Amazon surprised some of its best customers this week by offering them free streaming access to more than 5,000 movies and TV shows. Amazon Prime customers pay $79 a year for unlimited express-shipping — and will now receive unlimited free streaming, too. Will the company's bid to challenge Netflix as the king of on-demand online entertainment work? (Watch a report about the new service)
Not until Amazon's selection increases: Netflix "seems to be on pretty safe ground" for now, says Will Richmond at Business Insider. With a paltry 5,000 titles, Amazon can't compete with Netflix's vast library of movies — especially since rival Netflix already offers most of the same titles. If Amazon enters the race for content rights, then it could be a "big thorn" in Netflix's side. But until then, it "isn't close to being a Netflix-killer."
"Amazon Prime instant streaming launches, but not (yet) a Netflix-killer"
Amazon is already beating Netflix on price: Sure, content-wise, Amazon Prime looks "a little bland," says Jacqui Cheng at Wired. But its range of titles will undoubtedly improve and Amazon's deal is much better value for money. Netflix costs $95.88 a year for unlimited streaming. Prime is nearly $20 cheaper, with "free two-day shipping deals" from Amazon to boot. That's a good start.
"Amazon takes on Netflix with movie streaming service."
Netflix should be worried at Amazon's deep pockets: This is only Amazon's "first volley," and the online retail giant has $3.7 billion in the bank, says Greg Sandoval at CNET. If Amazon spent only a fraction of that to market its new streaming offer to its 65 million online shoppers, or sell "deeply discounted set-top boxes" allowing Prime subscribers to watch content on their TV sets, then Netflix could really be in trouble.
"Can Amazon push Netflix out of limelight?"
Hulu is the real loser: Netflix may fear Amazon's entry into streaming video, says Douglas A. McIntyre at Wall St. 24/7, but it's Hulu that will be "irreparably damaged" by this new offering. Amazon has the customers. Netflix has the titles. Hulu Plus, the site's premium service, has neither. It might not last much longer.
"New and old products close in on Hulu"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- Why Israel can no longer let the Palestinian Authority be responsible for security in the West Bank
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Why charity can't solve society's deepest problems
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- Grammar quiz: Do you know the passive voice?
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
Subscribe to the Week