image courtesy of pcadvisor.co.uk
As a caveat to my review I’ve been a Netflix customer on and off for close to 10 years. My Amazon Prime video experience only lasted a month.
Streaming movies has been something that has been around for a while but anyone who has used it sings it praises about how convenient and quick (most of the time) it is to use. To think that 10-15 years ago we were all trucking down to our local mom and pop video store or local Blockbuster to rent a movie. Netflix revolutionized streaming video for easier access to media at home. I’ve been a faithful Netflix user for many years and have been mostly satisfied with what they have in terms of content. Recently after hearing that Amazon got exclusive streaming rights to HBO’s old content I decided to leave Netflix as there were many HBO old shows that I wanted to see that Netflix wouldn’t have access to. After being with the service for the month, I ended up going back to Netflix. Ironically, right before the HBO streaming went active. Here’s why:
Wow, Netflix completely destroys Amazon in this regard. Netflix has the setup of multiple profiles so each person can maintain their own list of what they want to watch. Amazon has one long list called “My Watchlist” that is only for the Prime account holder. Another thing Netflix does well is when you add a show, you have the show on your list with access to all the seasons. On Amazon, you need to add each separate season to your list. Netflix wins this area hands down. Amazon really needs to work on how it manages it’s content for user viewing.
Both services have search options. Depending on the device your using, it can be cumbersome typing in a search term. I primarily used Amazon Instant Video and Netflix on a Roku 3. Navigating a keyboard with the remote is painful but using the Android Roku app has a keyboard built in which helps. Both services have their content arranged by genre (comedy, family, action, horror, etc). Amazon has different sections like “Movies with Strong Female Leads” and “Enjoyable Animated Family movies with a Squirrel” or whatever. Netflix’s suggestions are usually “Because you watched XXXX”. Browsing both services I always have the feeling that I’m missing out on tons of movies because I don’t know what to search for and only certain movies are displayed in these genre/suggestion areas.
Both of these vary greatly with the deals each service has signed with content providers. With content providers like the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX) and cable outlets (HBO, Showtime) being every stingier with their licensing rights, it’s not always the best selection. However Netflix has a many year headstart on Amazon so volume/number wise they have much more. Quality wise is up for debate. Amazon now has the old HBO shows but Netflix has Disney (animated movies). Amazon has Viacom (MTV, Nickelodeon). In terms of new release movies, Amazon has a non-Prime option of renting movies which Netflix doesn’t have but to rent a new HD movie is around $5-6 for one viewing. Netflix has way more TV shows/series. My wife and I watched Orphan Black on Amazon before we cancelled with Netflix didn’t have.
Advantage: Depends on what you’re looking for
Access to streaming
Netflix has it’s app/viewing options on nearly every device out there. iOS, Android, PC, game consoles (Xbox, Playstation), smart TVs, and media devices (Roku, Western Digital WDTV, etc). If you have a device, odds are you can get Netflix on it. Amazon is pretty close but one thing that boggles my mind is no Android app. My guess is that this is due to the Android fork they run on their Kindle devices. Still with Android slowly becoming the more used mobile operating system it’s in their best interest to have an Android app to view their Instant Video.
Advantage – Slightly Netflix
Amazon’s Prime video comes free as part of it’s Prime service which has recently gone up to $99 a year. This is charged yearly so when I signed up for the video I had the $99 charge. After cancelling after a month, they refunded around $94 which was nice. Netflix charges monthly which is around $10 a month with tax (~$120 a year). Yes Prime access gets you free 2 day shipping but you can also get this by having a Prime member share their access with you for free. Only the paying Prime account holder gets access to the video piece but everyone gets the free 2 day shipping. Another feature, that I thought I’d get to enjoy but later discovered I couldn’t, was the Kindle sharing library. It allows you to have access to new Kindle books each month. However this is only on Kindle devices, not the Kindle app. LAME. So I guess price to value, Prime might seem like a better, cheaper option but if you’re only using it for streaming video I don’t think it’s worth it as their content is pretty lacking compared to Netflix.
Advantage – Debatable
Long story short, I went back to Netflix. The profile options so all my family members can have their own lists is really nice. Yeah the content isn’t the best ever but they’re always adding new stuff. Another thing that’s a bit irksome is the exclusivity rights. Netflix has said when they sign deals they want to be the sole provider of that content. I think this really limits how many deals they get. Although lately when a big deal for content is signed, it’s exclusive to that provider (Amazon got HBO and Downton Abbey, Netflix had Starz and now has Disney). It’s a lose for consumers but with these licensing deals it’s sadly become the norm. Each service has decent content with variety but the size of the library give Netflix a big advantage. Bottom line comes down to how much you want to pay, what kind of access you have and what shows/movies are on the service you want to watch.