Netflix alternatives

NEW YORK - So, say you are one of the 23 million Netflix  customers who are so upset over the company's price hike you're  ready to ditch the service. What are your alternatives -- and are  they worth it? Here are some possibilities for scratching that  video itch.

Amazon's Instant Video

Amazon.com Inc.'s service offers thousands of movies and episodes of TV shows for online rental. Rental prices range from $1 to $5. There is no Netflix-like monthly subscription plan, so this  option is best for customers looking for an a la carte plan that lets them pick what they want to watch. Customers get video for one  to seven days once they begin watching.

Apple iTunes

Renting movies through Apple Inc.'s iTunes is another  pay-per-view option to access the latest dramas, comedies or TV  shows. Customers can rent regular or high-definition flicks and  watch them on iPhones, iPads, computers or TV sets using Apple TV  set-top boxes. Apple lets people rent first-run, HD movies the day  they come out on DVD for $5 each, though most movies cost $3 or $4.  TV shows are generally $1.

 Redbox

Redbox, has more than 27,000 bright-red DVD kiosks in grocery stores, drugstores and elsewhere around the U.S. Customers can rent DVDs for $1 per night. Blu-ray movies are available for $1.50 per  night. Depending on how many movies you watch, this could be a cheaper option than Netflix, but the options are more limited. Each  kiosk holds 200 newly-released titles, which are updated every  Tuesday.

Blockbuster

Blockbuster recently shifted to per-day pricing to better  compete against Redbox and others. Just-released movies were lowered to $3 for the first day. Other newer movies are $2 for the  first day. Additional days are $1. These prices apply to DVD  rentals as well as movies rented online. Blockbuster offers no  monthly streaming plan. Its DVD-by-mail subscriptions are more  expensive than Netflix's -- $12 a month for one movie or video game  at a time or $17 for unlimited two-at-a-time rentals.

Cable

Cable TV providers such as Comcast and Time Warner offer on-demand options to their monthly subscribers. Time Warner charges $5 for a new movie release and $2 for older movies. Other cable TV  companies have similar pricing. Movies are sometimes free as part  of a subscription to HBO or other premium channels. Of course, you need monthly cable service to use the streaming service.

Hulu and Hulu Plus

Hulu offers thousands of TV show episodes and movies to its  viewers. Besides a free option, Hulu Plus subscribers can pay $8 per month for more content, high-definition viewing and access on the iPad and newer-model iPhones, as well as video game consoles  and high-end TV sets. Hulu's content skews more toward TV shows  than movies, though both are available.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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