My Has Netflix Changed


Several years ago the mail-based DVD rental service, Netflix, launched and it sounded like a very interesting idea. My wife and I had spent so much money at Blockbuster, mainly on late fees, that we’d adopted the policy of just buying the DVD’s we wanted instead. With late fees we ended up spending that much on most movies anyway.

Netflix seemed like the perfect compromise. We joined. At the time it was $19.95 a month and you could have four movies out at once. Furthermore, they allowed you to go to their website and claim you had put a movie in the mail to them which would cause them to send out the next movie on your list. Of course this system quickly became a focus of abuse. People would claim they mailed the DVD and hadn’t but that could be tracked over time.

For a while there it was a great thing. I was “renting” more than 20 movies a month. We always had something new to watch. The service still had issues. Most new movies would be listed as being out of stock for weeks at a time. The mailing process also took several days. Ultimately, the queue system that you use to determine the order you receive movies, failed.

After about a year we canceled the service. The main reason was that we’d run through all the movies we wanted to see. In the end I realized several months had passed while we still had the same four movies out. By this time they were four movies I only vaguely had interest in seeing and now I was paying $20 a month not to watch them.

Just recently Netflix sent a new offer out of two free weeks of service. It’s been a long time so I figured it might be interesting to see what’s changed. I signed up for their plan that allows for three movies to be out at once. I think that would mean $16 a month if we stuck with them. I’ve been wanting to see the HBO series “Six Feet Under” but have no interest in paying the huge amount they want for each season. Netflix seemed like a good way to deal with it. With Netflix each DVD counts so a TV show, made up of many episodes and series, results in several discs per season. I took two of those and the movie “Enchanted” which I’m curious to see again already.

The very next day these DVD’s were all in my mailbox. It turns out that since my first membership, Netflix has added a huge array of shipping locations. The one closest to me is just a couple of towns away. The service itself it fairly similar to what it was before. The only major addition is the ability to watch a movie over the Internet. I tried this out and was not impressed. The movie took a while to get started and when it played back it was of such poor quality, to my eyes, as to be unwatchable.

I also already sense that there’s very little I want to see. I wish Netflix had a sort of “virtual” store. One of the things I like about Blockbuster is that they have the outside walls that you can walk that are filled with the latest, most popular movies out. Netflix has the latest releases but the lists are so long that it’d take forever to go through them. I just want to get a subset of that. Having everything is good but not all the time.

Their recommendation system is virtually the same as always and, as always, it’s recommending a lot of movies I have no interest in seeing including many I really disliked.

In the end I think I’ll watch “Six Feet Under” and then just cancel the account again when I’m done.

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