Instant Video titles. Here’s the low down on how each of the services measure up against  each other!

Amazon Instant vs Amazon Prime

Read: Is Amazon Prime Worth It?


Amazon has recently ventured into streaming content online and has pushed it heavily since it first came out with its Kindle tablets. Their Amazon Prime is a membership perks package offered to subscriber who constantly shop on the site and have Kindle products. Amazon’s Instant Video is part of their Prime membership, but can also be used by all users who want to view movies, TV shows and more a la carte to buy or rent. The idea is to compete with the best streaming services, and they are off to a great start.

User Friendly

Both of Amazon’s services provide online streaming, as well as can stream on a variety of devices (see below). Joining Prime is as easy as going to their main site and typing in Prime in their search box. Or you have the option to join at checkout, too. After you sign up for it, you’re immediately granted access to all of its features. To reach the Amazon Instant Video, just find it under their “Shop by Department” tab on the right side of their and search by movie, TV and even deals on cheap rentals, buys and more.

Winner: Tie

Compatible Devices

Amazon Prime offers users a variety of devices that it’s compatible with. The list includes: computers, Blu-ray players, set-top-boxes and Internet-connected TVs from a plethora of manufactures. Watching Amazon Instant Videos is also pretty easy, since downloaded content can be streamed on a lot of the same devices as Prime, including watching online via your computer, your living room via Blu-ray players and set-top-boxes like Roku, Internet-connected TVs and devices like your PlayStation or Xbox 360, as well as iPad and Kindle tablets. For the full list go here.

Winner: Tie


According to Amazon, they have more than 10,000 movies and TV shows to rent or buy via their Instant Video offerings, with Prime members allowed to view thousands of those at no additional cost. This means that Prime members don’t get to watch ALL of the videos offered in Amazon’s vast library. There are still lots of titles (mostly newer titles and TV episodes) that Prime members still need to pay for if they want to watch.

Winner: Amazon Instant Video

Membership Perks

With Amazon Prime, you’re not only paying for streaming movies, but also free 2-day shipping and access to their library of Kindle Books, which is great for shoppers who use Amazon for everything. Amazon Instant Video only gets you what you pay for.  But Instant Video allows you to either rent a movie or buy it. Renting allows you 30 days from when you rent it to start watching it (see below for limitations) and when you finish it, the title will disappear from your video library.

Winner: Amazon Prime has more membership perks than just streaming videos.


Amazon has deals with the companies like ABC Studios, ABC Family, the Disney Channel and Marvel, as well as NBCUniversal, Fox and Sony. This applies to both Prime and Instant Video.

Winner: Tie

Speed of Service

Amazon’s videos that are downloaded for Instant Video can be downloaded if bought (if available), while their streaming videos really depend on your Internet speed for how fast movies/shows start.

Winner: Tie


Both Amazon’s Prime and Instant Video can stream in HD when available and features a 720p resolution.

Winner: Tie


Videos watched with Amazon Prime are only available for streaming, can’t be downloaded and only U.S. residents can access Amazon Prime. It isn’t available in Alaska or Hawaii. You can also watch a Prime instant video as many times as you would like; however, you may only simultaneously watch two videos from the same account. Not all Instant Videos are available to Prime members either. With Instant Video, when you rent a movie, you have a 24-hour window to finish watching the movie, but you have 30 days to start watching it once you rent it.

Winner: Tie.


For Amazon Prime, it’s $79 a year, but it does include other benefits. If you’re a college student, you get 50% off of Amazon Prime’s price. Instant Video prices vary depending on title, so some start at $2.99 for rentals and go up to $6, while buying the title can be $10 and up. But you can get deals on titles, which are usually displayed on the front page of the Instant Video tab.

Winner: Amazon Prime’s price offers more than just streaming content and a pretty good variety of titles.

Overall Winner

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Amazon Prime barely beat Instant Video and that’s only because of all of its Membership Perks. You sort of get the best of both worlds while Instant Video as it allows you to only buy/rent titles you want to see on an individual basis, which can get pretty pricey if you are a movie/TV buff.  Nevertheless, Prime is a great option for those that order all of their products online, as it offers 2-day shipping on most items.

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