Ryan Michael Downey
Summer is fast arriving and that means the kids will be back in the house and most scripted TV will be out of commission. So
unless your family plans to sidle up to the TV and watch reality shows and people running through obstacle courses finding content to watch could be challenging. An option that many people turn to this time of year is streaming. Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant are two of the most popular services available for online video viewing. For new users it can be difficult to tell the differences and a few years ago there were very few. While there is still some definite overlap Over the past year or so the two services have been moving in different directions providing some distinctive differences between the two. Both have strengths and weaknesses.
Netflix for new members costs 8.99 per month or 107.88 per year. Amazon Prime Instant Video is included with the Amazon Prime membership service that provides cost free shipping and free books for a one time price of $100.00 per year.
Netfflix got the ball rolling with original programming shortly after the “devastating” loss of the Starz TV and movie content, which at the time was Netflix’s avenue to Disney content. The online network’s breakout hit, House of Cards has already gained popular acceptance and was nominated for 2 Emmy Awards in 2013. Along with Kevin Spacy’s Washington DC based political drama, Netflix also offers prison dramedy “Orange is the New Black, and numerous others including reclaimed series like Arrested development and the Killing, both of which were cancelled by their respective networks and given a new lease on life by the online network. Netflix bases its choices for original programming on an algorithm that analyses what its customers are watching and predicts what they would enjoy going forward.
Amazon has its own take on the original programming model. It allows producers and writers to submit pitches for pilots. The service chooses among the concepts and provides the funding to shoot the pilots to its chosen few. Unlike the Nielsen ratings system, Amazon lets the viewers themselves choose the winners and losers via voting on its website. This means in the end, the shows that get green-lighted are the very shows that people voted for in the first place. Using this model Amazon gives its audience what it wants from quantitative data. So far the service has yet to see a major breakout hit to rival House of Cards but it presents the viewing public with many intriguing possibilities such as Alpha House, a comedy that seems to try and cash in on the public’s apparent interest in Washington DC, post-apocalyptic series the after and others.
Amazon and Netflix have apps for multiple platforms but Netflix is available on far more devices than Amazon. Netflix was very aggressive early on becoming ubiquitous in the smart phone world and is available on IOS, Android, and Windows phones. Tablets including Android, iPad and Kindle Fire tablets. It is also on every smart TV and major set top box on the market including Amazon’s Fire TV, along with the Google Chromecast. Netflix is an app whose exclusion makes a product appear out of touch.
Amazon is available on numerous smart TV formats but is more limited in the set top box world. Amazon Instant is available on the Roku and its own Amazon Fire TV but not on Google TV boxes or Apple TV. Amazon Instant video is also available on IOS devices, but not on Android. We are going to venture a guess that the hostility here is because Amazon’s service includes access to on demand movies and TV shows that compete with iTunes and Google Play respectively. Though IOS devices do now carry the Play Movie App from Google Play.
Via computer/web based interface
Netflix has a superior web based interface. Users navigate to the site and can easily search through broad category selection and even personalize suggestion preferences. Amazon on the other hand does provide access to instant viewing from its website but does not have as easy to online video interface. It can also be difficult to find with in Amazon’s website.
Netflix has exclusive streaming rights to Disney’s animated world along with the Lucas Film world world, its original shows as covered earlier, Dreamworks films and original series and a host of other exclusive shows including Breaking Bad, Lost and other major hit shows you loved or (gasp) missed. The Disney deal will pay dividends moving forward when the Marvel cinematic universe expands to Netflix with Dare Devil and a host of other Marvel characters being featured in a group of exclusive original shows.
Viacom/Nickelodeon series including Dora the Explorer, HBO original series excluding current hits like Game of Thrones but including The Sopranos and many others, The latest season of Downton Abbey as well as one of a kind deal with CBS making it the exclusive streaming service for Under the Dome.