It seems like everyone is gunning for Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) these days. The movie mailer turned on-demand titan has built such a successful business in a distribution space that should hypothetically have very little competitive advantage. The company doesn't run cable lines directly into your house, it would be easy to switch to another similar service, and it doesn't have nearly the relationship with studios that cable companies do. This should be easy pickings for media giants like Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC ) , Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) , and even Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) -- all of which should be able to replicate the model.
But no one can seem to get it right. Fellow Fool Tim Beyers thinks Apple will get it right in the next few years -- and I agree -- but for now there are no really compelling competitors.
XFINITY gets it all wrong
Last week the upgrade to XFINITY made its sweep through my local market. After, I couldn't decide if I had been upgraded or sent 20 years into the past. It's great to have on-demand access to TV shows I've missed recently, and I even came across a few I didn't know existed. But I couldn't help but think Comcast was trying to bring DOS back from the dead. Menus are grainy and difficult to navigate and I have no idea what will be available when. One of my best hopes of competing with Netflix fell flat on its face on my television. At least the online product isn't too bad.
Probably the best competitor is Hulu -- born of a partnership between Disney (NYSE: DIS ) , Comcast's NBCUniversal, and News Corp (Nasdaq: NWS ) -- which has a product that may be able to compete. However, it hasn't proliferated to as many devices as Netflix. With Comcast as a part owner of Hulu, I was hoping it could either bring Hulu to my TV or learn from it for XFINITY. As big as the movie vaults are at Disney and Universal, Hulu offers a pretty weak selection of films. When Totally Baked makes the list of all-time most popular, you know the selection must be weak.
So far, XFINITY and Hulu just haven't lived up to the hype.
Why can't cable get this right?
Cable providers have tried and so far failed to make a product that can replace Neflix. Count me disappointed that $90 a month isn't enough money for Comcast to make a product that can replace Netflix's $7.99 per month subscription.
Who do you think could possibly challenge Netflix? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.