Many people are quite upset with the decision by Netflix to split its subscription service into two, offering streaming content separately from DVDs in the mail. The new set up basically amounts to a fee hike for those who have been enjoying online streaming with their mailed DVDs.
For those who have been getting one DVD at a time, and streaming content, the price goes from $7.99 to $15.98. For me, the price will be increased by $4, since I get two discs (with Blu-ray) at a time and streaming. We're actually cutting back to one disc at a time — and we will basically pay the same amount.
If Netflix uses this price increase to expand its streaming offerings, we will likely drop the disc option altogether eventually.
But not everyone is as complacent about this increase as I am. After looking at what else is out there, I recognize that Netflix is a great deal in entertainment, even with a price increase. Here are some of your alternatives to Netflix:
If you don't care about streaming, and you only get discs occasionally, Redbox can be a good option, especially for those on a budget. You rent at a kiosk, for as little as $1 a night — $1.50 if you get a Blu-ray. However, you have to remember to take the disc back, and if you rent a movies more than twice a week, you're already past Netflix's price for one disc at a time rental. And, like Netflix, Redbox doesn't get all the latest movies at their release.
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This company has been trying to catch up with Netflix by offering a disc by mail service, as well as the ability to pay per day in the store. You can download movie rentals and pay the per-day price (no monthly streaming plan). However, Blockbuster will cost you a little bit more than Netflix — even with the pricing increases. The upside for Blockbuster is that you can access the latest movies sooner. So, if that is more important, then Blockbuster might be worth a little extra.
If you are primarily interested in TV shows, especially some of the latest shows, Hulu Plus, which is available for $8 might be the way to go. You can get access to some content on Hulu for free, and if you are willing to add the monthly charge, you can stream extra content to your iPhone, high-end TV, or game console. Consider your entertainment habits. If you find you are more interested in TV shows, and movies aren't as important, Hulu might make better financial sense for you.
Amazon and Apple iTunes
Amazon and Apple iTunes both offer their own movie renting services via streaming. You can get some of the newest movies, but there is no streaming subscription. You will pay between $1 and $5 for a movie rental, depending on how new it is. If you watch movies a great deal, you could quickly find yourself spending much more than the cost of Netflix. With Amazon, though, you can get free streaming with your Prime membership ($79 a year). If you are thinking of getting the free two-day shipping associated with Amazon Prime anyway, the free streaming can be a bonus.
Realize, though, that even though Apple iTunes and Amazon offer some of the newer movies, the overall selection is smaller than what you get from Netflix streaming.
And, of course, you can always use cable. However, you will either have to use pay-per-view movies on top of a basic subscription, or get an expensive movie package. If you watch a lot of TV and movies, and you want everything the second it comes out, this might be the thing for you, if you think it?s worth a portion of your hard-earned income. Some cable providers, like Cox, offer packages if you sign up for a contract, but you have to decide if it's worth the money.