Streaming technologies have only continued to get better over time, and this is most evident with the fact that we have services like Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, and more that stream HD content through browsers and other means to our computers, gaming consoles, and even directly to TVs. I think these modern marvels alone are impressive, but when you add to the awesomeness that you can subscribe to stream unlimited movies at a fraction of the price of taking the whole family to a single showing of any movie at the theater this is a steal! Unless you streaming sucks, and everything is pixelated and crappy looking.

This weekend I spent a few hours streaming shows over Netflix and in the recent past I have watched movies from other services like Vudu. The point of this blog post is to create an open letter (more or less) to Netflix to call them to improve their streaming capabilities.

Vudu vs Netflix

Before I start down the path of comparing each service I want to note that where Netflix has a subscription based service. You pay a flat monthly fee for as many movies as you want. Vudu is a pay as you go service. A minimum of $2 per rental, for up to 2 days. That does not include HD or HDX which each cost more. We will get to that though.

Price

Because the first thing everyone is going to ask is what is the price comparison let's break it down.

Netflix (streaming only) is $7.99. Vudu starts at $2 a movie and goes up to $7 a movie. If you only watch 1-8 movies a month then Vudu is quite comparable. My family however, utilizing 9 devices (2 laptops, 2 Wiis, 2Xboxes, 3 Blu-ray players) could in theory stream 9 movies at a time each night for a high of 270 movies (and tv shows) a month. Realistically we watch 3 movies a week. That is still 12 movies a month as a low ball. So the pricing would be

  • Netflix - $7.99
  • Vudu - $24 - $2000 (270*7.99)

Obviously the Netflix option is best, right? Let's talk about releases.

New Releases

New releases is becoming a bit of a problem in Hollywood. Studios are keeping services like Redbox and Netflix from having DVDs for up to 28 days. However, companies like Blockbuster, and Vudu can have these same movies the day the DVD releases. I have a hard time discerning the difference between Blockbuster and Redbox, or between Netflix and Vudu except that the movie studios are obviously biased that subscription and dollar rentals are bad. More on this later too as I have a strong opinion about the entire thing.

So for new releases to stream to your house you are stuck waiting at least 28 days for Netflix (actually is is closer to 7 years*), where Vudu can stream it to you the same day. Note that these movies on Vudu are typically not at the $2/2day rate, and so you are looking at more like $6-7 for the rental.

Vudu wins**.

Streaming Quality

This is where Vudu shines, and why shouldn't they? They are charging the customer more money per movie than Netflix and so they can afford better streaming options. Hands down Vudu wins.

Although Netflix does a pretty good job most of the time there are times when the streaming quality sucks. I mean sucks. I was watching Doctor Who the other night and streaming was blocky, and choppy. This isn't everytime I watch a show/movie, and it isn't the whole movie. However it does happen and it really bugs the hell out of me.

Vudu on the other hand nails streaming. I've never had any visual lag, no pixelating, and never a stop to recalculate streaming. It has been crystal clear, picture perfect everytime.

Again Vudu wins, but at a price.

Wrap Up

I love the subscription plan with Netflix, but they need to fight for their right to stream new movies, and they need a better streaming setup. If you must watch a new movie or want a perfect picture then rent your movie on Vudu.

  • Netflix has really had a hard time negotiating streaming rights, most of the "newer" movies on Netflix are 7 years old, or older. There are exceptions, though few.

** Vudu in my mind has an unfair advantage, I'm not sure of the relationship with Hollywood, but I assume it is there.