Amazon Prime Video versus Netflix is like Android versus iPhone
Generally, when we talk about Amazon’s Prime Video, it’s in the context of Netflix. Amazon original programming is compared to Netflix originals, and in the US you can sign up for Amazon’s Prime Video for $8.99 per month (about Rs. 610) – intentionally a dollar less than Netflix . Now, however, Prime Video has just had a huge international launch, covering 242 countries, at a nominal price of $2.99 (roughly Rs. 203) where Prime is not offered, and free with Prime membership in other regions. In India, this means you can get Amazon Prime Video at Rs. 499 per year. In contrast, Netflix prices globally have remained constant at around $10 – you can get it for Rs. 650 per month in India.
Interestingly, an Indian Prime user can access the American catalog when they log in to America. That means you’ll get a different (and some would say better) catalog if you’re using Prime in the US, but you’ll get a better deal if you pay for this account in India. It’s probably a loophole that Amazon will close 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 almost a tenth of the cost – funny enough being given 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 around a quarter of the cost of Hotstar, perhaps the most popular local offering, and less than a tenth of what you need to pay for Netflix. And at the same time, it has an interesting catalog, unlike some other Indian competitors that cost around the same amount.
Prime Video has its own list of award-winning original shows – although not all of them are included in the Indian catalog – and it also offers a good range of popular content from other creators, including The Good Wife, Elementary and the everlasting classic, Seinfield. And there’s a lot of India-specific content.
Where Netflix’s catalog of Indian content seems pretty thin, big names like Sultan and Kabali are some of the first titles you see on Prime Video. The company is also in the running for broadcast rights to the IPL, which would give it access to some of the most-watched content in the country. If you’re looking for mass adoption, there’s no better path than the one Amazon is taking right now.
Also, unlike Netflix, or even local offerings like Hotstar, Prime Video seems to censor movies, and not just Hindi movies, as previously suggested. It’s clear from this that Amazon wants an audience that can rival the reach of television and take no chances when it comes to complaints of licentious content.
And that’s exactly what makes us think the company doesn’t have Netflix in its sights – at least not outside of the US. The US streaming market is already very mature, with a number of established players, and that’s not something that’s going to change overnight. There, Amazon takes on Netflix on pricing, making it an either/or decision.
The market in most regions outside the United States, however, is still incredibly nascent. In January, Netflix launched in 200 countries, but as company executives told Gadgets 360, its target audience is viewers using iPhones and credit cards, while Amazon audiences seems like anyone with internet access.
This is evident from the fact that Rs. 499 per year (about Rs. 41 or 60 cents per month) gives you access to a large collection of movies. Soon it could bring additional benefits, such as music or books. And of course, same-day and next-day shipping at no additional cost, as well as early access to deals, exclusive deals — the perks people were paying for Prime for in the first place.
Amazon is not looking to directly compete with Netflix globally – instead it recognizes 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 pick up the rest of the market in one fell swoop. And for Netflix users, pay an additional Rs. 50 a month isn’t likely to be a big deal either.
Where Netflix wants to be the iPhone of the streaming market, Prime Video is content to play the role of Android, knowing that means getting 90% of the market.
That’s not all. In India, Amazon competes with Flipkart, and in the various countries in which Prime Video is now available, you can be sure that there are also other e-commerce companies that it is battling around the world. Instead of having to fight Flipkart tooth and nail over discounts and exclusive deals with phone manufacturers, Amazon now has something to offer that it directly controls.
Come for cheap streaming, stay for next day delivery – or vice versa, depending on your interests. Amazon is building a moat that will be very difficult for Flipkart to counter now, making it a very viable contender for the No. 1 e-commerce company spot in 2017. Instead of competing with Netflix or Flipkart, the launch of Prime Video gives to Amazon the option to flank them both, and it certainly looks like a powerful move.
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