Should I Switch From Netflix to Amazon Prime?

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I’ve been a Netflix customer – both DVD and streaming – for several years. The service allowed me to painlessly disconnect from satellite TV. I can get the TV shows and movies I want without paying an excessive monthly bill.

But now that Netflix is allowing its DVD service to deteriorate, and Amazon Prime has signed that delicious deal giving it streaming rights to old HBO shows, it’s time to compare the services and decide if I should switch. Maybe you’ve thought of this too.

Cost savings

I could save money. Netflix charges $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming and $7.99 for one DVD at a time. (Netflix is raising the price for new streaming members within a few months and will raise it for current subscribers in a year or two.) That’s a total of $95.88 a year for each service.

Amazon Prime recently raised its price and now charges $99 a year for unlimited streaming. But that price includes free two-day shipping of Amazon purchases.

Price is not my only concern. Most of the movies I want to see from Netflix’s collection are not available via streaming. You have to order the Netflix DVD. And that’s becoming a frustrating experience. Since Netflix closed its distribution center in my state, the once standard next-day delivery is often four to seven days.

No wonder there are only 6.7 million DVD subscribers, half as many as there were in 2011. Netflix has reduced the number of DVD distribution centers from 58 to about 39, says Gigaom. Meanwhile, Netflix now has about 36 million streaming customers in the U.S.

If I could find the movies I want to watch by joining Amazon Prime, I’d leave Netflix.

I checked, and didn’t have much luck. For example:

  • Italian movies. I’ve watched hundreds in recent years as part of my effort to learn Italian for free. Many of those still on my Netflix DVD list are not available from Prime Instant Video.
  • Western classics. Amazon has John Ford’s “Rio Grande” but not his “Rio Bravo,” “Fort Apache” “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” or “My Darling Clementine” (which, like an increasing number of movies in my Netflix DVD queue, is labeled “very long wait”).

So, I’m sticking with Netflix, both the DVDs, to get the movies I want, and the streaming video. (I really liked “House of Cards.”)

But that HBO streaming deal has me thinking about adding Amazon Prime anyway. The free shipping with Amazon Prime is not a big factor for me, but watching endless hours of “The Sopranos” via Prime Instant Video is. To watch “The Sopranos” and other HBO shows via Netflix, you have to order the DVDs.

What others have found

Others have compared the major video streaming services.

Jillian D’Onfro compared streaming via Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus for Business Insider after Amazon’s HBO deal. She concluded:

Even with all the facts in front of us, it’s hard to make an over-arching statement on which streaming service is best for everyone. Hulu Plus is the top choice for getting the newest episodes, but Netflix has the most entertaining original series and greatest selection of hot shows. Netflix has the best user and recommendation experience overall. If you’re just looking for TV and movies, we’re leaning toward Netflix as the best choice.

However, because Amazon Instant Video is just one aspect of Amazon Prime, and Netflix and Hulu Plus are still relatively inexpensive, it doesn’t have to be a case of either/or. If you spend a lot of money on Amazon and you want to diversify your TV selection, Prime is worth the money.

Daniel Kline of Motley Fool compared Netflix and Amazon Prime, again after the HBO deal and focusing only on streaming. He wrote:

Amazon Prime Instant Video lags behind Netflix but both services offer an almost unimaginable array of choices. The challenge is that while Netflix has more appealing originals and top series, Amazon has enough that it’s likely most people will be missing something by only having one or the other. How many people who want to watch “House of Cards” would also be attracted to “The Sopranos”?The overlap is likely high and for people who have the time to watch a lot of television buying both services might be the smartest choice.

Digital Trends also compared Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus, covering content as well as technical aspects.

Have you thought about switching from Netflix to Amazon Prime? Tell us below or on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

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  • ModernMode

    None of these services have all the popular shows. I looked at them hoping to drop cable but it’s just not feasible.

  • Cherry

    I currently have both Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime. There are very few overlapping series for TV. Neither service has the newest movies – the only place I can get those is via DVD and I no longer subscribe to the Netflix DVD service because of customer service issues. The big frustration I have with Amazon is too many of the movies/TV shows pop up with “Rent starting at $1.99″ and they’re not even the new ones. I’ve found if you want to watch newer movies the best place is “On Demand” through the cable company.

  • Mary Harrsch

    Like the author, I have been a Netflix subscriber to both their DVD and streaming services for a number of years. I was not happy when Netflix started charging separately for each service but I stayed the course. Primarily, I kept Netflix DVD service because they continue to offer a lot of foreign films that are simply unavailable anywhere else. There is some very good films produced in China, Korea, Thailand and Japan that we have enjoyed very much even though we must read subtitles.

    I have looked at Amazon Prime but did not see that many offerings that I was interested in that were not available already on either one Netflix service or the other. I felt the same way about Hulu Plus. Although Hulu Plus carries episodes right after they have aired on cable or broadcast TV, I found a number of them must be watched using a computer and not streaming to my flat screen TV in the living room so they can be enjoyed in a social setting with family or friends.

    I also still pay a hefty satellite bill because my husband likes to watch all of those car shows that you can only get by subscribing to the highest tier of service. At this point, I would be happy with a digital antennae for the local broadcast channels so I could still watch the local news then eliminate the overly expensive tiered satellite system. However, since I’m stuck with it for the time being, I at least notice some channel offerings that just cropped up lately without any fanfare at all. In fact if I had not been trying to edit my husband’s favorites list, I would not have even noticed them. HBO, Starz, Encore and H2 (the old History Channel International) now offer on demand libraries of some of their most popular shows and original productions at no extra charge for premium satellite subscribers. The HBO collection appears to be identical to that now offered with Amazon Prime (Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, etc.). Starz is offering many of its popular original series like Spartacus, Black Sails, Orange is the New Black, White Queen and DaVinci’s Demons (that my husband and I are now catching up on since we had too many other commitments when it aired the first time and quite honestly, we prefer to binge watch three episodes at a time each evening rather than wait a week between episodes). H2 is offering its popular Vikings series as well as things like Pawn Stars and American Pickers and Encore appears to have all the movies that are currently being aired in the month available on an on demand basis.

    So it appears the viewing choices are continuing to evolve and just get more and more difficult to compare.

  • Coolgm

    I use Netflix, Amazon and Hulu plus. I doubt that I will continue my subscription with Amazon. I too wanted to drop cable but also found out that most new primetime TV shows are not shown on Amazon for free. I think having to pay $3 per episode is outrageous. If you want to catch up and watch 2 to 3 seasons it would cost a small fortune. Hulu Plus has a wide array of TV shows for just the price of the monthly fee. Unfortunately not all that I like to watch.

  • Y2KJillian

    Years ago, we got Netflix as a birthday gift…so had a full year for “free.” We loved it. We’d been shopping for an antenna, having decided to stop paying the exorbitant rates for various cable companies that all seemed to find new ways to “cheat” extra fees out of us (like charging for a working remote, if you can believe that!). After that free year, we gladly paid the next year ourselves…and have continued to do so. Now that X-Box is going to stop charging for us to use Netflix, it will be even less expensive. I know there are things we’re missing…but we watch all the TV we want and so far after many years have not once had a night when we couldn’t find something good! I like their star rating system, too, that helps guide us to things we would really like and away from things we’d just want to slap ourselves for even trying (not that we don’t still try those 1 & 2 star shows, but we know we were warned!).
    So far, Netflix is primo in our house.

  • I.Popoff

    I have Amazon Prime to save on shipping but have only used Prime Instant Video once or twice. I find their interface more difficult and with less information than what Netflix offers, plus you have to pay additional for many titles. Most the time I am viewing over-the-air television that has been recorded to my Windows Media Center on my computer. I enjoy a lot of PBS programs, and also MyTV network which airs old television series’. You can view PBS programs for free on their website also.

  • Jason

    We dropped cable back in 2005 when we were aggressively paying down debt. It was suppose to be a temporary thing but we found with an antenna + Netflix we didn’t miss cable. We also found that we much preferred watching a entire season in a week or so instead of the traditional broadcast format. However, I discovered Amazon Prime when I purchased my Kindle. I much prefer streaming to DVDs and we dropped Netflix because of the poor content available from their streaming service. Now we generally pay to purchase a season of a show through Amazon. Yes, it is $20 to $30 per season but that is still way less than paying $100 or more per month for cable and we get to watch the current season. Mint tells me that we spent $450 on Movies and DVD’s last year. That includes: Trips to the movie theater, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Red Box. Yes, we subscribed to Netflix last year, for one month, to watch House of Cards.

  • ManoaHi

    Due to our family’s geographic location, Amazon Prime (Smile) is worthwhile. Nearly every non-food (or perishable) item we buy is from Amazon. But we are fortunate that we still have a nearby Netflix distribution center. I have, Netflix, both streaming and DVD +Bluray (location of distribution center makes it fast); Amazon Prime (only for the free shipping – rarely watch their content); Hulu Plus; Time Warner Cable (but this is for TV, phone and Internet). I have the means so to keep them all is not an issue, I don’t have to choose.

  • Jack Mabry

    Unless you order a lot of items from Amazon, and need them in a hurry, definitely go with Netflix. They have a far, far greater library of films and TV. Don’t forget You Tube, they also have a huge library.