October 08, 2011, 8:59 AM — A couple of recent customer-service snafus by Netflix pushed many users to look for an alternative way to enjoy video services. First Netflix hiked its prices by 60 percent, and later it split its services into two different companies.
Of course, most people have been using Netflix exclusively for a long time, and don't know anything about the alternatives. Who can tell me the difference between Blockbuster On Demand and iTunes rentals?
In an effort to find the next big Netflix replacement, I compared four different for-pay video streaming and rental services--Hulu Plus, Blockbuster On Demand, iTunes rentals, and Amazon Prime, as well as taking a hard look at the current state of Netflix. I tested each service for price, video quality, movie selection, and ease of use, to see if any of the alternatives makes a good Netflix replacement.
Here's what I found.
Price: $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming
Selection: Older movies, TV shows, documentaries
Notable titles: The Last Airbender, Apocalypto, Gangs of New York, Iron Man 2
Notably missing titles: Thor, Bridesmaids, all recent releases
Supported platforms: Android devices, connected Blu-ray players, connected HDTVs, iOS devices, Macs, Nintendo Wii, PCs, PlayStation 3, Roku, TiVo, WD TV, Windows Phone 7 devices, Xbox
Netflix may have more than 20,000 titles available for on-demand streaming, but surprisingly few of these titles are worth watching. Missing titles include all recent releases and most popular films of the past few years. On top of that, Starz Play, which provides most of the more recent hits for Netflix (current titles include Prince of Persia, Tangled, Alice in Wonderland, and Toy Story 3), has said that it will cut ties with Netflix next February.
Netflix's streaming quality is okay but you may occasionally run into problems, depending on server traffic. For example, when a Netflix video starts streaming, the first few seconds are often blocky and of very low quality. However, this problem usually resolves itself quickly.