Amazon announced Thursday that subscribers to its free two-day shipping service, Amazon Prime, can now enjoy an extra perk in addition to getting their orders faster – free video streaming on over 5,000 titles in Amazon’s Video on Demand service. Amazon’s video catalog includes TV shows and movies, and for $79 a year, subscribers can enjoy unlimited streaming of both. It’s unclear why Amazon executives decided to add video streaming to the service, but if you already have a subscription, it will certainly come as a welcome perk.
So what’s the catch? Well, there’s two main ones, to be honest:
First, the unlimited streaming service provided by Amazon does not apply to Amazon Student members, or those with a free trial of Amazon Prime. To benefit from the newly implemented video service, those with just such an account will have to upgrade to a paid account for $79 a year (roughly $6.60 a month). If you really like free two-day shipping, or the unlimited $3.99 one-day option, and also have a hankering for video, then maybe the stiff entrance fee won’t be a problem for you.
The second catch is a bit harder to stomach, and may yet prove to a be the largest stumbling block for Amazon’s young Instant Video service. When compared to other video streaming giants, most notably Netlflix, Amazon’s selection of TV shows and movies is incredibly small. According to Clicker, Netflix clocks in with a hefty 8,250 movies, 23,000 TV episodes, and over 750 individual TV shows. This is compared to Amazon’s 1,700 movies, 3,200 episodes, and 500 TV shows.
Both are very sporting, and both are certainly doing better than Hulu Plus, according to the same chart, but do both have similar value in terms of popular titles? According to MSN Today, no. In their review of the Amazon Prime streaming video service, they found a large discrepancy between the number of popular titles available through Amazon and those offered through Netflix – a discrepancy that came out in Netflix’s favor. But Amazon does have a few legs up on Netflix, most notably the ability to be played in the Android browser, but the big selling point is obviously the free two-day shipping, and not the movies.
Whether or not you are interested in Amazon Prime’s new Video on Demand service will largely lie with how much you need or want two-day free shipping with a $3.99 one-day option. If you absolutely need your orders quickly, and would like some TV shows thrown in to boot, then Amazon Prime is probably the best value for your money. If you’d just like to watch movies-and the most popular new releases, at that-Netflix is still your best bet.
Steve Kovach, “It’s No Contest.” Business Insider
Robert Quigley, “Prime: Free Streaming Video.” Geekosystem