Streaming video in its infancy was not considered an entrainment product by most, as the quality of video was even lower than standard definition (SD). People did not warm up to streaming video until a few years ago, when mobile media became popular with the invent of smart phones, and portable devices like the iPhone and iPad, Even the ability to stream video using video game systems and smart TVs.
Netflix (NASDAQ: NLFX) first offered streaming video to their customers roughly 4 years ago. With a subscription, you could not only rent movies and have them delivered to your house, you could also stream video to your TV, PC, portable Device, smart TV or game systems like Xbox and PS3, to name a few. And for years, Netflix enjoyed prosperity with little competition. But that has changed, with Hulu Plus (a joint venture of Comcast, Fox Entertainment and Disney Television), Vudu (acquired by Walmart in 2010) and Amazon’s (VOD – Video On Demand) Instant Video service.
Within this group there are two types of streaming video services: A Monthly Subscription service, including Netflix and Hulu Plus and a Pay Per View service such as Vudu and Amazon VOD.
With the monthly subscription service you gain access to the entire database of movies (and shows) and are able to watch them as much and as often as you desire. The pay per view service, you pay for a movie or episode and that is all you have access to, is that one purchased or rented movie or episode.
Which is better? They both have their Pros and Cons. The subscription service gives you more, but new movies and shows take longer before they are released. The pay per view you get the latest movies and episodes usually as soon as they are released.
Which do I use? I use both when I am not using my cable DVR (Digital Video Recorder). Subscription offers me unlimited entertainment on my TV, Laptop, mobile device and game system. But when I need to watch my latest episode of Burn Notice when I am away, I use pay per view so I don’t have to wait.
A recent development with Netflix, due to financial issues, has increased prices (moderately) and are separating their rental business from their subscription (streaming video) business and re-branding the rental business to an independent subsidiary company called Qwikster, which will also rent video games. Subscription based business will remain as the original name of Netflix.
Netflix currently offers streaming video for $7.99 a month, offering unlimited movies & TV episodes to watch instantly over the device of your choosing. Hulu Plus currently competes at the same price as Netflix, touting more shows and movies and more ways to watch. The truth to that is yet to be determined.
With Vudu, you can rent a movie for $3.99 (SD, HD for $4.99) or own it for $14.99. Amazon offers their VOD movie rentals for the same price. Both offering the latest episodes as well.
There are other streaming video companies in the market, but I find the ones I listed to be the “Mainstream” providers.
With mobile devices, smart TVs and video games systems, even PCs, one can access all of these and have good quality entertainment at very inexpensive rates, regardless of where you are. Of course, internet service is required, unless you download the movie or show to your portable device using the pay per view services.
Will streaming video every replace cable or satellite TV? That is hard to say. For now, they do not offer core programming such as news, local channels, weather and sports, or any “live” program.
As opinion goes, I find streaming video to be very convenient. I am not one to sit around waiting for my favorite show to start, or have to schedule my life around my TV schedule. Simply put, I like watching my favorite shows whenever I want, where I want.
Streaming video is here to stay and has become a mainstream entertainment product. Check them out, I’m sure you will find it to be true.
Netflix announced today that current Netflix.com members can continue to rent DVDs in addition to their streaming video subscription. This change was made due to customer feedback concerning ease of usage. Consumers not interested in subscribing through two different websites, with two separate accounts and bills which only add to customer hassles. Consumers prevailed with their feedback. It is good to know that consumer activism is not dead, and that Corporate America is listening!