Alternatives for angry Netflix customers
Ticked over the company's price increase? Here's what some of the other video services have to offer.
This post comes from Lynn Mucken of MSN Money.
One of the great disappointments in life is finding out that something you have grown to respect, perhaps even idolize, is after all just a business. Fans of baseball teams -- unless that team is the Yankees or Red Sox -- have their illusions shattered every July, when their favorite players are traded for "prospects."
But Netflix? How could it? Post continues after video.
The movie and TV-rerun rental company drove my-way-or-the-highway Blockbuster nearly out of existence with a business model that meshed convenience (mailed to your home), civility (keep it as long as you want; no late fees) and low prices ($8 -- a month!). And it won the hearts of millions.
On Tuesday, it broke them, when it announced what amounted to a 60% price increase for those who want to keep both the live streaming and mailed DVD services.
Businesses expect a bit of a backlash when they raise prices, but probably not 33,486 mostly angry comments on Facebook in less than 24 hours. Here's what a few irritated customers had to say:
What a ripoff!
Cable companies don't even raise prices by 60%!!!!! Canceling my subscription at the end of August!
Canceling . . . stupid idea, Netflix. You had a good thing going and you had to go and get greedy like everyone else. Tisk tisk, hello Redbox.
If even a portion of these folks actually drop their subscriptions -- half will, according to a poll by TheStreet -- there are plenty of opportunists waiting to swoop in and nibble away. Perhaps coincidentally, Google announced it soon will offer $2 movies for download or streaming to its Android 2.2 or higher smartphones.
As a public service, here is a quick glance at just a few of the bigger alternatives already in operation:
- YouTube movies. Streaming only. Movies are $3.99 for recent releases, the most recent of which were early-spring movies such as "The Lincoln Lawyer," "Sucker Punch" and "The Adjustment Bureau," and $2.99 for older movies like "Knocked Up." Some movies, such as "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and "Men In Black," are offered for free. You have a 24-hour viewing period but have 30 days in which to initiate it. Nice touches: trailers, Rotten Tomatoes reviews, movie synopses, and cast and crew listings.
- Amazon Instant Video. Streaming only $3.99 for most 48-hour rentals. Latest releases include "The Lincoln Lawyer," "Insidious" and "Arthur," all spring movies. If you join Amazon Prime ($79 a year after a month's free trial) you get a bunch of movies, mostly older releases like "The Right Stuff" and "Superman, The Movie" and classic TV shows such as "Gilligan's Island" for free. Nice touch: previews that are actual scenes from the movies.
- Blockbuster. Mail, in-store and streaming. Monthly mail and in-store subscriptions are $11.99 for one DVD, $16.99 for two and $19.99 for three. You are allowed up to five in-store exchanges. You can also get a seven-day rental by mail for $4.99. Streaming costs up to $3.99, with a 24-hour viewing period that must start within a month. Blockbuster advertises that it gets movies a month before other services, but this week's new releases were pretty much the same stuff that everyone else offered, although it had "Source Code" while YouTube and Amazon did not. Nice touches: trailers and clips, extensive cast lists and viewer reviews.
- iTunes/Apple TV. Streaming only. It will cost you $99 for the equipment. After that you pay $4.99 for HD movies and $3.99 for regular versions. It has weekly 99-cent specials. You have 30 days to initiate the rental, then 24 hours to watch (48 hours for TV shows). It had "Source Code." Nice touches: You can use the devise to access Netflix and YouTube; there are viewer reviews.
Hulu Plus. Streaming only. It's $7.99 a month, which can be a bargain if you are into older -- some slightly, some quite, but not much after 2008 -- movies and documentaries, as well as current TV shows. If you insist on time-shifting your TV habit, this is the place, offering all the episodes from the 2010-11 season of shows from "30 Rock" and "Hot in Cleveland" to game shows. It advertises more than "1,000 seasons." Nice touch: trailers of movies now in theaters.
- Time Warner on Demand. Streaming only. You have to buy the cable TV service, $33.33 a month for the first year. Then you rent the movies at $6.99 for HD (including some 3-D if you have the equipment) and $4.99 for regular versions. They also have a "$2.99 or less" selection that includes long-running hits from recent years since as "Sideways" and "Little Miss Sunshine." And some are even free, such as "Alvin and the Chipmunks." Since it is cable, you have access to pay-per-view sports and -- for a price usually -- tons of TV material, including HBO, Showtime, Starz and the big networks. Nice touches: trailers and extensive listings of movies by popularity, actors, some directors, genre and those in Spanish.
- Comcast Xfinity. Streaming only. You have to buy the cable TV service, at $29.99 a month for the first year, which includes six months of Showtime. Movie rentals are $6.99 for 3-D and $5.99 for HD down to $2.99 for such fare as "Alvin and the Chipmunks." There are some free offerings, such as "Jungle King." And, like Time Warner, there are the usual TV offerings, some free, some not so. Nice touches: trailers and a most-viewed list.
More on MSN Money:
As soon as I got the e-mail from Netflix, I cancelled! Their streaming sucks. Their "one DVD at a time" was archaic.
Redbox, you got my business. Netflix....go flix yourself!
PAY UP! Are you kidding!!! I did away with cable and satellite loooong ago... It's still a steal in comparison. Duh. However, I will check out what Blockbuster offers... It's still all about me, the customer.
I cancelled yesterday. Bank of Amerholes is adding a $15 monthly fee on my checking account at the end of the month. I'm quittin them too.
To netflix I say. G F Y.
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