NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Every time another possible threat emerges for Netflix ( NFLX), the bulls insist one new streaming service or content deal is not enough to dethrone the movie rental content. Maybe they're right. But the sheer quantity of these deals is starting to add up, and, combined, Netflix's aggressive growth goals could be at risk.
Google ( GOOG) became the latest company to up the ante, announcing on Monday that its YouTube service will add 3,000 movie titles to its video library. Will YouTube Hurt Netflix? Of course, Netflix has a significantly more robust catalog of movies and television shows. But what about Apple ( AAPL)? And Amazon ( AMZN)? Coinstar's ( CSTR)Redbox? Even Best Buy ( BBY)and Wal-Mart ( WMT)are also looking to take a piece of the pie. Alone, none of these (at least not yet) have enough clout to really make an impact. But it's time to start looking at this competition as a collective whole, according to analysts. >Netflix Subscribers to Top 30M by 2013: Poll "I think of each one as a new channel on TV.... Ratings erosion is inevitable even if 10 new players emerge and only get 5% market share," says Janney Capital Markets analyst Tony Wible. "That would eat up half the market opportunity." >6 Netflix Deals: Will Content Costs Bust Its Bottom Line Given this, here's a look at the companies that could kill Netflix.
Google YouTube announced on Monday that it is adding more than 3,000 mainstream movies for users to rent. The Internet video giant will offer a mix of recent blockbusters like The King's Speech and Inception, as well as older films, independent movies and foreign flicks. Prices range from 99 cents to $3.99 each. Once users purchase a movie, they have 30 days to begin watching, and about 24 hours to finish the movie once they start viewing. The company signed a deal with major studios including Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Universal Picture's and Lions Gate Entertainment. Most of the streaming movies will be made available at the same time as the DVD release. Users will still be able to take advantage of YouTube's previous offering of hundreds of free movies.
Rumors have swirled that Apple ( AAPL) is preparing to launch its own video streaming service. It has been speculated that Apple's massive data center in North Carolina will be used to facilitate a streaming service that could rival Netflix. Apple is constantly finding ways to sell more of its devices, and a streaming service could be the next vehicle for such growth. Like its iTunes business, a streaming content service would be less about making money through the subscription and more about pushing its iPhone, iPod and iPad onto more users. The technology giant has been attempting to enter users' living rooms for some time with its Apple TV set-top boxes, by devising ways to connect the iPad to television sets. But analysts also expect Apple will launch a TV set of its own sometime this year. Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White said last month that Apple was moving towards offering a TV set of its own "at a faster pace than the market expected," and could have that product launch by the end of the year.
Dish Network's ( DISH) recent acquisition of Blockbuster sent Wall Street speculating on what the satellite giant will do with the bankrupt video rental retailer. One oft-repeated notion is that Dish will utilize the Blockbuster brand name to create its own subscription movie service. By acquiring Blockbuster, Dish would presumably get the company's streaming rights for the libraries of all the major studios, as well as the Blockbuster brand and customer list. Combined with Dish's wireless spectrum and technology from sister firm, EchoStar, Kaufman Bros. analyst Todd Mitchell noted that the joint entity could feasibly launch a video service. Dish will also keep some of Blockbuster's brick-and-mortar locations open, but has not revealed how it plans to use the stores.
Amazon ( AMZN) introduced its own streaming movie service for Amazon Prime members in February. The e-commerce giant now offers more than 5,000 movie titles and television shows to U.S. members who already pay $79 a year for the Prime service. They do not have to pay any extra fees to access the digital content. Videos can be streamed via computers and Blu-ray players, as well as several set-top boxes. Amazon still offers its video-on-demand service, which allows any customers to buy or rent a movie for a fee. While Amazon's selection of streaming movies is below that of Netflix, on a yearly rate, Amazon's subscription service is cheaper. Netflix's similar plan costs about $95 a year vs. Amazon's $79, which also includes free shipping on its vast catalog of merchandise.
Coinstar Coinstar's ( CSTR) Redbox is proving there's still a business for physical DVDs. While everyone is betting on streaming services and on demand, the DVD-kiosk company reported better-than-expected first-quarter profit and issued an upbeat guidance. Redbox will also begin offering video game rentals in June, setting itself apart from other rental services. Of course, Coinstar doesn't want to be left out of the digital war, and is also eying a partnership to roll out its own subscription streaming service. But a timeline on such a service is unclear.
Hulu, the online video streaming service backed by General Electric ( GE), NBC Universal, Walt Disney ( DIS), News Corp. ( NWSA) and private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners, introduced its paid subscription site last summer. Hulu Plus is priced on par with Netflix's similar plan, at $7.99 per month. The company lowered its price early on from $9.99. In April, Hulu also made its subscription site available on Microsoft's ( MSFT) gaming console, Xbox 360. Hulu Plus is also available on Apple devices and Sony's PlayStation 3.
Retailers It's not just tech and Internet companies looking to get into the digital movie business. Retailers like Wal-Mart ( WMT) and Best Buy ( BBY), which have lost money on DVD sales in recent years, may also expand into the market. Wal-Mart acquired Vudu in February 2010, and in April, Vudu began offering browser-based services that let customers access movies without hardware like a gaming console or Blu-ray player. Customers can now search for, select and stream content directly from Vudu.com. Best Buy owns CinemaNow, while Sears has Alphaline Entertainment. While all of these services are pay-per-view, there is potential for these retailers to utilize the technology to create subscription services.
--Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jeanine Poggi. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jpoggi. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.