Face-off between Amazon Prime, Netflix & Hulu

MUMBAI: Folks at Amazon India are popping champagne bottles. The e-commerce giant has launched its Prime service for a free 60 day trial after which the annual subscription will be available at a special introductory price of Rs 499. Though Prime in the US and UK, offers more than the free one or two day deliveries, early access to offers and same day deliveries, the company also promises to bring its streaming video and music services here soon. Prime Video will include Amazon original TV series and movies besides other Indian and global content, is expected to be launched as a part of this service later.

The Prime membership subscription fee in India might later be increased to Rs 999., which is much lower as compared to its other market like $99 (Rs 6,633) for US and £96 (Rs 8,691) for UK. Benefit to the US subscribers being that they can also enjoy other features like access to over a million e-books via Kindle Owners' Lending Library and free unlimited photo storage, in addition to music and video.

Prime will be available to customers in 100 cities, and members in 20 cities can also choose same-day, morning or scheduled delivery at a discounted fee of Rs 50 per order on over 10,000 products. These deliveries typically cost Rs 150.

Amazon is not launching their content service which includes Amazon Video and Amazon Music. Although the company said that the video streaming is coming soon. Amazon Prime Video includes shows such as Mr. Robot and The Man In The High Castle. Reports suggest that the company will be investing a huge sum of $300 million for the original Prime video content in India.

The biggest prime competitor for Amazon still would be Flipkart who also has a similar service called Flipkart first. The membership fees of Flipkart first is 500 per year. Like Amazon Prime, it also offers free fast deliveries and discounted one-day deliveries. Although, Flipkart customers get a Priority Customer Service or early access to deals and offerings. But returns, replacements and exchange policy remains the same.

But the streaming showdown does not stop here. In the past, we have seen global streaming services Netflix and Hulu Plus entering Indian markets. With subscription fee of Rs 650 per month, Netflix offers a wide selection of movies and TV shows, with several series being exclusive to the platform or even made and funded by Netflix like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Marvel original TV shows, like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. In terms of films, it is mainly back catalogue stuff, although the occasional partnership deal will throw up a modern movie, such as The Hobbit trilogy. It has also started to produce and release films on Netflix at the same time as a cinematic release for example Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. Adam Sandler flick, The Ridiculous 6, was made by and especially for Netflix.

InstantWatcher.com, a site plugged into the databases of both Netflix and Amazon Prime. On one hand, Amazon Prime offers more than 17,000 standard- and high-definition movies and TV series, significantly more than Netflix, which had more than 10,000. But Netflix pulled ahead overall by offering more than 7,500 HD videos vs. almost 3,500 for Amazon Prime.

The one thing Netflix and Amazon both falter at is recent shows. There's almost always a several month long delay between a season wrapping up and its arrival on streaming services. This is where Hulu Plus picks up the slack. Hulu Plus had 92 of the 250 shows surveyed. However, only 40 of them included backlogs of older seasons. 52 of the shows Hulu Plus carried were either the most recent season or a rotating set of the most recent few episodes of a show.

It offers a one-week trial period in which if the viewers dislike the service, they must cancel it before the week is up otherwise will automatically be charged for a full month of service. It has original content which mostly comes from other countries and production companies, including the UK's BBC. There are a few original web series that have made a dent, however, at the service, including The Awesomes, Deadbeat and Behind The Mask. However, Hulu Plus needs to buck up seeing the competition it has.

Talking about compatibility, Netflix leads as you can watch it via your PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Internet-ready TV, Roku, Android, Blu-ray player, Nook or other e-reader table, and iOS devices.

Hulu Plus comes in at a close second, offering compatibility and support for many of the same devices that Netflix does. Unfortunately, Hulu currently lacks compatibility for many Internet-ready TVs and Blu-ray players. Still, it can show movies through gaming devices, Android, iOS devices, Roku, and various tablet computers.

Amazon Prime doesn’t yet feature the extensive compatibility of the other two services, but it is slowly building its network. Presently, you can watch shows via internet-ready TV, Blu-ray player, Roku, Kindle Fire tablet, and iOS or Android phone. However, it cannot yet be streamed via any gaming devices.

With this new entry, Amazon Prime is set to further intensify the competition and the intensity will only compel Amazon, Flipkart and others to improve services that can be offered to customers.

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