As the Digital Age continues to unfold, people find themselves with many entertainment options. Some go the traditional route and continue to watch premium programming on cable and satellite. Others have embraced both streaming and standard television, experimenting with both services. As cable and satellite prices have increased, many people have dropped these services in favor of movie and television streaming. Thus, they have found other ways to view their favorite television series, movies and in some cases even books in this growing media platform. Such popular services include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Redbox. However, while all four services are growing in overall usage, there are differences in each service for customers to consider before choosing a specific streaming service.
Netflix has become a household name in TV and movie streaming. In its early days, the service had customers pay a flat monthly fee for a direct-mail DVD service. Customers would create a list and simply rent the DVD of their choosing. After watching the DVD, customers would mail it back and receive their next movie. However, the company has grown, offering original programming and a variety of movies and other popular television series available for viewing at any time. These titles can be accessed from nearly any television, computer or electronic device. Additionally, customers can cancel at any time.
While the direct-mail DVD option is still available, it is priced differently. The number of customers using physical deliveries has also decreased. Streaming is the company’s main focus. Netflix’s streaming subscriber base continues to grow as the service’s inexpensive monthly flat-fee model is seen as a popular alternative to high cable and satellite fees. Netflix is available in many countries throughout the world.
Hulu is a joint effort by several media corporations, each offering their own movies, clips and full episodes of select television shows. Unlike Netflix, the standard service is free. The service also has its own original programming. However, the company is still reliant on advertising revenue. Much like a regular television series, each show on the service does feature commercial time. The free service is only available to watch on a computer. Alternatively, there is also Hulu Plus which offers more television series and movies which customers can watch without ads on a computer, television or electronic device for a monthly fee. Unlike Netflix, both Hulu and Hulu Plus are only available in the United States and its territories as well as Japan.
Amazon Prime is a service by Amazon that focuses on two-day shipping and discounted one-day shipping on select items for an annual fee. However, since Amazon has grown from an online retailer into a streaming media competitor, the company has also launched its own streaming service called Amazon Instant Video, and its large catalog of titles is available to Prime members. Like Netflix and Hulu, Amazon Instant Video also offers a large number of on-demand movies and television series which can be viewed from a computer, a television with a broadband connection or any electronic device. Additionally, the company’s popular Kindle allows Prime users to access a select up to one book a month from a number of book titles with no due date. Like Netflix, the customer has the option to cancel the service at any time. While Amazon Prime is available in several countries, Instant Video can only be found in the United States.
Redbox offers streamed movies and television shows in its Redbox Instant Service, competing with Netflix in both the streaming and physical rental of movies and television series. Through Redbox Instant, customers have the option of choosing movie titles, television shows and video games. Redbox Instant offers a streaming-only option and a streaming and physical rental combination option, both of which charge monthly fees. However, as Redbox Instant is a developing service, Redbox continues to see most of its business through customers renting DVDs Blu-rays from the company’s red kiosks commonly found in high-traffic areas. For a low fee, customers choose and electronically pay for their desired title at any Redbox kiosk and can return it at any other Redbox kiosk.
With a growing number of media choices, consumers can watch their favorite movies and television series in more ways than ever before. Many people have found comfort in both cable/satellite and streaming. In the case of Amazon Prime, customers can also read their favorite books. In the growing media market, companies are embracing the advances of technology. There is little doubt that this area is bound to evolve, and despite the growing number of media options, it is up to the customer to decide what he truly needs.
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