As the latest streaming juggernaut to hit Australian shores, Amazon Prime comes with a big reputation. But is the hype justified? Find out how you can get Amazon Prime, what you can watch, how much it costs, and how it compares to Netflix and Stan in this Canstar Blue review.
What is Amazon Prime?
Amazon Prime – or just ‘Prime’ – is a streaming video on demand (SVOD) service that is run by Amazon, the massive online retailer, probably most famously known in Australia for providing hard-to-find books and the Kindle e-reader. The service has actually been around in some form since 2006, but only in 2016 did Prime start to take off when it acquired rights to The Grand Tour, a show featuring former Top Gear hosts James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson. Now it has many shows and films to watch and competes with other streaming services in Australia, most notably Netflix and Stan.
- With Amazon Prime, you can stream content on three devices at once
- You can also download shows and watch on the Prime Video mobile app
- There is a free one-week trial, no contract, and you can cancel at any time
Is Amazon Prime available in Australia?
Yes, Prime is available in Australia. It has been since late 2016, when Amazon launched its 200-country service. Prime is now available in every country worldwide, with the exception of mainland China, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Crimea. We wonder if North Korea has its own streaming service…
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How can I watch Amazon Prime?
Like Netflix, Amazon Prime is web-based and is able to be watched on pretty much any device that can access the internet. Devices include:
- Apple TV
- Certain smart TVs
- Xbox One and PlayStation 4
- Smartphones, tablets and computers
- The Prime Video app is now available on Android and iOS (Apple) but does not seem to have a built-in Chromecast feature
Amazon’s ongoing rivalry with Google has meant that Amazon has historically been reluctant to support Google-built software and devices. However, it is still possible to use Chromecast through your PC or Mac and use the Chromecast feature through the Google Chrome web browser. This sounds confusing, but it can be simple; Google and Amazon aren’t the best of friends.
How much does Amazon Prime cost in Australia?
It may be available to watch in Australia, but Prime can only be purchased in US dollars, with prices starting at USD $2.99 a month for six months. After that, prices revert to the usual $5.99 a month.
At the time of writing, this equates to roughly $4 and then $8 in Australian dollars. However, as you are purchasing in another currency, your credit or debit card provider might charge a conversion rate or a lower exchange rate. Also consider that exchange rates can and do change all the time.
So, $4 for your first six months of Prime sounds pretty good. It’s even cheaper than Netflix Australia, and Stan, which start at $9.99 and $10 a month respectively. Even when prices revert to $8, it’s still cheaper. However, you might be wondering what you can actually get on Prime.
What shows are on Amazon Prime Australia?
As somewhat of a reflection of its cost, Prime’s library is much smaller than Netflix Australia’s, let alone Netflix US. However, there are some exciting shows on Prime that may tickle your fancy, including ones that aren’t featured on Netflix or Stan:
- The Shield
- The Missing
- Dawson’s Creek
- Downton Abbey
This is a list of just some of the shows on offer. However, what you probably want to know about is the list of Amazon Originals.
Amazon Prime Originals
Like Netflix, Amazon spends billions of dollars a year to secure rights to TV shows, as well as to secure distribution rights to certain shows, labelled Amazon Originals. The most notable is The Grand Tour, but if you don’t like May, Hammond or Clarkson, there are some other Amazon Originals to watch:
- Le Mans
- Sneaky Pete
- ‘I Love Dick’
- American Gods
- Mozart in the Jungle
- The Man in the High Castle
There are many more Amazon Originals on offer, and they are somewhat reminiscent of Netflix Originals in that they are relatively understated shows and feature a broad subject range. Perhaps the standout show on the above list is ‘I Love Dick’ – a comedy series starring Kevin Bacon.
What movies are on Amazon Prime Australia?
Amazon Prime has a large catalogue of movies on offer, mostly older films with a heavy saturation of dramas and comedies from the 2000s.
- Men in Black
- The Mummy
- The Karate Kid
- Public Enemies
- The Da Vinci Code
This is just a very brief selection, but you can see that there is a large cross section of genres. Funnily enough, Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks movies seem to dominate the ranks, probably because they were some of the biggest actors of the 1990s and 2000s. Also consider that rights to films and TV shows change all the time, so it pays to check back in periodically and see if any films have been added on or taken away.
Amazon Prime Australia Does Not Have HBO Shows
You might have read an article or two hyping up the benefits of Prime and its large library of HBO shows, such as Girls, The Wire and The Sopranos. Well, surprise, surprise – this content is blocked in Australia. This is due to HBO’s exclusive partnership with Foxtel, which fights hard to set itself apart from the rest of the streaming juggernaut. Other popular American cable shows from the US are also unavailable here on Amazon Prime, such as Mr Robot, Louie, and so on.
Does Amazon Prime Australia have NFL games?
Yes. Amazon Prime and NFL announced its partnership in April 2017. Officially, Amazon now has the rights to 11 Thursday Night Football (TNF) games in the season (airing on Friday mornings Australian time). The NFL has said the games will be available worldwide.
- Amazon has extended its contract for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
- NFL is available for free for Twitch users, a live streaming video platform.
Amazon Prime will simulcast games also aired on the NBC and CBS networks. This comes after Amazon outbid Twitter in 2017, which previously had rights to streaming TNF games on the social network. Twitter’s games were streamed for free, but with Prime it’s behind the USD $2.99 paywall, unless you have a Twitch account.
How does Prime compare to Netflix and Stan?
As is becoming a theme for Australia, US streaming services frequently water down their products for the Australian market – Netflix and Prime included.
- Prime is much cheaper, from USD $2.99 a month, while Netflix and Stan start at AUD $9.99 and $10 respectively
However, the price simply reflects the amount of content available – especially in Australia. Currently, Netflix and Stan trump Prime in terms of catalogue size and arguably in the range of interesting content that people actually want to sit down and watch – not for the tenth time.
Prime has a range of originals much like Netflix, but the shows have not yet garnered enough of a name for themselves yet. Survey people on if they have heard of Orange is the New Black, or ‘I Love Dick’, and it’ll be interesting to see which one is more commonly known. We imagine it will be the former.
- The notable exception to this is The Grand Tour, which is an immensely popular show
- In fact, for some people it may be worth paying the AUD $4-odd price just to watch it
However, keep in mind you may be paying currency conversion fees on top of the exchange rate for the USD $2.99 face-value monthly fee. It will be interesting to see where Prime goes with this model, and whether consumers will be open to accepting these conversion fees from their credit card company or not. Right now, if you have to purchase only one streaming service, it’s hard to separate Netflix and Stan, while Prime lags behind a little, especially in Australia.
Is Amazon Prime worth it in Australia?
Unless there is something specific you want to watch on Prime, Australian users may struggle to see value, especially when so much content is geo-blocked, and it’s hard to see what’s available prior to signing up. However, for the free trial and cheap price, Amazon Prime may be worth a go. It’s hard to argue against Netflix or Stan, however, and even if they’re double the price of Prime, there is no doubt their libraries are bigger and the quality of content is probably – subjectively – more desirable. Amazon Prime is the newest addition to Australia’s streaming landscape, but once again Aussies are left with an inferior product compared to Americans. This could make it hard to justify even the very cheap asking price, especially when Stan and Netflix are available for $10 or less.