Film and Music Streaming
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Film and Music Streaming

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There's a new wave of sites offering film rental and film streaming.  It's easy to order Blu-ray and DVD rental online, and even easier to stream it over the internet straight to your TV, appliance, Blu-ray/DVD player or PC.  It's important to have things on the TV that you actually want to watch.   Free services such as BBC's iPlayer, itvPlayer, 4oD and Demand5 could be much of what you want to watch (new TVs and appliances increasingly feature iPlayer and one or more of the others). Subscribing to a film rental or streaming site can provide quick and easy access to films on demand and can replace actually buying films on Blu-Ray and DVD.

The features

Many sites stream films, some of these offer a subscription service (NetFlix and Lovefilm) whereas others offer a rental model (Acetrax, and Lovefilm too).  Lovefilm and Blockbuster offer subscriptions that post you Blu-rays/DVDs, which is very useful to cheaply get reasonably recent films with excellent picture quality.  Postal subscriptions can be as good as a 2-day turnaround - you send your Blu-ray, it arrives and a new Blu-ray is posted out the next day for delivery 2 days after you sent it.  Subscriptions with blu-rays can offer

Lovefilm's streaming is approximately DVD quality and on a good connection doesn't often jitter.  NetFlix offers better-than-DVD quality (but not Blu-ray) if your connection can take it.

The cost

The cost of a renting a film tends to depend upon how recently it was released.  Films that were recently at the cinema are generally only available on a pay-per view basis.  Slightly less recent films start to be available on Blu-ray or DVD, and older films can be available on subscription streaming.

My advice

  • If you want the latest films instantly and can afford paying per film, then online streaming rental is the way to go
  • If you can wait for the postman and will notice the higer-definition then Blu-ray subscription is the way to go.  Though if you've watched all you wanted, and find yourself scratching around for films to rent, it may be time to put your subscription on hold
  • If you favour quantity over quality, then an unlimited online streaming service may be for you

to help make the decision, I'd suggest making a list of 10 films you really want to see and seeing whether you can borrow them on Blu-ray, stream them or whether you have to rent them. - ratings and prices for various rental services.

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