Friday, February 25, 2011

First look: Amazon video streaming

Amazon just announced a new video-streaming service, a clear challenge to Netflix. I have Netflix and enjoy its easy-to-use video streaming, but I find that many movies and TV shows I would like to see are not available on it. Could Amazon be better?

I decided to check Amazon's offerings by reviewing my two Netflix queue lists – one for video streaming, the other for DVDs by mail. The only items I put on the by-mail list are those that Netflix doesn't offer by video streaming.

First, looking at the top 10 items on my video streaming list, I found that Amazon offered 7 of 10 of them in its "instant video" format. Then, looking at my DVDs-by-mail list, I found that none of the first 10 were available on Amazon's service.  So it's clear that Amazon actually has fewer offerings than Netflix.

Still, Amazon's service is just $79 a year, versus about $120 annually for Netflix (we're on the one-disc-at-a-time option). And Amazon's offering is part of its Prime product, meaning that you would also get free two-day shipping on thousands of other books and items you could order. This could be a good deal if you order a lot of things from Amazon.

But Netflix includes the DVDs-by-mail option, which Amazon does not. So choosing Amazon instead of Netflix would greatly reduce the movies and shows available to me.

If you happen to already be an Amazon Prime member, the new video-streaming is a great bonus. But Netflix has a good product and a wide selection of movies and shows. So at least for now, we're going to stick with it.


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