I know, I know; I dismissed them above, but the fact is, they’re the company closest to being prepared to take over from Netflix right now. Yes, the Blockbuster Movie Pass—4,000 online streaming titles, with 100,000 titles available by mail and an additional 3,000 via cable video on demand—is only available to Dish subscribers currently, but a standalone package is already in the works. If the math can be made to work out, this could be either a serious contender for Netflix or, dependent on price and selection, the thing that everyone jumps onto to replace it.
Rumor has had Amazon preparing to launch its “European Netflix” subsidiary Lovefilm, in the U.S. since August, but the company has remained very careful about even coming close to commenting on the subject, and its own recent profit fall and suggestion of an operating loss for the next quarter may have put an end to any such plans. But it’s worth remembering that, between Lovefilm and Amazon Prime, the company already has two pretty important pieces they’d need to launch a Netflix of their own in the U.S. sooner rather than later. All they’d need would be to extend some of their existing content licenses and buy some more servers.
Google, of course, has YouTube for its video needs, but there’s something missing there, somehow. YouTube feels as if it exists for short-form videos instead of longer-form material, despite the fact that you can rent movies there. Considering that YouTube is already available on multiple platforms, it’s possible that the thing that’s keeping it from seriously competing with Netflix and its ilk—other than selection and content licenses, of course—is perception. YouTube just isn’t the same thing, even though it could be. It’s something that I think Google is aware of, considering the rumored “big plans” they had for Hulu back when it was a possibility that Google might buy the site. They’re clearly looking at video on demand and wondering how to make it work, and given the success they’ve had in almost everything else they’ve turned their hand to, I wouldn’t bet against them doing well with this, eventually. Well, unless they call it Google Buzz II.
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