Talking tech since 2003

For those who really love Amazon, signing up for Prime is the best way to take advantage of all that the world’s largest online retailer has to offer. In addition to free two-day shipping on all Amazon-stocked products, you also have access to Prime Instant Video streaming, as well as one borrowed book per month from the Kindle Lending Library. While Amazon’s video offering isn’t quite up to par with Netflix, and the Lending Library omits many popular titles, it’s still a pretty good deal for the $79/year price tag.

Now, Amazon has added some flexibility to Prime — and put itself more in line with the pricing of Netflix and Hulu Plus — by offering a monthly subscription option for $7.99 a month.

If you do the math, you end up paying more over a year for Prime when you subscribe on a monthly basis; $16.88, to be exact. But charging more for a monthly subscription and charging less for a full year purchased in advance is not unheard of. Xbox Live, for example, charges $9.99 for access on a monthly basis, but a full 12-month subscription can regularly be purchased for around $50. By enabling a monthly subscription for Prime, Amazon is now able to court those who are averse to paying a lump-sum yearly fee, and can also potentially bring in more Prime revenue to negotiate new and better content deals for the service. In most accounts, its a win-win for both Amazon and the consumer.

By pricing the monthly subscription at $7.99, though, Amazon’s Prime offering will undoubtedly be compared to Netflix and Hulu Plus (nevermind that Amazon also throws in the book borrowing and two-day shipping perks). Amazon’s Prime video library has grown over the past year or two, but it’s still not on the level of either Netflix or Hulu. Netflix simply has more content deals in place, while Hulu Plus has the unique advantage of being run by most of the major television networks, affording it the opportunity to post TV shows the day after they air.  Amazon will need to push its extras a bit more to differentiate itself from its $7.99 rivals until the streaming video library is up to par with the competition.

As I stated earlier, Prime does have a lot to offer, and the flexibility of a monthly subscription now means that you can pick up the service only for as long as you need it. With the holiday season speeding toward us, now’s a great time to hop on the Prime train for a month or two. If you do a lot of your Christmas shopping on Amazon, you’ll get more than your eight bucks worth in the form of free two-day shipping for your gifts.

Do you think Amazon’s new Prime subscription price is a good deal? Are you considering becoming a member now that the  option is available? Let us know what you think.


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