Movies and DVD Delivery: How Will the Switch to Streaming Effect Families?

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Social Media—If you are a member of Netflix, you may have been thrilled to get both DVD delivery and streaming content for as low as $8.00 per month. And you were probably pretty miffed with their recent policy changes that hiked the price by splitting delivery and download services (while also requiring additional payment for streaming on multiple devices).

But with DVD companies suffering major losses (just look at Blockbuster, which filed for Chapter 11 last year), it looks like DVD may be going the way of the dodo. And this means that everyone in the movie industry will soon be making the switch to streaming video (if they haven’t already). Some movies are even being released to cable on-demand programs before theatrical release as a way to gauge interest (which theater-owners are not happy about). But what does this transition mean for the average family?

First of all, it could mean competitive pricing as more and more studios get on board with streaming video and more companies start to offer the service. So initially, it could be good news for the family that is sick of throwing away a couple of Jacksons (or more) just to take the kids to the theater. And it sure is a lot simpler to hit play on a streaming video than to make the trek to the video store just to find that all the copies of the family-friendly movie you’re looking for are out (or to wait for DVDs to be delivered to your door). That’s the upside. But there are also some drawbacks to this imminent switch.

The first is the little matter of hardware. If you purchased a game station like the Xbox 360 or PS3 to double as a DVD (or Blu-ray) player, then you’re in luck, because either of these devices can handle streaming video and deliver it to your television monitor. If you have a laptop or computer, you’ll have to finagle a bit more, but you can also use these devices to enjoy streaming service. For those that don’t have these options, you’re going to have to spend a little money up front to make the switch, either by purchasing a box (some companies have their own) or blowing the dough on a computer or game system that is compatible with your service.

The other problem is evidenced in the recent actions of Netflix. This type of service is valuable and in demand, which means over time, prices will definitely rise. Hulu, for example, which streams many TV shows next day, used to be completely free. Now there is a free version and a paid version of the service. How long before the free version disappears? At the moment, a family could save a lot by dropping cable and getting all their programming from streaming services, but that is bound to change soon.

As DVD duplication becomes a thing of the past, streaming video services will compete for business until only a few big names remain, and then they’ll probably do what the cable companies have done and split up services areas, leaving viewers with high bills and limited options. So while the switch to streaming looks pretty awesome at the moment, don’t be surprised if it starts to resemble the same old story before long.

How often do you and your family watch movies? What is your favorite way to rent movies?

Photo purchased from IStock.

Elizabeth Retton is a freelance writer and part time student  at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.

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