Is Amazon Prime finally taking a serious run at Netflix and Hulu Plus?
I’ve been toying with the idea of signing up for Amazon Prime for awhile now… my only issue with it was that I really didn’t want to be locked into a full year’s subscription. Consequently, I check in on it from time to time to see if they’ve made any changes/lowered the subscription fee/added features.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I logged into my Amazon account to check on a pending order and discovered that Amazon Prime is no longer a yearly subscription, but rather $7.99 a month instead of the previous $79 per year. Anyone who subscribes to Netflix and/or Hulu will probably notice that price is VERY familiar.
Now, there are a couple of interesting things about this…
- While it’s now a monthly fee, the price per year has actually gone UP. $7.99 a month works out to $95.88 a year. That’s a $16.88 increase.
- There was no announcement about it from Amazon. At least none that I’ve been able to find. There are a handful of discussions about it in the Amazon forums, but nothing official from Amazon itself beyond a moderator post in answer to a user’s question on the subject.
According to Georgie P., one of the forum moderators over on Amazon:
“The monthly Amazon Prime membership charge of $7.99 is only being offered to a small group of customers as a test right now. It’s also not available to existing members currently, since the yearly membership is a 20% savings. In the meantime, keep your eyes open for more updates as things are constantly changing.”
So, what does this all mean? Is Amazon finally going make a real attempt at one-upping Netflix and Hulu? Keep in mind that Amazon Prime isn’t just for video streaming. It also gives members free 2-day shipping with no minimum order, and a free e-book lend once a month. At the same price point Netflix and Hulu only offer streaming services.
If that’s the case, they still have a ways to go. The Prime-eligible streaming movie library is pretty limited compared to what Netflix offers for streaming. On the other hand, Amazon also offer rentals of more recent movies a-la-cart on their Instant Video service in addition to their Prime-eligible free movies, and that free 2-day shipping is pretty damn appealing for someone who does a lot of online shopping (particularly around the holidays).
Is it a Netflix killer? Not yet… but depending on which direction they take this, it could end up being some real competition, which I think is a good thing. As much as I love Netflix, the movie and TV studios have crippled it with their streaming restrictions. More successful similar services on the market might finally get the message across to them that people are tired of the old way of doing things.