Prime Video’s UX is unimpressive but it’s got the pricing right

So Amazon Prime Video just launched in India after a lot of fanfare and a long tease.

Amazon Prime Video snapshots

Indian newspapers have already reviewed Amazon Prime extensively praising its price tag as well as its breadth of content. FirstPost calls it a tie between Netflix and Amazon, Mint says that the price of the Prime Video subscription is so cheap that it won’t pinch users to subscribe for it even if they have a Netflix subscription. The Prime Video subscription costs Rs 50 if you are not an Amazon Prime customer and if you are a Amazon Prime customer, it is free.

I think these reviews are missing out on a key metric and in my view the most important metric — User experience.

The content on Prime Video isn’t great but it does cover a lot of regional content. Netflix hasn’t really touched the Indian regional content market yet and Hotstar has a lot of Hindi TV shows in its arsenal. But I think Prime Video has been the first to really tap into regional languages. There were different sections for Marathi, Bengali , Tamil , Telugu and they did have a decent collection of movies in all these sections. A Tamil movie called ‘Joker’ even had English subtitles so that encourages people to watch regional content even if they don’t know the language.

Coming to Amazon’s Original content, I don’t think it comes close to Netflix’s breadth of Original content. Netflix has a ton of Original documentaries and TV shows which Amazon cannot compete with yet. It feels like Amazon is trying to compensate for its lack of TV shows by its focusing on increasing its movie selection.

In this article, I want to focus on the UX and point out certain things that are immediately apparent where Netflix has an edge over Amazon.

1.Home Screen

Amazon’s Home screen is packed with large uneven tiles compared to a neat even tile display by Netflix. Netflix displays more shows in the same space and also suggests why I would be interested in a particular show because I have watched something similar previously.

2. Show Description

Once you hover over a tile that you are interested in, both act differently. On Amazon, the description hovers over the next tile and blocks out the other tiles. Also surprisingly, Amazon wants me to start off with Season 2 Episode 1 when it should have directed me to S1E01. For me to start with S1E01, I have to click on the show, change the Season setting from Season 2 to Season 1 and then select the first episode.

On Netflix, the tile gets enlarged smoothly and gives the description of the show. Watching it is just clicking anywhere on the tile whereas on Amazon I have to find the small green arrow and click it.

3. Pause Screen

Amazon’s Pause screen is quite heavy. When you pause for a break, suddenly you are bombarded with different data, the Series name in Bold, the Episode name, Trivia of the characters, Trivia of the soundtrack so on. Even though I am generally interested in Trivia, I quite disliked Amazon’s pause screen. When I pause a show, I want to unpause as quickly as possible. Netflix wins on pure simplicity of its Pause screen while Amazon’s is cluttered with a lot of unnecessary features — like the 10 sec forward and back which I could have done with the arrow keys.

4. Search

Amazon’s search is not real time and I have to click on search whereas Netflix does a real time search.

But the surprising thing is Amazon doesn’t find the shows that it already has.

Dil Dhadakne Do is available on Prime Video but it is still unable to find it. What is the use of having so many shows if I cannot find them ?!

Netflix’s search is very neat and it also knows the titles that it doesn’t have. Even though it doesn’t have Apna Sapna Money Money it still prompts you to explore titles related to that movie just cause I searched for Apna. That’s quite amazing.

These are the 4 immediate UX differences I noticed on using both these platforms. I will do a detailed post later about some UX differences in these platforms that are not immediately apparent but show how well Netflix has understood its consumer.