By Quentin Fottrell
Kung Fu Panda and Shrek are facing off against Jack Bauer and FBI agents Mulder and Scully in the latest Netflix-Amazon fight for streaming video subscribers. Which side are you betting on?
Netflix and Amazon both announced this week that they had inked deals for new content. Netflix said Sunday it signed a deal with DreamWorks Animation, which will add live-streaming of popular franchises like “Shrek” and “Madagascar.” But you’ll have to wait to watch — the deal starts in 2013. Amazon’s new contract with Fox, announced Monday, gets it TV shows including “24” and “The X-Files.” Subscribers can start watching later this fall. (Fox is a division of News Corp., which also owns SmartMoney.com.)
The added content could make a difference for consumers deciding which streaming service offers the best value in the aftermath of Netflix’s recent pricing changes. Netflix now charges $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming, for a total $95.88 a year. Amazon charges $79 a year for its Amazon Prime service, which offers subscribers free two-day shipping and free streaming.
But it’s what you can watch that often dictates choice, and from that perspective, the deals aren’t especially exciting. As we’ve previously reported, the streaming selection on Netflix and Amazon is pretty thin, and focuses mostly on older and niche titles. That’s still largely case with these deals – the first movie in the “Shrek” franchise is already 10 years old, and “The X-Files” wrapped its last season in 2002.
Amazon’s Fox deal adds 2,000 titles, for a total 11,000. That’s double what it offered six months ago, but still shy of the 12,571 titles InstantWatcher.com says are stream-able on Netflix. (Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey declined to disclose the exact number of titles available.) “DreamWorks releases two to three films per year — that’s not a huge amount of new content,” says Dan Rayburn, principal analyst with the Digital Media Practice of Frost & Sullivan. And it’s certainly not enough to offset the loss of Disney and Sony Pictures content from Starz, which recently announced that it would end its relationship with Netflix next year.
Pay Dirt readers, will the addition of DreamWorks or Fox content sway your movie rental decisions?
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Amazon would begin streaming Fox content in 2013. The new shows will be available to subscribers this fall.