Netflix and Amazon Prime have plenty of TV shows, documentaries and movies for you to binge through on cold, rainy days. But which on-demand service is the most deserving of your hard-earned cash?
We examine each service side by side, taking into account things like cost, availability, access and, perhaps most importantly, what you can actually watch.
Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video: How much do they cost?
What is HD? The difference between 720p, 1080i and 1080pNetflix costs either £5.99, £7.49 or £8.99/month depending on which of the three plans you go for.
The Basic £5.99/month plan lets you stream content in standard definition only on up to one device at a time.
If you want to watch Netflix on up to two devices can opt for Standard Netflix which £7.49/month, lets you stream on up to two devices simultaneously and gives you access to content in high definition – up to 1080p Full HD and something Netflix calls ‘Super HD’.
Premium Netflix, designed for families and busy households, costs £8.99/month, lets you watch content on up to four devices at once and gives you access to Netflix’s growing library of 4K Ultra HD content.
Amazon Prime Video costs £5.99/month as standard. It’s also included as a free perk of being an Amazon Prime member, which costs £79/year.
Students can also benefit from a discounted Amazon Prime service, which costs £39/month (for up to four years) and comes with free access to Amazon Prime Video as standard.
You can watch on up to two devices simultaneously on the same Amazon account, but you can’t stream the same piece of content on more than once device at a time. While there’s no way to increase this device headroom, there’s no additional charge if you want to watch any of Amazon’s 4K content.
Amazon also offers a secondary on-demand service – Amazon Instant Video – which is essentially Amazon’s equivalent of iTunes. Titles available here typically aren’t included under an Amazon Prime Video subscription and prices vary.
Typically, a single episode of a TV show will cost around £1.49-£1.89 in SD and £2.49-£3.49 in HD. Whole seasons are charged at roughly £9.99-£11.99 for episodes in SD and £11.49-£13.99 in HD, depending on things like season length and how new a show is – typically, the longer and newer a title is, the more you’ll pay.
Digital copies of movies typically cost £9.99 in SD and £13.99 in HD from Amazon Instant Video.
Both Netflix and Amazon typically require 2Mbps for SD streams and 5Mbps for HD streams. For 4K streams, you’ll need around 20-25Mbps of spare bandwidth, which you’ll only get with a superfast or ultrafast broadband service.
Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video: Who’s got the best content?
Best movies to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime VideoContent deals inked with the likes of 20th Century Fox, Disney, NBC Universal and Warner Bros. mean you’ll find many of the same shows and movies on both services.
For example, both Netflix and Amazon have signed a deals with 20th Century Fox which means they’ve both got shows like The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, Prison Break, the US remake of The Killing and many more.
That said, while It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (a Fox show) is available on Netflix, it’s currently not included as an Amazon Prime Video title – you can buy individual episodes or seasons via Amazon Instant Video, but they’re not included with your Prime subscription.
The same goes for shows like American Horror Story and Homeland, both of which are present and correct on Netflix, but they’re not included with an Amazon subscription.
The flipside of this is while you can get many of the same classic Disney and Pixar movies like Up, Monsters University, Aladdin and Toy Story 1-3, Amazon at least affords you the option to buy things that aren’t available on a subscription basis.
Disney films like Brave and Hercules for example aren’t available as part of your Amazon Prime Video subscription, but they’re not available on Netflix either.
Ultimately, this is a tricky one to answer off the bat for the simple reason that unless you’re a paying customer, it’s impossible to browse Netflix’s content library and compare it like for like with Amazon’s.
There are unofficial sites out there that do a good job of chronicling what’s available on Netflix, but these aren’t always totally accurate, because Netflix dumps and refreshes titles on a regular basis.
Netflix Originals vs Amazon Originals: Who’s got the best original content?
Netflix boasts a stable of homegrown hits including Orange Is The New Black, Jessica Jones and Daredevil.
Self-begat content from Amazon’s vault includes Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent and The Man in the High Castle.
Both services also have past form in reviving cancelled shows – Netflix brought the US remake of The Killing back from the dead after its cancellation and Amazon scooped the remains of the BBC’s Ripper Street off of the mortuary slab.
As neither company releases viewership figures, it’s hard to tell which are the most popular, but you can get a general idea from the likes of Metacritic, IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. Generally speaking, the word on the street is that Netflix’s original shows have the edge on Amazon’s.
For what it’s worth, Transparent saw the shopping giant scoop two Golden Globes last year (for Best Comedy and Jeffrey Tambor for Best Actor in a TV Comedy) while Netflix bagged just one – Kevin Spacey’s performance in House of Cards earned a gong for Best Actor in a TV Drama.
In Recombu’s admittedly smaller but no less prestigious 2015 Awards ceremony, we handed Netflix the award for Best On-Demand TV Service, based in part on its content offering which we felt was stronger than Amazon’s.
If you really have to make a choice between the two, we’d say that Netflix will probably have more of what you want, though there’s plenty of shows worthy of your attention on Amazon. If money’s an object of course, there’s nothing to stop you from binge-watching everything you want on Netflix one month, cancelling and signing up for Amazon next month.
Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video: How can I get these services?
How can I watch Netflix on my TV?If it’s got an Internet connection, a screen or it plugs into a TV, chances are you can watch Netflix on it.
There are Netflix apps for iOS and Android – both of which are Chromecast compatible – and Windows Phone.
Netflix is also available on Virgin Media TiVo, BT TV, TalkTalk TV boxes, Now TV boxes, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV as well as all of the current and last generation of games consoles. You can now stream Netflix content from Humax-branded Freetime Freesat boxes. Owners of Freeview Play set-top boxes will be able to access Netflix later in the year.
There’s an exhaustive list of devices and platforms supported by Netflix here.
How can I watch Amazon Prime Video on TV?Amazon’s a bit pickier about launching on demand apps for third party platforms, but there’s a good number of phones, tablets, consoles, smart TVs and mini streamers you can get Prime Video on.
Prime Video apps are available for iOS, Android and Kindle devices, Xbox One and 360, PlayStation 4 and 3 and Nintendo Wii U and Wii as well as a number of smart TVs from LG, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic.
While you can access Amazon content on Fire TV and, more recently, Roku devices, there are currently no Prime Video apps available for Apple TV or Now TV boxes and the mobile apps don’t play ball with Chromecast either.
Amazon keeps a full list of supported devices on its UK site.
Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video verdict: Which one should I get?
In terms of content, Netflix has the edge. It also has the benefit of being available on a wider range of devices and platforms than Prime Video.
That said, it’s not like Prime Video is hard to come by and if you’re already sold on the idea of same day deliveries on Amazon purchases, then you might as well avail yourself of the free service that comes with a £79/year Prime membership.
For those who don’t want to be locked into long-term contracts, there’s nothing to stop you from having the best of both worlds. Just sign up for a month at a time and dip a toe into both worlds.
4K petrolheads may appreciate the fact that Amazon won’t charge you any extra in order to access its Ultra HD content, but to be honest, if you’ve got the kind of money for a 4K smart TV and a superfast broadband service, the difference of £3 a month is probably not going to mean much.