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.
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.
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