Nine Alternatives to Netflix
On September 1st Netflix’s controversial new price plans went into effect, and if some of the polls are to be believed, there were quite a few of you who cancelled your subscription entirely. So now what? You’re not sure Blockbuster and Hollywood Video still exist, you think Hulu is only for TV – are you destined to wander the earth without ever seeing Johnny Depp on a screen again?

There is no getting around the fact that Netflix is awesome: streaming, physical DVDs, great user experience, and you’re probably not going to find that packaged as well in another site. However, here are some other alternatives that might meet your needs: some streaming plans (remember, you don’t get any of the DVD extras when you stream) and some disk plans.

Streaming Alternatives
Amazon Instant Video
Amazon has a movie streaming service that rents movies on a per-title basis. The new releases generally cost about $3.99 and television shows are $1.99. The selection is decent but still only about a quarter of what Netflix offers and rented movies must be watched in 24 or 48 hours, depending on the title. Most people are familiar with Prime as a discounted shipping service that Amazon offers; but now subscribers to it also receive free access to Amazon’s streaming movies and TV shows. Prime costs $79 a year.
Hulu Plus
Hulu Plus is the enhanced version of Hulu, and even though you’re paying ($7.99) for access to more content, you still have to sit through commercials. If you primarily watch television shows, then this may be an option to consider, since that it what Hulu is known for. They are adding more movies all the time, but the number of titles is still in the low hundreds. They do offer HD quality and streaming through many different devices – Playstation/Xbox, etc.
Crackle is a great site to have in your arsenal because it offers movies and TV shows, it’s free and you don’t have to register for anything. The consequence of it being free is that you have to sit through ads, but it’s a small price to pay. Most of their movies are Sony productions (guess who owns them) and so the selection is a bit limited right now, though the quality of those selections is quite good.
Vudu is a tech lover’s dream – they have made a point to make their content accessible on as many gadgets as possible; if it connects to the internet, you can watch Vudu. They also have a large database of about 20,000 movies at 1080p. To rent a movie for two days varies in price from $2 to $7, depending on the movie (new releases in higher demand are naturally the more expensive ones). If you like to watch a lot of new releases then, this can add up very quickly.
Apple TV
Apple TV might seem to come out of left field a little, but might be a nice option for anyone who wants to go in a different direction entirely. For $99 you can purchase the TV box that will allow you to rent directly from the iTunes store and stream them through your television. And of course, the iTunes selection is jaw-droppingly good.

Note that I said rent – most high definition movies go for $3.99 and TV shows $.99. Unfortunately, they don’t offer a monthly plan that would just give you access to the whole library; which is one of the things I love best about Netflix.

DVD Alternatives
Redbox is the most obvious alternative when it comes to getting physical DVDs and Blu-rays. The conveniently placed kiosks are quick and cheap - $1.00 for a movie that you have to return the next day. The selection is generally limited to all of the newest releases, but if you are looking for a particular title you can search for it online and reserve it at one of the kiosks. It means leaving the house, of course, which could be a deal-breaker for some.
Greencine is a DVD and Blu-ray mail-delivery program, with a library of about 25,000 titles. They cater especially to independent, art house, documentary, foreign, and anime cinema. Don’t get me wrong, they do have some mainstream new releases, but they pride themselves on having movies that no one else carries. The price plans are varied – they start at $9.95/month for one DVD at a time, and go all the way up to $49.95/month for 8 DVDs at a time. It’s also nice to know that a portion of all of their proceeds go to film arts organization throughout the country.

They have a limited selection of on-demand streaming movies that can be rented individually and are not included in any of the price plans.

Blockbuster also offers both streaming and disk plans. For $11.99, $16.99, and $19.99 you can get one, two, or three disks (DVD, Blu-ray and video games, which Netflix doesn’t do) at a time respectively. Mail exchanges are unlimited and you can also exchange in-store up to five times a month. This might be a good option for anyone who lives near one of the few remaining stores. They also have kiosks similar to Redbox, in convenient locations. Prices are $1 for DVD and $2 for Blu-ray. The streaming plan is not included in the pricing however – Blockbuster On Demand rents movies for 24 hours at $1.99.
Public Library
Yes, it’s low tech, but it’s still a great, cheap option. They don’t always have the newest releases or Blu-ray, but the kid’s selection is usually quite extensive and the rental period can be up to a week.

Hopefully that’s enough to get you started exploring the world outside of Netflix. I’m sure there are a couple that I missed; please let us know your personal favorites in the comments!

Don’t forget to check out Retrevo where you’ll find reviews and manuals for all popular gear and gadgets including cameras, HDTV, laptops and more.

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In my area, Family Video

In my area, Family Video chain. Close, good rates, current, and nice people!
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I am staying with netflix, it has the older movies I prefer.
Too many of the latest releases are sophomoric drivel, or they are loaded with violence and foul language.

I actually got a price reduction when they separated the streaming from DVD. I can't get streaming here, the phone lines from Verizon are horrible, slow, and undependable. I do have a satellite but streaming doesn't work well with it, plus it burns up my allowed bandwidth too fast.

Netflix now has a very fast turnaround time for the mailings. Mail by Thur., I get the next movies on my list by Sat.

My family prefers classy movies like Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Burt Lancaster. Those can be hard to find at the local rental stores.

We also like to catch up on old TV series from time to time. Netflix has many of those.

And no, I'm not being paid to endorse Netflix, I just see it as a better alternative to the local rental stores.

No rush, no late fees.

OOPS, I forgot it is no longer Netflix for the DVD option, what is it?????????????? Quikflix............

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I agree with you. The

I agree with you. The monthly charge isn't that bad compared to renting DVD for a dollar which is limited to only 24 hours. They can't beat that. However, I prefer the former setup where you can get unlimited mail-in DVD with unlimited streaming access. By the way, Netflix mail-in DVDs will be renamed as Qwikster.

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Nine Alternatives to Netflix

I wish this thread would discuss which of the Netflix alternatives, especially the streaming video alternatives, provide Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound along with the HD video.

I want the full experience of High Definition movie viewing and that includes surround sound, not two channel stereo which is antiquated and boring!

I am staying with Netflix DVD delivery for that basic reason.
Netflix streaming DOES NOT provide surround sound signals to the newest HD 3D DVD Players, only to a Playstation which I have no interest in, and will not pay 300-400 just for that capability.

The only movie streaming service that I know of that does provide DD 5.1 signals is Hulu, but their movie prices are too expensive !!


It should be noted that many

It should be noted that many new releases aren't available to rent from Redbox kiosks till four weeks after the date of release and that you can rent blu ray titles but it costs $1.50 per day rather than $1. I think the studios were unfair with that and I always wait until the four weeks have passed or I look for it at the library.

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better than cable!

We have had netflix for about eight months. And even though there is a price increase, it's still cheaper than cable! :)

We subscribe to Blockbuster

We only pay $4.99 a month for two movies per month. That's about as cheap as you can get this kind of service.

Red vs Blue

I am a Netflix user. I am also trying Blockbuster mail service. So far Blockbuster gets a D-. I am not sure if it just my area but in the short two weeks I have been testing them I have had several problems. I have sent my two DVD's in on Tuesday. It is now Friday and I have not received any back. They sent me a disk that I did not order then took all week to correct the problem. I still have Netflix by mail and I get them consistant and in order and fast. I sent in both of my disks on Tuesday and I have the new ones on Thursday. I give Netflix an A for customer service. Even with this price increase at this point they are still better than the Blue service.

Blue giving me the Blues.


Netflix alternatives

My family has now used Netflix for 3-4 years, through Wii and now through Boxee for streaming video. Boxee is great for online streaming, much better than Wii or Playstation. I did not like the price increase, but what else is normal these days. I download torrents, and they stream nicely through the Boxee also if you have a home network. Netflix is still fast, efficient and generally provides a good product. I have to return about 10% for damage or broken (this could be our mail carrier also - USPS). Boxee has 180+ apps which allow you to connect to HulU and Vudu and many other free and pay per view services. Spend a few dollars for hardware and you will find a hugh selection of video, music and the web to explore all on your TV.


Movies via the internet

Sorry, but Crackle is crap! False starts and stops...in and around the commercial breaks. I've tried 3-4 movies and can't get past the first
15 minutes! A terrible format. Forget everyone else...Netflix and Red Box are still the best.. and least money.



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Direct viewing on network websites

Each major TV net also provides various levels of viewing past and current content directly on their websites.

The material I have watched was "free to air" although ads were inserted during the programs.

Direct viewing on network websites

That was the comment I was going to make its especially good for the late night talk shows that you don't see on DVD or Hulu

Free Movies

Don't leave out P2P downloads with torrents. Simply download a free torrent program like BitComet from www.downloads.com and then use a website like http://www.thepiratebay.org or http://www.btjunkie.com to find torrents of all types. Games, movies, old and new tv shows, software.


Good presentation of where to download movies.

Torrent Downloads - Careful!

I have been using various bittorrent programs to download open source software for awhile, and I see lots of listings for music and video -- most of which is copyrighted. Be aware that this is illegal, and I have heard of an attempt tp get the ISPs to monitor traffic to torrent siteds and report to law enforcement.



Amazon Prime

No, if you subscribe to Amazon Prime then you can watch the movies and TV shows for free.
You only pay per title if you don't have prime, and on certain other restricted titles.
I have Prime, I use it, it works out great for me.
They have a very large, and still growing, selection.

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You do realize that $7.99

You do realize that $7.99 per month for a year is $95.88? That's $16.88 MORE for Netflix than Amazon. Signing up for this gives you access to their FREE streaming library, AS WELL AS the rentals for $3.99 and $1.99.

Amazon Prime & EDU acc't.

I didn't see any mention of one of the awesome Amazon Prime benefits for ANYONE with a school-identified email account (ending in .EDU) - you get Amazon Prime membership (free shipping, etc) for a year and THEN the annual membership is only $39/year. You don't get the streaming video of per-per-view movies during the free 1st year, but that option is definitely included in the paid/$39 membership. So... go take a class at a community college, benefit from the increase in your knowledge of a subject, and use that student email account to sign up for Amazon Prime for free for 1 year.


Amazon Prime & EDU acc't.

I didn't see any mention of one of the awesome Amazon Prime benefits for ANYONE with a school-identified email account (ending in .EDU) - you get Amazon Prime membership (free shipping, etc) for a year and THEN the annual membership is only $39/year. You don't get the streaming video of per-per-view movies during the free 1st year, but that option is definitely included in the paid/$39 membership. So... go take a class at a community college, benefit from the increase in your knowledge of a subject, and use that student email account to sign up for Amazon Prime for free for 1 year.


Netflix Addiction

Not sure if I can cancel my Netflix account now that I'm addicted to receiving those little red envelopes in the mail. Red Box seems to be the next best alternative since they're conveniently located at most local grocery stores.

Netflix & Alternatives

Hi Sarah,

This is a pretty good list for options to stream, rent and view movies and TV content. However, it does not address which providers provide closed captioning on their shows. This is a necessary and important service for the hearing impaired and deaf viewers. Many subscribers to Netflix were disappointed to learn that there was no captioning on their available media. Addressing this issue may be very helpful to some individuals.


Close captioning

If you have a Nintendo Wii, Netflix DOES have closed captioning. But only on the Wii.
Strange huh?? Not on Xbox or PS3, just Wii.

Regarding captioning/subtitles

Sarah, I must admit I was surprised to see that someone (Sherry) considered the captioning aspect for deaf/Hard-of-hearing users! Thanks! More people should be so conscientious. Color me impressed. I was one of those who were definitely disappointed when I subscribed to Netflix only to find that there were no captions, and resigned to just keeping the kid shows for my hearing children. I absulutely require captioning/subtitles to fully understand what the actors are saying, and am lost without them, left only to watch the "action" on-screen, and try to put everything in context. However, after about a year, Netflix quietly started adding subtitles as an option to a few of their shows, accessible by choice in the "audio/subs" options when first starting a show. I am happy to say that a lot of things are now subtitled, though not everything is. So Sherry, if you were posting for some deaf/HH friends you know, let them know about this! ;-)

As for the different services, yes, Netflix still seems to be the best option for my family, as we watch it through the Wii, and cancelled cable 8 years ago when we had our first child. We didn't want her exposed to commercials, as they are one thing that contribute to children becoming active/conscious consumers before they are mature enough to resist, and as such, compromise their ability to comprehend the availability of resources ("Oh, that little girl on tv has a new full kitchen set in her room! I want one! Whaddaya mean, I can't have one? We don't have the money? But she looks so happy! I want one anyway! I NEED it!").

Netflix has no commercials, unlike many of the other services you listed. So before you think I am only extolling the benefits of Netflix, we also go to our local Blockbuster for the occassional deal on movies that Netflix doesn't have, as BB still does have cheaper older movies for about a dollar, and newer realeases we can't get through Netflix. We also go to Redbox as well, for the occasional new release or video game. I think that some of the reason that Netflix is so much more expensive now is that they know that people are addicted, that they are one of the best options, and also that they do not receive any income from advertising/commercials. I have thought for years that I would pay almost any price for cable television, if only I could pay for a plan that did not have ANY commercials.

Thanks for this informative article, Sarah. Keep them coming.

Anthony in Tacoma

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Movie selections

I am a Netflix subscriber since 2003 and I have experienced various price fluctions. I am sure that Netflix needs to pay a hugh amount of money to various guildes such as SAG, etc. I'll stick with Netflix because they offer movies in blueray format and I like that.