Opinion

Amazon Prime Video vs Netflix Is Like Android vs iPhone

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Amazon Prime Video vs Netflix Is Like Android vs iPhone
Highlights
  • Amazon Prime Video is now available, bundled with Prime
  • It's now available in 242 countries, Amazon executives say
  • In countries without Prime, it costs only $2.99 a month

Typically, when we talk about Amazon's Prime Video, it's in the context of Netflix. Amazon's original programming gets compared to Netflix's Originals, and in the US, you can sign up for Amazon's Prime Video at $8.99 a month (approximately Rs. 610) - intentionally a dollar less than Netflix. Now though, Prime Video just had a huge international launch, covering 242 countries, at a nominal price of $2.99 (approximately Rs. 203) where Prime is not offered, and free with Prime membership in other regions. In India, that means you can get Amazon Prime Video at Rs. 499 a year. In contrast, Netflix's pricing around the world has stayed consistent at around $10 - you can get it for Rs. 650 a month in India.

Interestingly, an Indian Prime user can access the US catalogue when logging in while in America. This means that you'll get a dfferent (and some would say better) catalogue if you're using Prime in the US, but you'll get a better deal if you pay for that account in India. This is probably a loophole that Amazon will plug at some point, but we wouldn't be surprised if some people in the US decide and set up an Indian account to get Prime Video for nearly one tenth of the cost - pretty funny considering that Indians usually have to do this to access US-based services instead.

Amazon Prime Video has the potential to completely disrupt the Indian streaming market - it's about one-fourth the cost of Hotstar, perhaps the most popular local offering, and less than a tenth of what you have to pay for Netflix. And at the same time, it has an interesting catalogue, unlike some other Indian competitors which cost around the same amount.

Prime Video has its own slate of award winning original shows - though not all of these are included in the Indian catalogue - and it also has a good range of popular content from other creators, including The Good Wife, Elementary, and the perennial classic, Seinfeld. And there's a lot of India-specific content.

Where Netflix's catalogue of Indian content seems pretty slim, big names such as Sultan, and Kabali are amongst the first titles you see on Prime Video. The company is also in the running for rights to air the IPL, which would give it access to one of the most viewed pieces of content in the country. If you're looking for mass adoption, then there's no better path to follow than the one that Amazon is taking right now.

Also, unlike Netflix, or even home-grown offerings such as Hotstar, Prime Video seems to be censoring movies, and not just Hindi movies as was earlier suggested. It's clear from this that Amazon wants an audience that can rival the reach of television, and isn't taking any chances when it comes to complaints of licentious content.

And that's exactly what makes us think that the company does not have Netflix in its crosshairs - at least not outside the US. The American streaming market is already very mature, with a number of established players, and this isn't something that will change overnight. There, Amazon is taking on Netflix on pricing, making it an either/ or decision.

The market in most regions outside the US, however, is still incredibly nascent. In January, Netflix launched in 200 countries, but as the company's executives told Gadgets 360, it's target audience is the iPhone-toting, credit card-using viewers, while Amazon's audience appears to be anyone who has Internet access.

That’s evident from the fact that Rs. 499 per year (just about Rs. 41 or 60 cents per month) gets you access to a great collection of movies. Soon, it might bring in some additional benefits, such as music or books. And of course, same day and next day shipping at no extra charge, along with early access to deals, exclusive deals - the benefits for which people were paying for Prime to begin with.

Amazon isn't looking at competing directly with Netflix around the world - instead, it's recognised that streaming in many parts of the world is still in its infancy, and instead of competing with Netflix for the same premium users, it can scoop up the rest of the market in one fell swoop. And for Netflix users, paying an additional Rs. 50 a month isn't likely to be a great hardship either.

Where Netflix wants to be the iPhone of the streaming market, Prime Video is content to play the part of Android, secure in the knowledge that this means getting 90 percent of the market.

That's not all though. In India, Amazon has been competing with Flipkart, and in the various countries that Prime Video is now available in, you can be certain that there are other e-commerce businesses that it is fighting around the world as well. Instead of having to fight Flipkart tooth and nail on discounts and exclusive deals with phone manufacturers, Amazon now has something to offer that it directly controls.

Come for the cheap streaming, stay for the next day delivery - or vice versa, depending upon your interests. Amazon is building a moat that it will be very difficult for Flipkart to counter now, making it a very viable contendor for the spot of top e-commerce company in 2017. Instead of competing with Netflix or Flipkart, the launch of Prime Video gives Amazon the option of flanking them both, and it certainly looks like a powerful move.

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