Amazon: A Growing Rival of Netflix?

Andria Chen/Staff Illustrator

Gustavo Gonzalez

Amazon has created a spin-off of its Prime Membership, Prime Video, which introduces its consumers to their new monthly payment plan and allows them access an expanding library of movies and TV shows. What once seemed like a minor substitution for the rival Netflix subscription has risen in recent years to become a strong competitor, releasing multiple critically praised original series such as its two Emmy Award winning series, Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle.

As of April 18, Amazon now provides a new subscription method to its Prime Video library, costing $8.99 a month. Previously, members would have had to buy an annual membership to Amazon Prime, a subscription which would cost $99 yearly. The alternative monthly payment plan is one less intimidating to new subscribers. Something that is more noteworthy is that the monthly payment plan allows for cancellation of membership within a month, as opposed to the annual membership which could not be cancelled until the following year.

What does this mean for Amazon’s prime competitor Netflix? To start, Netflix has received backlash for its recent price hike. Previous membership cost $7.99 a month as opposed to the upcoming price of $9.99 a month. So now, it appears Prime Video provides a competitive price as an affordable alternative.

Prime Video also offers more movies and television programs than Netflix, which has seen a recent reduction in programming. Add in the fact that Prime Video has deals with HBO and Starz, and their library starts to appear much more expansive than Netflix’s current repertoire.

However, Netflix has recently been compensating by producing its own original programming and, more recently, its own original films. With over 30 announced releases in 2016, Netflix has been increasing the release of original content, varying from new seasons of House of Cards and Marvel’s Daredevil, to new series, such as Flaked and the spin-off Fuller House.

Meanwhile, Prime Video is doubling down and creating negotiations for more original content to join its collection such as Bosch, which released its second season last month, and Catastrophe, also currently on its second season. Both content providers are expanding their collections to include a variety of genres, from political dramas to detective thrillers and classic sitcoms.

So, does Prime Video have a chance to compete against Netflix? It is taking a step in the right direction with its new alternative monthly payment plan offer. This payment plan might just be the decision Amazon needed to bring in potential subscribers who were previously intimidated with having to pay $99 for a full year of content they might not ultimately enjoy.

The risk is less expensive and less of a commitment to new subscribers. With 18 original series either releasing new seasons or starting, and a wide array of pilots that the subscribers vote on, so that they may be picked up, Prime Video is slowly but surely becoming a viable competitor to Netflix’s previously undisturbed empire.