- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Even with a fee hike, millions of Netflix subscribers will be spending less each month than what it costs two adults to watch a single movie in a theater.

Yet the company, which is usually well-liked, managed to irk many of its 23 million U.S. customers by raising what it charges for streaming movies and TV shows over the Internet and sending DVDs by mail. The increase is as high as 60 percent.

For the disgruntled bunch, or those looking to expand their media-consumption horizons, there are a growing number of options for watching movies and TV shows online, on DVDs or through cable TV’s on-demand services.

The right option for you will depend on your appetite for video. Do you want the latest movies or the greatest classics? Would you prefer cheap or better on-the-go access? How many movies do you watch each month?

If that red DVD envelope from Netflix has been gathering dust, unopened, since “Jersey Shore” premiered in 2009, it might be time to ditch that DVD plan.

Of the online options, Netflix has the most content available for streaming over the Internet, though cable TV providers have pay-per-view options with a better selection of recent movies. Apple and Amazon, meanwhile, let you rent a la carte if you don’t want to commit to a monthly plan but want the latest movies.

What’s clear: New rates take effect immediately for new customers and on Sept. 1 for existing ones.

Netflix Inc. split the options for streaming and DVDs by mail. It is charging $16 combined for streaming and one DVD at a time, a 60 percent increase from $10 under the old package. Smaller fee increases are coming for Netflix more expensive plans, which offer more DVDs.

A plan that offers only online streaming remains unchanged at $8 per month. That may be all you need, but the selections are more limited than the DVD plans.

So have a seat. Grab some popcorn. Consider these video consumption options.

_ 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.

Amazon is offering free movie streaming to shoppers who pay $79 a year for a Prime membership, which offers free two-day shipping and discounts on next-day shipping. The selection, though, is much smaller than Netflix‘s. Amazon offers roughly 6,000 movies and TV shows for streaming over an Internet connection for its Prime subscribers. By contrast, Netflix offers more than 20,000.

Customers can stream movies and shows on computers or on TV sets using a compatible, Internet-connected device such as Blu-ray players and set-top boxes from the likes of Sony, Panasonic, TiVo or Logitech.

_ Apple iTunes

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