Why you should sign up for Netflix rival
AMAZON'S video streaming service may have launched 18 months ago in Australia but it's barely made a dent in a market dominated by Netflix, Stan and catch-up services like iView and SBS on Demand.
But that could be about to change.
This week, Amazon finally launched its overall Prime offering which, for a monthly or yearly fee, will give you free two-day shipping on products sold by the brand though not third-party sellers. The service is inferior to the same-day or next-day shipping on offer in other markets but at $59 a year it's much cheaper than what our overseas counterparts are paying.
Perhaps one of the most enticing reasons to join is the membership will give you access to Prime Video, Amazon's streaming rival to Netflix. The yearly Prime fee is currently cheaper than a stand-alone video subscription so this is the time to join.
If you're an existing Prime Video subscriber and you want to upgrade to the general Prime membership, just sign up for Prime and your separate video subscription will be automatically cancelled at the end of the current billing cycle.
While its library is significantly smaller than Netflix or Stan, and only has a fraction of its American service, there are loads of exclusive gems you don't want to miss, like the bonkers fantasy American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman's seminal novel, or the joyful The Marvelous Mrs Maisel from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino.
Since its launch, Amazon has made it much easier to watch Prime Video, having added an Apple TV app, Xbox and PlayStation apps, as well as make available for sale its Fire TV stick - all these options were previously missing. You can also watch it on smartphones, tablets, desktop and some smart TV models.
It's also added more content to its library, especially the movies selection, which includes Pretty in Pink, Mean Girls, The Godfather, Atonement and Fight Club. But it doesn't have much in the way of new releases - The Only Living Boy in New York appears to be the most recent film on the service that actually got a cinematic release.
Prime Video's first few years of originals were dedicated to smaller, independent productions, but Amazon has shifted strategy and is now spending big money outbidding Netflix and HBO on blockbusters series - upcoming is the new Jack Ryan series (a reboot of the Tom Clancy character previously played on screen by Harrison Ford and Chris Pine), as well as a Lord of the Rings TV show it paid $250 million for the rights to.
There are several Amazon original series worth watching that you can't find on another streaming service. The yearly subscription fee works out to be $5 a month, which is definitely worth it, especially if you're going to take advantage of the two-day shipping. It won't replace your Netflix or Stan subscription, rather it's a good supplementary option.
WHAT TO WATCH ON AMAZON RIGHT NOW
Set in the world of New York comedy in the 1950s, housewife Midge Maisel unwittingly (and drunkenly) becomes a stand-up comedian after her husband walks out on her. Midge commands the microphone as she commands everything else in life, with flair, tenacity and irreverence. An utter delight, this show is proof lead actor Rachel Brosnahan is destined to be a star.
The dryly witty Fleabag was created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, a UK comedian and playwright who won over fans as the woke droid L3 in Solo. But Fleabag is where you'll find Waller-Bridge's singular voice at its unfiltered best. Following the misadventures of Fleabag in London as she struggles with her failing cafe, her intense sister and a passive-aggressive stepmother, the series is at times stunningly dark but mostly very droll.
The Tick isn't like any other superhero and the show is not like any other superhero series. Fun and smart, the show is based on Ben Edlund's cult comics about a superhero full of good intentions and unburdened by any neuroses. The Tick has to help dweeby everyman Arthur fend off the villainous The Terror while also competing against Superman pastiche Superian.
Visually impressive in its scope and imagination, American Gods is what you would call an experience. The daringly confronting series is not for everyone but this adaptation of Neil Gaiman's book is richly rewarding for viewers who are looking for something a bit different. Delving into a forthcoming battle between the old gods (Odin, Jesus) and the new gods (media, technology, globalisation), American Gods will have your eyeballs threatening to jump out of their sockets.
Created by Bryan Cranston and David Shore (House), Sneaky Pete is that under-the-radar series you wish you had heard about years ago. It's a crime caper dramedy, with a top-notch cast that includes Giovanni Ribisi and Margo Martindale. Ribisi plays a conman just out of jail who takes on the identity of his former cellmate Pete to con his grandparents - a plan that was never going to work out well.
The Man in the High Castle
Imagine if the Axis powers had won World War II and swastikas replaced the stars and stripes on the American flag. That's the chilling dystopia of this ambitious and high-concept sci-fi series based on Philip K. Dick's novel. Set in 1962, the story is largely concerned with the tussle for power between the Nazis, Imperial Japan and the resistance movement.
I Love Dick
Created by Transparent's Jill Soloway, I Love Dick is the show you're too scared to Google. Starring Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Hahn, the series is a dramedy about Chris, a director whose movie is about to debut at a prestige film festival. Chris, who has always played second fiddle to her famous academic husband, meets a man who ignites in her a passion she long thought dormant.