Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Netflix is still the best.

As a Linux user and Open Source advocate it would be easy to come down hard on Netflix because they don't support Linux. However in this post I would like to explore why Netflix is still the best option out there for streaming content.

First, I want to quickly cover the drawbacks of Netflix from a Linux Users perspective. Firstly, they picked Microsoft's Silverlight as a basis for their DRM platform and that DRM platform hasn't been ported to Linux. There for you can't watch the content on a Linux machine. That of course is a big non starter. Second they don't carry all the content that you want when you want it.

As a Linux advocate there is one big way to get over the "no Linux support" hump, namely Roku. I have had a Roku box for just over a year and wouldn't trade it for anything. The price is right, they support HD formats and serves content from a number of providers. The box runs Linux and decrypts DRM on chip. So there you go.

Ok, now let's dig into why they are better than other services.

Cable/Satellite:

Netflix competes heavily with these services on cost. An $80 service vs an $8 service can make up for not having as much content pretty quickly. I've used Netflix for years and their content gets better and better and the price has stayed dead steady. Right now I watch more of Netflix's content than any other provider and I don't see that changing in the negative any time soon. In fact it would take very little added content for me to dump my satellite service all together.

Hulu:

I was ecstatic when Hulu launched and I got in on the private beta. It seemed they got everything right. Well, at least most of it right. As time has worn on, however, they haven't panned out to be as good as I would have hoped. They launched their Hulu+ service at $12 a month which only offers full season of current show and doesn't get you out of adds. When Hulu+ showed up on the Roku, Hulu dropped the price to $8 a month and I signed up immediately and promptly canceled after encountering the fact that certain content, such as "The Simpsons", isn't available on hardware streaming devices. You are still saddled with commercials which have now gone from a single 30 second add to multiple adds per break. Also, Hulu+ still doesn't support Android for streaming. Also, Netflix and Hulu+ are now the same price and I see very little advantage to Hulu+ over Netflix. Netflix over all still has substantially more streaming content that I want to watch over Hulu.

The rest of the web:

What does Netflix have that the rest of the web doesn't? For starters they have most of your favorite movies, legal and available right now. You don't have to mess with illegal downloads or wait for the show to download to get it. If you like following shows the second they come out then the a lot of content providers offer it on their website to watch over the web. However, sitting in front of my computer screen for hours at a time is a PITA and I would rather sit at my TV and watch my shows. This is really more of a plug for Roku than Netflix but I think they go hand in hand nicely.

I would love to hear feedback from people so feel free to comment and let me know what you agree or disagree with.
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