Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Netflix, Amazon, and the 'problem' of streaming movie choice

At The AV Club, Tasha Robinson makes the case for continuing with physical media instead of relying on cloud-based streaming services like Netflix. Some of what she says makes sense, but not this:
And then there’s the fact that DVD/Blu-ray selection is still far greater than streaming selection. For example, check out this comparison list from September 2011, showing that only about a fifth of the movies on the IMDB top 250 are available via Netflix streaming—a percentage that dropped recently with the lapse of the Starz deal. Or consider Netflix’s Alfred Hitchcock library: More than 40 films available on disc, but only six available on Netflix Instant, and only two of those (The Lady Vanishes and The Man Who Knew Too Much) among his classics. Not only is any given film still far more likely to be available in disc form, those discs are still more likely to have options like subtitles, alternative languages, and disc extras.
That's only true if you consider Netflix the end-all, be-all of streaming movies. That's not the case.

Just to use Robinson's example: No, Netflix doesn't offer much in the way of streaming Hitchcock flicks. But Amazon Instant Video actually has a fairly complete roster of Alfred Hitchcock movies available to rent or own in a streaming format, including biggies like "Psycho" and "Rear Window."

If you lock yourself into one service, yes your choices will be limited. But that's not really necessary for most folks. On Friday night, I used Netflix to watch "Brokeback Mountain." On Saturday, I paid $4 to rent "Hugo" from Amazon. No, cloud-based services aren't complete. But if you're willing to take a buffet approach to your movie streaming, they're a lot closer than Robinson's example suggests.


John said...

I can definitely see your point in how one service is not the answer. If it was then there wouldn’t be competition between the companies for business. I used to just use Netflix for both my DVD rentals and streaming until the price increase last year, and then I started looking at my options. Working at DISH I of course knew I had the Blockbuster @home package available to me, but I don’t watch DVD’s too much anymore, and if I do I just hit the redbox up. The big thing to me was streaming. I love streaming television shows and movies, and at the time Netflix was working, but since I also had DISH service, I spend a lot of time streaming shows and movies at DISH online. Tell you the truth I didn’t really notice anything that Netflix had that I couldn’t live without of the I couldn’t find on DISH online, especially now seeing how I have access to all of the Starz streaming package that Netflix doesn’t have now.

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