Not thrilled with Netflix's announcement to separate streaming and DVD plans and drastically hike up the cost of monthly plan rates? We rounded up stats for a few Netflix alternatives out there so you can decide if you want to pay up or get out.
Many Netflix users already are threatening to leave, flooding the company's blog and Facebook page Tuesday with thousands of irate comments about the new pricing plan.
Here is the lowdown. Starting now for new Netflix customers and starting September 1 for existing users, the base service will cost $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming. DVD plans (with no streaming) will cost $7.99 and $11.99 for one at a time and two at a time, respectively.
To stream video and have one DVD out at a time will cost $15.98 per month. If subscribers wish to have a second DVD out simultaneously, the rate increases to $19.98 when combined with streaming capability.
Let's check out the alternatives.
My PCWorld colleague, Ian Paul, compared Amazon Prime video streaming to Netflix Instant back in February. The service is included with Amazon Prime, which costs $79 per year and gives users of the online store free two-day shipping and discounted one-day shipping on their purchases. Paul concluded that Netflix at the time easily beat Amazon's selection and device support.
Monthly price: Comes out to $6.58--the service is free with a $79-a-year Amazon Prime membership DVD in the mail: If you buy them. Streaming: Yes. (Other titles available for purchase or rent through Amazon.) Devices: Computer, Roku. Perks: Shipping discounts on Amazon.
Blockbuster by Mail
Blockbuster offers monthly subscriptions to receive discs in the mail, just like Netflix. You can get one, two, or three discs at a time for $11.99, $16.99 and $19.99 respectively. In addition to unlimited exchanges by mail, you can exchange a disc in-store (while they're still around) up to five times per month with each plan.
By the way, I said "discs" instead of DVDs because unlike Netflix, Blockbuster includes Blu-rays in its plans for no extra charge and just added video game rentals to the mix. The website also touts that it gets many new releases 28 days before Netflix and Redbox.
Unfortunately its digital movie rental and buying service, Blockbuster On Demand, is not included with the monthly subscription. Rentals there start at $1.99 and last for 24 hours. It's available on the PC, TiVo, and select TVs, Blu-ray players, cell phones and portable devices.
Monthly price: $11.99-19.99. DVD in the mail: Yes. Streaming: Not included. Rentals available starting at $1.99 per video for 24 hours. Devices: Computer, TiVo, select other devices. Perks: Some movies available before Netflix, Redbox. Can exchange discs in store.
CinemaNow is Best Buy's streaming video storefront. Using it, you can rent or purchase movies and TV shows. Rentals start at $2.99. Again, this service is a pay-per-view deal (no monthly service charge) and appears to have a decent selection. It works on Mac or PC and a variety of other devices.
Monthly price: None. DVD in the mail: No. Streaming: Rentals starting at $2.99 per video for 24 hours. Devices: Computer, select other devices. Perks: No strings attached.
GreenCine offers rent-by-mail plans that range from one DVD at a time for $9.95 to eight out at a time for $49.95 a month. Although it's beaten by Netflix on price, the website prides itself on its collection of "independent, international, and documentary films." It admits that some of the titles in its 30,000 collection probably aren't on your radar. "We have the movies you love, movies you've heard of, and a whole library of others just waiting for an introduction."
Monthly price: $9.95-$49.95. DVD in the mail: Yes. Streaming: No. Devices: DVDs only. Perks: Lots of independent, international, and documentary films.
Hulu might be the only streaming subscription service that can give Netflix a run for its money. The base service is ad-supported and offers thousands of current TV shows and a few movies. The paid offering, Hulu Plus, costs $7.99 a month and includes more TV shows, movies, HD content, and makes it available on game consoles, smartphones, tablets, select TVs, and Blu-ray players.
Monthly price: Free/$7.99. DVD in the mail: No. Streaming: Yes. More titles available with subscription Devices: Paid version is available on game consoles, smartphones, tablets, select TVs, and Blu-ray players. Perks: Free for basic service.
Sure it isn't a subscription plan, but a new DVD, Blu-ray disc, or game is waiting for you at a nearby store. DVDs are $1, Blu-ray rentals are $1.50, and games are $2 to rent for 24 hours. Want to keep it longer? They'll just tack on another rental charge for each day until you turn it in. It definitely has a good selection of newer movies (as long as the movie you want isn't out of stock).
Monthly price: None. DVD in the mail: No. Streaming: No. Devices: Discs only. Perks: Convenient, cheap.
Got Netflix Alternative?
Even with all of those options, it's hard to argue with Netflix when it says the new pricing scheme is a bargain. Its prices are cheaper than a lot of the alternatives and offer quite a bit more selection. It is irritating that the prices are jumping 60 percent for some users, while Netflix says that it is for the user's own good.
Do you have any other favorite online rental or streaming services we left out? Let us know what you're going to do by leaving a comment below.
Copyright (c) 2011 PCWorld Communications, Inc.
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