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Can Anyone Take Netflix’s Streaming Crown?

Netflix’s Instant Streaming has changed the way that people watch movies and television, as well as pretty much taken over the internet (Seriously; almost 30% of peak U.S. bandwidth use comes from Netflix Instant, according to recent studies). No surprise, then, that everyone wants a piece of that action – but can anyone come up with a Netflix killer by this point?

You have to be a wonk to keep up with all of this, admittedly, but all manner of companies – almost all with pockets deep enough to make this kind of thing work – are considering how to beat Netflix at its own game. Hulu.com, the streaming video site co-owned by parent companies of NBC, FOX and ABC, is up for sale and all manner of people are interested, including Amazon, Dish Network, Yahoo and Google, with at least two of those companies (Amazon and Dish) reportedly also considering launching their own Netflix Instant competitors in addition to any Hulu plans they may have. Barring the collapse of the internet anytime soon, it’s looking as if the future of home entertainment really might be streaming content.

I’m actually completely okay with that; I like (and use) Netflix Streaming a lot – without it, I wouldn’t have been able to experience the highs and lows of Friday Night Lights, after all – and one of the reasons for that is that it’s platform independent; I can watch it on my laptop, my iPad, my TV, and each one will remember what I was watching, where I was and what I’d added to watch later. It’s really so easy that it makes the alternatives look clumsy, awkward and working against the customer, instead of for them. Which makes me wonder: Does this mean that Netflix is it, now?

Think about it: iTunes has become the standard bearer for digital music distribution, because it’s so user-friendly, and so omnipresent that it doesn’t even matter that other outlets are cheaper, or offer higher-quality downloads; iTunes managed to claim the idea of being the standard, and that was that. Is Netflix at that point already? It’s possible; anyone using the monthly subscription/unlimited streaming across multiple platforms model – which they’d surely have to do, in order to even compete with Netflix – they’d be accused of just biting the Netflix model, and any massive advances beyond what’s already there could just take it out of the sweet spot of market acceptance.

Where Netflix is vulnerable, right now, is price and content – the two most important factors is any such venture, sure, but especially so for Netflix currently, because of their recent controversial price hike (which takes effect this month) and Starz’ recent announcement that it will not be resigning a contract agreement with the service (Interestingly enough, Starz is rumored to be going with the Dish alternative, which would be based around their Blockbuster buyout). Whoever wants to replace Netflix as streaming video supplier of choice – and position themselves in the right place for the future – is going to have to work out how to do it with more choice, and for less money, than Netflix is currently managing – and to be honest, I’m not sure doing both of those things is necessarily possible. Like it or not, the crown is Netflix’s to lose – which doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to exist in the same space, just that you’ll probably have to get used to being permanently second-best in terms of popularity.

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Comments

  • Anonymous

    Honestly I’d love to use HBO Go or Amazon Prime more often (as a HBO subscriber and fan of fast shipping I am already signed up for both) but the real deal breaker is the lack of PS3 support.

    As soon as Amazon Prime or HBO Go shows up on my PS3 I’ll drop Netflix like a bad habit. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Justin-Pressnall/1093062192 Justin Pressnall

    At this moment, we use Netflix Instant, but that’ll change the moment the selection through Amazon Prime seems like it’ll catch up.  The deal-breaker for us is that Netflix offers so many more kids programs than any other service.  There’s still enough for the adults, even with the loss of Starz, but we’d be lost without Thomas the Tank Engine and Blue’s Clues, neither of which (I believe) are available through Amazon’s Prime service.

  • nik

    We canceled our cable four years ago for netflix and never looked back.  It’s got so much content on there, I’ll never watch all of it.  Sheesh, Sympathy for Mr. Vengance has been in my que for over a month.

  • GFunk

    Graeme Cracker  article nothing of interest here

  • Cjorg2

    Actually, I found it somewhat interesting.  Your comment less so…

  • Jmcreer

    Well, duh…

    You’ve provided your own explanation, although it’s flawed.  Graeme IS a journalist.  However, the title that best explains his purpose here is COLUMNIST.or EDITORIALIST. 

    The purpose of his columns, or editorials, are to discuss or raise an issue and provide his own opinion regarding that same issue (which IMO he does all the time).  The column may contain a number of facts, but it’s not intended as an objective report of an incident.  It’s about his thoughts or muses on any number of topics. 

    As with any good columnist, another aim of the feature is to provide the catalyst for feedback from readers, both negative and positive.  Taking that into account, he seems to earn his salary quite well judging from the number of hits for each column, as well as the feedback.

    You might take this into account the next time you criticise a person for doing their job.  Try to understand what the job is before you have a go at them.

  • AdamH12110

    We recently ditched the Netflix streaming at my house because the price went up.  It’s unfortunate because I use it to watch old horror and sci-fi flicks. 

  • Eric

    I dropped streaming the instant it became an option. I stuck with the Disc-only option and my bill dropped, and now I never have to bother with pixelated, grainy, stop-start playback and insanely long buffering times. Good riddance to Netflix Instant.

  • http://twitter.com/studiojcomics J. Wichmann

    I use both disc and instant services regularly and i enjoy both immensely.  However i find that for netflix to continue its dominance it will need to police the quality control of their services on third party equipment.  the start/stop and random buffering and poor picture quality comes from equipment interface and servers not maintaining a proper connection to the netflix servers(while dsl and slow net connection hurts viewing, standard cable or increased cable speed does not help).  contact netflix and they say “it’s not us”.  contact hardware companies and they say “it’s not us”.  left unchallenged this will probably not change, though with viable alternatives in the pipeline, i see both users and non-netflix users winning out.

    competition breeds excellence!

  • http://profiles.google.com/jimmy6p jimmy kraktov

    Their price hike was on the DVD in the mail thing. Streaming didn’t go up. Mine is still $7.99/month. I can watch on my laptop or Wii on my flat panel.