Amazon Prime’s Newly Revealed “Secret” Benefit – How to Get Free Online Movies

by Nindo Mom on February 22, 2011

Amazon.com offers a their Amazon Prime membership to help frequent shoppers save money on fast (2-day) shipping. Once they’ve signed up for Prime, shoppers receive free 2-day shipping on all eligible items on Amazon.com. This free fast shipping on Amazon is particularly nice to have when the time nears for a gift-giving occasion such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, and Anniversaries, because you don’t have to think ahead as far to  get your stuff in time. And let’s face it – sometimes we just don’t know what we want to buy two weeks in advance.

For customers without an Amazon Prime membership, Amazon does offer free Super Saver shipping on orders $25 or higher–but this free shipping is fairly slow. Amazon says that with Super Saver shipping, your order will be delivered 5-8 days. But in my experience (which is pretty extensive, when it comes to ordering from Amazon), items purchased with the Super Saver shipping method are processed slower than orders placed with Amazon Prime 2-day shipping. So my final call–Amazon’s free 2-day shipping with an Amazon Prime membership is FAR SUPERIOR to being “stuck” with Super Saver shipping. (Not that I don’t appreciate the super saver shipping. . . I just like Prime’s 2-day shipping a lot more!)

New Amazon Prime Benefit – Now, Prime is an Even Better Deal

Amazon recently announced that they are now providing Prime members with an additional benefit: unlimited viewing of commercial-free, 5,000 streaming movies and TV shows. Some of the movies offered include the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, Amadeus, Syriana, and Chariots of Fire; documentaries include Food, Inc. and March of the Penguins; TV series include Dr. Who and the Dick Van Dyke show; and kids’ programming includes Arthur, Cailou, and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. And there’s more than that–lots more.

To be eligible to view Amazon’s free movies and TV shows, simply sign up for Amazon Prime.

Can Amazon Prime Members with a Free Trial Watch Free Online Movies?

Unfortunately, Amazon is not allowing non-paying Prime customers to watch their free online movies and TV shows. (I currently have a free 3-month trial of Amazon Prime through an Amazon Mom membership, and Amazon has informed me  that I must have a paid membership to be able to watch their free online programming.)

Is it Worth Joining Amazon Prime – Just to Watch their Free Online Movies and TV?

I see the biggest benefit of an Amazon Prime membership is the free 2-day shipping. If we evaluate Amazon Prime solely on their new benefit of free streaming movies and TV, the answer would be–it depends.

Let’s compare Amazon’s free instant videos with the free DVDs that you could borrow from a local library. I’ll use the Charles County, Maryland library’s offerings as an example–your local library may have more or fewer DVDs available than Charles County does, but it will give you a point of reference. (Charles County is located about 15 miles south of Washington, D.C.)

Amazon offers:

  • free viewing of 5,000 programs for paying Amazon Prime members
  • available titles are less recent (older)
  • available titles tend to be less popular (ie–less well known to the masses–which isn’t to say they’re not good movies)
  • movie or TV show you select from program offerings is always “in stock”
  • no late fees–because no file is actually downloaded (live streaming)
  • convenient – online viewing of movies and shows

Local library offers:

  • free viewing of 15,249 DVDs for library members
  • good mix of older and new titles–including some new releases
  • some titles are extremely popular
  • DVD you choose may not be in stock without advance reservation
  • late fees apply if DVDs are not returned on time (or appropriately renewed)
  • less convenient – must physically pick up and return DVDs to the library

The Final Call

Whether Amazon Prime’s $79 annual fee is worth the cost solely based on its free movie and TV show viewing benefit is debatable. If you like older and/or more obscure (less well-known) movies and TV shows, and you love the convenience of watching programs online–then sure. But consider that $79 is the equivalent of paying for 11 On Demand movies from Comcast Cable at a price of $6.99 each–and Comcast’s On Demand programs are typically brand new releases. In the end, it just depends on what movies you want to watch–and maybe you want to watch them all. :)

In the end, it just depends on what you want to pay for. Personally, I wouldn’t sign up for Amazon Prime just for the free online movies. But for the free 2-day shipping?–YES! For both benefits in one package–of course. The added free online movies do make Amazon Prime an even better deal.

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For the official details on the Prime program and benefits, you can visit the Amazon Prime page.
For the official details on the free instant videos available for Amazon Prime members, visit the Prime Instant Videos page.

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