8 Alternatives to Netflix

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The movie service Netflix had more than 21 million subscribers as of April and a net income of almost $161 million last year. But next year, that might all change.

Prior to September, Netflix allowed unlimited movie downloads plus unlimited DVDs by mail for 10 bucks a month. On Sept. 1, the online and mail services were unbundled – now each costs $7.99 per month, for a total of $16. That’s a 20-percent discount if you were receiving your movies one way or the other, but a 60-percent increase if you were using both streaming and mail.

After implementing the price hike, Netflix estimated a million customers bailed. A survey by consulting group Magid made higher estimates: They found 16 percent planned to cancel, and another 14 percent are thinking about it.

Netflix stock had been slowly dropping since the price change was announced in July, and fell sharply (15 percent in a day) when the company announced its customer loss. It’s only begun trending back up since Netflix backed off the decision this week to separate its DVD and streaming services. (July 13 stock price: $298. Now: $115.) But the decision to keep both streaming and DVD-by-mail under one roof doesn’t affect the new unbundled prices.

The market has spoken, but what about consumers – are outraged customers finding better options for movies? In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson takes a look at competing services. Check it out, and then read on for more details.

Many consumers are realizing Netflix isn’t the only game in town. But everybody plays – and prices – a little differently. How do the rest stack up? Let’s look at them one by one and sum up with a chart.

1. Blockbuster

Once known for its blue-and-gold brand and brick-and-mortar stores, Blockbuster’s struggled to stay in the game and has shuttered hundreds of locations. They’ve launched a DVD-by-mail service called Total Access, with monthly plans starting at $10 (with a one-month free trial), which is more expensive than Netflix’s delivery service, but allows you the option to return discs to a local store and swap them out instead of mailing them back and waiting. (You can’t swap out games, though – only movies.)

They also have a streaming service called On Demand, and if you only watch a couple of flicks a month, this could be cheaper than Netflix streaming – rentals start at $2 each, and the library includes “thousands of movies.” New releases are available as soon as the DVD/Blu-ray versions are on sale, and run $4.

They’re also experimenting with a kiosk service, called Blockbuster Express, with rentals starting at $1 a night, no membership required. You can find them in many grocery stores.

2. Redbox

According to that Magid survey, almost 60 percent of Netflix subscribers already use Redbox, and 20 percent say they will use it more because of the price changes. With rentals as low as $1 a day, and 28,000 locations across the country, that makes sense.

But because these are basically movie and game vending machines, selection is limited to mostly recent titles, usually updated weekly. You can look up what’s available – and reserve a rental copy – online. You can sometimes find free codes for rentals on coupon sites and places like Inside Redbox.

3. Hulu Plus

This streaming service has wider offerings in TV than films – they say “more than 33,000 episodes and hundreds of movies” – and runs the same $7.99 a month that Netflix charges. Anyone can get a free week trial, but if you have a student email address (.edu) you can get a free month to try it out. There is a free version too, but that’s not in HD, only runs on your computer, and doesn’t offer current season episodes or as many shows and films. Either way, there are ads.

4. Amazon Instant

You can stream thousands of movies and TV episodes starting at $1, and going up to $4 for newer titles. But if you have Amazon Prime service – $80 a year, but cheaper than a year of Netflix, and it comes with fast shipping benefits – you have access to the whole library of thousands of movies and TV shows, which you can view on a variety of devices.

There’s a one-month free trial. Amazon sometimes gives out promotional video credits with other orders on their site too.

5. iTunes

Movies start at $3 each (new releases $4), and can be streamed on Apple devices including iPhone and iPad. You can also stream on an Apple TV if you have one ($99).

6. Vudu

This service rents movies for $1 to $6 and TV shows for $2 to $3. Although their prices on some titles are a little higher than other services, according to BusinessInsider they have one of the best catalogs of older popular titles, on par with iTunes’.

7. GameFly

This is the best-known service for games – in fact, it’s often called “Netflix for games” – with a library of more than 7,000 games ranging from the GameCube generation of consoles to current titles on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and hand-held devices. Monthly plans start at $16, though the first month is half-off.

8. Your local library

If all these services sound too pricy, try the cheapest of them all. The selection might be limited, but you won’t know until you look – and hey, it’s free. Imagine if they started streaming…

Looking for more ways to save on entertainment? Check out 3 Steps to Cut Your Cable Bill 90 Percent and 26 Tips to Save on Entertainment.

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