7 Alternatives to Netflix
Two months after announcing it would split its mail-order DVD and video streaming into two services and charge for each separately, Netflix is making another change. Its DVD-by-mail service will be renamed Qwikster in a few weeks, CEO Reed Hastings wrote on the Netflix blog.
Hastings also apologized for the way Netflix announced the separation of its DVD and streaming services and new pricing. "It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility," Hastings wrote in response to the thousands of comments posted on Netflix's blog since the company said in July that customers would have to pay extra for unlimited video streaming starting September 1. Previously, Netflix members received unlimited streaming and unlimited (mailed) DVDs for $9.99 a month. Now members have to pay $15.98 a month to get both services ($7.99 for unlimited streaming and $7.99 for unlimited DVDs).
When Qwikster launches, members will also have access to mail-order video games. However, Qwikster.com and Netflix.com will not be integrated. So those who receive both services will have to manage their DVD and streaming accounts separately.
More than 6,000 comments already have been posted to the company's blog in response to the name-change announcement -- many of them calling it a mistake.
So if you're looking for alternatives to Netflix, here are some options:
Vudu. This streaming service has a wide selection of high-definition movies available the day they are released on Blu-ray. And it's one of the cheapest alternatives to Netflix. You can stream movies to Vudu-enabled HDTVs or Blu-ray players, your computer, iPad or PlayStation 3. You can also watch Vudu movies at Walmart.com. COST: You pay $2 to "rent" a movie for two nights.
Amazon Instant Video. You can choose from nearly 50,000 movies and TV shows to watch instantly on your computer or on TV with a streaming device. COST: $3.99 for a 48-hour rental; Amazon Prime ($79 a year) members get access to 5,000 movies and TV shows at no additional charge.
Apple TV. This device lets you stream thousands of movies and TV shows directly to your TV. Many movies are available the day they're released on DVD. You have 30 days to start watching but, once you start, you have only 24 hours to finish viewing. COST: $99 for the Apple TV device; 99 cents for TV rentals, $2.99 and up for movie rentals.
Blockbuster. Like Netflix, Blockbuster will mail DVD rentals. You can choose from more than 100,000 titles. COST: $4.99 for a seven-day rental. Or with Blockbuster On Demand, you can watch movies instantly. COST: Free to $3.99 (depending on the movie) for a 24-hour rental.
Hulu. The Web site known for online streaming of TV shows also has hundreds of movies -- older releases, though. COST: Many of the movies are free, but you can gain access to more with a Hulu Plus membership for $7.99 a month (the same as what you'd pay for Netflix unlimited streaming, which offers a lot more movies).
Redbox. This DVD-rental company has kiosks at more than 27,000 locations nationwide -- from restaurants to grocery stores to national landmarks, such as the Empire State Building. The kiosks feature up to 200 titles (630 actual DVDs). Redbox isn't nearly as convenient as the instant video streaming or mail-delivery DVDs that the services above offer, but it's cheap. COST: $1 a day, but you can find codes for free Redbox rentals at Insideredbox.com.
Public library. The DVD selection at your local public library probably won't match what the services above offer, but it's a good source of free or dirt-cheap entertainment. COST: Free or a minimal fee.