Amazon Launching Standalone Video Service For $9; Allowing Monthly Prime Access For $11

While Netflix and Amazon Prime have been seen as the two main competitors in the subscription streaming market, it’s been difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison of the two because Amazon has long charged a yearly fee for Prime, and even then the Amazon subscription also includes other benefits like discounted shipping. But now Amazon appears to be taking dead-aim at Netflix with a monthly, streaming-only version of its video service that is less-expensive than the competition. The e-tailer is also looking to expand its Prime membership my making it available on a month-to-month basis.

This is all currently according to the Wall Street Journal, which reports that Amazon announced this news on Sunday — though no such official announcement has been made by the company as of the time we’re writing this, late Sunday evening. (Update: Amazon did confirm early Monday morning; see below.)

Per the Journal, the Amazon standalone streaming service will go for $8.99/month, a full dollar less than the Netflix monthly rate. The timing is perfect to undercut Netflix, as that service is in the process of getting rid of the $7.99/month price that had been grandfathered in for many customers.

Amazon Prime currently goes for $99/year, which means Prime subscribers are only paying $8.25/month for access to the streaming video library plus all the other benefits. However, it also means you have to plunk down all that money at once and you’re pretty much locked in for the 12 months.

The $8.99/month price is slightly higher, but it will allow people to drop and add the service at their convenience. But it also means those subscribers won’t get the free two-day shipping, discounted video games, access to the Amazon Prime Music library, and other perks.

People who want those aspects of Prime but without paying a full yearly fee will be able to do so, reports the Journal, with Amazon offering a $10.99/month option. That’s $2.74/month more than the cost of an annual Prime subscription, but it also means you could swoop in as a Prime member for a few months during the holiday shopping season and get the same benefits but only pay for the months you need them.

Amazon launched a test program of this month-to-month option earlier this year, when it announced a promotion offering the $10.99/rate to Sprint wireless customers.

Update: Amazon has confirmed the details of the program to us, including the pricing options the WSJ reported. Amazon is now calling their annual $99 prime membership “25% annual savings” over the month-to-month option, and adds that any Prime option, monthly or annual, also lets you buy add-on subscriptions from Starz, Showtime, or any other participating provider.