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Alternatives for angry Netflix customers

Ticked over the company's price increase? Here's what some of the other video services have to offer.

By doubleace Jul 13, 2011 3:41PM

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.

Other alternatives worth mentioning: GreenCine, CinemaNow and the Redbox kiosks at grocery stores.


More on MSN Money:

Jul 13, 2011 6:12PM
Canceled my Netflix account today. I will find something else for less money. Everyone should make a statement and do the same. Maybe then they will figure out we can still shop around for the best prices and services out here.
Jul 13, 2011 9:07PM
I wish people got this pissed about credit cards randomly increasing interest or Congress getting everything they want at OUR expenses.
Jul 13, 2011 6:39PM
"It's only 30,000 customers out of 23 million..." said Netflix. How arrogant! Right there that told me exactly how they feel about their customers. Everyone should drop them immediately. This should apply to a lot of other businesses as well, like banks, doctors and manufacturers.
Jul 13, 2011 6:21PM
I cut my subscription today to only one DVD per time, no streaming. We are DECREASING spending at our house, not increasing. I also was not happy to hear about this through the media BEFORE Netflix got around to notifying me.   Sarcastic
Jul 13, 2011 11:02PM
What are you people waiting for I canceled yesterday!!!!! Dont threatin to cancel just do it and lets take netflix down!!
Jul 13, 2011 10:30PM

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!

Jul 13, 2011 11:25PM
Cancelled yesterday as soon as I read the article and got my email.  Hilarious that the survey Netflix has asking why you are cancelling, doesn't include:  'Because we are a greedy profit monger who wants more of your money without giving you anything in return.'  Didn't even give space to write in an 'Other' reason.  Guess they 'can't handle the truth'
Jul 13, 2011 10:17PM
I cancelled my account this morning when I saw their email they tried to sneak in overnight (12:13am Eastern).  Existing customers should have been grandfathered in at the original rate we agreed to when we fell for the trap...14.95 for a couple movies we never watch and streaming capabilities with obvious issues.  I could understand them charging new customers a different rate, but it takes guts (or stupidity) for them to just arbitrarily decide that each of your customers is willing to pay more for an unnecessary service. 
Jul 13, 2011 7:36PM
Netflix - I think you might have saved Blockbuster - good work
Jul 13, 2011 6:34PM
I just cancelled netflix completely. I will NOT get screwed. If I'm gonna get screwed I want to enjoy it.Angry
Jul 13, 2011 6:35PM
Just changed my service and cancelled the one disc a month but kept my unlimited streaming, which will reduce my bill from 9.99 to 7.99 a month. Screw them, getting a little too big for their britches! We made you a success, you put the big boys out of business (Blockbuster, Hollywood Video) now when I need a dvd I'll go to Redbox, who we arenow making a success, who will in turn put you out of business. It's the way the world goes around. best of luck netflix, greedy bastards.
Jul 13, 2011 10:56PM
Bye bye Netflix.  Not that big of a fan of your instant streaming, nothing but grade B (at best) options anyway.  Gonna only order movies from cable provider on demand.  Obnoxious way to treat your customers.  Eat dirt.
Jul 13, 2011 6:33PM

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 will most definitely be closing out my Netflix.
Jul 13, 2011 11:43PM
I am a netflix customer, but will cancel! I am also a mail carrier and  thanks to netflix, I won't have to stop at every house on my route!! There will be lots of cacellations and I will have some short days at work!!
Jul 13, 2011 9:39PM
If they don't recall their statement we're canceling!  We hate to do it, we've been pleased with their services thus far but my Husband and I are furious!  We're telling everyone we know that has it to do the same!!!Angry
Jul 13, 2011 10:47PM
have been with netflix for years and i plan to cancel subsequent to this news.  not that big of a tv watcher but anyone who is has plenty of other options available.  bad move, netflix.....
Jul 13, 2011 8:31PM
I'm cancelling netflix. this is ridiculous. gona shop around... might as well try red box. good job netflix you will no longer be in business in one or two years. I sure wonder how many members are going to cancel in the next 2 months or so. i bet over 50% will cancel.
Jul 13, 2011 10:56PM

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.

Jul 13, 2011 7:20PM
Gouge Netflix customers with a 60% rate hike and offer nothing new in the way of higher HD or sound quality service? Wow, nothing like greed in corporate america!
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