Amazon Prime vs Netflix vs Hotstar vs Airtel Movies vs Voot: Which Video Streaming Service to Choose in India?

Prayank

Television shows and movies are fast making a transition from cable TV network to the online world and there are a number of services ready in line to cater to the needs of the ever-growing entertainment wanting crowd.

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A few years back the idea of subscribing to a video streaming service wasn’t received well, especially since torrent sites are aplenty and free too.

But in the last year or so, since internet service providers in India have started being kind enough to offer more data on FUPs, the crowd has made a swift shift to online streaming services too.

In this fast paced world of internet, online video streaming services are the order of the day, but since there are so many of them, we thought this comparison might help you a bit.

We’re going to compare Amazon Prime, Netflix, Voot, Hotstar and Airtel Movies (previously Wynk Movies) below on several parameters.

1. Pricing

Money matters, and we know that too. So we’ll start by talking about the subscription cost of each one of the above-listed video streaming apps.

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Amazon Prime costs users Rs.499 per year as part of their introductory offer, which is super cheap, but might soon switch to Rs.999 per year.

Netflix is a bit on the expensive side as its basic subscription costs Rs.500 per month and comes with some restrictions too. Standard and Premium subscriptions cost Rs.650 and Rs.800.

Hotstar‘s monthly subscription will cost you an economical Rs.199 per month for their Premium content catalogue.

Voot is absolutely free right now; no subscription is required to stream content on their platform.

Airtel Movies gives you several in-app options to subscribe to either Eros Now, HOOQ, Sony LIV for Rs.49, Rs.249, Rs.149 per month, respectively. Airtel has also added YouTube and Dailymotion video streaming options on its apps.

2. Video Catalogue

Apart from their own originals and popular TV shows from the US, Amazon Prime has been adding its library with local Indian content — both movies and TV shows.

Netflix houses a vast library of originals that the Indian audience is still getting around, especially because not their entire library was unveiled to viewers here at their launch.

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Hotstar has a lot to offer, including latest Indian TV shows, Bollywood movies, latest Hollywood movies and English TV shows. It also offers live sports streaming option for Cricket, English Premier League and Formula 1.

Voot has an array of shows majorly from Colors channel in various Indic languages, shows from MTV India and movies produced by Viacom18 Motion Pictures. Not a colossal catalogue, but it’s for free and streams a host of popular shows.

Airtel Movies has a vast inventory that includes Hollywood movies, shows, Bollywood movies and Indian shows as well in its HOOQ subscription, added Bollywood movies, music and TV shows from Eros’ subsidiaries and native content from SonyLiv.

3. Video Playback and User Interface

Amazon Prime’s streaming is pretty decent, but with a few hiccups here and there — probably due to hiccups in the internet connection — but the streaming interface can be a lot better since we’re paying for it too.

Netflix wins this round with seamless streaming and a smooth interface, that has a really well-working recommendation engine, based on your watching history.

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Airtel Movies app

Hotstar, like Voot, has a heavy user interface which takes time to load even on a decently quick internet connection and both of them can do away with the clutter.

Airtel Movies takes a lot of time while starting a stream as it verifies credentials first and that can be a bit irritating at times. The video streams fine, and the interface is quite smooth as well.

4. Indian Content

Amazon Prime has quite a few Hindi TV shows — for kids — and has an array of movies in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi. Amazon Prime is also working with native artists and is soon going to release originals for the Indian audience.

The availability of Indian content on Netflix is very low — it just has a few Bollywood movies.

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Hotstar has a big library of Indian content, both movies and TV shows — thanks to Star Plus — which actually trumps all others except Airtel Movies on this list.

Voot has shows from TV channels which are owned or are subsidiaries of Viacom 18, namely MTV and Colors in various regional languages.

Airtel Movies can bid for the top two ranks in this parameter as its ErosNow, SonyLiv, as well as HOOQ subscriptions, are all heavily loaded with Indian content.

5. Original Content

Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hotstar — all three of them offer original content from their own production houses as well as content from popular TV shows and movies.

Amazon Prime is also going to come up with original content in collaboration with various Indian artists and production houses. Currently, they’ve released most of their originals for Indian audiences like The Man in the High Castle, The Grand Tour, Bosch and much more.

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Netflix has also released a lot of their original content like Narcos, The Crown, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and much more.

Hotstar houses shows from Star Plus India and a few originals like ‘On Air with AIB’, but nothing fresh has shown up on their platform in a long time. Per se, they don’t have anything unique on offer at their platform except for what is already available for TV viewers.

You can call almost everything on Voot an original since all the content on their platform is from Viacom 18 production house. Apart from that, they also have originals such as Chinese Bhasad, Shaadi Boys and more just for the web viewers.

Airtel Movies app also hasn’t come up with anything out of the ordinary, and you can only stream shows which are also otherwise available on independent streaming services of their linked subscriptions.

6. Streaming and Offline Viewing Options

Amazon Prime app has an offline option for most of its shows, while Netflix app only has a limited number of shows that can be viewed offline. Hotstar also allows users to view shows offline, but only a selection of Indian shows.

Voot and Airtel, both don’t have the option to download and view shows later on in the offline mode.

Sinchen.Lin | Flickr
Sinchen.Lin | Flickr

Chromecast is available on Netflix, Hotstar and Airtel Movies app too; Amazon Prime and Voot are both missing this option. Although there is no official support, you could always mirror your computer screen to the TV and play whatever’s on the browser (be it Amazon Prime or Voot). The result of this workaround isn’t always too elegant, though.

Verdict

Voot has a long way to go to meet its competitors but is a worthwhile service for those looking to watch the recent Big Boss updates or your favourite show from MTV.

Airtel Movies app might be a good aggregator of sorts as all it does is combine multiple subscriptions in one app, but with no original content on offer, they are well behind in the race.

Netflix’s high pricing, as well as the lack of Indian content, is an issue for the service provider.

While Netflix has the best user-experience among the five of them, for me personally, Amazon Prime takes the cake due to its catalogue of shows on offer as well as its pricing at Rs.499 a year — which means you’re approximately going to pay Amazon Rs.42 per month.

Hotstar was one of the first streaming services from India to arrive on the scene and has established a sound footing. With a snappier interface and some more quality originals, it just might be the right choice.

Both Amazon Prime and Hotstar offer a good catalogue of videos as well as value for money as they’re relatively cheaper than the competition.

Amazon Prime’s original content is by far better among the two, and you can stream Hotstar’s original content without a subscription too. Amazon will also be releasing India-centric original content, and that would be a cherry on the top.

So, to sum it up, here’s how you should decide:

  • Don’t care about Indian content and want to watch great stuff in an elegant user interface? Then go with Netflix
  • Don’t care much about Indian content and don’t want to pay few hundred bucks to Netflix each month? Go with Amazon Prime. Big catalogue but user experience and content quality not as great as Netflix.
  • Also want to have good Indian shows in the mix and don’t mind paying a little extra each month (and not very finicky about user experience)? Go with Hotstar.
  • Don’t want to pay anything? Go with Voot. Not a huge range of movies and shows, though, but a quite a few good Originals.

Let us know in the comments which one did you choose.

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Prayank

Written By

Prayank

Bike enthusiast, traveller, ManUtd follower, army brat, word-smith; Delhi University, Asian College of Journalism, Cardiff University alumnus; a journalist breathing tech these days.