Your move, Netflix.
Earlier this week, Amazon (AMZN) announced that Prime service subscribers could start downloading movies and TV shows to mobile devices for offline viewing. Previously, the company only allowed Amazon Fire tablet or smartphone owners to take advantage of the feature, which has now been extended to all Android and iOS users.
Netflix-style video streaming is just one of the many perks included in the company’s $99-per-year Prime service, which also comes with music streaming, one free borrowed e-book per month, and, of course, free two-day shipping.
The announcement comes soon after Netflix ended its deal with Epix, a movie distributor owned by MGM, Lion’s Gate and Paramount. This new development means that although high-profile titles like “The Hunger Games” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction” will no longer be available on Netflix as of Sept. 30, they’ll still be accessible via Amazon. What’s more, Amazon exclusively offers a back catalog of HBO shows, meaning you can get to-go batches of shows like “Veep” and “Deadwood.”
Other services such as the Google Play Store and iTunes charge $2 per episode (or $3 if you splurge on HD). Suppose, for example, you’re about to fly cross-country, and want to binge-watch “The Good Wife” on your tablet. Assuming you watch five episodes on the way there and five more coming home, you’re looking at a minimum of $20.
On the other hand, if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you can download everything (and plenty more) at no additional charge. You’d need to plan ahead, of course—video downloads take time and consume considerable bandwidth, so they’re best performed over your speedy, uncapped Wi-Fi network.
So, here’s the math: The $99 Prime subscription works out to $8.25 per month. Netflix charges $8.99 per month (unless you’re grandfathered in at the previous rate, $7.99), a price that only includes video streaming.
When you consider everything else that’s included with Prime, especially the newly added download options, Amazon sails to an easy bang-for-the-buck victory.
Of course, for many users, deciding between both services won’t be easy. If you want to watch original programming like “Daredevil,” “House of Cards,” and “Orange is the New Black,” you’ll need Netflix. Here’s hoping Netflix steps up with a download feature of its own.
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