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5 Streaming Services Making the Movies Irrelevant

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- As Oscar night approaches, Hollywood and its theater partners aren't struggling to get Americans to see films: They're fighting to get them out of the house.

In the past decade, the places where consumers watch movies have becomes as varied as what they're watching. According to BoxOfficeMojo and Rentrak data, movie ticket purchases jumped 6.1%, from 1.283 billion tickets in 2010 to 1.361 billion last year. That's still well off the record 1.575 billion tickets sold in 2002 and is only the third time ticket sales improved in the past 10 years. Though box office receipts hit a record $10.8 billion in 2012 and topped $10 billion for the fourth consecutive year, the industry had to release a record 657 films and charge an all-time-high average of $7.97 a ticket to get there.

That includes $13 tickets for moviegoers in major markets and $18 showing for folks who splurge for 3-D or IMAX (IMAX). Those are big figures, but then again big-budget blockbusters such as last year's top-grossing film The Avengers cost a lot more to produce. It takes a lot to impress a moviegoer enough to abandon their couch, HDTV and, potentially, their sweet home theater system to brave the hordes of texting, talking, seat-kicking megaplex dwellers for the latest must-see film.


Despite this, moviegoer motivation continues to fade. Video-on-demand service has grown into a $1.3 billion-a-year industry for cable and satellite providers such as Dish Network (DISH), DirecTV, Comcast (DTV), Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Cablevision (CVC), according to NPD Group's VideoWatch VOD tracking service. Internet-based video-on-demand service from Apple's (AAPL) iTunes and others kicks in another $204 million.

Meanwhile, the cost of an LCD television cratered 24% during the recession in 2009 and never recovered, according to NPD Group's TV research arm DisplaySearch. That cost fell another 6% last year and is forecast to fall 7% to 8% per year through 2015. Dealnet notes that prices of 55-inch and 60-inch HDTVs are the lowest they've seen in a year. Meanwhile, 3-D HDTVs that were going for more than $1,400 last year are now available for as little as $450.


Mostly, though, it's moviegoers' ability to stream video directly into their home without theaters or even cable acting as middlemen that is inflicting the most damage. For the monthly price of an average movie ticket, viewers don't get first-run films, but they get a whole lot of motivation to save their money until said content hits their queue. With the Oscars coming up and nominated films such as How To Survive A Plague already streaming, here's a look at the five streaming services:

Stock quotes in this article: AMZN, CSTR, NFLX, WMT 

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