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I don’t quite know how it happened, but I stream all of my media now. Contrast that with just a few years ago, when I was still downloading music, managing DVDs, and making only the occasional visit to Pandora/Songza to find new artists that I might like.
Today, if it isn’t on Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime, or YouTube, I won’t be watching and I won’t be listening. I actually prefer it that way, so welcome to the new era where streaming is king.
The one problem with streaming everything is that the monthly costs can add up, which is a real drawback to cutting the cord. Maybe you’d prefer to have one or two main services instead of subscribing to every alternative available. That would be the smart thing to do, especially if you’re trying to cut down on monthly expenses. But which services should you choose?
There are a host of streaming services to choose from, but today we’re putting the all-encompassing Amazon Prime into battle against Netflix + Spotify.
Amazon and Netflix both produce original TV content, so regardless of which one you pick, you’ll be missing out on some quality shows. The question is, which original shows are better?
On the one hand, Amazon has a handful of them and they’re all compelling enough to warrant watching — The Man in the High Castle and Bosch are both fun, while Transparent is daring and relevant. But I can’t honestly say that they’re good enough to grab a subscription for. That’s the thing about Amazon Originals: they aren’t bad, but they aren’t great either.
On the other hand, Netflix is firmly committed to becoming an original content producer in the same vein as HBO, and has already produced smash hits like Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, Daredevil, Stranger Things, and Narcos. Not only that, but the planned originals for 2017 are shaping up quite well with One Day at a Time and Santa Clarita Diet already receiving critical acclaim.
In short, Netflix’s selection of original content is wide and deep enough on its own to be worth the price of admission, whereas Amazon’s original content is merely nice as a bonus.
Comparison of Video Selection
As of this writing, Amazon Prime has over 7,200 shows and movies available to stream compared to Netflix, which has over 4,200 shows and movies. This comparison is based on the U.S. library using data provided by JustWatch.
Not only does Amazon Prime have the larger library — close to double in size — but its selection tends to be more up-to-date. For example, you can watch various movies from the past year or two, including Interstellar, Ex Machina, Spectre, and Room. Netflix is better for niche movies and shows that are no longer running (except for its deal with Disney, which is why Zootopia and Finding Dory can be streamed).
While Amazon Prime has exclusives you won’t find on Netflix and vice versa, Amazon Prime has one big advantage: you can grab add-on streaming channels at a discount, including Starz, Showtime, and Comedy Central Stand-Up Plus, and this lets you watch episodes as they’re released.
That being said, one could argue that Netflix has more interesting content out of the box. For example, Netflix is known for its vast collection of documentaries, many of which have received critical acclaim. It also has a surprisingly large selection of animated shows.
In short, Amazon Prime has a larger library that’s more up-to-date, plus the ability to grab add-on channels, whereas Netflix is more densely packed with interesting content.
Comparison of Music Selection
Amazon Prime Music is the forgotten stepchild that’s overshadowed by Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music, and most of that is Amazon’s own fault. Not only is Prime Music poorly marketed (a lot of users don’t even know it exists), but it almost feels abandoned by Amazon.
For starters, Prime Music maintains a library of roughly 1 million songs compared to Spotify’s massive selection of 30+ million songs. It’s been this way for years now. Amazon seems to have no intention of increasing the Prime Music library, especially now that it has launched Amazon Music Unlimited, a separate service built on top of Prime Music.
I used to advocate for giving Prime Music a second chance, but I’ve since given up on it. The selection is too mainstream. If you want to listen to niche music, you’ll only find the occasional single if you’re lucky. Plus the stations are repetitive. Spotify doesn’t have these problems — in fact, Spotify has a bunch of other audio content on top of just music.
But Prime Music does have one advantage: you can upload your own collection. Unfortunately the free option is limited to 250 songs, compared to something like Google Play Music which allows 50,000 songs for free. But you can expand Amazon’s storage to 250,000 for $25-per-year.
In short, Prime Music is great if you only care about mainstream music, and the ability to upload 250 songs for free is nice, but Spotify is flat-out better in every other way.
Now here is where Amazon really shines.
With Netflix and Spotify, the selection of video and music blows Amazon out of the water and into outer space, but you only get video and music and you have to pay for two subscriptions. Amazon Prime, on the other hand, gives you its video and music for the price of one subscription, plus a whole bunch of other nifty features:
- Free two-day shipping on Prime-eligible items.
- Access to the Amazon Prime Pantry.
- Access to Amazon’s library of free ebooks.
- Unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos, can be shared with family.
And this is just scratching the surface. What most Prime users don’t realize is that Amazon provides a ton of lesser-known benefits as part of Prime — if free two-day shipping, video streaming, and music streaming weren’t enough to justify the subscription, these benefits should be.
In short, Prime Video and Prime Music are ancillary perks that make it easier to swallow the cost of Prime, which comes with other perks unavailable with Netflix or Spotify.
And the Winner Is…
It all comes down to value and need.
Amazon Prime currently costs either $99-per-year or $11-per-month. You get a respectable amount of video content, a paltry music selection with the ability to upload 250 songs, free two-day shipping, a lot of free ebooks to read, and numerous other side perks. Get Amazon Prime if you absolutely must pinch pennies, can’t give up free two-day shipping, and care more about streaming video than music.
Netflix and Spotify both currently cost $10-per-month. So what’s the trade-off? You pay twice as much for more original/niche content and vastly superior music selection but lose out on the parts that actually make Prime worthwhile. Get Netflix and Spotify if video and music content are your primary concerns, especially if you have no desire to utilize free two-day shipping.
Then again, you don’t have to pay for Spotify. You can access the whole library for free with some feature restrictions: no offline playback, shuffle-only mobile playback, reduced audio quality, and a few audio ads every hour.
Personally, I’m currently subscribed to all three, but I only use Amazon Prime for the shipping. Based solely on needs of streaming entertainment content, Netflix + Spotify confidently gets my vote — but if I really had to pick just one of these options, I’d go with Prime for the unrivalled value for money it offers.
Which would you rather use, Amazon Prime or Netflix + Spotify? Do you think it’s even necessary to pick between the two? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!