The Washington Post

Netflix, Blockbuster, Redbox: Weighing your options

Netflix, Blockbuster and Redbox are among the most popular video rental options out there. (PAUL SAKUMA/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Several users on Twitter and Facebook have posted messages saying that the pricing changes have sent them into the arms of a rival service such as Redbox. What’s the best option for you? That depends entirely on what you want from your video rental service.

Netflix: In case you missed it, Netflix is separating its DVD and streaming plans into two plans that start at $7.99. It previously offered streaming and one DVD at-a-time per month for $9.99.

It’s a blow to movie-lovers who like the instant access to streaming but also order DVDs to fill in the holes in Netflix’s streaming catalog. Netflix also has the disadvantage of getting late digital access to new releases. If you’re mostly using one or the other, however, the pricing changes are probably no big deal.

Blockbuster: Blockbuster, apart from having an ever-dwindling amount of brick-and-mortar stores, also offers a by mail service and an on-demand online service.

The by-mail service gets you one movie or game at a time for $11.99 per month, two discs for $16.99 per month or three discs for $19.99 per month. Online rentals start at $1.99 and are available the same day as the physical copy comes out — a leg up on Netflix — and you have 30 days to start watching any movie you rent. Once you’ve started watching a movie, you have a 24-hour window to watch that movie as many times as you want.

Even with its perks, Blockbuster isn’t priced competitively with Netflix, however, especially if you’re a mostly streaming-video watcher.

Redbox: Redbox, also known as those vending machine-like dispensers in places such as WalMart, McDonald’s and your local grocery store, offer $1-per-night rentals for movies and games.

But there’s no online streaming with Redbox, a delivery method that’s becoming more and more popular, particularly among younger users. The most online interaction you get through Redbox is the ability to reserve a movie to pick up — hardly competitive for power Netflix users.

Amazon Prime: Amazon offers $79-per-year commercial-free access to about 5,000 videos, as well as other perks such as free or discounted shipping. Amazon offers a free two-week trial, if you’re interested in trying it out.

Amazon also offers one-time rentals that start at 99 cents, or you can purchase a movie and download it to your device.But if you’re a DVD watcher, Amazon doesn’t offer you the physical discs by mail.

Hulu Plus: Another digital-only offering, Hulu Plus has a competitive price point with a $7.99-per-month plan that gives you access to current season episodes of popular TV shows plus an impressive backlog of television and movies.

The main downside to Hulu is that it has ads, something that irks a lot of viewers. It also doesn’t have the same extensive movie catalog that Netflix does, though it does have the Criterion collection.

Of course, there are a ton of other (legal and illegal) options that I didn’t cover here. What do you use and like?

Related stories:

Netflix faces backlash over price changes

Post Tech: Netflix increases prices for streaming, DVD packages

Post Tech: Netflix criticizes new Internet billing by bits

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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