If you shop online, you probably know Amazon Prime, Amazon’s catch-all premium service that offers everything from free shipping on Amazon orders to music and video streaming. By now you’re probably also familiar with Disney+, the new streaming service that cracks open Disney’s vault to bring you all kinds of Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney goodness on demand.
Both Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ have big libraries full of things to watch, but which one will best fill your entertainment needs? At first, the Amazon vs. Disney+ showdown looks like a simple battle between quantity vs. quality or cheap vs. expensive. In reality, it’s not nearly that simple.
Before launch, Disney wowed customers with a whopping list of 600 or so TV shows and movies available on Disney+. Star Wars. Marvel. Pixar. Disney’s huge library of animated films and shorts, Disney Channel Originals, and live-action family films. That’s not to mention National Geographic programming and, thanks to Disney’s Fox acquisition, the entire Simpsons collection.
There’s something for everyone, and plenty of it.
Impossible to beat, right? Not so fast. As per a January 2019 report from the Streaming Observer, Amazon Prime Video has over 17,000 movies. That’s over twice as many films as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ combined.
However, not all of those movies are good. Only around 200 of Amazon Prime’s offerings are “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, to be fair, Disney+ has its fair share of duds, too. Many of Disney+’s Disney Channel movies, ’90s cartoons, and family flicks are nostalgic favorites, but they don’t hold up under intense scrutiny.
Amazon Prime offers variety, Disney+ is for the big hits. Or so it seems. But both services also have new original content, including some buzzed-about TV shows.
At launch, Disney+’s biggest original show is The Mandalorian, a sci-fi western set in the Star Wars Universe. It’s joined by High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and a smattering of reality shows like The World According to Jeff Goldblum and Kristen Bell’s Encore!.
The Mandalorian is great (so far) and the other shows are fun, but the most exciting Disney+ projects are still ahead. With two more live-action Star Wars shows that we know about, and at least seven Marvel series in production, Disney+ is going to be a pivotal part of both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars’ galaxy far, far away in the future.
On the other hand, Amazon Prime’s award-winning comedies and dramas are already here. Over the past two years, Amazon exclusives The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Fleabag cleaned up at the Emmys. Transparent helped prove that prestige TV has a home on streaming services. Good Omens quickly became a fan favorite. The Tick and The Boys are both great superhero adaptations, and Amazon’s ultra-expensive The Lord of the Rings spin-off is on its way.
And while HBO Max may change things in the future, Amazon Prime also has a big selection of classic HBO shows, including The Sopranos, The Wire, Veep, and Deadwood. Those are some of the best series ever made, and you won’t need an extra HBO subscription to watch them. Prime will get the job done.
Disney+ will be essential in the future, Amazon Prime is great right now. Its original series can’t be beat, and the HBO offerings, while older, are an awfully nice bonus.
Again, the numbers seem to paint a clear picture. On the surface, Disney+ is cheaper. Amazon Prime is $13 a month, or $120 for a year at a time. By contrast, a Disney+ subscription costs $7 a month, or $70 annually. Disney+ can also be purchased in a $13-a-month bundle that includes Hulu and ESPN+. Some Verizon customers can get a year of Disney+ for free.
Even with Amazon Prime’s student discount, which costs $49 for a year of service, it looks like budget-minded customers should choose Disney+. That’s not necessarily the case. You see, Amazon Prime isn’t just a video streaming service. It provides benefits for a number of Amazon-owned services, many of which can save you a ton of money.
Most notably, Amazon Prime subscribers get two-day free shipping on eligible Amazon purchases, providing savings that add up fast. That’s only the tip of the iceberg. Amazon Prime customers also get ad-free access to Prime Music, Amazon’s music streaming service. They can link Amazon Prime to their Twitch subscription to get perks in their favorite video games. They can download free ebooks to their Kindle devices, and even get free delivery from some Whole Foods locations. The list goes on.
If you don’t shop on Amazon or its other businesses and you don’t use any of Amazon’s devices or services, Disney+ is the lowest cost. Otherwise, you should probably have Amazon Prime already, meaning Amazon Prime Video is free. You might as well take advantage of it.
Disney+ is available on Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV devices, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, LG and Samsung TVs, and all major web browsers.
To put it another way: You probably have a way to watch Disney+ on your TV. You definitely have a way to watch Amazon Prime.
User experience, video, and audio quality
Amazon Prime’s interface is kind of a mess. You can find content on Amazon’s homepage or in its app, and if you use an Amazon Fire TV device, Amazon’s video offerings are built right into the Fire’s UI. However, all of these interfaces look different. Additionally, because Amazon also sells on-demand movies and TV shows, it can be hard to tell what’s free to stream as part of your Amazon Prime subscription.
Conversely, the Disney+ app looks the same across all devices. You can also filter Disney+ content by franchise, and you can browse it by category. The smaller library also helps make Disney+ easier to use. There’s less garbage to sift through. That said, it’s got its own issues, including slow loading, no easy way to access what you’ve watched last, and other growing pains.
Amazon Prime Video supports three simultaneous streams at a time, while Disney+ supports four. Both services also allow users to download content to mobile devices to watch later. On Disney+, you can download as many titles as you want on up to 10 devices. On Amazon Prime, you can download 15 or 25 videos depending on your location, across two devices. Not all Amazon Prime videos are download-ready, but the entire Disney+ catalog is available.
Right now, Disney+ has a lot going for it. It’s the only place to stream some of the highest-grossing and most popular movies from Disney’s immense library. It’s got a treasure trove of nostalgic favorites, forgotten classics, and some of the most historically important films ever made.
Disney+ will be a must-have for Star Wars fans, Marvel’s true believers, Disney die-hards, and Simpsons nuts. If you’re a huge fan of Disney’s core franchises, you’ll want the service.
Everyone else might be better off waiting until a few more of Disney+’s marquee original series roll out. Stick with Amazon Prime in the meantime. Amazon Prime Video is on the cutting edge of the current television landscape, and it has more content to watch than any other service. It’ll keep you busy for a while.