Netflix versus Amazon Video, is one streaming service better than the other?

Ten years ago there was no such thing as the option to stream your favorite TV shows and movies. The only way to watch television was through very expensive cable packages. Traditional cable packages were very costly and one would get hundreds of channels that were never even watched. Out of those hundreds of channels only a handful were actually worth watching. A person would have to pay for all these cable channels that they didn’t want to have access to maybe 25 or so channels that they actually wanted to watch. Thankfully there was a solution to this problem.

There was an evolution in howwe watch TV thanks to streaming. Streaming was something that was unheard of until recently and it is all because of Netflix and Amazon Video. The minds behind these two services, like Roy Price, Reed Hastings, and Marc Randolph made streaming a reality for households across the United States. These two companies are the main reason why most people are moving away from traditional cable companies and their super restrictive, expensive cable packages. The streaming services that both companies offer are easy to use, way inexpensive and provides a wide variety of entertainment at the touch of a button.

People have loved being entertained by the big screen for over a century. The movies have been a way for people to escape the ordinary or dreary aspect of their lives. The need to be entertained grew and it blossomed into one of the most important industries in the world. People love escaping by watching their favorite shows or movies. When entertainment moved from the big screen to the small screen of television in 1927, it opened the doors to the entertainment industry growing leaps and bounds.

In the beginning, there were not many homes that had televisions. They were expensive and only a few could afford one.  Fast-forward to the 21st century, and almost 94% of all homes in America have multiple television sets, sometimes one in almost every room. Before cable, there were very few options to watch on the TV and there were only three stations to begin with and those stations were NBC, CBS and ABC. Soon Fox and the CW network joined. These five stations had a monopoly on the content produced for decades until cable television was introduced. Many of the shows on these major broadcast networks were formulaic and soon it became apparent that there was a need for the market to expand.

Cable television equipment was first mass-produced in 1950. Robert Tarlton had created the first commercial cable television system. Since then the cable industry has grown exponentially and so have their prices. There were both basic and premium cable packages and suddenly there were a lot more options. In the beginning it was exciting to have so many options. People loved that there was a way to access so many different shows and movies but that excitement faded when streaming services were introduced to the public.

The ability to stream television shows and movies has created a huge decline in the cable viewership. According to the FCC, there were 68.5 million cable subscribers in the United Sates but then in 2013, those numbers started to decline. In 2013 there were 54.4 million subscribers across the nation and that decline is in large part due to the availability of streaming services. Streaming services provided a cheaper option and plus lots of shows and movies could be found in one place. People started to see streaming as a way to break the chains of their expensive cable packages.

Netflix was the first company to offer a streaming service that made hundreds of movies and television shows available on one platform. In 1999 when Netflix first started, it did not start out as a streaming service but as a monthly, unlimited DVD rental. For a monthly fee, people could rent as many DVD’s as they want. In 2007, the company decided to move into streaming and tons more people started to sign up for subscriptions. People everywhere were starting to see that there were other options besides cable.

Netflix was founded by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in 1997. Hastings was a computer scientist and a mathematician who founded a company called Pure Atria. Randolph was the marketing director for Pure Atria and the two got along really well. They both came up with the idea for Netflix during the sale of Pure Atria in 1997. The story goes that they came up with the idea while commuting between Santa Cruz and Pure Atria’s headquarters. Randolph admired Amazon’s model of selling a large number items over the Internet. Randolph wanted to apply the same concept but to a singular product.

At first, the founders tossed around the idea of stocking and sending VHS tapes but those were too delicate and expensive to stock. DVD’s were a relatively new concept and were only available in a few markets. In 1997, Hastings and Randolph testedmailing a DVD to each other to see if the material would withstand being shipped though the mail. The test worked and the two decided to go ahead with the company.

At the time, Blockbuster video and Hollywood video were the largest movie rental companies in the United States. Netflix decided that they were going to take these large companies head on. In 2000 Netflix made an offer to Blockbuster for $50 million and Blockbuster turned it down. Now Blockbuster is no longer in business and it is all thanks to Netflix.

Netflix started the idea of renting DVD’s through the mail and even though this helped to bring about the downfall of Blockbuster and similar companies, the real death knell to the DVD rental market was the introduction of streaming movies and television shows through the Internet. As Internet bandwidth increased along with advancements made in home computers, so did the capability to stream high quality content. Streaming was not a popular concept when Netflix began offering it to their subscription service but Netflix turned it into a profitable venture.

The company that inspired Netflix was soon inspired to start their own streaming service. When Amazon saw the popularity of Netflix’s streaming service, the company decided that they wanted to jump into the streaming headfirst and it didn’t take them long to become a streaming powerhouse that put them in direct competition with Netflix. Amazon Prime Video was created to help Amazon compete with Netflix but it was created with the purpose of helping to create unique content that would only be available to Amazon Prime subscribers.

When Amazon decided to complete with Netflix, they knew that they needed to bring in a heavy hitter to help get their streaming service up and running.  Amazon brought in Roy Price, a long time industry expert. Price got his start as a film set assistant in 1989 and he quickly moved up through the ladder and in 1993 he became Vice President of Creative Affairs for Disney TV Animation. His hard work at Disney helped to solidify Price as a creative and aggressive leader in the entertainment industry and Amazon needed a strong leader in order to compete with Netflix.

Amazon Video was first launched as Amazon Unbox in the United States in September of 2006. Amazon was already a widely successful online retailer and Jeff Bezos wanted to expand the Amazon empire by creating a streaming service that would ultimately carry more titles than Netflix. The name of the service was later renamed as Amazon Video.  In February 2011 the company added 5,000 more titles to their library and in 2012 signed a deal with Epix to feature movies in their streaming service. The move helped Amazon to become the direct competition to other larger streaming services available at the time. The goal when creating the Amazon Video was not only to offer more titles than Netflix but also to create and produce original content.

Amazon Video worked hard to get unique content available on their platform. The company premiered the two comedies, “Alpha House” and “Betas” exclusively for Amazon Video. The coup de grace was when Amazon hired Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May to produce a show about motoring. The untitled show became a much talked about show and gained a following before it was even released. The show was later named “The Grand Tour”. The trio decided that they wanted to part ways with their original show, “Top Gear”, and start something new and fresh with a little more creative input. The show was pretty popular and gained a huge viewership.

Roy Price was one of the main architects behind the launching of Amazon Video. From 2004 until 2009, he was the Group Project Manager and director and he was responsible for launching Amazon Video in 2008.  Ultimately, both Amazon and Price knew that unique content would be the key to beating out Netflix in the streaming wars. He launched Amazon Studios in 2010 with the objective being to create new television shows and movies to be distributed through Amazon Video.

Amazon Studios put a unique twist on the creation of this new content. Instead of having the studio drive the decision-making process when choosing what shows and movies to produce, the decision is made through crowd-sourced feedback and staff reviews. Scripts are submitted through a special Amazon online portal and then reviewed by Amazon members and staff. This process opened the proverbial door to a variety of screenwriters and their ideas. Screenplays that would have never made it past traditional studio guidelines saw life at Amazon Studios.

Even though Netflix and Amazon Video are technically considered competitors, both services have a lot to offer. There are pros and cons to each service and there is a price difference between the two. Both offer some pretty great unique content that include award winning shows and movies. Where once the big five ruled and dictated what people watched, now Netflix and Amazon offer so many different kinds of themes in their shows and movies. Shows like the Amazon’s groundbreaking series “Transparent” shows the dynamics of a family when one parent decides to transition into women. The heartwarming show was the type of show that would have never been produced for cable but with companies like Netflix and Amazon changing the rules, more innovative screenplays are being produced every year.

Both Netflixand Amazon Video offer a lot of great shows and movies. Netflix typically has more titles that were produced by other studios but Amazon Studios has more original content. Both streaming services are great and often times don’t have the same content streaming at the same time. Most streaming customers often times have subscriptions to both services because they get a wide variety of original content and older content from other companies. There is no one better service and both would make great additions to a person’s entertainment lineup.

 

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