Friday, January 16, 2015

Weekend Musings: Amazon Instant Video

I just recently resubscribed to Amazon Prime. It was late November or early December, it doesn't matter to you, but I enjoy my two-day free shipping. I found out that Prime comes bundled with Instant Video, which I thought was a separate subscription, like Kindle Unlimited.

Wasting no time, I dived into the world of Amazon streaming, and I came out a little unimpressed. Unimpressed is so judgmental of a word, but I can't help feeling let down about the first experience. I've only known Netflix for my streaming needs. There's other services, Amazon being one of them, so I figured each tried to differentiate itself with it's own audiences tastes and niches.

It's not what Amazon did that left me ho-hum, it's the movie and television studios themselves. They send out their movies to stream once they've gathered as much money from physical copies. I saw Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and Anchorman 2 on Amazon's new releases, which are also on Netflix's new releases. Furthermore, many of the backlog are also similar titles. This didn't leave me impressed, it made me think, "I already pay a service for these movies. Why would I need two?"

I'd like to say 75% of what I saw was shared content. There was enough new titles that made me explore to the end of lists, so on the movie front, there is content that can only be seen on Instant Video.

Where Amazon truly shines is in its television shows and original programming. Shows like Justified and Hannibal are exclusive to Instant Video, and those two right there make a damn fine case for the service. HBO shows are also present, like The Wire, Rome, Deadwood, and Carnivale, which sweetens the deal. Showtime has Brotherhood, and need I go on? If you enjoy premium and quality television, Instant Video has you covered.

Original programming is something I haven't delved into yet. I haven't had the opportunity to check out episodes or full seasons to see how these shows hold up. Titles like, Alpha House, Mozart in the Jungle, and Transparent. I've heard good things, but I like to check for myself. Still, Amazon displays a sizable variety in it's lineup, and that fills me with confidence.

What kills Amazon Instant Video is they make me feel like a cheap schmuck. There are titles in the Instant Video list (which is free) that must be bought. Netflix hardly ever flaunts in face additional features I must purchase, but Instant Video does. Want that last season of True Blood? Pay for each episode. How about don't show me the seasons that are not available to stream for free in the stream for free category?

Ultimately I have mixed feelings on the whole thing, and it certainly gives me a new idea for a writing and publishing blog post. I feel there's not a great enough distinction in content to justify holding two or more subscription services. If you have one, you kinda sorta have the other. On the other hand, the exclusive content feels fresh after years of being in Netflix's ecosystem.

It's great if you have a Prime membership, and I do believe it adds a strong overall value to Prime. If you have Prime, you don't really need Netflix. If you have Netflix, I hope you're using Prime for the shipping, although it's nice to have Instant Video.

I will probably still choose Netflix for my streaming needs.