Jul 31 2011
It wasn’t too long ago that I was a HUGE fan of Netflix. It was a company that could do no wrong in my eyes. While I was hooked on the convenience of their basic service – DVDs by mail – I also admired their pricing model(I was getting 8-10 DVDs for the price of 3 rentals at Blockbuster) , their selection(especially when it came to older movies and TV sitcoms), their fantastic service(i.e. the ease with which I could change the rental plan or even cancel subscription) and their constant upgrades to their service(like the addition of streaming movies). But some recent changes have changed my feelings towards the company.
In the DVDs-by-mail service, the biggest issue earlier was that movies that didn’t ship on their release date went into a ‘Long Wait’ mode and it took a while to finally get those movies. But some careful management of the queue and a little thought about when to return watched DVDs made this less of an issue for me. But a bigger issue was the deal Netflix made with the big production studios, wherein they got the movies 28 days after the movies were released on DVD. This covers almost 80% of the movies I watch and so I am forced to watch movies a month after they are available for home viewing. Worse, the DVD that comes after a month is an abridged version that has only the movie. No special features and in the last 2 movies I saw, Sanctum and Battle: Los Angeles, no chapter listing on the menu either. All we get is a message asking us to purchase the Blu-ray disc if we want the additional features!
Netflix’s streaming service is definitely in its infancy since the selection is a rather small percentage of the company’s DVD collection. And though the ‘delayed-DVD deal’ was primarily to get more movies from those studios streamed, these are mostly older movies. The streaming service has helped me see some movies – mostly foreign – that I wouldn’t otherwise have seen but so far, I have relied exclusively on DVDs to see movies that I really looked forward to. All the kinks in the streaming service haven’t been ironed out either. There have been instances when the service was down(though Netflix did offer a discount on their fees when the problem occurred) and I have seem the message “the title is not available for instant viewing” pop up right in the middle of viewing the title!
The aforementioned issues have been there for a while but it was the recent pricing change that made me focus on them. Netflix split the DVDs-by-mail and streaming into separate services with separate pricing. This leads to a big bump in prices($5 for me, for the 2-DVDs-out-at-a-time plan).
With higher prices for the DVDs-by-mail service, the new plan will offset some of Netflix’s big investment in online streaming and is in line with the company’s strategy to move to streaming only and phase out – or reduce – the mail order part of their business. But with so many complaints about other parts of their service, the pricing increase has been implemented at a bad time and will lead many loyal members to think about enrolling in only 1 service or quit Netflix altogether. I know I am.
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