As a streaming entertainment company, Netflix gets a lot of grief, but that’s to be expected. The company’s reputation was built over a decade of providing the best DVD rental-by-mail service ever – one that giants like Blockbuster and Walmart couldn’t even compete with. Nowadays, Netflix is the most popular streaming service for movies and TV shows from Hollywood. Streaming content on Netflix is notoriously mediocre, so Netflix suffers as a result. In contrast, its selection of DVDs and Blu-ray discs isn’t as good, and it changes according to Hollywood’s whim.
Maybe you don’t like Reed Hastings, Netflix’s CEO, or the changes it makes. You might not like the idea of Netflix getting Facebook sharing or that Netflix is trying to become its own network, with shows like House of Cards (coming February 1) or new episodes of Arrested Development. You may not want to pay $7.99 per month to watch almost any digital device you own without any commercial interruptions and watch a massive selection of programs.
There’s a list of all the services you can use instead. If you’re still renting discs or streaming movies and shows, we have alternatives to Netflix you can try.
The goal of Amazon is to take down Netflix. For Prime members, Amazon offers unlimited streaming of streaming films and Instant Video for buying or renting videos for instant viewing.
Instant Video, for example, lets you purchase a film for $14.99 and always have access to it or rent it for $2.99 for 24 hours. The selection usually includes lots of new stuff, including next-day TV shows for just $1.99. A season pass saves you five percent per episode. You can download all of these videos to the Kindle Fire for offline viewing in your video library.
You can access a wide selection of films and television with an Amazon Prime membership, but there are no brand-new films or TV shows available. However, Netflix has a much larger selection of content. Netflix and Amazon get different deals with studios, so your results may differ. Your Watchlist is a queue where you can watch Prime videos and purchase or rent videos.
When you’re looking to stream a newly released movie, Amazon might be your best option. There isn’t a huge saving compared to what a DVD subscription at Netflix could offer, but if you don’t pay attention to watching and returning discs, you may be wasting your money.
Note: If you want a free way to stream movies and TV shows then use Cinema APK.
Hulu is a joint venture between some TV networks (Fox, ABC, NBC) and moneymen hoping to control how you watch shows on the Internet. All you need to do is make the price affordable and the content plentiful, and everyone will come. There is a general lack of content on Hulu, and what is there is always changing, usually at the discretion of the studios that own the shows. There is no way that the networks will be able to get every single show from their backlog on Hulu, let alone the entire backlog. Even worse, you can’t skip the ads. It is not even possible to fast-forward through them, and sometimes the ads take longer to buffer than the shows themselves. In spite of that, Hulu Plus is a video-on-demand service with high quality and can be accessed on almost any device. There are also a lot of other cable channels such as Comedy Central (The Daily Show and Colbert), Syfy, Style, FX, and even PBS, so you can get a lot of great shows the day after they air. You can also find a lot of movies, but it doesn’t compare to Netflix’s selection.
YouTube is a well-known site. The site also has a few full-length movies you can watch. Well, you can, if you can find them. Daniel Day-Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans on YouTube is dubious legality. While most of the content on the site isn’t from a big-name studio or network, it still offers millions of hours of other content.
Note: There is another free app I would like to mention here and that is Cyberflix. This app is absolutely free to use and contains high-quality content.
The iTunes player is a player, and the iTunes store is a store. In addition to being the world’s largest music store, iTunes has long been a source for high-def 1080p movies and next-day TV shows, too. You can’t stream or subscribe to iTunes; you can only buy it. There are times when the prices seem completely out of whack; season nine of The Office costs $39.99, but season five is $44.99. On the other hand, the catalog is quite comprehensive. Paying plenty is all it takes. Those are the kinds of à la carte prices that make you thankful you have a cable box with 500 worthless channels.
Vudu, now owned by Walmart, attempted to compete with Roku with its own box. Since then, it has shifted to providing 1080p movies direct to as many devices as possible (and has just started offering 1080p on PCs), some of which are even in 3D. A big selling point of Vudu is that it makes videos available to stream the same day the DVD is released; Netflix waits 28 days for DVDs, and sometimes a year or more for streaming. As well as old shows, new ones are added here. It depends, as always, on the deal struck with the studios whether you can buy or rent it for 24 hours. HDX is Vudu’s proprietary enhanced-definition format; it isn’t quite Blu-ray quality, but it comes close.
Ultraviolet video-anywhere is also compatible with Vudu for storing and playing videos. If you store a copy of a video purchased from any source that supports Ultraviolet (including DVDs and Blu-ray discs) in your Ultraviolet digital collection, you can play that video back from Vudu.
Due to its ownership by Sony, Crackle has a particular bent toward Sony properties, both in terms of the products it streams and the videos it offers. (Sony has its own Hollywood studios.) The site now produces and distributes original shows and movies. Some have come and gone, like Trenches, but new shows are on the way, including Chosen, starring Milo Ventimiglia. Although original content isn’t on the level of HBO, or even Netflix’s big-name titles coming soon, it’s still nice to have it. Despite being free, Crackle only offers a limited selection, even though it’s uncut (i.e. uncensored). As a result, Sony, which created the Memory Stick, is going it alone rather than partnering with services like Hulu.
There is also a video-on-demand service at www.epixhd.com, similar to HBO or Showtime. Since it’s owned by Viacom (Paramount), MGM, and Lions Gate, the content is all from them (mostly movies, with no TV shows). Epix doesn’t offer free trials on all cable systems, so even if you have a device that can stream movies and shows from Epix, you can’t get access unless you already pay for the premium cable channel, which isn’t even available on Cablevision, DirecTV, or Time Warner.
Google Play Movies & TV channels are one of the most significant changes to the Android market. No matter what Google-based handheld platform you have, you’ll need a player or a browser to view the content. Depending on the deal, what’s available may vary. Although occasionally there may be gaps in viewing, it’s a useful service to have.
Following a buyout by BestBuy, CinemaNow relaunched a couple of years ago. Although it has improved, it still lacks anything that makes it stand out from the competition. Some HBO shows are only available online with the HBO GO app (available to HBO cable subscribers only), including Enlightened, Girls, and all six seasons of The Sopranos, plus up-to-date seasons of great shows from FX and AMC. Generally, the movie selection is pretty standard, and it’s annoying that a half-hour comedy costs the same as a one-hour drama. There is no discount available if you subscribe to a season.
By supporting only a paltry selection of devices, Blockbuster barely seems to be trying to compete with Netflix. On-Demand is not part of Blockbuster By Mail, which directly competes with Netflix in the DVD-by-mail arena; it’s a separate cost per rental or purchase, not a subscription like Netflix’s streaming service. On Blockbuster On Demand, it appears no TV shows are available for streaming, but this is a deal-killer.