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Should I switch from Netflix to Amazon Prime?

I've been a Netflix customer for several years. But Amazon Prime's recent deal with HBO has made me wonder if it's time to switch allegiances.

By MSN Money Partner May 29, 2014 4:08PM

This post comes from Karen Datko at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyI've been a Netflix customer -- both DVD and streaming -- for several years. The service allowed me to painlessly disconnect from satellite TV. I can get the TV shows and movies I want without paying an excessive monthly bill.

Amazon's Peter Larsen introduces Amazon Fire TV during a press conference in New York, Wednesday, April 2, 2014 © Amazon/AP Images

But now that Netflix is allowing its DVD service to deteriorate, and Amazon Prime has signed that delicious deal giving it streaming rights to old HBO shows, it's time to compare the services and decide if I should switch. Maybe you've thought of this too.

Cost savings

I could save money. Netflix charges $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming and $7.99 for one DVD at a time. (Netflix is raising the price for new streaming members within a few months and will raise it for current subscribers in a year or two.) That's a total of $95.88 a year for each service.

Amazon Prime recently raised its price and now charges $99 a year for unlimited streaming. But that price includes free two-day shipping of Amazon purchases.

Price is not my only concern. Most of the movies I want to see from Netflix's collection are not available via streaming. You have to order the Netflix DVD. And that's becoming a frustrating experience. Since Netflix closed its distribution center in my state, the once standard next-day delivery is often four to seven days.

No wonder there are only 6.7 million DVD subscribers, half as many as there were in 2011. Netflix has reduced the number of DVD distribution centers from 58 to about 39, says Gigaom. Meanwhile, Netflix now has about 36 million streaming customers in the U.S.

If I could find the movies I want to watch by joining Amazon Prime, I'd leave Netflix.

I checked, and didn't have much luck. For example:

  • Italian movies. I've watched hundreds in recent years as part of my effort to learn Italian for free. Many of those still on my Netflix DVD list are not available from Prime Instant Video.
  • Western classics. Amazon has John Ford's "Rio Grande" but not his "Rio Bravo," "Fort Apache" "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" or "My Darling Clementine" (which, like an increasing number of movies in my Netflix DVD queue, is labeled "very long wait").

So, I'm sticking with Netflix, both the DVDs, to get the movies I want, and the streaming video. (I really liked "House of Cards.")

But that HBO streaming deal has me thinking about adding Amazon Prime anyway. The free shipping with Amazon Prime is not a big factor for me, but watching endless hours of "The Sopranos" via Prime Instant Video is. To watch "The Sopranos" and other HBO shows via Netflix, you have to order the DVDs.

What others have found

Others have compared the major video streaming services.

Jillian D’Onfro compared streaming via Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus for Business Insider after Amazon’s HBO deal. She concluded:

Even with all the facts in front of us, it's hard to make an overarching statement on which streaming service is best for everyone. Hulu Plus is the top choice for getting the newest episodes, but Netflix has the most entertaining original series and greatest selection of hot shows. Netflix has the best user and recommendation experience overall. If you're just looking for TV and movies, we're leaning toward Netflix as the best choice.
However, because Amazon Instant Video is just one aspect of Amazon Prime, and Netflix and Hulu Plus are still relatively inexpensive, it doesn't have to be a case of either/or. If you spend a lot of money on Amazon and you want to diversify your TV selection, Prime is worth the money.

Daniel Kline of Motley Fool compared Netflix and Amazon Prime, again after the HBO deal and focusing only on streaming. He wrote:

Amazon Prime Instant Video lags behind Netflix but both services offer an almost unimaginable array of choices. The challenge is that while Netflix has more appealing originals and top series, Amazon has enough that it's likely most people will be missing something by only having one or the other. How many people who want to watch "House of Cards" would also be attracted to "The Sopranos"?The overlap is likely high and for people who have the time to watch a lot of television buying both services might be the smartest choice.

Digital Trends also compared Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus, covering content as well as technical aspects.

Have you thought about switching from Netflix to Amazon Prime?

More from Money Talks News

May 29, 2014 8:04PM
I have compared Netflix and Amazon Prime.  I did a free trial of Amazon and found that the stuff we wanted to watch was always extra $ and that the Prime stuff that we could watch for free was about the same stuff we could get on Netflix.  I like that Netflix has one monthly cost and doesn't try to get more money out of you by charging $1.99 an episode for example.  For my family, we get a lot of use out of Netflix and Hulu Plus and don't even miss cable TV anymore!
May 29, 2014 8:51PM
Netflix is still better. Amazon forces you to pay for the good stuff on top of the monthly fee. Even worse, whenever I purchase an episode of anything on Amazon I still get a commercial to start! WTF!!! Really...really??????
May 30, 2014 12:15AM

I tried Amazon Prime, and I hate the interface. It is difficult and confusing to use. I WOULD NEVER TRUST MY KIDS TO USE IT FOR FEAR THAT THEY WOULD CLICK ON THINGS THAT CHARGE EXTRA.

HULU is horrible! You have to pay money and sit through commercials! That is a bunch of bull! ONE OR THE OTHER!

Clarification, HULU basic is free but it sucks. HULU plus costs money, and it still sucks just a little less than the basic.

May 29, 2014 8:58PM
I have both and will keep them.  if I had to drop one it would be Amazon Prime.  Netflix has some great original programming.  Each has TV shows and movies the other doesn't. 
May 29, 2014 8:59PM
The winner: NETFLIX. The flat rate; new shows; no commercials; no extra charging; excellent streaming quality. Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus* can not compare at this time. *(Hulu Plus - Why would I pay a flat rate, to only have you make me sit thru dumb commercials I don't want. Besides, most of the broadcast and cable t.v. shows are 90% garbage anyway. Hulu Plus, I'm surprised is still in operation).
May 30, 2014 8:25AM
I gave up on cable 2 years ago and signed up for Netflix. I don't see a need to find a deal with even more choices.
May 30, 2014 12:04AM

Amazon Prime is great for making a lot of small purchases on Amazon, with the two-day free delivery with no minimum.  Previously, I wouldn't purchase anything on Amazon unless I was going to spend over $35 to get the free standard shipping.  I definitely purchase more from Amazon, now that I have Prime. 


In regard to the selection of shows, Netflix is better, but Amazon Prime has a few shows that Netflix doesn't.  While it sucks to have to pay extra for individual new releases on Amazon that are not included with Prime, it is convenient to have it available as a portal to get movies on demand, instead of having to run up to a Redbox.  While the movies are more expensive, the convenience is nice if you want to get a movie in the middle of the night.

May 30, 2014 10:39AM
Wow, how much did Amazon pay MSN to write this article? For starters, shows and movies that are actually worth most of our time cost crazy amounts of money to watch. If you have to pay $30-$40 to watch an entire season, why not just buy it lol. Amazon has far less content, still charges for the bulk of good content. At this point, I rarely find issue with getting orders up to $35 for free shipping and on most occasions don't have a problem waiting a week as opposed to 2 days to get my orders. That's just me though and I realize many people feel differently.

I will admit the free HBO streaming of shows is a big step in the right direction, but am I wrong in assuming you'll still have to wait a long time for new shows (for example 4th season of Game of Thrones)? If that's the case, I'll just keep waiting to watch those shows until they're out on DVD, so I can get them on my DVD Netflix service. I still have a distribution center close. I have 1 DVD by mail plan. If I sent out a movie on Monday, I'll get the next movie Wednesday, which isn't a big deal to me.

May 29, 2014 11:43PM
I have a special soft spot in my heart  for Netflix, after it freed  me from costly shackles of cable,  and will stick with it.  Amazon and Hulu will have to show me something dazzling for me to switch which they won't because they are both boring companies.  Netflix is  improving in providing more streaming of movies.  I  do  not imagine I will ever switch  to Amazon Prime or Hulu .  However, I will admit that competition has made Netflix provide better service. I agree with others - who wants to watch old HOB shows?  Have already seen that and done that.  After watching the lackluster Soprano ending - do I really want to watch it again?  Amazon and Hulu also cannot compete with the original programming of Netflix such as "House of Cards."  And please - who wants to watch the Greek alphabet - The Alphas - The Betas?   What is next? The Kappas?  
May 30, 2014 10:21AM
Amazon charges for too many things I want to watch, I'll stay with Netflix.
May 30, 2014 10:06AM

No, you should have both and no cable tv.
The cost of the Amazon Prime not only gives you a lot of free movies and TV series but 2 day free shipping on many items from one of the best internet sellers for about 79.00 - 99.00 per year total.
May 30, 2014 8:57AM
We have all three. Each one offers something different.
Netflix has the documentaries my bf likes, plus the original content.
HuluPlus has next day new episodes for some shows we like but miss on occasion when it normally airs. The commercials annoyed me at first, but one, they are getting less obtrusive, and two, we pay for cable and get WAY more commercials, so what's the difference, really?
And Amazon has a lot of kids shows from the 90's I watched growing up that you can't find anywhere else. Also they will be having HBO shows soon. Plus the 2-day shipping. They don't force you to pay extra to watch something, its not like they charge you after you click. If you don't want to pay, just watch something else. There are plenty of choices. And if its a movie, just wait a few weeks, and it will be free. Or see if its on Netflix. Or rent it from Redbox for $1 and change a night.

May 30, 2014 12:49AM
Many of the shows on Amazon require you to pay $1.99 an episode while Netflix doesn't. I can watch 8 seasons of House for instance free on Netflix while it's likely $1.99 an episode if available on Amazon meaning a cost of many hundreds extra just for one show. I signed up for their free trial but canceled when I found their then $79 only offered mainly pay per view for programs I wanted to see. Strange the article doesn't even mention that Amazon charges a pay per view price for a lot of it's content. It makes me think they're deliberately being biased as how could you accurately compare services without factoring that in?
May 30, 2014 11:45AM
What?  The Amazon Prime streaming selection is terrible, especially since make you pay EXTRA for any of the good stuff.  I have Amazon Prime for the free 2-day shipping, not the streaming.
May 30, 2014 6:02AM
Keep both. Together they are about a months cable bill.
May 30, 2014 3:14AM
Amazon's prime library is always expanding.  If you are a college student it cost around $40 a year which is an awesome deal. I don't notice any commercials on Amazon instant prime videos and I subscribed to it for almost two years so I don't know if others are having different experience when they are on free trials. On Hulu I see commercials. Netflix video library is still much bigger compare to Amazon Prime. If I have to chose one, I would pick Netflix because I can watch movies/shows on any mobile device, it's faster to load, and easier to navigate. Most of the show's I want to watch on Amazon is in the pay per view section. I don't really care for the 2 day shipping from Amazon Prime however through Kindle I get a free Kindle book every month from the Kindle's first section which is nice. 
May 30, 2014 3:08PM
This article completely neglects to mention one really big difference between Netflix and Amazon Prime that customers need to know about:

Amazon Prime streaming video ONLY WORKS ON WIFI, while Netflix also works over your 4G data connection.

If you are someone who watches Netflix on your iPhone while commuting on the bus every day, Amazon Prime is not for you. It won't work at all. You can't watch Amazon Prime videos on the bus, (or train...) but you can watch your Netflix. 
May 30, 2014 11:04AM
I got a job and are either too busy or too tired to watch any of them...
May 30, 2014 12:30PM
Can't imagine giving up cable for either or both of these. No live news. No sports. No DVR. No local programming. Also, it takes about a year for Netflix to get shows. For example, Mad Men season 6 came to Netflix in March or so. I finally caught up and season 7 is ending and I have to wait a whole year to catch on Netflix. Fortunately, I recorded them on my DVR and don't have to wait. All the cord cutters will.
if i could watch live sports online id ditch cable tv and get unlimited internet usage.  and i gotta have live nascar also, since most my family are from the deep south.

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