mSpot offers streaming rentals of the latest movies, but can it compete with Netflix?

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It’s fair to say that Netflix is at the top of the heap in the realm of streaming movie and TV services, though not for others’ lack of trying. The company’s vast library, coupled with its subscription-based Watch Instantly unlimited viewing, has proven to be a popular formula. The latest challenger to that dominance is mSpot, which takes a decidedly different approach.

The big downside to Netflix is the month-long window between a new movie’s release on home video and its availability through the online rental service. That’s the edge mSpot has, access to the latest releases. Even now, the site is hosting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I, TRON Legacy and Little Fockers, to name a few. Instead of taking on Netflix with a similar product offering, mSpot is looking to get a jump on what its competitor can do.

mSpot boss Daren Tsui sees this is the right move, as it gives customers exactly what they want: new movies, on demand. “We think the idea of waiting for a DVD to show up at your house is old school now,” he said in an interview with VentureBeat. “Netflix’s problem is that it does not offer new releases as streaming videos. We can do that.”

Offering these new releases is possible because of mSpot’s a la carte pricing model. Netflix offers a vast library of streaming content, the sum total of which can be accessed as much as a subscriber wants; this is why there’s that window between a DVD release and a Netflix release. mSpot, on the other hand, offers rentals on a title-by-title basis, and as such has access to the latest movies. While this is nothing new for the streaming video market, it’s the pricing that keeps mSpot competitive with Netflix.

There are three packages, with $4.99, $7.99 and $15.99 monthly fees for 20 movie credits (four movies), 40 movie credits (eight movies) and 80 movie credits (16 movies), respectively. Newer movies must be rented separately for actual cash, but subscribers get a discount.

It all looks great on paper, but ultimately, the chief draw of Netflix for many people is the unlimited access if offers. If you are a casual streamer of movies — just movies, as there’s no TV on offer — then sure, mSpot could be a perfectly viable alternative. Those who like to throw on a movie or TV show in the background, or right before bed, or in any number of other situations, won’t really get as much value out of mSpot’s a la carte model.

That said, mSpot is still offering brand new movies that you can rent and stream to your computer or any number of mobile devices on the cheap ($3.99 or less). That’s the big draw. It’s not so much that mSpot is a Netflix competitor– it isn’t. Instead, it fills a niche that the other company has nothing to do with, simply by virtue of what it is.

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