My Movie Rental Habits Have Changed to Mostly Streaming

Back in the day I would run over to my local Hollywood Video or Blockbuster video to grab a DVD rental for the evening. I got so tired of both company's insane late fee policies that I switched to Netflix and never looked back. Netflix mails the disc to my house and I can keep it as long as I want. Once they added Blu-ray discs I was totally sold. At one point I was on the 3-Discs-At-Home plan. Then I noticed that they would sit for days and weeks on end before I had a chance to view them. I went all the way down to 1-Disc-At Home. Over the holidays I started looking at all of my home entertainment gadgets and it seems that just about every device I own now (TiVo, Playstation 3, XBox 360, Wii, Apple TV, iPad, etc.) can stream movies from either Amazon, Netflix or iTunes. I also noticed that the one Netflix Blu-ray disc I had at home had been sitting there for weeks. I finally watched it. However, before I sent it back I adjusted my account once again, this time to eliminate the discs altogether.


Blu-ray discs are better, but…

There's no debate when it comes to the quality of Blu-ray movies over ANY of the popular streaming technologies. Blu-ray wins in the quality category hands down. However, I've decided that for my regular movie viewing that it's just not important enough to keep getting discs. Here's my rationale: 

  • If I'm really interested in the movie, chances are I'll see it on the big screen in the theaters.
  • If it's just a so so movie, streaming quality is just fine and I get to see it immediately on my schedule right when I'm ready to watch. I don't have to leave the house or wait for the disc to come.
  • If it's a movie that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE and one that I'll want to see more than 3 times then I'll buy the Blu-ray (This is VERY RARE). I think I own maybe 20 Blu-ray discs total.


Netflix and iTunes are my top two choices

If a movie is available on Netflix instant streaming, it's a win for me. I can watch it on just about any of my devices. The quality is decent for the most part and it's a part of a monthly fee I'm already paying. If it's not available on Netflix I'll price compare it on Amazon (via the TiVo HD or Premiere XL) or iTunes via the Apple TV.  

While the quality of Blu-ray is better, I just can't get past the convenience of streaming these days with my current schedule. My local Hollywood Video closed its doors two years ago and Blockbuster is barely hanging on. Times have definitely changed.


The Devices I prefer to stream on

For iTunes and Netflix I'm really liking the NEW 2nd generation Apple TV. Hands down the best Netflix UI I've seen to date.

For Amazon on Demand, it's definitely the TiVo Premiere XL

For watching on the road, it's the Slingbox Pro HD. It allows me to stream whatever is showing on my TiVo to my laptop, iPad or iPhone.

For some older movies I'll watch via HBO. The problem with HBO is, they are never playing the movie I want to watch when I want to watch it. Sometimes I wonder why I still have HBO as most of my favorite HBO series have all but died?

Lastly I still have one Comcast Cable DVR too. If all else fails I can do a Comcast On Demand viewing.

With the above choices I'm set!

16 Replies to “My Movie Rental Habits Have Changed to Mostly Streaming”

  1. Okay.. I’m battling with the same thing right now !! What’s my best (and single mom cost effective) option for watching T. V. ?? I’m NOT a fan of Comcast and I would LOVE to drop them !! WWTWD ??

    1. Sarah, go with the simple antenna for your local channels. Then go with the Netflix Streaming for $8.00 a month. It’s like having movies/documentaries/kids shows… quite a selection for the price. You spend only $8.00 a month and you still get your locals over the antenna.

  2. Terry, you have become my favorite blog. Even more than all my photography ones. I purchase a lot of things because of your recommendations. I just got apple tv…not hooked up yet. I just bought Tivo premiere. When is the app coming from Tivo. It drove your buying decision? I am holding off on google tv. I like hulu plus, netflix streaming…
    I really look forward to kelby getting the ipad app done. I want to see the training offline. I also would like to watch more internet on my I am not locked in my office. Thanks for your efforts

    all the best,

  3. The only problem I have with going to streaming is that many selections I choose on Netflix simply aren’t available for streaming. For example, I recently decided I wanted to watch the Star Trek:DS9 episodes again. All seven seasons are available on DVD, but no streaming.

    I’m also finding that movies go in and out of availability for streaming. I was watching Car Wash on my iPad during lunch one day. When I went back to finish the movie, it was no longer available for streaming, only DVD.

    Right now, I view streaming as not yet ready for prime time because of the content, not the technology.

  4. I can understand streaming if you’re trying to get by with an iPad. Works pretty well. But for a large HD screen, blu-ray is the way to go for me. I am on the Blu-ray netflix plan and it’s great.

  5. We dropped cable 2 years ago and don’t miss it at all. We still get the 1 disc for now from Netflix, but discussed dropping even that since we also stream most movies (re-purposed old Dell). An antenna pulls local sporting events to our HDTV with a clearer picture than cable (except Bowl games that are on ESPN only… their loss). They raised our premiums one too many times!

  6. Terry, what do you do for recent releases? Netflix has no recent releases for streaming. Even some movies released on DVD over a year ago are not available for streaming. This has been the main obstacle that has kept me subscribing to Netflix’s DVD/Blu-Ray rental.

  7. I’ve thought about this too. My DirecTV contract expires in about 6 months and I’m debating if I should go with AT&T U-Verse or simply switch to streaming from Apple TV2, Xbox, and PS3. My major concern is live or semi new events/shows, i.e. sporting events, certain series, local news (local high school football games).

    For the ones that have shunned off cable and satellite television how do you deal with these areas of sitting on the couch and veggying?


  8. Have you checked out HBO-GO? It sounds like it would be ideal if it were supported by Tivo, AppleTV, or similar devices. It allows you to stream HBO shows on demand, but only to your computer for now. It’s a step forward, though!

  9. We love Netflix. We dropped Charter (Yay!!! they sucked!) and have the 3 disk plan while saving $65 per month in the process. I would love to see more programing for streaming, but until then the 3 discs just get rotated for the shows we are following. We just start a show at the beginning season and watch in order until the end. Works great for us and our schedule.

    I wouldn’t mind figuring out how to stream paid movies on demand for when we want something different and didn’t plan with Netflix. I think I’ll try Amazon since you mentioned it.

  10. Just bought the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Trackpad so I can hook up my MacBook Pro by HDMI to my 52″ LCD TV and watch anything, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube, whatever from my MacBook in Clamshell mode. Works great, no limitations like Apple TV and I can move from TV to TV with an HDMI cable. Love it! Who needs Apple TV?

  11. We’ve cut the cable many moons ago. Our solution is an Apple TV (1st Gen 160 GB) with aTV Flash hacked into it. Local TV via antenna gives us our usual programing. The aTV Flash(ed) Apple TV now sports a 2 TB hard disk for movies and applications on the the HDTV. Plus we can surf the net with the built in browser. Coming soon (end of Jan, 2011) will be Netflix and VUDU. Now if they could get Amazon Video On Demand it would be complete. Best of all it costs almost nothing.

    Happy viewing,


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