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Netflix is the most popular online video streaming service currently available.

Introduction

Online video streaming services have become increasingly popular over the last few years causing some consumers to ditch their traditional cable subscription in exchange for a much more affordable monthly streaming subscription. Due to the high demand, there are many competitors whom are entering the streaming market, but Netflix is one of the longest standing and well-established services currently available. I subscribed to the Netflix streaming service back in 2009 when it was still fairly new and didn't have much content. I decided to renew my subscription and give it another whirl to experience how the service has improved over the years and how it stacks up against today's major competitors.

Pricing

The Netflix streaming service has a monthly subscription of $7.99 with no long-term commitment required. For the low monthly subscription cost, you receive access to unlimited streaming of thousands of movie and TV show titles. Netflix also offers a free 30-day trial for any new customers which can be canceled before the trial ends without charging you a penny. When compared to a competitor like Hulu Plus whom only offers a 1-week free trial, Netflix outmatches their trial offer by a longshot.

Supported Platforms

Netflix is the leading provider in terms of platform support. There is too many supported platforms to name in this article, but I'll mention the most popular below:

  • Mac
  • Windows
  • Xbox 360
  • PS3
  • Wii U
  • Most Smart TVs
  • Roku
  • Chromecast
  • Android
  • Nook
  • Kindle Fire
  • Windows Phone
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • iPod Touch

 For the full list of compatible devices and platforms click here.

Content Selection 

Netflix is the holy grail of content when it comes to online streaming services. No, it doesn't have access to every TV show or movie, but it covers the broad spectrum nicely including many relevant titles that should suit anyone's interests.

Personally, I found many of my favorite shows are included in Netflix's offerings such as The Walking Dead, Prison Break, Lost, Heroes, 24, Sons of Anarchy, and Breaking Bad. It also has some of my favorite movies such as Parker, End Of Watch, The Hunger Games, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Warrior, and The Avengers. The great thing about a service like Netflix is that you get the opportunity to stream a full series that has already aired such as Lost or Prison Break at your own pace for one low monthly fee.

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 2.54.24 PMNetflix also offers their own original shows. For example, they developed and produced the hit House of Cards which features actor Kevin Spacey. The show is only available to Netflix subscribers as it was never aired on cable TV.

Another popular “original” show (but not technically) that Netflix produced was the hit TV series Arrested Development. When it got canceled from FOX back in 2006 after just 3 seasons, die-hard fans were upset and hoping for another network to pick up the series. Netflix realized the demand from the show's large fanbase so they produced their own 4th season which gave them the rights to the show so it is now considered a Netflix “original”. 

Something to keep in mind about Netflix (and any streaming service for that matter) is that these titles aren't guaranteed to stick around their streaming library for good. A prime example would be the TV series Ghost Adventures that originally aired on the Travel Channel. When I was a Netflix subscriber back in 2009, they carried the first 3 seasons of this show and I watched all the episodes. When I subscribed this time around, I though I'd be able to catch up with following seasons of Ghost Adventures, but was disappointed to find out Netflix is no longer offering any seasons for streaming due to changes within the show's contract.

Performance

I have streamed Netflix content on a regular basis for the past 2 months from multiple devices (Xbox 360, iPad, Macbook Pro). My experience so far has been extremely positive with the performance and capabilities surpassing their competitors. I have yet to experience any difficulties or connection problems and my streams are automatically displaying in HD quality without any hiccups.

Screen-Shot-2013-10-21-at-3.28.17-PM

Similar to Hulu Plus, Netflix has a automatic playback feature which will automatically queue your next episode in the particular TV series without you needing to get off the couch or touch the remote. This feature may cause you to be a bit more lazy and watch more episodes than you planned (such as in my case), but is ultra convenient.

Their suggested content algorithm is a feature that performs better than I had anticipated. What is does is take your previously viewed content as well as any ratings you gave in the past then narrows down streaming library. This means you get content specifically tailored to you and it provides great suggestions as to what you should watch next. I found my suggestions were spot on and often included movies and TV shows that I was a fan of before signing up for Netflix which means it accurately pinpointed my interests.

Conclusion

In the end, I found Netflix to be an excellent online video streaming service that is well worth the monthly subscription. When compared to competitors, it has a wider content selection, a user-friendly interface, more compatible platforms, and a better overall execution. If you're in the market for an online video streaming subscription, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Netflix and giving their free 30-day trial a try since you've got nothing to lose.