Of all of the troubles people encounter in their lives, there
are few which seem to really tick people off. Americans seem to
collectively loathe such hassles as parking tickets, high gas
prices and video store late fees. If you cringed after reading the
third choice, rejoice in knowing that you can now eliminate that
hassle from your life.
While renting a movie from a video store is still the norm, a
few new companies give consumers alternative means to view films at
home. No longer are renters restricted to checking out movies from
their local video store. They can now turn to their computer or
mailbox for movie entertainment. And the best part– no late
Movielink, the newest of the alternative home video providers,
makes it possible for people to download movies from the Internet
onto their computers. Once a user downloads a movie, they have a
30-day window to first watch the movie and once they press play,
they have 24 hours to watch it as much as they want before it is
deleted from their hard drive.
Movielink charges $2.99-$4.99 per download and has over 400
movies to choose from. Once the movie is downloaded onto a
computer, it is not necessary to be connected to the Internet in
order to be viewed, and the movies will resume where you left off
if you shut down your computer.
“Movielink is a great option for students who want to get films
without leaving (home),” said Rachel Heffron, public relations
manager for Movielink.
Heffron calls the program a “legal alternative to piracy” and
points out Movielink’s “Movies in Minutes” feature, which allows
users to begin viewing a film without having to wait for the
download to fully complete.
Potential drawbacks: Downloading costs as much as renting a
movie from a store and must be viewed on a computer screen. There
is a good chance you will have to download several computer
programs in order to use the service on your PC, and you must have
either Window ’98, ME or XP. Also, the service is not intended for
dial-up Internet users. It can only be used for computers with
high-speed Internet access. Also, most video stores have a much
larger selection of titles.
A second and increasingly popular video rental service is
Netflix. According to netflix.com, for $20 a month, subscribers get
up to three DVDs at a time from a list of titles they choose from
in advance. DVDs are shipped to users via mail. Once they are done
watching their movies, they return them by mail and their next
choices are automatically shipped. No postage is required and the
next set of DVDs arrive in one to three days.
Netflix users never have to worry about late fees. They can keep
their rentals for as long as they want, or they can quickly switch
them out for new ones. The service provides over 15,000 titles and
can be canceled anytime.
“The reason why I like it is you never have to go to the video
store ever,” said George Sproule, CSU senior and Netflix
subscriber. “I also like it because it’s cheap.”
Potential drawbacks: The movies-by-mail service doesn’t allow
for the immediate viewing of movies you get by renting at your
local video store. Also, your number of rentals is limited to three
at a time and it doesn’t provide films on VHS.
Popular rental chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video have
recently responded with programs similar to these new alternatives.
Hollywood Video, at 4515 John F. Kennedy Parkway, has a program
that allows renters two videos, DVDs, or game rentals at a time,
which they can swap out at their leisure for a monthly charge of
$20 plus tax. There are no late fees and customers can cancel the
program at any time.
Each Blockbuster Video location in town has a similar program
allowing customers two DVDs or videos at a time for $24.99 plus tax
or three at a time for $29.99 plus tax. With the Movie Freedom Pass
customers can trade out their rentals an unlimited amount of times.
The pass does not work toward game rentals, but Blockbuster
provides a separate and similar program for gamers.
“The majority of video renters rent on impulse, and that isn’t
possible with the mail order process (Netflix),” said Blake Lugash,
a company spokesman for Blockbuster. “We’re always looking at ways
to better serve our customers.”
Blockbuster is also developing a new program, which will allow
renters to rent movies online as well as in-store for a flat
monthly fee. Members can then return their rentals by mail or at
their local Blockbuster location. This program will be available in
the middle of next year.
Potential drawbacks: Any additional rentals over the allotted
limit must be paid for separately.