The two big players in the media streaming market are Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Instant Video. If you’re struggling to decide which one to choose then here is our Netflix vs Amazon Prime Instant Video review.
Video streaming is a part of daily life now (bye bye TV schedules) but if you’re trying to decide between Netflix and Amazon services, we’re on hand to help. Our Netflix vs Prime Instant Video comparison review looks at price, devices, content, offline viewing and more.
Amazon Prime Instant Video used to be called LoveFilm Instant. Amazon LoveFilm still lives on as the DVDs and Blu-rays by post part of Amazon Prime. However, this article is about streaming so we’re looking at Prime Instant Video only.
Update September 2015: We’ve updated this whole review, but the big change is that Amazon has started allowing videos to be downloaded on iPhones, iPad and Android devices for watching offline. It had previously allowed downloading on Fire tablets, but the new iOS and Android support is a major bonus for commuters, holidaymakers and kids on car journeys. It will be interesting to see if Netflix follows suit.
Both services offer a 30 day trial so we strongly suggest starting with these as a way of seeing which one you prefer. If your pockets are deep enough you can, of course, sign up to both as content varies between them (see below)
Although Netflix is still available at £5.99 per month, this is now the basic package – hobbled by allowing only standard-def resolution and usable on only one device at a time.
You’ll need to pay £7.49 for standard (existing customers get standard for £5.99 for two years from July 2015) and £8.99 for premium. Standard gives you access to HD streaming and you can watch on two devices at once. Premium subscribers get 4K – Ultra HD – quality where available, and the use of four devices at once.
Amazon includes Prime Instant Video within its Prime subscription which costs £79 per year. This also gives you free one-day delivery on many of Amazon’s physical items and also access to Amazon’s music streaming service. This works out at £6.58 per month, and clearly better value than Netflix if you order from Amazon fairly regularly and are happy with the video and music libraries on offer.
There are no different levels of subscription, and you’re allowed to stream two different videos to two different devices at the same time from one Amazon account. There’s currently no 4K support.
A key difference is that everything you see on Netflix is available to stream. However, only Prime Instant Video content with a ‘Prime’ banner can be watched as part of the subscription and it can be a bit confusing about what’s included and what’s not on certain devices. Videos that aren’t included are available to buy or rent via Amazon Instant Video (the absence of the word Prime is key here, and confusing). We’ll explore this in more detail in the content section.
To access streaming services, you’re going to need a device such as a phone, tablet, laptop, games console or set-top box.
We’ve put a table together below to show you the compatibility of each service (support may be limited to certain models, especially for TVs and Blu-ray players). Aside from the device listed below, Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video can be used via a web browser on a PCor laptop, whether or not they are connected to an external display like a monitor or TV.
|Netflix||Amazon Prime Instant Video|
|Smart TV||Sony, Samsung, Sharp, LG, Philips, Panasonic||Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic|
|Games Console||Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U||Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U|
|Tablet||Android, iPad||iPad, Android, Amazon Fire|
|Smartphone||Android, iPhone, Windows Phone||Amazon Fire Phone, Android, iPhone|
|Blu-ray player||Sony, Samsung, LG, Philips, Panasonic||LG, Samsung, Sony|
|Home cinema system||LG, Sony||LG, Samsung, Sony|
|Set-top box||Sony, YouView||Samsung, Sony|
|Media streamer||Apple TV, Philips, Roku, Western Digital, Virgin Media, Google Chromecast||Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Apple TV (via AirPlay from iPad or iPhone)|
Netflix used to be the obvious choice because of the breadth of devices, but it’s now too close to call.
For full list of devices and models check Netflix and Amazon.
MOVIES AND TV SHOWS CONTENT
Price and device compatibility is all well and good, but they mean nothing if there’s nothing you want to watch. Films and TV shows are on offer with both services, plus exclusive original content which you won’t find on rival services. Which is better in this respect depends on your personal taste.
Examples of original series on Netflix include Better Call Saul, Orange Is The New Black,House of Cards, Bloodline and Daredevil. See our list of Netflix Original series for 2015.
Amazon Prime Instant Video offers original series including Ripper Street, Black Sails, Bosch,Constantine and Extant.
The content available on Netflix is ever changing with new titles being added but also things being taken away too. What we can say is that the content is good quality across the board but you will have to wait a little while before new releases are added.
It’s easier to browse Amazon’s current library without having a subscription as you can just search Amazon’s website in a browser. For Netflix, it’s virtually impossible but there are unofficial sites which claim to have up-to-date listings such as Nowon Netflix
Amazon touts 50,000 titles in its store but only 15,000 ‘films and TV episodes’ (note that invidual episodes are being counted) are available for the monthly subscription. See below for comparative figures.
Content such as Game of Thrones, Hunger Games Catching Fire and Boardwalk Empirerequire you to buy or rent them via Instant Video (note how Game of Thrones doesn’t have the Prime banner but Sherlock does). Essentially newer content isn’t accessible for your monthly fee.
Those figures are always changing – content is both added and removed just like BBC’s iPlayer.
SPECS – Netflix video streaming service
- video on demand streaming service for PC, Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad
Right now, Amazon is the winner thanks to the extra benefits you get with a Prime subscription: one-day delivery and a music streaming service. Plus, Amazon is the only serivce that allows offline viewing. Despite the extras, it’s cheaper than Netflix. For many, it should be the obvious choice. However, as we’ve said, it will depend on whether you like the content on offer. We’re fans of the exclusive content on both services and we’ve found plenty of good – and bad – movies and TV shows in both libraries. One thing you won’t find on either service is the latest blockbusters: they tend to appear after many months. If you can afford to subscribe to both then you will get the best of both worlds but if you can’t then your decision should come down to what device(s) you want to watch on and what content you want to watch. Make use of those free trials to discover which you prefer.