Netflix and Amazon Prime — the two streaming giants — are worthy of your attention if you’re interested in cutting the cable TV cord. With thousands of titles and award-winning original content, these on-demand streaming services will keep you entertained for hours on end. Both have their perks. Prime comes with free Amazon shipping and premium add-ons, while Netflix’s impressive simultaneous stream limit means your entire family can watch what they want when they want.
Read on for a full comparison of Amazon Prime and Netflix to help you pick the right on-demand service.
Netflix vs. Amazon Prime Compared
|Streaming quality||Up to 4K Ultra HD for all users||SD for Basic users, HD for Standard users and 4K (where available) for Premium users|
|User profiles||Up to six per account||Up to five per account|
|Simultaneous streams||Three for all users||One for Basic users, two for Standard users and four for Premium users|
Netflix has three different plans, and each one comes with varying streaming limits. The cheapest is the $8.99/mo. Basic plan. It only allows one user to watch Netflix content at a time. The Standard option costs $12.99/mo. and gives you two simultaneous streams. For four simultaneous streams, opt for the $15.99/mo. Premium package.
Amazon Prime, on the other hand, only has one price. But you can choose to pay monthly or annually. A full Prime subscription costs $12.99/mo. or $119/yr. And it comes with plenty of benefits, including free shipping, free music streaming and a free ebook every month. Alternatively, you can skip the perks and just access Amazon Prime’s streaming service, Amazon Prime Video, for $8.99/mo. Users can stream up to three Prime videos at once, but the same title can only be streamed by two people at the same time.
Whether you’re looking for original shows or highly rated movies, both Amazon Prime and Netflix have them in droves. Right now, Prime’s library houses more than 20,000 titles, while Netflix has over 5,000. Both services’ catalogs are always changing as titles are added and removed at short notice.
Netflix is perhaps best known for its original content, spanning Oscar-winning movies like Roma and fan-favorite series like Stranger Things and Orange Is the New Black. But Prime is working its way up the charts with action-packed shows like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Mr. Robot and The Man in the High Castle. If you’re a fan of major network shows such as The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, you’ll find those in both services’ libraries too. (Amazon Prime has the former while Netflix houses every episode of the latter. Netflix waits until an entire season is available before releasing it; Prime sometimes releases individual episodes.)
But Amazon Prime movies tend to beat Netflix’s choices. While Netflix has everything from heartwarming rom-coms to edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Amazon Prime tends to get hold of newer films first. It also gives you the option to rent or buy some recent releases so that you can stay up to date with the latest and greatest cinema. Rental prices tend to range from $2.99 for standard definition (SD) titles to $3.99 for high definition (HD) options. If you want to buy a movie, expect to pay around $9.99 for SD and up to $19.99 for HD.
Netflix is the king of compatible devices. It’s available via web browsers, smart TVs, Apple and Android phones and tablets and game consoles like Xbox One and PlayStation 4. But you can also access it via streaming players like Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast along with certain Blu-ray players and Fire TV devices. More obscure devices like Nintendo Wii U and Windows phones are compatible too.
Amazon Prime’s supported devices list looks almost identical. It includes Apple and Android devices, web browsers and smart TVs. Certain PlayStation and Xbox consoles, as well as Fire TV, Chromecast and Roku devices, are also on the list. But Prime doesn’t support Nintendo or Windows models.
Netflix’s streaming quality depends on the plan you pick. The Basic package only allows titles to play in SD. Meanwhile, the Standard plan gives HD playback, while the Premium option can play content in 4K Ultra HD. Amazon Prime content will play in the highest definition available for all users. It also offers more 4K content than Netflix and doesn’t charge an extra fee to stream in Ultra HD.
Netflix does have one trick up its sleeve when it comes to streaming quality. If your internet connection is weak, it’ll automatically play videos in SD, so you don’t face buffering delays. And when your connection is strong, it’ll stream titles in the highest resolution available for your plan without you having to do a single thing.
Netflix’s algorithm is one of the streaming service’s most talked-about features. Up to five people can create a user profile on one account — this allows Netflix to track what each individual is watching and recommend tailored content. So if you’re into gory horror while your other half prefers uplifting dramas, you’ll each find a suitable title in no time.
Amazon Prime also recommends shows and movies based on individual users’ viewing histories. It allows up to six user profiles per account, so all the family can watch what they love with ease. Both Prime and Netflix also let users select kids’ profiles. That means younger viewers can see age-appropriate content and steer clear of mature titles.
When you’re traveling, you may not have a Wi-Fi connection. So it’s important to find a streaming service that lets you download shows and movies beforehand. Luckily, both Amazon Prime and Netflix permit offline watching. Netflix downloads will remain in your library for 30 days. Prime does things slightly differently. It gives you around 30 days to watch content (the limit depends on the title) and 48 hours to finish it once you’ve started viewing.
While Netflix doesn’t come with any premium options, Amazon Prime has plenty of add-ons. Amazon Prime Video Channels feature more than 100 networks to subscribe to, from HBO and Showtime to Comedy Central and Hallmark Movies.
As well as offering on-demand content soon after it airs, some channels let you watch shows live. Prices vary, but they tend to start around $2.99/mo. and can range up to $24.99/mo. for the likes of MLB.TV. Prime subscribers can also catch live coverage of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football without paying a single cent.
Should I Cut the Cable TV Cord With Netflix Or Amazon Prime?
It’s hard to name a winner when it comes to these two popular services. Both have sizable catalogs full of original content and other popular titles, and both come with similar features. There are, of course, a few differences. But your decision will likely depend on what you want to watch and how much you want to spend.
If you’re looking for nothing more than entertainment, Netflix is probably your best bet. But if you’re an avid online shopper with a taste for premium networks, Amazon Prime might be the better bet. Not only does it give you a bunch of bonuses, but it also merges on-demand content with live TV (as long as you’re willing to pay an extra fee). Still stuck? Why not try both Netflix and Amazon Prime for free for 30 days? That way, you can see which service you really can’t live without.
Other live TV services are available to satisfy the rest of your streaming needs. Hulu + Live TV mixes a huge on-demand library with cable-like live TV. Alternatively, opt for fuboTV if you’re a huge sports fan or Philo if you’re on a tight budget. All come with week-long free trials. If free local channels are what you’re after, consider investing in an antenna. You can check out the channels available in your local area here. Cutting the cable TV cord has never been easier.
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