Today Amazon announced that it will be offering a new standalone version of Prime Video – a value-add product to their $99/year Amazon Prime Membership. More competition for Netflix, right? Not really. Amazon, though a massive company that may be able actually able to compete with Netflix’s streaming service on some level if they really put their mind to it won’t be much a problem for the American Sweetheart streaming service, and I’m going to show you why in just a moment. Also, I’d like to preface this short article with the fact that I am in fact a Prime member and use Prime video from time to time, so there will some biases based on my personal experiences with the service.
It’s Already a Stuffy Market
Amazon isn’t coming out with anything revolutionary or anything that is supposed to be the next “Netflix Killer.” Instead they are really just entering a market where people already are. Netflix, like the early internet companies was one of the first to offer on demand streaming to the consumer. However, in today’s day and age almost every service offers some version of A La Carte streaming across a multitude of devices. Amazon isn’t a new threat to Netflix, they are just entering the market where the threats already exist. That being said, most people still keep Netflix on their roster of television services regardless of how many they have. The show selection is far wider than any of its competitors and the usability creates a pleasant user experience. It’s also typically the first service cable cutters go with to get their feet wet because it has become an almost cultural service.
As someone who has used Amazon Prime Video across multiple platforms from my TV to my cell phone, I can tell you from personal experience that it is an absolute nightmare to navigate. A lot of the problems I’ve run into can easily be fixed by simple changes to the User-Interface. One such problem is that there are many times that you find a movie that you are dying to watch and when you go to actually play the movie you realize that it isn’t free. This is one thing I love about Netflix. Once you pay your $9.99 you have access to everything they have on the platform. Prime Video on the other hand only gives you access to a much smaller set of specific titles – many of which are also on Netflix.
Netflix may not have the most recent season or movies that came out a week ago, but neither does Prime Video. It seems like it does at first, but thanks to the poor user-interface you eventually realize that the title costs money. Now this could just be a “bait and switch” type of ploy where you were looking forward to seeing that movie enough that you are willing to spend a little bit extra to get that content – but that isn’t something I really see Amazon going for in their marketing strategy. When you get down to it, Prime Video does have a decent selection of movies and televisions shows that Netflix doesn’t have, but it’s a fairly small selection overall.
Now this is just my first opinion on the idea of a stand alone video service by Amazon. I haven’t done exhaustive research on the features that they will be adding, if any, and this is more a commentary on a few articles that I’ve read today about how Prime Video will kill Netflix. I view Prime Video in much the same light as I see Hulu, it’s less of a competitor to Netflix and more a complementary good as more people continue to cut cable and move to on-demand streaming services.