NEW YORK (AP) - The DVD-by-mail service Netflix built its business on will soon be known as Qwikster. The rebranding follows Netflix’s decision to split its DVD rental business from its online streaming service, a move that raised the prices for customers who want both by as much as 60 percent.
Netflix and the newly-minted Qwikster have a growing list of competitors that offer movies and TV shows streamed online, on DVDs, or through on-demand cable TV. Choosing the right service 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?
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.
Here’s a look at some of the options out there:
_ Amazon’s Instant Video
Amazon.com Inc.’s service offers thousands of movies and TV show episodes for online rental. Rental prices range from $1 to $5. There is no Netflix-like monthly subscription plan, so this option is best if you’re looking for an a la carte plan that lets you pick what you want to watch. You’ll have access to a video for one to seven days once you 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 of movies, 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.
With Amazon, you can stream movies and shows on computers or on TV sets using a compatible, Internet-connected device such as a Blu-ray player or a set-top box from the likes of Sony, Panasonic, TiVo or Logitech.
_ Apple iTunes
Renting movies through Apple Inc.’s iTunes is another pay-per-view option to access the latest dramas, comedies or TV shows. You can rent regular or high-definition flicks and watch them on an iPhone, iPad, computer or TV set using an Apple TV set-top box.
Apple lets you rent first-run, high-definition movies the day they come out on DVD for $5 each, though most movies cost $3 or $4. TV shows are generally $1. You can watch rentals for a day or two from when you start playing them.
As with Amazon, renting movies through Apple is a good option if you want the latest releases as soon as possible. There are thousands of movies available, though iTunes doesn’t have as many obscure, indie flicks as Netflix’s streaming library. But, if you watch just a few shows or movies a month, it might be a cheaper option.
Under the new ownership of Dish Network Corp., Blockbuster has shifted to per-day pricing to better compete against Redbox and others. Just-released movies were lowered to $3 for the first day. Other new 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 pricier than Netflix’s _ $12 a month for one movie or video game at a time or $17 for unlimited two-at-a-time rentals. Netflix’s DVD-only plan is $8 per month for one and $12 for two.