Netflix vs. Hulu Plus vs. VUDU - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 69 Old 07-03-2011, 08:32 AM - Thread Starter
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So we've got this new HDTV and Blu-Ray player. And the Blu-Ray player has WiFi and I've got it working on our LAN. Yay! Welcome, SEMIJim, to the 21st Century!

But, from the one week we've been on a NF trial subscription, reviewing Hulu Plus on their site, and what I've been reading here about those two and Vudu, all of these services are, well, pretty much kinda worthless. At least for us.

Ideally we'd be able to find, between one or two of them, a way to get "re-broadcasts" of recent shows we've missed, for whatever reason, and HD movies. But NF appears to have only a limited number of old and very old TV shows. Hulu Plus seems only marginally better. Neither of them has much in the way of current-ish movies. Vudu has more current movies, but, I read, many (most? all?) films are $2 for SD, $3 for HD and $4 for HDX. I can rent Blu-Ray and DVD discs for less than that, from two local rental places.

None of these services strike me as particularly useful. Are my impressions incorrect?

Jim
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post #2 of 69 Old 07-03-2011, 08:36 AM
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Keep in mind that content is totally studio driven--subscription services can only provide what the studios allow them to provide and at the cost the services are able to negotiate with the studios. That's just the way it is--all of the subscription services you note--with the addition of Amazon and Apple--have their good points and deficiencies. Often you can achieve what you want with a combination. I use Netflix for Blu Ray rentals and some streaming (I have the 2 disc at a time plan), Amazon to buy Blu Rays and view current TV shows and movies on PPV, plus some free streaming by being a Prime member, and Apple is pretty close to what Amazon offers as far as PPV. I haven't used Hulu and only tried Vudu. I get pretty much what I want--but I also have Bright House cable--so I just use the other services for fill in TV shows that I miss and movies. All of it comes at a cost--and it always will be the only way to get studio content legally unless the studios change their philosophy on providing their content.

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post #3 of 69 Old 07-03-2011, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by spiritfox View Post

Keep in mind that content is totally studio driven--subscription services can only provide what the studios allow them to provide and at the cost the services are able to negotiate with the studios. That's just the way it is...

I understand that completely. That was not so much a criticism of the services, tho I'm sure it could be interpreted that way, as much as observations on the state of affairs, vis-a-vis what's available.

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...--all of the subscription services you note--with the addition of Amazon and Apple--have their good points and deficiencies.

Understood, which is why I was looking at, I'd hoped, being able to achieve what we wanted with a combination of two services.

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Often you can achieve what you want with a combination. I use ... All of it comes at a cost--and it always will be the only way to get studio content legally unless the studios change their philosophy on providing their content.

Wow, that's a heckuva combination of services to which you subscribe, just to get current movies and TV shows, at, I'm guessing, way more in monthly fees than we're willing to spend. (We don't even have cable or satellite TV, because we feel that even $30/mo. is too much to spend for TV.)

In summary: To me it looks like the Internet streaming services are mostly a mildly, briefly interesting "Hey, isn't this cool," kind of a thing, and that's about it. I guess we'll be sticking with live TV, the DVD recorder for when programs collide, and DVD/Blu-Ray rentals.

What the heck: The Internet capability on the Blu-Ray player was a gimme, so it's not like I paid for a capability of which I cannot make much use.

Thanks for your thoughts on things.

Jim
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post #4 of 69 Old 07-03-2011, 11:27 AM
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Netflix= older movies and tv shows, some tv shows are available one day after airing.
Some content is 720p and some content has 5.1 audio.
My take: I have been a subscriber for years and think it's the best bang-for-the-buck.

Hulu Plus= NBC, ABC, Fox, Comedy Central tv shows and some older movies. TV shows are available one day after airing. Most content is 720p and all content has 2.0 audio.
My take: I'm a subscriber and use it as a DVR, the commercials can be annoying.

Vudu= Newer movies available in 480p, 720p and 1080p. Most audio is 5.1.
My take: never tried it.

Amazon= Newer movies and tv shows available in 480p and 720p, SD content is 2.0 while HD has 5.1 audio. Amazon Prime members can get older content for free.
My take: I use it occasionally to watch a newer movie, they sometimes have movies for $1.

If you can't live without live sports or news then keep your cable.
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post #5 of 69 Old 07-03-2011, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post

Ideally we'd be able to find, between one or two of them, a way to get "re-broadcasts" of recent shows we've missed, for whatever reason, and HD movies.

Hulu (not Hulu Plus) is your best bet for recent TV shows. They have a nice line-up typically with rolling episodes (4 or so of the latest). A lot of the basic cable/OTA shows are available such as...

- Rescue Me
- Fairly Legal
- In Plain Sight
- Etc

It's not HD nor is it easy to bring to your TV by design (the content providers don't want to lose revenues). But it's possible via a variety of ways. Also, the less obvious way is with an app such as Nav-X on the Boxee Box. I was shocked at all of the current content including HD and premium channels (updated almost instantly). Researching the app's usage I found streaming (not downloading) copyrighted content is only a misdemeanor but decided to not take advantage of the app.
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post #6 of 69 Old 07-03-2011, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post

I understand that completely. That was not so much a criticism of the services, tho I'm sure it could be interpreted that way, as much as observations on the state of affairs, vis-a-vis what's available.

Wow, that's a heckuva combination of services to which you subscribe, just to get current movies and TV shows, at, I'm guessing, way more in monthly fees than we're willing to spend. (We don't even have cable or satellite TV, because we feel that even $30/mo. is too much to spend for TV.)

It's tough (or impossible) to come up with a solution that solves everything for everyone without fairly substantial costs. Internet streaming is really in its infancy, compared to the more mature tech of cable and the old grandpa, over the air signals.

I hope you weren't thinking EVERYTHING would be available through these services, or even coming close to rivaling cable/sat services. It has been improving, but it's got some growing pains.

On the plus side, you're set up for when more stuff does become available.

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post #7 of 69 Old 07-03-2011, 01:43 PM
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It's also a shifting dynamic. People are tired of paying $100+ a month for cable when they remember paying only $20 for it 20 years ago. The cables execs woke up one day from their drug induced snooze and realized the market had run away from them and people were beginning shun their weak selection of VOD movies. IOW, the same old circus antics no longer worked.

I only have Netflix as a subscription with the BD option and used Vudu occasionally for movies that will a take a long time to reach NF or haven't even made it yet into theaters. Comcast also offers some of those movies but IMO I already give them too much money and by past experience the MPEG-2 macroblocking was unacceptable. I don't see that with Vudu and if I want to save a $1 I'll also just take the 720p HD which is fine on a 6 mbps service.

And yup if you're a sports fan or a news junkie you might want to keep cable. I don't like subsidizing the sports junkies though (I never watch sports).
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post #8 of 69 Old 07-04-2011, 07:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post


But, from the one week we've been on a NF trial subscription, reviewing Hulu Plus on their site, and what I've been reading here about those two and Vudu, all of these services are, well, pretty much kinda worthless. At least for us.

Ideally we'd be able to find, between one or two of them, a way to get "re-broadcasts" of recent shows we've missed, for whatever reason, and HD movies...

...None of these services strike me as particularly useful. Are my impressions incorrect?

Jim

For reference, name a handful of shows and movies you would be interested in having available so we know what kind of content you are interested in.

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post #9 of 69 Old 07-04-2011, 09:28 AM
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I'll add a bit more about how I use the services.

Primary is Cable in tandem with the DVR for current TV shows.

Some shows I don't find out about until later so I usually end up buying those from Amazon or Apple--such as Sons of Anarchy Season 3 which I bought last night from Amazon. It is available on Amazon and Apple in HD. The first two season are on Netflix streaming so I got them there. For season 4, I will use my DVR to record them.

Castle is another show I was late coming to so I am working my way through season 2 now--episodes are $.99 on Amazon and Apple. I'll do the same for season 3 and then use the DVR for season 4.

I watch some movies on both Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime streaming. But most movies I either buy the blu ray from Amazon--or get the blu ray from Netflix--or occasionally buy the On Demand HD stream for Amazon or Apple.

As other posters have said, there is no easy or inexpensive way to get everything you want--when you want it. So there are trade offs to everything and it all depends on your entertainment budget as to how you want to use these services.

Bob

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post #10 of 69 Old 07-04-2011, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post

None of these services strike me as particularly useful. Are my impressions incorrect?

With the exception of Netflix, your impressions that the other services aren't particularly useful is correct.

As far as Netflix is concerned, if I haven't seen it before, it's new and current to me.
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post #11 of 69 Old 07-04-2011, 11:20 PM
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You have to look at things rationally. For what you want to pay (e.g. $30 monthly or less), netflix is your best bang for the buck. You will have unlimited access to thousands of TV shows and movies for streaming, and up to 4 DVDs out at a time per month for $28 (BR costs more). NF DVD turn around time is fast, so you could possibly get over 16 rentals in the mail per month, assuming there is a distribution center in your city. I currently use basic cable and netflix 1 disc at a time.
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post #12 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 06:42 AM
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There is currently no way to get everything from online services, especailly if you are talking about HD. I use VUDU, Xbox Live, Netflix, Hulu+, and Amazon VOD as my primary sources for my HD VOD content. Which is in addition to my cable TV HD content from FiOS.

No one has everything, but by having access to several services you maximize the content available to you that is available to watch. I use all those services as well as renting BD titles from Netflix, Blockbuster, and Redbox. And purchasing BD titles from Amazon and BestBuy.

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post #13 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 06:54 AM
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You still have to view Netflix's streaming as an added benefit to your DVD plan. For me as a person that missed watching X files, Lost etc on tv, I find Netflix streaming very much worth it.

If you want a service to find tv shows the next day....that's what your DVR is for. Unless you're looking to cut the cord on cable tv.
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post #14 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 07:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post

For reference, name a handful of shows and movies you would be interested in having available so we know what kind of content you are interested in.

All on Netflix: I looked up The Big Bang Theory, Dogma, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension and another I cannot recall atm. "DVD only." Looked up The Big Bang Theory on Hulu Plus. Not available.

We would sometimes like to catch PBS stuff we miss, for whatever reason.

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You still have to view Netflix's streaming as an added benefit to your DVD plan.

I'm getting that impression. Not interested in the DVD rental plan. There are times we go w/o renting a single DVD in a month. Heck, there times we've gone months w/o hitting the rental places.

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If you want a service to find tv shows the next day....that's what your DVR is for. Unless you're looking to cut the cord on cable tv.

We never connected the cord to cable or satellite. Never felt that TV was worth what they charge.

My wife, after perusing the offerings, thinks Hulu Plus may be somewhat useful. Netflix, after my getting "DVD only" for the 4th or 5th time, is out.

Thanks for the follow-ups, everybody.

Jim
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post #15 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post
But NF appears to have only a limited number of old and very old TV shows.
Well, depends what you consider "old"...I don't consider shows like The Office, 30 Rock, Sons of Anarchy, etc as "old" since they are still on TV, and usually have the most recent season available (that is out on disc).

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Neither of them has much in the way of current-ish movies. Vudu has more current movies, but, I read, many (most? all?) films are $2 for SD, $3 for HD and $4 for HDX. I can rent Blu-Ray and DVD discs for less than that, from two local rental places.
Netflix has some current-ish movies, but it's not the norm. It depends on what your definition of "current-ish" is. But again, you're paying $8/month for unlimited when EVERYONE ELSE is charging $4-6 for one view of one movie.

You are a off on your Vudu prices ($3.99 for SD, $4.99 for HD, $5.99 for HDX). But they do have some cheaper movies and have a 99 cent movie every day, that can be anything from Casablanca to more recent movies (like Inception, for example). I follow them on Facebook just to check that deal.
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None of these services strike me as particularly useful. Are my impressions incorrect?
No, they are useful, but only if they fulfill what you want. I have no problems keeping over 50 movies in my instant queue at Netflix, but they are movies that interest me. If there's nothing that interests you, then it's not useful. Netflix is really designed (IMO) to browse for movies that might interest you and to discover new movies....not for you to have a movie in mind and expect it to be available (as in "I really feel like watching Buckaroo Banzai and I fully expect it to be available"). There is a whole thread here about gems and finds to help people find good movies to watch.

As others mentioned, you really need a combination of things to get what you want.

As for shows, Netflix does have quite a few, but they are almost always after the disc releases come out (I say "almost" because there have been a few shows such as Spartacus and Harper's Island that have posted eps on Netflix the day after they aired, but that is certainly the exception and they are very few and very far in between)....Netflix is not meant to be a DVR service, nor is it meant to be a film service where you can get every movie out there for $8/month (think about that and how much every PPV/VOD service charges for a 24 hour rental: hint: it's usually around $4-6 for one title for 24 hours).

If you're looking for recent shows, your best bet is Hulu+ or regular, free Hulu. The best way I've found to get the free Hulu onto my TV outside of having an HTPC is through a product called PlayOn (www.playon.tv). It's a media server that runs on your PC, and then your Blu-Ray player should pick it up on your network, and from there you can stream from Hulu and a crapload of other services.

I won't say it's the best....the FF/Rewind controls leave something to be desired, and you don't get HD....but the stuff looks pretty decent (at least through my PS3, but I will note my XBox looks significantly worse with the same content). They have various pricing plans (one-time fee of $80, then I think you can pay annually or monthly). They also have a free trial that I think is 2 weeks if you wanted to at least investigate it.

Personally, what I do is I use free Hulu, combined with Netflix (3 discs at a time) and the occasional movie from Redbox or rental from Vudu to compensate.

If I were you, this is probably what I would do:
  • Sign up for Redbox (free), who will send you a free rental code every so often (I seem to get a couple each month). This will take care of a disc here and there, since you don't rent discs often. I am assuming you have a dozen Redbox kiosks around you like everyone else seems to. I will note that by "free rental" they really mean $1 off, so it makes DVD's free, but Blu-Rays will still cost you 50 cents.
  • Sign up for Hulu+ ($8/month)
  • Possibly sign up for Netflix if you look at available content and figure if it's worth it ($8/month)
  • Compliment with the occasional Vudu title.

So you are looking at $8/month (or $16 with Netflix) and if you use Vudu twice, another $12. Even if you do all of that, it's a whopping $28/month, and you still would get a free rental or two from Redbox.

If you invest in a cheap antenna, you can even pick up the OTA channels to watch live TV shows (or hook up a DVR/HTPC to record it).
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post #16 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 10:13 AM
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One of the most valuable assets of Netflix streaming is the able to instantly stream multiple seasons of series. I found this feature enhances the value of the show to a large extent. With shows like Damages, Sons of Anarchy, Bones, Nip/Tuck, Life on Mars, Eureka, Doc Martin, 24, Rescue Me, etc you'll have up to or over 100 episodes available to view upon demand. After a while it makes waiting a week, weeks, or months for the next episode of your current favorite to air rather difficult. Not to mention the commercial free aspect.
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post #17 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 10:33 AM
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After a while it makes waiting a week, weeks, or months for the next episode of your current favorite to air rather difficult. Not to mention the commercial free aspect.
Agreed, but don't forget the lack of a station logo or those animated popups on the screen advertising other shows (or in the case of the worst offenders, the constant bug on the screen telling you what you're watching at that moment and what's coming up next, etc).

Nothing like sitting down to watch something like Stargate Universe and having access to the entire series, without all the crap that Syfy constantly has plastered all over the screen. And unlike discs, I don't have to sit or FF through 10 minutes of trailers and commercials. Something to be said for the convenience of not having to buy discs or wait for availability and shipping, and the lack of the annoyances that plague other delivery mechanisms (of course, the flipside being that the quality is not quite up to BD standards)
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post #18 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 10:43 AM
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But NF appears to have only a limited number of old and very old TV shows. Hulu Plus seems only marginally better. Neither of them has much in the way of current-ish movies.
Erm, but this just isn't true. Netflix has every season of recent network shows like 30 Rock, The Office, and LOST. And Hulu gives you the most recent episodes of those and many more.

It sounds like you're really looking for new movies. And because of the previously mentioned arrangement with the studios, your best bet for new movies is renting from iTunes or Amazon Instant.
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post #19 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 10:59 AM
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Agreed, but don't forget the lack of a station logo or those animated popups on the screen advertising other shows (or in the case of the worst offenders, the constant bug on the screen telling you what you're watching at that moment and what's coming up next, etc).

Nothing like sitting down to watch something like Stargate Universe and having access to the entire series, without all the crap that Syfy constantly has plastered all over the screen. And unlike discs, I don't have to sit or FF through 10 minutes of trailers and commercials. Something to be said for the convenience of not having to buy discs or wait for availability and shipping, and the lack of the annoyances that plague other delivery mechanisms (of course, the flipside being that the quality is not quite up to BD standards)
I rarely even notice the logo. it's been there for so long now the only thing I notice is when they have those pop up ads for another show.

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post #20 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 11:00 AM
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All on Netflix: I looked up The Big Bang Theory, Dogma, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension and another I cannot recall atm. "DVD only." Looked up The Big Bang Theory on Hulu Plus. Not available.
I’ve never watched any (or even heard of) a number of those, so I don’t know what to tell you about getting those streamed.

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We would sometimes like to catch PBS stuff we miss, for whatever reason.
PBS has a lot of different content, so I can't speak for all of it. That said, a lot of PBS stuff is on Netflix. A lot of the “PBS Kids” stuff is available on Netflix. There are also a lot of general documentaries like “NOVA” and “Nature” available on Netflix. “POV” and/or “Independent Lens” has some available streaming on Netflix, but not all. Further some of the POV are available on disc rental. Further, there are a number of offerings from “Masterpiece Theatre” available streamed from Netflix. Finally, I know there are a number of the "Austin City Limits" performances on Netflix as well.

What specific shows aren't you finding?

Another area to look, almost all PBS shows are available to stream directly from the PBS website. Sometimes the video quality is less than stellar, and few hardware players support it natively (can use Play On, or run it off a PC) but they are available to stream.


In a similar vein, there are also a number of documentaries from the History Channel as well as TLC - prior to it becoming the sad “HRC” it is now (House Remodeling Channel.) There is also a large selection of BBC based documentaries to choose from.


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Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post
Not interested in the DVD rental plan. There are times we go w/o renting a single DVD in a month. Heck, there times we've gone months w/o hitting the rental places.
I’ll just throw out that there is another option when using Netflix’s DVD plans. Some people consider it legally/morally grey but you can queue up discs of TV series/shows and then rip/copy them to a computer/HDD player to “buffer” them up for watching later. Using this method, it is possible to receive an entire season of a TV show in 4 or 5 different discs, rip and store them on a drive until you get the whole season, then watch them at your leisure. IMO, as long as you delete them after you have watched them, it is really no different then watching them as you get them. Just more convenient. YMMV. But it is another option.

-Suntan
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post #21 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 11:21 AM
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I get the impression more and and more that Jim was one of those folks that when he saw ads for Netflix streaming thought that meant their entire dvd catalog would be available and when it was not get very disappointed in the service.

I think for folks that had Netflix pre-streaming like myself, we appreciate more what it offers. Yeah the tv shows are a lot of stuff from the last 10 years but for me, pre DVR days I missed a lot of them and the ability to burn through multiple episodes on a good night is a great thing.

There is no 1 service that meets what he is looking for at this time.
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post #22 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 11:28 AM
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Especially not at the price he wants, $30 per month. The studios will make sure that will never happen.

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There is no 1 service that meets what he is looking for at this time.
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post #23 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 12:01 PM
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Only if they want to start basically giving away their content.

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post #24 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by jamieva View Post

I get the impression more and and more that Jim was one of those folks that when he saw ads for Netflix streaming thought that meant their entire dvd catalog would be available and when it was not get very disappointed in the service.

Yeah, I know more than one person who had that impression. "I thought they'd have everything! "

Jesus, people, not even cable at $100+ a month has everything that's out there, what makes you think Netflix at $8 would?

There are rights to be negotiated and fees to be distributed to the actual owners of the content. That takes time and money, so it's going to be a while before we get an online catalog that rivals what DVDs, etc., have provided after 15 years of being available.

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post #25 of 69 Old 07-05-2011, 02:45 PM
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Yeah, I know more than one person who had that impression. "I thought they'd have everything! "

Yeah THIS.

All the oldsters love their cable because they feel like they're getting bang out of their buck with quantity.

But us newbies just use the internet instead of cable. Because I'm paying for stuff I actually get. I don't want CupCake Wars. I want Mad Men and Breaking Bad. And I'm happy to pay $8 for that instead of 2 or 3x that to include Cupcake Wars. Feel me.
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post #26 of 69 Old 07-06-2011, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jamieva View Post
I get the impression more and and more that Jim was one of those folks that when he saw ads for Netflix streaming thought that meant their entire dvd catalog would be available...
Well, yeah. I guess. Saw nothing, prior to trying it, to give me cause to believe otherwise.

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... and when it was not get very disappointed in the service.
I don't know as "very disappointed" would be an accurate description. Guess it depends upon ones perspective. More like "What's the point?"

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... the ability to burn through multiple episodes on a good night is a great thing.
I suppose there's something, perhaps lots of somethings, out there with which I'd want to do that. I'd as soon not find them. I spend too much time in front of the TV as it is, IMO.

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There is no 1 service that meets what he is looking for at this time.
I quickly discovered that, which is why I asked if I could achieve (most of) what we wanted with a combination of two of them. But it would appear not, particularly since, according to mproper, Vudu's rental prices are outrageous.

We'll probably give Hulu Plus a try if and when it eventually arrives on the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 we now have. My wife thinks that'll be useful. NF we're almost certainly going to dump. Vudu is completely out of the question.

Thanks for the feedback, everybody. Appreciate it.

Jim
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post #27 of 69 Old 07-06-2011, 09:33 AM
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Yeah, it takes some poking around to find something that begins to cater to what you want (and even then, not everyone is going to be completely happy.)

Give it a few years and try Netflix again. They'll have made some more money and brokered some more deals. Right now it costs them $200 million to stream the movies and shows they have available now. It'll take some more money to get more content.

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post #28 of 69 Old 07-06-2011, 01:26 PM
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For me, when I first got Netflix streaming, I did like the OP did, and tried searching for movies/tv shows I wanted and wound up being disappointed. I then took a different approach, and browsed what was available and put what interested me into the queue. I now have over 100 movies/shows in my queue, and it makes the Netflix experience much better. I use Netflix streaming supplemented with Redbox rentals for newer blockbusters. I am still taking the summer to figure out what to do once the fall tv season starts. I am potentially looking at an OAR antenna and will purchase an OAR DVR for current network content, or possibly check out PlayOn, or whatever else might make sense.
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post #29 of 69 Old 07-06-2011, 02:15 PM
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Also Netflix has done a great job to grow what is available on streaming. When they first rolled it out it sucked. The selection was awful at first. it has greatly improved since then.
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post #30 of 69 Old 07-06-2011, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
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For me, when I first got Netflix streaming, I did like the OP did, and tried searching for movies/tv shows I wanted and wound up being disappointed. I then took a different approach, and browsed what was available and put what interested me into the queue. I now have over 100 movies/shows in my queue, and it makes the Netflix experience much better. I use Netflix streaming supplemented with Redbox rentals for newer blockbusters. I am still taking the summer to figure out what to do once the fall tv season starts. I am potentially looking at an OAR antenna and will purchase an OAR DVR for current network content, or possibly check out PlayOn, or whatever else might make sense.

OAR = Original Aspect Ratio

OTA = Over The Air

Just FYI.

-Suntan
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