Two New Netflix Rivals – One With Films Currently In Cinemas, One That You Could Afford

US consumers who like to stream movies at home now have two new, and very distinct, options. One of them might actually catch on, just perhaps; the other will offer the very films currently playing in your local multiplex.

First of all, there’s the clumsily titled, brand-tastic Redbox Instant by Verizon. Details were uncovered by GigaOm digging around online, and here are the bullet points:

  •  Access to the streaming catalogue is set at $6 per month.
  • If you pay $8 per month, you also get four credits to use for physical rentals from Redbox kiosks.
  • There are also PAYG purchases and rentals, starting at 99 cents – though some are likely to cost a good bit more.
  • The service will launch with web, iOS, Android, and X-Box 360 compatability. And the web version uses Silverlight, as with Netflix.

It’s not expected that the streaming catalogue will be able to compete with Netflix, so I guess the appeal is in the $8 option and those physical rental credits.

Neither the Netflix and Redbox option will be offering the same films as are playing in cinemas – well, not for the next five or six years at least, say I, with my Carnac turban on – but if you do want to pipe the newest of releases into your den, there actually is a service, already, that will allow you to do this.

Gizmag this week profiled the Prima system which has recently rolled out into homes. For just $35,000 you can purchase a secure server that will give you access to fresh films, straight down the wires. Not cheap.

And less cheap when you consider that each film you stream will cost you a rental fee of $500 on top. Well, except for the 3D ones, which are $600.

It isn’t clear if that fee covers one play, a certain number of plays, or a certain period of access, but either way, it’s not really what I’d consider a bargain. And don’t go thinking that you can charge admission to turn this into a commercial proposition – while you can invite friends around, ticket prices are strict no-no.

Just like all of those other business transactions people might engage in off the radar, of course. Could we be looking at the rise of the back alley, speakeasy cinema?

It also isn’t clear which distributors or studios have licensed their films to Prima. Would we literally be able to get anything at all that’s out there on general release? How about from day of release?

On the upside, the tech specs sound not too bad at all:

PRIMA’s Shawn Yeager told us that the player delivers 30 percent more color than Blu-ray, and 25 percent more pixel depth. Its HDMI 1.4 output will reportedly work with any projector or surround sound system.

My cinema habit is pretty expensive and I spend way more than my fair share on DVDs and Blu-rays, but I can only dream of Prima being a viable option for me. And I will dream of that, I’m sure. Literally.

Sigh. Anyway, while I wait to win a lottery that I don’t even play… Viva la Netflix!

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