When you want to get your entertainment on, you might choose a streaming service. After all, most of us do, and the cost of these services can be much lower than paying for premium cable channels or paying for cable at all. There are two such services that are dominating the market right now: Netflix and Amazon Prime. Both, for a fee, will allow you to stream movies and television shows to your computer, streaming device, tablet or smartphone.
Which of these services is the right one for your family? Well, of course it depends. Let us take a look and compare in terms of selection, price, and value.
While both services are growing, at the moment, Netflix seems to have the edge on the number of titles that are available to its streaming subscribers. Some of the same titles are offered on both services, however, Netflix does offer more of the popular titles for free, while Amazon Prime does not, although these titles may be available for purchase for a fee.
If you are only looking for a few of the most popular titles, such as Downton Abbey or Star Trek, you may be okay with Amazon Prime, although Netflix does carry these titles as well.
Amazon Prime has got Netflix beat for price, as long as you are willing to make a year-long commitment. At $79 a year, it beats out a year’s worth of Netflix with its $7.99 a month charge ($96 annually). If you are a student, it gets even better. Amazon Prime will cost you only $39 a year, and you can’t beat that.
There are other perks that come with an Amazon Prime membership, including access to the rental of one free Kindle book per month through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and free two-day shipping on most Amazon.com orders.
[Update: January 2, 2014. Netflix is now testing a $6.99 monthly subscription fee that covers streaming to one screen only.]
Ease of Use
Undoubtedly, Netflix wins the user-friendliness battle. The service makes it easy to find the titles that you want, and it will make some good suggestions for new titles you might enjoy based on your viewing habits and your ratings. Furthermore, Netflix allows you to hope from device to device easily, and the interface is much the same whether you use your Wii or a streaming device to view your entertainment, for example.
With Amazon Prime, most subscribers have a harder time finding what they want, and even when they do, they may find out that they have inadvertently purchased a title they thought was free. There are a lot of hoops to jump through to find the movies and TV shows you are interested in and then play them. Anyone with little patience may have a hard time using this service.
If you are an avid Amazon.com shopper, you may want to pick Amazon Prime, because it will pay for itself in shipping costs after your first few purchases, giving you the streaming service and book rental basically for free.
While Netflix seems to be the better family value, especially if you watch a lot of movies and television shows, many families opt for memberships with both services, especially if they want to take advantage of benefits outside of streaming.