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.
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, 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 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 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.)