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Sound and Vision: Can Prime Video’s new look take advantage of Netflix’s woes?

OPINION: In the same week Netflix announced it lost more subscribers, Prime Video revealed a new look that’s rolling out right now.

And it looks quite similar to Netflix – who would have thought it? Amazon’s Prime Video service has had a lousy interface for some time, and the hope is this refresh will make it easier to traverse and find the content you’re after.

Part of Prime Video’s UI problems lie in that it aggregates content not just from Prime Video but a host of other channels; some free, others paid for – and figuring out what is not always easy for some. Other streaming services have taken the simpler route while Prime Video has left it to subscribers to try and make sense of it. Why, in some circumstances, you’re served HD content instead of 4K still baffles me.

The new interface should help cement the positive, upward trend for Prime Video this year. In the UK it’s been catching up to Netflix’s subscriber base number since the start of the year, as people have snapped up Prime subscriptions (no doubt further helped by Prime Day). But it would also appear that a reversion to pre-pandemic behaviour and cost-saving is hurting Netflix and arguably having less of an effect on Amazon/Prime Video.

That must be partly down to content and service. I wouldn’t say Prime Video’s original content isn’t at the same pop culture zeitgeist level of Netflix and Disney – Reacher, The Boys, Invincible, The Magnificent Miss Maisel and its All or Nothing series have been standouts in recent years, but heavy hitters aren’t exactly plentiful. But it has a big library of content from other film studios, and even on its own Prime Video is cheaper. It is what Netflix used to be, before it really started to focus on original programming.

Butcher and Soldier Boy in The Boys
Credit: Prime Video

Prime has not only kept hold of subscribers as the pandemic shifts but is growing engagement through its ecosystem of smart devices, where people seem to have lost interest in what’s on Netflix. As Stranger Things and Better Call Saul reach their denouements, there’s little worth in maintaining a Netflix subscription if it’s not being made use of. Netflix’s cancellation of numerous series and its binge-watching approach hasn’t left it in the best position, fewer new series coming in as the next wave, with subscribers realising their favourite shows might not even get a second series.

Whereas Prime Video is just a part of what makes a Prime subscription valuable, and with people looking to scrimp and save as much as they can, it potentially makes more sense to have a subscription that offers a lot rather than a more expensive subscription that focuses only on video.

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This is why a much friendlier and slicker interface can only help Prime Video going forward, giving subscribers even less of a reason to get frustrated and ditch the service for something else, as well as making it clearer just how much content as well as good quality shows and films Prime Video has.

If you were looking to rekindle the old days of Blockbuster video with a movie night, Prime Video might just have replaced Netflix as the go-to streaming service.

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