The rise of Netflix and the decline of brick-and-mortar video rental stores marked a paradigm shift in the entertainment industry. When a television show went off the air or a movie left theaters, the only course of action to see them was to get in your car and drive down to your local Blockbuster or Hollywood Video store to buy or rent them on VHS or DVD. Today those stores are nigh unto extinct due to the convenience offered by Netflix. Its rental by mail and instant streaming services moved the market online. Movie rental stores simply couldn't compete.
Netflix was a trailblazer in today's entertainment revolution of digital distribution. The advent of its on-demand streaming service makes Netflix an outstanding internet TV site. Netflix's streaming library includes entire series of shows from all the major networks. Some of these shows simply are not available anywhere but Netflix. Its selection of TV shows alone is enough to earn Netflix our TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award for internet TV sites.
If we limited our review to television shows alone, Netflix would have a content library that far surpasses any other internet streaming service, period. Add movies onto that and it's simply no contest, Netflix beats every other service in the breadth and scope of entertainment available. However, many of the service's movie titles are only available through its rental by mail service. The streaming service truly excels when it comes to television shows. We should note that new episodes of shows currently on the air take a good while to reach Netflix's instant queue.
Netflix's true TV show prowess lies in its library of past television shows. Entire seasons of current shows and complete series of old shows are available through its streaming service. Recent hit shows such as "24" and "Lost" are available in their entirety through Netflix's streaming service. Old favorites such as "Frasier," "Cheers," "Wings," every incarnation of "Star Trek" and much, much more are also on hand whenever you want to watch them.
While Netflix's TV selection is vast, it's nowhere near comprehensive. Current seasons of mainstream shows simply aren't available through Netflix. Its selection is limited to shows that either completed their original run, or those with previous seasons that are available on DVD. If you want new episodes of shows currently in production, you need to turn to the streaming services of the network that produces the show or services that have licensed the streaming rights to that show. Netflix's enormous selection of already aired shows is the compelling factor in its high ranking in the content category of our review.
It doesn't take long to get the hang of Netflix. After you sign up for an account, you answer a brief questionnaire about what types of movies and TV shows you like. It then produces a list of recommend content that you can start watching immediately.
If Netflix's recommendations aren't to your liking, or if you have a particular show you want to watch, the service's search function is quite intuitive and effective at finding titles available in its streaming library. Additionally, its rental by mail service is quite simple to use. Simply add the shows you want to rent to your queue, and Netflix sends you the DVDs. When you're done watching them, you send them back in the prepaid envelope. This should come naturally to anyone who has used the U.S. Postal service.
Since Netflix is a paid service, there are no advertisements present in any of the content streamed or delivered by Netflix. The value of a Netflix subscription is hard to overstate. Even with its recent rate hike, the amount of money you spend versus the amount of content available to you is so overwhelming in favor of content that it's almost incalculable.
The company could augment its revenue generated by subscription fees by including advertisements, but it doesn't. Netflix's value is simply outstanding. Contrast that to cable television providers, which have much higher monthly fees than Netflix and yet still choose to attach advertising to the content they provide.
Netflix offers its streaming service on much more than your computer's monitor. You can watch titles in Netflix's streaming library on a multitude of electronic devices. Netflix-compatible devices include the Roku Digital Video Player, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, multiple Blu-ray players, TiVo and many more.
Additionally, Netflix has created apps for both iOS and Android mobile devices. Therefore, you can watch TV shows and movies on your smart phone or tablet. Of course, we recommend that you stream content while connected to a Wi-Fi connection because you'll burn through your mobile data plan quite quickly if you stream over a 3G or even 4G signal.
Netflix streams much of its content in HD quality. This is great if your display or monitor is capable of displaying that rich resolution. Keep in mind that this sucks up a lot of bandwidth; if you stream an HD movie, you may experience some lag with other online activities.
In the rare event that you have a problem with your Netflix account, the company provides 24-hour customer service, both by phone and with online resources. Simply click on the Contact Us link on the bottom of Netflix's website and it will provide you details on how to get the help you need.
Put simply, Netflix is arguably the best value for renting and streaming movies and TV shows. Its library is vast but does lack shows currently in production. The service's collection of complete series of old shows and past seasons of current shows make it stand out in the crowd of internet TV sites.
The price you pay for a Netflix subscription is miniscule for the volume of content available.
New TV shows and recent DVD rentals take a while to appear in the Netflix library.
Simply put, Netflix is a great service for a low price.