How do I Rent Movies Online?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
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  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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There are certainly many ways to rent movies online — this is an expanding field that will no doubt encounter changes in the coming years. For several decades now, the video rental (or DVD rental) store has reigned supreme. People who wanted to rent a movie headed to their local store and competed with others to get the newest releases. While there is still some charm in using these stores, especially mom and pop ones that carry a diverse selection, many would prefer to skip the hassle of a trip outdoors and rent movies online instead.

The earliest Internet rental companies like Netflix® charged a subscription fee that allowed folks to get the movies they wanted by mail. One of this company’s selling points was that there were no late fees and when borrowers were done with a film, they simply sent it back so they could rent more. Demand for viewing movies online rather than waiting for one to be delivered via mail led to Netflix® introducing movies that were available to be watched online, or even sent instantly to a TV (with the purchase of an approved device).


When people discuss being able to rent movies online, they usually mean they want the movie to stream from the rental location straight to their computer (or things like an iPod). This is now possible too, with a number of companies creating ways to do this. However, not everyone will be capable of this form of rental, and renting movies online may limit viewing potential for those with small computer screens or without connections to TVs that can be hooked up to computer screens.

The several companies that rent movies online usually stream movies directly to the computer, and people who want this option will need to carefully look at system requirements of their computer to see if the movies will play properly. Like Netflix® some of these companies charge monthly membership fees, while others charge on a per movie basis. Rentals can be time limited.

Businesses like Apple® allow only 24 hours of access to a streaming film after it has begun playing, though in total, they’ll allow people to keep the rental for about 30 days. Yet once the film starts, borrowers only have a day to watch it. There may be fewer restrictions if people choose to buy a DVD form of the film instead of simply renting it.

One reason that many people don’t rent movies online is because they don’t have a way to shift the online picture to a television set where more people can watch. It’s not that cozy or comfortable to gather around the laptop watching movies. There are ways to convert or send images from computer to TV, but these can be expensive, and most people have not found them to be particularly needful investments. It’s still quite easy to get DVDs, and a DVD player plus a television set is usually cheaper.

Another complaint about the ability to rent movies online is that some films on the Internet don’t get released at the same time as DVD copies. This is changing but the change has not been entire, as yet. Companies like Apple® have acquired rights to release new films on the same day of DVD releases, but companies such as Comcast, which streams movies directly to the television set with their On Demand® service, may make customers wait a few months before they can get new releases. Many customers aren’t willing to wait and will still head to DVD or Blu-Ray® rental stores or subscribe to services that allow them to watch the latest releases the day of release.

It’s not only possible to rent movies online. Lots of TV programs have free airings of current television shows within a day or two after they air. People who’ve missed their favorite shows can catch up, and one of the advantages of these free airings is that commercials tend to be minimal, and far fewer than amount of ad interruptions on TV. Some companies, such as iTunes® do charge for this service, especially if they’re downloaded onto iPods®, but most of the major networks allow customers to watch these shows right on the computer without charging for them.


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Post 2

What about all the internet sites that allow downloading and burning of movies? Some even offer free software to burn the DVD. Are these legit? Example sites are "Unlimited Movie Downloads" and "Net Movie Downloads".

Post 1

It's not only streaming or on-demand movies that get caught up in a release delay. I just read a news report that Netflix customers are going to have to wait 30 days before they can rent newly released Warner Brothers movies! Which means that you could go out and buy the actual dvd a month before you're able to rent it.

Totally sucks. If I really like a movie I rented, I go out and buy it anyway to add to my collection. Waiting 30 days isn't going to kill me but it's certainly annoying!

You can however, rent the new release at the actual Blockbuster, ugh.

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