Monday, April 25, 2016

Initial Thoughts On Amazon Prime Instant Video

If you're a streaming movie and TV buff, you've probably heard the latest: Amazon is taking two steps to put itself into more direct competition with Netflix, at the same time that Netflix is preparing to piss off a bunch of its most loyal and long-time subscribers, including me.

Amazon Step #1: Making it possible to subscribe to the company's Prime service on a monthly, rather than annual, basis.

Amazon Step #2: Making it possible to break out one component of the Prime service -- streaming video -- at a lower price ($8.99 per month) or get the whole ball of wax (streaming video, streaming music, a crap ton of free books for Kindle, and free two-day shipping on physical stuff) for a little more ($10.99 per month).

Dumb Netflix Move: Jacking up a previously "grandfathered" monthly price of $7.99 to $9.99 for long-time subscribers (like me) who want to be able to continue streaming to two devices at once (I've got kids; people who are good with only one stream can stick at $7.99). The price increase starts rolling out in May.

So, I started my free one-month trial of Amazon Prime on Friday.

And I like it.

Every now and again for the last several years, I've Googled terms like netflix vs amazon prime and mulled making the switch. The comparisons vary wildly by criteria. But mostly Amazon just seems to have ... well, MORE. The main problem with the decision is original programming. I can't watch "Orange is the New Black" on Amazon. I can't watch "Bosch" on Netflix.

Right now I'm leaning toward Amazon on content considerations. That's not really a reflection of quality. It's just that I'm tired of "Orange is the New Black" and just now getting started on "Bosch." But OK, I can see where the decision might be difficult.

Where it's not difficult is on interface. Amazon's is just better. When watching Amazon video on my computer, I can mouse over the screen and BOOM -- a list of every actor in the scene I'm watching pops up, as well as information on e.g. what music is playing and so forth. And I can click thru for more info and even pop right over to IMDB.

How cool is that? Well, here's how cool: Every time Tamara and I watch something, anything on Neflix, we see someone we think we recognize but can't quite place, and one of us ends up yelling "hit pause! I have to go see who that is!" and then spend ten minutes tracking down the episode name and looking through the cast to find out who it is we're looking at. On Amazon, it's mouse over, click, done. Instant gratification.

I can get Amazon Prime video for a buck less a month than Netflix is going to be charging me. Or for a buck more than Netflix is going to be charging me, I can get video, and music, and books, and free shipping.

Unless something changes in the next 25 days or so, Netflix is gone. I kind of hate that because I've been with Netflix for a decade and a half or so and haven't really had any complaints until now. But hey, I'll get over it. I've got t-shirts older than that.

Brief after-note: I've watched the first four episodes of "Bosch," and love it. Now I'm waiting for Tamara to catch up (we've both read all the Bosch novels and love them). While I'm waiting, I'm binge-watching a show I always knew I would like but couldn't watch on Netflix: "The Newsroom." Call me sappy a secret com-symp, but consider Aaron Sorkin a national treasure.

And short after-thought, a few minutes after initial posting: I think that Marcia Gay Harden may be the most attractive woman working in film and television today. Yes, even more so than Christina Hendricks, Kirsten Vangness or Scarjo. And if you don't agree, well, you're stupid and I don't care what you think.

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