This has been a summer of discontent for Netflix users, with Netflix itself predicting that it may lose up to 1 million customers. Many Roku users bought their Roku DVP primarily to stream movies from Netflix. If you're one of those and you're giving Netflix the boot, don't toss your Roku out to the curb with Netflix. There are many other options for getting your streaming film fix on the Roku.
In July, Netflix announced substantial price increases. Then they starting limiting users to one stream at a time. They quickly announced that this was an error, but not until the Web was awash in reports that limits were being enforced. Earlier this month, Starz ended contract renewal negotiations with Netflix, which will result in the loss of around 1,000 titles from the Netflix inventory, including streaming of newer releases from major studios that include Disney and Sony. And today, Netflix announced that the company will split in two. Netflix will continue the streaming part of the business, while the newly-formed Qwikster will handle DVDs. For customers who get both DVDs and streaming, this means two accounts, two monthly billings, two movie queues to manage, and a lack of communication of movie ratings between the two services.
Netflix may be the biggest player in the Roku Channel Store, but they aren't the only one. Over 300 Roku channels are currently available, with a wide variety of content that includes films, videos, music, sports, and games. But if you're looking for a Netflix replacement, you're looking for channels that provide access to the biggest current titles. Here are some options for you.
Amazon Instant Video - Amazon offers over 100,000 videos. Videos can be rented or purchased; prices start at $3.99 with no membership required. Amazon Prime members have access to over 9,000 of these videos at no additional charge; prime membership is $79 per year and includes free shipping on much of Amazon's merchandise. All content is ad-free. For more information, see the Amazon Instant Video channel page.
Hulu Plus - For $7.99 per month, you can watch more than 16,000 episodes from more than 400 current and classic television shows, as well as hundreds of movies. A complete list of TV shows and movies is available on the Hulu Plus website. Despite the monthly fee, most Hulu Plus content contains advertising.
Crackle - Although content is much more limited than Amazon and Hulu Plus, Crackle is a good choice for those who aren't looking for the latest films or TV shows, and those who don't want to pay subscription or rental fees. Crackle offers free, but ad-supported, access to over 200 movies and several dozen classic TV shows and original series. For a full review of Crackle, visit the Crackle channel page.
BigStar - Close to 400 films are currently available in all the usual genres, with unlimited viewing for $4.99 per month. Discounts are available for longer terms.
Those are the main general interest movie channels, but Roku also has several niche channels. Here are several that are worth checking out (click on the channel name for the RokuGuide channel page with more information on each channel):
EZTakes - Over 5,000 films - art house, foreign, and independent. Buy or rent from the EZTakes website, then watch on your Roku, computer, or portable device, no recurring subscription fee required.
Movie Vault - Close to 900 classic films dating back to 1916, but with a focus on the 1930s through the 1950s. Unlimited viewing for a one-time channel purchase fee of only $3.99.
Lost Worlds Nature Films - Twelve nature documentaries, originally filmed in the IMAX format and shown in IMAX theaters. One-time channel purchase price is $19.95.
Pub-D-Hub - Very similar to the Movie Vault website, these are classic public domain movies, but with only a partial overlap of titles. Free, but a paid upgrade is available.
SnagFilms - Close to 200 free documentaries, including a decent selection of 21 music documentaries.
As you can see, there's a wide variety of movie options on the Roku. Despite the recent price increases and splitting of the DVD service from the streaming service, it's hard to beat Netflix in both price and availability of newer releases. Even non-Roku options such as Blockbuster On Demand don't offer the unlimited viewing available from Netflix. Whether you dump Netflix or stick it with it, check out some of the Roku movie channels listed above - you're likely to find some great movies not available elsewhere.