Netflix gets some competition

Netflix envelopes sit in a bin. Is the online rental movie company prepared for some competition?

You know all the kerfuffle that's been going on about Netflix? About the company's decision to raise its rates and to split itself into two?

Well, Dish Network, which now owns Blockbuster, is taking the opportunity to pounce. Today they are launching their own video streaming service.

The significance of that announcement, at least right now, all depends on whether or not you are a Dish customer. "If you are, there will be something new," says Southern Illinois University at Carbondale professor Paul Torre. "If you're not a Dish customer at this time, there may not be any difference in your service because at this point, Dish is going to be offering some kind of streaming to their existing customers." If you've have DirectTV or cable, you're out of luck, at least for the time being.

But, the announcement is, at some level, more significant than some customers getting some new streaming options, Torre says. "It provides competition to Netflix at time when they're particularly vulnerable," he says, and they're vulnerable because they raised their rates.

But even the higher Netflix rates could look good in the rearview mirror, says Max Dawson, a professor at Northwestern University. He expects all sort of players are going to get into the streaming game -- everyone from Dish to Apple to Walmart. Facebook announced yesterday it was going to dive into streaming too. "What we're going to see probably is more fragmentation," Dawson says, "so that you're going to end up with one network's content here, another's there." He thinks consumers are going to need to pay for a whole lot of services to get the same services that Netflix of the past provided.

"Ultimately, I think most of us are losers," Dawson says. "The studios know there is a demand, they know what they can charge the distributors and know what kind of prices the end user, the consumer will be willing to shoulder."

Also on today's show, a website that allows you to post your problem, and asks a stranger to suggest a song that might cheer you up.

Robyn Overstreet created Emotional Bag Check. She says she's been surprised by the types of problems people are looking for. "So far, I've been seeing a lot of desperation and in some cases depression," Overstreet says. "I mean I approached the project in a really lighthearted way, and I'm glad people feel comfortable really opening up, but I was surprised by the intensity of the comments."

The most common problem: boyfriends. And the most recommended song: "Keep Your Head Up" by Andy Grammer.

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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