Netflix has dominated the video streaming space for several years. It seems that everyone in this generation is coughing up the $7.99 per month membership fee for what now has become, for many, more essential than cable. But Netflix is no longer the only streaming service fighting to get into your living room. Let’s consider the possibility that Amazon Prime is better than Netflix (and cheaper, too).
Amazon Prime‘s main claim to fame is getting you free two-day shipping on Amazon.com. (I also recommend it for release-date delivery of video game pre-orders). But the $79 per year membership also includes Prime Instant Video, a free streaming service for thousands of movies and TV shows. In other words, it’s Netflix plus a shipping service, and coming in at a little less than $7 per month it’s cheaper than Netflix too.
Not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of Prime versus Netflix.
One feature Amazon Instant Video offers that is absent in Netflix is the rental option. If a movie is streaming, but not for free, you can just rent it. The typical cost is in the $2.99 to $6.99 price range for new releases. Alternatively, you have the option to buy digital copies of movies or TV shows.
The best Netflix offers is the option to order the DVD. And that’s only available if you subscribe to the get-a-disc-in-the-mail service; streaming-only members are out of luck.
Since they offer TV episodes for purchase also means Amazon gets new TV shows much sooner than Netflix. For instance, they already have the most recent seasons of Breaking Bad and American Horror Story.
Despite Amazon’s efforts, Netflix wins in the user-friendliness category. Amazon is a massive company, and Amazon.com is a massive site, as opposed to Netflix which specializes in its service. Perhaps because of this Prime Instant Video — a small part of the Amazon ecosystem as a whole — doesn’t take center stage on Amazon.com, and the Amazon Instant Video apps on gaming consoles, TV-connected media devices, and smart TVs don’t have the same refinement as their Netflix counterparts.
While your Netflix queue is easy to access and manipulate, your watchlist on Amazon Instant Video is practically hidden behind various menus. With Amazon, there’s no way to change the order of items in your queue. Basically, there’s a lot of room for improvement here.
Despite the overlap in titles between the two, Prime has a lot of content that is missing in Netflix. Mean Girls, Spring Breakers, and Downton Abbey are just a few examples, not to mention a ton of BBC and Masterpiece Theatre series shows. Amazon Instant Video also contains a massive library of old movie musicals and classics.
Netflix has always strived to more accurately predict what members will watch and enjoy, sometimes to an extreme. This diligence in its improvement, combined with the recent addition on some devices of a virtual movie assistant named Max, has put Netflix far ahead of any competitors in its ability to recommend content. Though some interpret this excellence in recommendations as a way for Netflix to cover its diminishing streaming catalog.
Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping on almost everything that comes from an Amazon fulfillment center is the real clincher in the Amazon versus Netflix debate. Of course, the value of this feature will vary depending on how much you shop on Amazon.com. If you never buy anything from Amazon, then this may not seem like a big deal, but perhaps once you have free shipping you might start shopping there more (which I’m sure is what Amazon is hoping for). If you already shop regularly at Amazon, the amount that you save in shipping can quickly outweigh the cost of a Prime membership. In that case, you are essentially getting a video streaming service for free (since you would have paid the same in shipping anyway).
Everyone’s situation is different. Amazon Prime and Netflix are not mutually exclusive, so you might prefer to sign up for both. But if you have to pick one, going with Amazon Prime wouldn’t be a bad choice.