Amazon is taking on Netflix and Hulu with a stand-alone video streaming service just weeks before Netflix raises prices for longtime subscribers.
New customers can now pay $8.99 a month to watch Amazon’s Prime video streaming service. Previously, the only way to watch Amazon’s videos was to pay $99 a year for Prime membership, which includes free two-day shipping on items sold by the site and other perks.
At $8.99 a month, Amazon’s stand-alone streaming service is $1 less than Netflix’s standard membership and $1 more than Hulu. Netflix said earlier this year that a “substantial number” of its longtime members who paid $7.99 monthly – and have been protected from price hikes – will now pay an additional $2, starting in May.
Amazon’s decision to break off its video streaming service could cause some defections at Netflix, wrote Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter in a note to clients.
Both companies have invested heavily in original and exclusive programing. Netflix has “Orange is the New Black,” “House of Cards” and a couple of series based on Marvel comic characters. Amazon’s offerings include “Transparent,” “Mozart in the Jungle” and previously-aired HBO shows. With Hulu, users can watch many current TV episodes a day after they air on a network. Hulu is also growing its exclusive offerings, with “The Mindy Project” and “Difficult People.”
Netflix declined to comment Monday. Representatives for Amazon and Hulu did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Besides its stand-alone video service, Amazon is also offering a new pay-as-you-go option for its full Prime membership that costs $10.99 a month and comes with free-two day shipping, streaming and other perks. Amazon said users who opt to pay $10.99 monthly, instead of the $99 annual fee, can cancel at any time.
A streaming comparison
Here’s how the Amazon, Netflix and Hulu services compare:
Amazon Prime Video
▪ Price: $8.99 a month for stand-alone streaming.
▪ Offerings: Movies and past seasons of TV shows, such as “The Sopranos” and “Downton Abbey.” Original programs include “Transparent,” “Mozart in the Jungle” and “Catastrophe.”
▪ Price: $9.99 for standard membership.
▪ Offerings: Movies and already-aired TV shows, including “Friends” and “Breaking Bad.” Original series include “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and “Jessica Jones.”
▪ Price: $7.99 a month for its basic subscription with commercials. An ad-free version costs $11.99 a month.
▪ Offerings: Current TV episodes, such as “Empire” and “Modern Family,” a day after they air on network TV. Original series include “The Mindy Project,” “Difficult People” and “Casual.” Movies are included.