It seems that everyone is taking advantage of the Netflix price hike to grab a piece of the pie. Blockbusters is offering new deals for new users, and the Huffington Post recently published articles on regular and offbeat alternatives to Netflix, “for those who don’t want to pay up.” (For reasons of full disclosure, I am signed up with Facets.org).
The greatest threat of all, however, may come from where people least expect it—from Wal-Mart. Starting today, Wal-Mart is streaming as many as 20,000 films. This is just the beginning too, and soon the collection will include many films that will be available for streaming on the same day they come out on DVD. The films can be viewed on any device that has internet access, from computers to TVs to PlayStations. Rentals range in price from $1 to $5.99, and movies can be bought there as well, at Wal-Mart’s “low, low prices.”
Admittedly, the Walmart streaming service will cater more to Middle America by offering mass market titles. Their selection of French New Wave or Indie shorts will likely be more limited. Still, there’s a huge market out there, and Wal-Mart wants a piece of it as part of its “seamless continuous shopping service.” It can be yet another blow to Netflix, whose shares dropped sharply on Monday. That’s bad news for Los Gatos, and for San Jose as well, now that the company has announced that it has signed a five-year lease in the city, to house its DVD division.