Amazon Prime Started it and Netflix Had No Choice but to Get on Board
In the world of cord cutting and cable TV alternatives, companies are scrambling to one-up each other in order to corner the market of over-the-top streaming services. Resting firmly in the number one spot is Netflix. As one of the first true streaming services on the market, Netflix helped kick off the cord cutting revolution; paving the way for other services like Sling TV and Amazon Prime Video.
But Amazon is not willing to sit on the sidelines silently. A few years back Amazon Prime Video made a move that would forever change the level of service offered to cordcutters.
Downloadable Prime Video
As of 2015 Subscribers of Amazon Prime were given the option to download content from Prime video for offline play.
Originally this feature was only available to customers who actually purchased a video (vs. renting); and this move propelled Amazon up a few spots as America’s favorite streaming service.
If you are not familiar, Amazon Prime; which offers free two day shipping, music streaming, and other features for only $99 a year. To learn more check out this list of amazon prime related articles; or simply sign up for their 30 day free trial.
Netflix Strikes Back
Per Wired in 2015: “Prime Video is just one spoke of the company’s churning Prime wheel…If Prime Video’s combination of content and features manages to be even fractionally as good as Netflix, Amazon gets what it wants. If the move forces Netflix to reverse course and offer offline viewing as well, all the better for the rest of us.”
In response Gizmoda reported: “I still don’t think it’s a very compelling proposition,” Netflix Chief Products Officer, Neil Hunt, told Gizmodo UK. “I think it’s something that lots of people ask for. We’ll see if it’s something lots of people will use.”
According to Hunt, adding unnecessary lays of complexity can paralyze some users in making a choice in what they want to watch.
It’s called the Paradox of Choice, and believe it or not it is a real thing. The idea is that people get so bogged down in all of the possibilities that it is impossible to make choice because you become consumed with making the perfect choice.
“I think a much more interesting proposition,” says Hunt, “is can we make streaming work better in more places that people want to stream?” He goes on to muse on the idea of being able to fit all of Netflix into a box that can be streamed on an airplane. As tantalizing of an idea that is, he failed to elaborate past that point.
Then comes the big change in 2016 (per Wired): “ATTENTION ALL NETFLIX users: you can now download shows and movies for offline viewing. This is not a drill….To get offline downloads, just update your iOS, Android, or Amazon FireOS app. Once you get the updated app, you can select “Available for Download” from the Netflix menu from your mobile device to see the entire collection of downloadable content.”
Downloadable Content Changes the Game
As Netflix adapts, they stay safely nestled in the #1 spot and I dont expect that to change anytime soon. Especially with all the amazing original content they are producing, and the 4k capabilities being rolled out in the coming years.
As far as other streaming services go, they’re all staying silent on the issue for now. Undoubtedly they are holding their cards close to their chest. But as people search for in expensive ways to access the web, downloading content in advance could become the new norm.
Find a plan that has a variable rate based on peak times, and download your content when usage is the cheapest. Makes sense to me. Time will tell, but what we do know is that the remaining streaming services need to follow suit if they want to continue to compete.