Netflix vs. Amazon in 2015: A story of dual video-streaming giants

January 1, 2016 - Kindle Unlimited

As we nearby a finish of another year, VentureBeat takes a demeanour behind during some of a highlights from dual companies during a forefront of a cord-cutting movement: Netflix and Amazon.

From awards and big-name calm acquisitions to new international markets and strategic partnerships, this is a story of dual tellurian video-streaming giants in 2015.

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Original calm comes of age

Jeffrey Tambor  a rest of a Transparent cast: Emmy's, 2015

Above: Jeffrey Tambor a cast Transparent during a 2015 Emmys

If we schooled anything in 2015, it’s that strange calm has well and truly come of age.

Both Amazon and Netflix started a year with a crash by securing gongs during a Golden Globes. Amazon walked divided with a tip TV comedy award for Transparent — a initial online array ever to win a Golden Globe. Jeffrey Tambor also scooped adult a endowment for best comedy actor for a show. Not to be outdone, Kevin Spacey emerged jubilant after 7 prior nominations, winning the endowment for tip actor in a drama for Netflix’s House of Cards.

Later in a year, Amazon notched 5 Emmy awards compared to Netflix’s four, that is important when we consider that Netflix had a third some-more nominations than Amazon. To celebrate, Amazon cut a cost of a annual Prime membership by a third. But usually for 24 hours.

In addition, Netflix could have a critical Oscar contender with Beasts of No Nation, nonetheless we’ll need to wait until a new year to find out. This wouldn’t be a company’s first Oscar win, however, as it also won an Academy Award for a documentary brief theme final year.

Awards aside, a online video titans invested large in their line-up of content. Perhaps many notably, Amazon emerged victorious in a competition to pointer adult former Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond, who will benefaction a new, as-yet-unnamed uncover for a car-loving fraternity. The pierce shows how committed online-video giants are to grabbing a rights to large names. Amazon reportedly paid an eye-popping $250 million for a show. Elsewhere, Netflix reliable it had raised $1 billion in debt to comment a original-programming ambitions.

Both companies racked adult a series of other big-name signings. Amazon signed adult Woody Allen to emanate his first-ever TV series and later committed to producing 12 underline films a year to be shown in film theaters. Part of this plan, a association said, was to slight a melodramatic recover window to as small as 4 weeks, that it can do when it has full control over a content.

Over during Netflix, a association brought Leonardo DiCaprio on house in a multiyear understanding to make a new documentary series, while rumors emerged that it was formulation to emanate a new live-action instrumentation of a classical Nintendo game, a Legend of Zelda.

Away from a hullaballoo of big-money calm acquisitions, a surest pointer nonetheless that singular programming is rising as a pivotal differentiator came when Netflix suggested it would not replenish a agreement with a wire network Epix, definition subscribers would mislay entrance to high-profile cinema such as Hunger Games, World War Z, and Transformers. Why? Netflix explained:

While many of these cinema are popular, they are also widely accessible on wire and other subscription platforms during a same time as they are on Netflix and theme to a same drawn-out chartering periods.

While Netflix is still reliant on third-party calm for a many part, it’s enmity itself from many of a titles that can simply be watched elsewhere. It radically wants calm it can hook in front of people and say, “Hey, lookie what we got here.”


Tokyo, Japan, where both Amazon  Netflix are now available

Above: Tokyo, Japan, where both Amazon Netflix are now available

At a start of 2015, Netflix was accessible in some-more than 50 markets around a world, while Amazon’s Prime Video was usually open in four: a U.S., a U.K., Germany, and Austria.

With trade restrictions easing between a U.S. and Cuba, Netflix seized this event by launching in a small Caribbean nation, nonetheless it was mostly a mystic gesticulate given that high-speed Internet is something of a rarity in a country. However, Netflix did announce a series of other large marketplace launches this year. It arrived in New Zealand and Australia in March; Japan in September; Italy, Spain, and Portugal in October; and suggested that Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea would be added in early 2016.

Amazon Video, meanwhile, hardly increased a marketplace availability. It did follow Netflix’s lead, however, and launched Amazon Prime Video in Japan.

One doubt Netflix has faced over a years is: Will it ever offer offline entrance to a content? Netflix has never skirted a doubt and has always confirmed that downloads aren’t on a roadmap. The emanate reared a conduct again this year, when Amazon announced it was to let Prime subscribers download some TV shows and cinema on a mobile apps. Once again, Netflix said it has zero intentions to introduce offline mode.

Some important partnerships came to light in 2015 to assistance enhance a accessibility of both video-streaming services. Netflix sealed adult Marriott hotels to embody a app on their in-room televisions, while Amazon inked a understanding with JetBlue to let travelers watch videos though profitable for Wi-Fi. Not to be outdone, Netflix partnered with Virgin America to embody a use on U.S. flights.

Elsewhere, Amazon ironed out a extraordinary small gift with Android this year. Until sincerely recently, Amazon didn’t offer a streaming app to Android users. When it finally did launch one in late 2014, a routine of accessing it was a mess. You had to find and download a Amazon Appstore to your Android device, implement a Amazon Video Player, and hunt for videos directly within a categorical Amazon offered app, that was related to a video player.

Things softened this year when Amazon finally launched a standalone video-streaming app for Android. It’s flattering slick, though we can’t download a app easily. You still have to go by a same involved routine as before. It’s nuts — and positively too many attrition for many non-techie people.

Netflix has settled a vigilant to be a truly tellurian use — that is, in 200-ish markets — by a finish of 2016. To grasp such scale, a possess smoke-stack of strange calm will help, though it also needs to mislay a attrition from tellurian chartering deals. Netflix’s arch calm officer Ted Sandros has formerly discussed a company’s efforts to buy a rights for shows in mixed regions during once, though it’s not an easy routine since of the approach a networks and studios have set themselves adult internationally.

“I don’t know if it is some-more formidable than approaching though it has not been as easy road,” explained Sarandos during a new investors’ call. “All of a studios and networks have situated themselves to be informal sellers. They have never been tellurian sellers and it creates finish clarity that Sony and Disney and Warner Brothers would have informal sales teams. Now we are tellurian buyers and shopping tellurian rights to shows and movies, and there is some insurgency to it, mostly from a informal sellers, people who are in assign of informal selling, who don’t wish their jobs marginalized.”

In short, Netflix wants to assist a rights-buying routine to offer a flourishing tellurian user base, though informal rights-holders are stopping this.

Feature focus

“If we mount still, we stagnate” is a common truth in technology as companies iterate and urge their products to meet the latest standards and preferences. With that in mind, both Netflix and Amazon rolled out a slew of important updates in 2015.

Back in April, Netflix introduced a new exegesis feature that describes what’s function on shade for a visually impaired. This was followed in Jun by the platform’s initial vital website update in 4 years, that saw an all-new pattern rolled out to make acid easier.

Over during Amazon, a Internet hulk revealed behind in Apr that HDR-quality streams would arrive on Prime videos this year. True to a word, dual months after it launched HDR for a series (Mozart in a Jungle) in a U.S. For a uninitiated, HDR improves a contrariety of a video, creation shadows and highlights some-more particular — blacks seem blacker, and whites seem whiter. But if we don’t have a HDR TV, well, it will be mislaid on you.

Perhaps a many sparkling Amazon Video launch of a year, from a feature-update perspective, was when it brought a “X-Ray for Movies and TV” use to a large shade for a initial time.

In a nutshell, X-Ray for Movies and TV taps IMDb (the Internet Movie Database) information to broach contextual information about what’s now function on-screen. Want to know who that informed face was who done a brief cameo and what other cinema you’ve seen them in? This is what X-Ray is all about.

X-Ray initial arrived for Kindle Fire in 2012, though it’s now accessible on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick too, definition we now have this really cold small apparatus in your vital room.

X-Ray Actors
Who are these actors? Ask X-Ray, an Amazon Video feature. 

Netflix also put a concentration on a big-screen knowledge this year. In January, a association launched a Netflix Recommended TV program, that serves adult an eccentric analysis of a best intelligent TVs for streaming Netflix. Three months later, Netflix revealed a triumvirate of televisions it reckons are good for Netflix.

Though Amazon and Netflix are competitors, a dual companies — alongside Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, and Mozilla — joined forces to emanate a Alliance for Open Media. The open source devise aims to broach a next-generation video codec by 2017.

And a rest

In October, Netflix suggested it was upping a lower-tier subscription from $9 a month to $10 a month in a Americas, though usually for new users. Existing users will continue on their stream cost devise until Oct 2016.

While Amazon’s repute as an employer took a serious bashing in 2015, Netflix won vital plaudits for a new maternity and paternity leave policies, that radically betrothed new relatives unlimited paid leave for a full initial year after a child’s birth.

Elsewhere, in an engaging move, Amazon banned sales of Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast streaming devices. While they directly contest with Amazon’s possess Fire TV hang and box, Amazon claims a categorical dispute is that Apple and Google inclination don’t play accessible with Amazon Video. An eye for an eye, and all that.

Though there are pros and cons to both Netflix and Amazon Video, an sparkling gossip started encircling in late Nov that Amazon was backing adult a vital upgrade to a video offering. In short, Amazon was formulation to offer third-party on-demand video services as partial of Prime. Details were recently confirmed, and dozens of video-on-demand (VoD) partners have been brought on board, including Showtime and Starz. It’s a intelligent pierce by Amazon: By centralizing a series of VoD subscriptions by a singular Amazon account, this creates it easier for consumers to guard and conduct their several subscriptions. Amazon is also integrating a several services, definition users can hunt for calm or emanate a singular watchlist opposite all their subscriptions.

“Winners and losers”?

People mostly speak in terms of “winners” and “losers” when comparing products and companies. But it has turn increasingly clear, in a video-streaming area during least, that it’s not a box of one or a other. There’s each reason to advise that consumers will be peaceful to compensate for both Netflix and Amazon Prime — not to discuss other services such as HBO Now, that launched in a U.S. this year.

What viewers wish is genuine differentiators. And with a flourishing line-up of strange programming, both Amazon and Netflix are environment themselves adult good to use a cord-cutting generation.

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