Amazon has sweetened the pot of Amazon Prime benefits by adding free movie and TV streaming of 5,000 Amazon On Demand titles to network media players, media streamers, network TVs and to computers.
What is Amazon On Demand?
Amazon On Demand, now called "Amazon Instant Video", is a movie streaming and download service. Users can rent movies to stream, or buy movies that are stored in an online library and can be accessed on any devices with the Amazon On Demand service — including the Roku box, Sony Bravia TVs and home theater components. Purchased movies that have been bought can also be downloaded and saved to devices that have a hard drive like TiVo DVRs and other network media players.
Amazon reports that it has 90,000 titles available in its complete Amazon On Demand library. New-release movies are available close to the DVD release date in stores. A number of TV shows are available the day after their first broadcast. "No Ordinary Family" and "The Biggest Loser" were available for rent within 48 hours, as well as the past week's episode of "Off The Map." Rental rates are typically $1.99 for a present-season TV episode.
Free Rentals with Amazon Prime Membership
With an Amazon Prime membership, over 5,000 of the titles available for rent can be streamed instantly for free to a network media player that has the Amazon Instant Video app. Make no mistake, the free streaming videos are not the newest movie titles and TV shows.
Some titles that are available for free instant streaming include: "Salt," the first five years of "Harry Potter," "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy, "Amadeus," "Syriana" and "Chariots of Fire"; documentaries such as "Food Inc." and "March of the Penguins"; and TV shows such as "Doctor Who," "Farscape," "Fawlty Towers”; and children's shows such as "Arthur," "Caillou" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
What is Amazon Prime?
The main benefit of the $79 annual Amazon Prime membership is free two-day shipping for eligible products that sell on Amazon. The Amazon Prime membership can be shared with other family members of your household. Without the Prime membership, customers can get free standard shipping for purchases over $25. Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping for product purchases marked for Prime shipping even if they total less than $25.
Amazon Instant Video on the Roku Box
The Roku box is one of the media streamers that has the "Amazon Instant Video" channel. To use Amazon Instant Video, be sure you have an Amazon account and that it is linked to your Roku box and activated on the Roku. Once you have an account, simply follow the onscreen directions.
The "Amazon on Demand" channel has been renamed "Amazon Instant Videos." If you don't see that change, your Roku box might need to be updated. Go to the settings and choose to update the firmware. If it is the right update, there will be an icon for "Prime" content in the Amazon app.
Amazon Instant Video on Google TV
You'll find "Amazon VOD" listed on the home screen menu. Click on it and it will bring up a few of the top movies. To get to the Amazon Prime movies and other videos that you can rent or buy, click on any movie. This will open the Chrome web browser and take you to the Amazon page. Note that "Amazon On Demand" has changed to "Amazon Instant Video" on the website, too. Amazon Instant Video now includes both pay-per-view and free Prime movies. You can get to the free Prime movies by clicking on "Prime Instant Videos" in the navigation bar. you can also click on the Prime box in the left sidebar navigation, or go to the "Sort by" drop down on the upper right and sort by "price: Low to High," to bring the free video rentals to the top.
Don't Give Up Your Netflix Account Yet
While Amazon Instant Video offers unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows, and is similar to Netflix's "Watch Instantly" Instant Que streaming service, you'll probably still want to keep your Netflix subscription. Netflix has a substantially larger collection of movies and TV shows. Also, the Amazon Instant Video service is on a very limited number of devices, compared to more than 200 devices that have access to Netflix.
Regardless, if you like to shop on Amazon and are interested in the benefit of free fast delivery, perhaps the free streaming videos will be the added push you need to try the Amazon Prime service. You can try Amazon Prime for free for 30 days. Note that you can cancel the service and possibly receive a refund if you find that you aren't using it.