Next week, on September 1, Netflix's new pricing tiers go into effect. While you may have already decided (like many other customers, in a fit of anger) to cancel part or all of your subscription, we actually think you should step back and realistically consider the alternatives.
First of all, for those of you that have somehow missed the online uproar over it, here's the new price break down: where once a subscriber was able to have an all-you-can-stream plan plus one DVD at a time for $9.99, a viewer now has to sign up for both an all-you-can-stream plan for $7.99 plus a 1-DVD plan for another $7.99. That essentially means that Netflix has raised its most popular combo plan to $15.98, an increase of $5.99.
You know that we at dealnews are all about the bargain, that we look for the best value. With a price hike like the one Netflix is enforcing (which comes to a 60% increase for the combo plan), you'd think we'd quickly jeer it, then move on. But the weird thing is, we'd have to say that Netflix is still your best streaming value for online content. So if you're hoping to cancel this part of your subscription and take your streaming elsewhere, think again.
Let's consider the competition:
A La Carte Stores Like iTunes and VUDU
PROS: Newer movies are available to rent earlier than streaming on Netflix — often by a wide margin.
CONS: They lack all-you-can-watch plans. With $3.99 and $2 for rentals at iTunes and VUDU, respectively, you'll quickly spend more at these places than on a Netflix subscription.
Amazon Prime Instant Videos
PROS: It's a free add-on bundled with your subscription to Amazon Prime. If you're paying Amazon $79 a year for free shipping sitewide, it's not a bad deal to have video streaming thrown in.
CONS: Amazon's Prime instant viewing section features an anemic selection of films and TV shows, to say the least. And if you deem the movies that Netflix streams "old," then these are simply ancient. (Right now Amazon is promoting the availability of "Elizabeth," "Notting Hill," and "Being John Malkovich" — which all came out in 1998 and 1999.) It also offers lackluster TV content. The most exciting offerings are from CBS's back catalog: "Cheers," "Star Trek," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," "Star Trek: Voyager," and "Hawaii Five-O." (Nope, the one from 1968!)
PROS: For $7.99 a month, you get access to a wide catalog of current-season and archived TV shows. Netflix, on the other hand, doesn't stream current episodes — all their shows are last-season. Hulu goes a long way to allowing you to "cut the cord" and dump cable, as you'll still be able to watch many of your favorite shows ("Family Guy," "Hell's Kitchen," and "Glee") on demand.
CONS: Abysmal movie selection. The most popular movie on Hulu Plus, as of this writing, is "The Chosen One" a direct-to-DVD (streaming) movie staring Rob Schneider.
When you compare it to the other available streaming options, it's clear that Netflix is still a great value. Yes, having unlimted streaming and DVDs shipped to your home for a low, single subscription was a great deal; but like any good deal, it expired before we were ready to see it go. (Grandparents also reminisce about when milk used to cost 29 cents a gallon. Alas, those days are gone, never to return, either.)
So now we have to search for the next great deal in streaming content and what did we find? That Netflix is the next-best-thing to Netflix.
Image credit: Kate Bingamen-Burt via Flickr