Cord-cutter shakeup: Amazon Prime Video now on Apple TV as YouTube and Amazon spar

Amazon.com Inc and Apple Inc have partnered to bring the Amazon Prime Video app to Apple TV in over 100 countries.
USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — In the course of just two days, there’s been a small quake in the Internet streaming landscape, meaning one more choice on the high end, one fewer choice on the low end for cord cutters.

Tuesday, Apple finally added Amazon Prime Video to the Apple TV platform, a move first announced in June. Along with Netflix, Amazon has the most aggressive offerings of Internet entertainment with original shows like Transparent, TheMan in the High Castle, Red Oaks and The Grand Tour, which features the former stars of the BBC’s Top Gear.

To watch online entertainment if you don’t have a smart TV, you need a streaming box, like Apple TV, FireTV, Roku or Google’s Chromecast devices.

Apple’s move comes a day after Apple’s rival Google yanked its YouTube network (effective Jan. 1) from Amazon’s FireTV platform, in what it says was retaliation for the e-tailer not stocking some Google-branded products. This is bad news for consumers, as streaming boxes have been and are expected to continue to be one of the most popular gift items, since they are (mostly) affordably priced.

Google’s Chromecast is $35, Amazon Fire and Roku both start at $39.99, while Apple TV starts at $179.

And now, if consumers want to get the best of streaming from the top two providers—Netflix and Amazon—along with the world’s most popular video network, YouTube — their two best options are Roku on the low end and the pricey Apple TV. Both offer hundreds of channels in addition to the big three.

FireTV is now sans YouTube, and while Chromecast can view Amazon Prime, it’s not as easy to access as other channels.

Unlike Netflix and competing streaming services, most consumers pay the $99 yearly for Prime membership to get expedited shipping. The movies, TV and music offerings are a bonus.

To access channels like Amazon Prime or Netflix, you add them to the menu of Apple TV, Roku and FireTV, if they’re not already pre-loaded, and then register your subscription credentials. The streaming devices also offer free, ad-supported channels like TubiTV, PBS and Crackle, network TV apps (NBC, ABC, FX) which can only be seen with proof of a cable subscription and access to recent movies.

Like Apple and iTunes, if you want to see a recent blockbuster film like Wonder Woman or an episode of the Walking Dead, you’ll have to pay extra for it.

What’s with the huge price differential between what Apple TV ($179 and $199) offers and the top of the line $99 Roku? It’s typical Apple premium pricing. Both promise streaming in 4K resolution, voice-activated remotes, an ethernet jack for plugging into high-speed Internet (important if you want to stream in 4K) and access to many channels.

Apple’s selling point is that the unit is part of the Apple ecosystem, and therefore connects to your photos and videos from your iPhone and can play media from your Mac computer as well.

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham on Twitter, @jeffersongraham

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