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iTunes Vs. Netflix Vs. Movies on Demand Vs. Blockbuster

Dvd Rentals, Movie Rentals, Online Dvd Rental, Online Movie Rentals

With the new Apple iTunes movie rental service, movie-watching consumers have been given one more way to rent or buy movies. While some see the new iTunes movie rental service as competition for NetFlix, the business model is more akin to cable on-demand movie services. Read on for a comparison of the new Apple iTunes movie rental service, NetFlix Instant Watch movie rental service, cable movie rentals on-demand, and Blockbuster. Included here are price differences, delivery methods, portability, and convenience, and the overall appeal of each movie rental service. In this movie rental competition there is no clear winner among the companies, since each has its own advantages. The true winner in this race so far is the consumer.

The movie rental business just got more interesting. It also just got a whole lot better for consumers. The more options a consumer has, the better it is. When a new player enters the market, the other companies tend to make their services better.

iTunes vs. Blockbuster vs. Netflix vs. Movies on Demand


Apple has recently entered the movie rental service business. In his keynote address at Macworld, Steve Jobs made the announcement about the new movie rental service. The movie rental delivery method is on par with the method provided by digital cable’s movies on demand service.

Author’s Note: The quality of the iTunes movies is excellent. (Note: I use a brand new iMac).

iTunes and Cable’s Movies-on-Demand Similarities

How the iTunes movie rental service is similar to cable’s movie-on-demand services:

1. iTunes movie rentals can be watched over a 24-hour period.

2. The pricing of new releases is competitive with the prices of new releases on cable’s movie-on-demand services. For example, a new release on iTunes will cost $3.99. The same new release movie is priced for $3.99 on cable’s movies-on-demand service. (Note: depending on your particular cable company, the price may be higher or lower, which may help you determine which rental method is more economical for you).

3. The iTunes movie rental service does not require a monthly subscription, or any time commitment. You are already paying a subscription fee for the delivery method, in this case, your Internet connection. With cable’s movies on demand you are already paying a basic subscription service, and you also pay per movie. There is no long-term commitment.

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4. Both iTunes and cable’s movies-on-demand service offer lower prices for older movies. For example, some movies cost $2.99 rather than $3.99.

Author’s Note:The quality of the digital on-demand movies with our local cable service is also excellent.

Differences Between iTunes and Cable’s Movies-on-Demand

One major difference between the iTunes movie rental service and cable’s movies-on-demand service is that iTunes has a purchase option.

Another difference is that people using cable’s movies on demand service can watch the movies directly on their TVs, without needing a special TV or a cable to hook up their computer. For some people, hooking up their computer to their TV is not big deal. For others, it may be inconvenient.

In defense of iTunes movie rental service, the movies may also be watched on AppleTV.

Lastly, Twentieth Century Fox will be providing anyone who purchases certain hard copies of new DVDs will also receive a digital copy of the movie (Apple.com)

Limitations of iTunes Movie Rental Service

The main limitation of the iTunes Movie Rental Service right now is that it features a library of 1,000 movies. With the vast number of movies made, it would be more useful to see the library expanded.

Movies purchased from the iTunes store cannot be burned to a “DVD or VCD that will play in a DVD player or Video CD” according to Apple.com

iTunes Movie Rental Service Benefits

The iTunes movie rental service is an affordable way for people to rent movies. This service will appeal to anyone who may not have cable and on-demand services. This may also be a good option if you don’t get cable in your area, or cable is just too expensive.

This movie rental service is ideally suited to those who don’t mind watching movies on their PCs or Macs. It will also work for anyone who sees hooking up their computer to their TV as no big deal when they want to watch movies on their TV.

For anyone who wants to take their movies on the go, the iTunes movie rental service will fill that need. It can bused by anyone who wants to watch a movies on a laptop, “all current generation iPods” or on their iPhone. (Apple.com)

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Cable’s Movies-on-Demand Movie Rental Service Benefits

For many people, the biggest attraction of cable’s movies-on-demand service is convenience. With a few clicks of a remote control, anyone can pick a movie. The cost gets added to your cable bill. The biggest downside of this service is that it is very easy to go movie happy and run up your cable bill. (This could also happen with iTunes).


While some people are comparing the new iTunes movie rental service to Netflix, there are some important differences.

Netflix offers a DVD rental service as well as an “instant watch feature.” It also has a vast library of 90,000 DVDs to rent, and 6,000 movies in its “instant watch” library.

NetFlix pricing: Plans start at $4.99 for two DVDs a month, one DVD at a time with two hours of instant watch time, and go up to $23.99 for four DVDs at a time, unlimited rentals per month and unlimited instant watch hours (NetFlix.com).

Note: the NetFlix Instant Watch is not compatible with Mac, so there was no first-hand experience of quality.

NetFlix offers a free trial of its services.

Netflix recently changed its Instant Watch time limitations to give more subscribers unlimited time to keep rented DVDs. Now anyone with who pays the $8.99 per month fee (one DVD at a time, unlimited DVD rentals), also has unlimited hours of Instant Watch time. (Netflix)

NetFlix vs. iTunes

One of the biggest differences between NetFlix and iTunes is the price. NetFlix charges a subscription fee, which includes DVD rentals as well as access their instant watch movies.

The NetFlix Instant Watch movie rental on your PC is not a pay-as-you-go service. It is lumped with your DVD subscription.

Also, iTunes movies can be viewed on a PC or on a Mac. With Netflix, the Instant Watch service works only on PCs. (Source: Netflix web site: customer service phone call made on January 20, 2008).

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Another major difference between NetFlix and iTunes is portability. NetFlix movies are currently not portable.

For people who enjoy having a larger library of on-demand movies to watch, and have a PC, they may prefer the Netflix service to iTunes.

The NetFlix DVD rental service may also be the right option for you if you watch a lot of movies, and do not rent movies based on your current mood.

On the other hand, if you like to watch a comedy or romance or other genre based on your current movie, a better choice may be iTunes, cable on demand, or make a trip to Blockbuster.


Why are we even talking about Blockbuster? Blockbuster has no digital delivery methods.

Smiliar to NetFlix., Blockbuster has a DVD by mail subscription. Their prices (as of January 1, 2008): pay $3.99 per month to have one DVD at a time with a maximum of two DVDs per month.

They also have a unique rental subscription plan that nobody else offers: a combination of DVDs by mail and in-store DVD exchange. The plans for this package range in price from $9.99 per month (one DVD at a time, two DVDs a month), up to $34.99 per month (three DVDs at a time, no maximum number listed, and unlimited in-store exchange).

The advantage of the Total Access and Premium plans is that they offer DVD renters easy exchange options.

After the recent iTunes movie rental announcement, Blockbuster stock tumbled, and then recovered. If Blockbuster survived the foray of Netflix into the market, it can survive the arrival of the iTunes movie rental service. There is still a market need for people who want to walk into a store and pick out a movie to rent and drive home, without ever touching their computers.

Note: The only time I actually walk into Blockbuster to rent movies is when I have coupons for free movie rentals.