What happened Netflix? I used to be a big fan, but then you got greedy. In less than a year, I watched the price almost double. It was $8.99 for 1-DVD rental and Instant Streaming. Now those two services have been split up — costing $7.99 each. Unfortunately, I don’t think either service is strong enough to be separated. Receiving DVDs by mail is a slow process and Netflix’s Instant Streaming library is weak. At $15.98, the alternatives start to look a lot better.
Right away, Hulu jumps to mind as an alternative. Yet, their brain-eating aliens marketing campaign has tainted my view of Hulu. So, what’s out there besides Netflix and Hulu?
Well, there’s lot of free video online — and you don’t even have to steal it!
There’s also broadcast television. When the United States switched to digital television, I gained access to a bunch of free channels. Although, a decent antenna is necessary. For some reason, even though I can see the Empire State Building from where I live, I still have trouble receiving channels 7 and 11. But when it works, digital television is a lot like basic cable. While not all of them are in English, almost 50 free channels are available in my area.
And suddenly, those paid Netflix alternatives are starting to look a lot better.
Redbox — This is a kiosk based rental system. But in addition to movies, video games can also be rented. It reminds me of the old movie rental places in Brooklyn. If you live near a Redbox, it could be a convenient alternative to Netflix. Simply go to the store, pick up your eggs, milk, bread, juice and a movie. The downside is that Redbox charges you per night. If you forget to return the disc right away, the fees can add up.
iTunes — What’s nice about Apple’s service is that it does a lot. There are free movies and TV shows available in iTunes, but Apple also rents and sells digital content. It’s fairly expensive though, so it’s not really an inexpensive service to Netflix.
Amazon Prime – If you’re already paying Amazon $79 a year for better shipping options, then this is basically a freebie. Amazon Prime has thousands of TV shows and Movies available for instant streaming.
Cable – I treated Netflix as an alternative to cable TV. But now that the price went up, I’m starting to consider going back. I miss watching the Discovery Channel and the History Channel. After taxes and fees, this is still an expensive service, but it is still one of my favorites. I like the simplicity — TV, remote, relax!
This is not a comprehensive list, but it should highlight a simple fact — there are alternatives. I think Netflix overreached and opened the doors to competition.