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Netflix vs. Amazon Prime vs. HBO NOW: Content Battle

By Jacob Lee - Baruch College

Now used by more than 42% of American households, online streaming services Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO NOW are constantly changing the entertainment landscape. The marketplace competition has driven each company to innovate and make its service more affordable and accessible across multiple platforms. So what is the biggest differentiating factor when deciding which one to use? The content.

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Let’s start with Netflix

With its decision not to renew Epix licenses, Netflix rebranded itself as an original and exclusive content creator rather than a giant warehouse of licensed films and TV shows. Although the strategy takes much more time and risk, it’s proven to be successful, producing award-winning programs in different genres like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Chef’s Table. The company claims more than 100 original works and 34 Emmy nominations just this year.

Okay, now Amazon? 

Amazon still has the deal with Epix that allows them to offer a wide range of popular films and shows. It also attained exclusive deals with TV networks, including FX, MTV and HBO, so its subscribers can watch recent TV programming that can’t be found elsewhere. In terms of producing original content, Amazon isn’t as prolific as Netflix, yet it has offered about five kids series and six adult series, including Transparent that recently won multiple Emmys.

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What Does HBO Have to Offer? 

HBO is the original content powerhouse. As the go-to destination for fresh premium content, it has the most viewers around the world. Its top programs like Game of Thrones, True Detectives and Silicon Valley are only available through the subscription to HBO and have acquired an audience size that’s incomparable to its counterparts from other services. Also, the shows garnered a record number of Emmys with 126 nominations this year.

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So the content competition comes down to who has the ownership or the deal to host a show that individuals want when they want it. For instance, if I wanted to watch the Walking Dead a day after its live programming, I’d go with Amazon Prime. HBO is clearly leading the competition with mega shows with most viewers and awards, yet as Netflix recently announced $5 billion plan for just content in 2016, it’s unclear if others will be able to keep up.