Amazon Prime Video comes out on its own – CNET
Amazon Prime Video is getting its own stage.
The online retailer’s streaming video service is now available for the first time on its own. The company is letting fans in the US binge on Amazon original shows like “Mozart in the Jungle” and “The New Yorker Presents” for $8.99 a month.
And there are even more Prime-a-month changes. The company late Sunday also unveiled a new option for its popular Prime membership at $10.99 a month, a long-sought alternative to its $99 annual plan.
Since Prime Video first launched in 2011, the only way to get the streaming service has been to fork over the yearly $99 fee for the full Prime membership. But, now that Prime Video has grown with a healthy catalogue of movies, TV shows and original programs, Amazon apparently felt it was time Prime Video could stand up on its own.
Creating the standalone service also makes Prime Video a more direct competitor to the leading streaming-video service, Netflix, whose most popular plan is $9.99 a month — $1 more than the new Prime Video service.
A Netflix representative didn’t respond to a request for comment.
It now seems more likely that Amazon will someday offer a standalone option for its streaming Amazon Music service, too, perhaps bringing new competition to Spotify and Apple Music.
Amazon’s new monthly video program comes as a handful of new streaming services are becoming available, with each looking to capture viewers that are spending more time streaming and less with cable TV. Along with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, services from HBO, Showtime, CBS and others also rolled out. (CBS is the parent company of both CNET and Showtime.)
Amazon has been trying to expand its video programming to draw in more customers to its Prime shopping club, which the company said it grew by a healthy 51 percent worldwide last year. The company came out with Golden Globe winning shows “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle,” as well as the Emmy-winning kids’ show “Tumble Leaf.” This year, Prime Video will air Woody Allen’s first-ever TV series, as well as another season of its critically acclaimed alternative-history series “The Man in the High Castle.” In December, it created the Streaming Partners Program, to let users pay to add more channels to Prime Video, including Showtime and Starz.
Netflix, meanwhile, has also aggressively moved into original programming, with “House of Cards,” Judd Apatow’s “Love,” and Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None.” In January, CEO Reed Hastings announced that Netflix expanded to nearly everywhere in the world.
The good news for both Netflix and Amazon, the two biggest US video-streaming services, is that viewers seem to be spending more time with online TV in general and plenty of customers pay for both services. Overall, 64 percent of US households with broadband Internet subscribe to an online video service, up from 59 percent last year, according to a report last week from Parks Associates.
Yet with Amazon’s standalone video option just $2 cheaper than a full Prime monthly membership — which includes free two-day shipping of products from Amazon.com, the Amazon Music library and several other goodies — many customers interested in a monthly service may chose the more expensive option. Both monthly memberships include a free 30-day trial and can be canceled without an annual commitment.
Sprint in March started offering a monthly Prime program for its wireless customers at $10.99, too.
Getting Prime just for the holidays may be a great option for some customers looking to use its free two-day shipping for presents. But, anyone interested in keeping Prime for the year should do the math first. An annual Prime membership is $99, while the monthly tier will cost nearly $132 for the year.