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Netflix Users Experience Paradox of Abundance 432

Posted by Zonk
from the too-much-of-a-good-thing dept.
prostoalex writes "The deal seems to be rather simple — you pay a monthly fee, receive a certain number of DVDs, and as soon as you watch them, and send them back, there's more coming. This simple model made Netflix into a $1.4 bln company, but now, Wall Street Journal reports, some Netflix users are experiencing the abundance paradox — the movies arrive, collect dust on the customer's desks, and then are sent back for the new set of movies to face the same fortune. From the article: "'It's a paradox of abundance,' said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of culture and communication at New York University. If people aren't pressured to see a movie in a specific time frame, he said, viewers tend to put it lower on their priority list. 'When you have every choice in front of you, you have less urgency about any particular choice.'"
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Netflix Users Experience Paradox of Abundance

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:09PM (#15738292) Homepage Journal

    I know, I'm showing my age, but back when I was in my first year of college I fell for the 10 albums for 1 cent ploy of Columbia Record Club. I paid my couple of $ for the 14 records (you get 10 for one cent, another for putting in some code and for a dollar a piece two more, at the time) and found how they worked. By purchasing you agreed to buy so many records over a two or three year period at "regular prices" which tended to be a bit more than at the local record store. They also sent out, based upon your choice (something Amazon and everyone else tries to do in the decades since) what their computer recommended, which was invariable exactly the music you didn't want, like some universal law, so you had to send back or pay for.

    Now Netflix doesn't work exactly that way, as far as I know, but stuff coming in like clockwork isn't the way my tastes for music or film are sated. On impulse I'll suddenly whip out and buy an Etta James collection, because I like some tune she sang back in the days of yor or I'll buzz down to the Bijou and check out Superman Returns From Wherever He Buggered Off To, but I don't do these with any chartable frequency. I tend to buy music, DVDs or old radio plays to listen to on trips or when I feel like it. Having stuff come in on a robotic schedule just isn't going to work, no matter how good the deal.

    • Good point, which is exactly why movie rental places are still doing good business. I never know when I'll have a few friends over and we'll decide to pop down to the video rental store. You simply can't do this with NetFlix. Of course the future of on-demand movie is here in a limited form (what your cable company offers) and is just around the corner is a much more expansive form (once the bandwidth and movie studios get up to par). /Of course this all is a lie as I'm a parent of a pre-teen so those "frie
      • by SSilver2k2 (820869) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:49PM (#15738646) Homepage
        Video-On-Demand is one of the best things I have ever seen come from the cable company. I never had digital cable or seen it (figured all it was was a little better quality and a way to encrypt the pay channels), until I went to my buddys place and helped him set up his home theatre. Video on demand kicks ass. Being able to watch Monk episodes a day after they are shown, having access to the HBO series on demand, all the free movies that are available, it's very nice. I hate movie theatres, so I have missed out on a lot of releases and in the past couple months hanging out with my friends I've caught up on so many movies by just hitting the VOD button and pressing play. The only time it sucks is when their server goes down or when the movie isnt coded right and it starts playing the wrong movie.
      • "Good point, which is exactly why movie rental places are still doing good business."

        I dunno...I can't remember the last time I went to a rental store, but, I do recall the often if it were a new movie, they'd be out, and I'd always find out I had a late fee to pay for the 'last' time I'd rented a movie.

        That late fee thing alone killed me on local rentals. Back when Netflix was new...It was Thanksgiving, and I'd have my Mom down to see me. I went to get some DVD's for us, and started out paying about an

      • It's not like the video store guys have some big database of Netflix customers and will refuse to do business with you if you're on their list or something. If it makes sense to run down to the video store to pick up a movie even though you have Netflix, go for it.

        Also, one of the nice things Netflix offers is the ability to create seperate movie queues for different people in your house. That way you can be sure you'll always have a movie you want to watch, your wife will have one she wants to watch,
      • PEERFLIX (Score:3, Informative)

        by goombah99 (560566)
        I use peerflix in combination with my local video store. Like netflix, with peerflix You can keep the movies you have as long as you want to. Peerflix is like netflix except you pay per trade not a fixed monthly fee. So hanging on to movies incurs no penalty of cost. (it's about $1.50 per trade ).

        I use peerflix for three purposes
        1) for movies my local store does not have on hand.

        2) for movies I want on hand but am not sure when I will watch: e.g. classic movies for a rainy day with my wife or a Jackie
    • by andrewman327 (635952) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:16PM (#15738355) Homepage Journal
      I disagree. I love Netflix. Although some things do start collecting dust, most of what I order is watched within days. I just make a point of watching my latest DVD instead of watching reruns on TV. People just need to learn to watch their DVDs when they have time. Another technique that works is setting a deadline for viewing. When a DVD comes in the mail, I set a deadline for viewing and I stick to it.


      I believe that The Onion mentioned this a long time ago. Scary if that newspaper is ahead of scientific research.

    • It's you?!! (Score:2, Funny)

      by MarkByers (770551)
      On impulse I'll suddenly whip out and buy an Etta James collection, because I like some tune she sang back in the days of yor or I'll buzz down to the Bijou and check out Superman Returns From Wherever He Buggered Off To

      Ah, so you are the one funding the MPAA's and RIAA's lawyers?! And a Slashdot user too?! I'm a bit shocked and ashamed.
    • Record Clubs (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:58PM (#15738722) Homepage Journal
      Maybe I'm the only one, but I used to like the record clubs.

      I feel a little dirty for saying that now; but this was before I realized that Sony/BMG/Columbia Universal are just various arms of the Great Satan and all that.

      I'd do one record club stint every year or so. Basically I'd start making a list of all the albums I wanted, mostly by listening to the radio, or based on friends who had more money than I did and could afford to buy the new releases. Then I'd wait for one of the music clubs to send one of their deals (in later years, one of them had a sweet one, something like '15 CDs for $10 with nothing more to buy ever!') and then go down my list and get all the CDs they had that I wanted. Then I'd cancel it, and spend the next few months / year listening to my new CDs and adding stuff to my list.

      Obviously, I wasn't a huge consumer of music. I'm still not, but it let me build a pretty decent CD collection off of my lawn-mowing/summer-job/beer-bottle-return money, which I couldn't have done otherwise at the time. (Well, maybe I could have done almost as well at used-CD/record stores.)

      I bring this all up because it's about the same way that I use Netflix today. I go on again and off again with Netflix. I'll basically make up a list, usually starting as a mental one and then progressing to a written one when it gets too long, of all the movies I want to see. Eventually I'll subscribe to Netflix, and over the course of a few months work down the list. When I either exhaust the movies I want to see, or just get bored with watching a movie or recorded TV show every night / every few nights, I'll cancel it.

      Right now I'm on my third Netflix iteration (I gave up on the music clubs a while back; I wonder if they're still around?) and about to cancel it, since my interest is starting to peter out.

      Whether you can make these systems work for you, or whether you end up being the proverbial sucker that keeps the house in business, depends on your level of patience. If you can bear to not buy anthing for a few months and keep a list of stuff you want to see/hear, and then watch it all at once (or, I suppose, rip it ... but that's A Bad Thing to do, right kids?), you can really save a lot of money and get a lot of cool entertainment for cheap. But if you either don't use it much and/or then don't cancel, then you're just making some executive's boat payments for him.
      • Re:Record Clubs (Score:3, Interesting)

        by soupdevil (587476)
        Just to make you feel even slimier about your record club days... record companies write them off as "promotional copies," meaning that the artists don't get paid, which makes the discs a few cents cheaper.
      • by The Dobber (576407) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:37PM (#15739450)
        The technique that always worked with me was to die three to four months after getting my 10 albums for 10 cents.

        A nice weepy letter from a mom about the death of her son Mike Hunt in a tragic weedeater incident. Another semester, a new mailing address and IP Freely would be recieving his 10 albums, his life to end abruptly in a boiler explosion.

  • by kisrael (134664) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:10PM (#15738296) Homepage
    I am grateful to Netflix for finally letting me turn my .txt file of "maybe checkout this movie someday" into an actual list that I'm actually plowing through. Unfortunately, the queue tends to grow over time... I try to counteract this by setting aside time on a semiregular schedule, but still...
    • I am the same way. I went from the guy who felt awkward when people talked about movies because I hadn't seen any of the hits to the person who initiates the conversation.


      Everyone say it with me, Thank you Netflix!

      • What's really funny is when very random stuff meanders its way to the top of the queue, and you're left wondering...why THAT??
        • Definitely happened to me.

          I had for years seen the cover of the tv-drama-made-dvd "Joan of Arc" with Leelee Sobieski whenever passing through the department stores. It's a bargain basement movie, but never rose to the level of curiosity required to spend ten bucks on it.

          So on Netflix, I clicked on all the titles Leelee Sobieski was in. And sure enough, they filtered into my mailbox over time. "Deep Impact? Dangerous Liaisons? Never Been Kissed?! When and why did I add those?" My wife did the sam

        • But Bethoven seemed like a funny movie a month ago when I added it!
      • Thank you Netflix. I'm definitely plowing through my list of "maybe someday" movies, as well as some old favorites. I'm definitely somebody who's getting his money's worth out of the service too. I watch them the night I get them, and send them back the very next day. There has been the occasional exception, but otherwise, I'm seeing basically a movie a day. It takes about 3 days to cycle 1 from them to me to them, and I get 3 movies "at a time", so it works out like that. I do wish they'd at least send mov
        • I have the same system as you: watch one and drop it in the mail at night. Get a new one the next day and do the same. Three at a time is a real bargin when you cycle as quickly as we do.
          • "I have the same system as you: watch one and drop it in the mail at night. Get a new one the next day and do the same. Three at a time is a real bargin when you cycle as quickly as we do."

            Also, you can get them to send you stuff faster and have them cross in the mail. I sometimes drop one in the mail, and then get on their site and list it as missing in the mail...they send you out a new one...and when they receive the one you sent, they take it off the missing list, but, you get your dvd crossing

  • ...campaign? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oahazmatt (868057) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:12PM (#15738314) Journal
    Don't they mention in their campaign that you can keep a movie as long as you want?
    • Re:...campaign? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Loconut1389 (455297) * on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:23PM (#15738885)
      this isn't netflix complaining that people are keeping movies too long- in fact they encourage it both outwardly and covertly.

      The point of this article is that when people don't feel pressure to return it, the movies sit around forever (which netflix makes great money on).

      We usually have one of our 5 that sits around for a long time until we're ready to watch it (usually something serious), but the other 4 usually go back a day or so after they come in.

      I used to spend nearly the netflix monthly fee on late fees at our local rental places- we have a two year old and being able to finish a movie in one sitting is somewhat rare unless we stay up.
  • by CogDissident (951207) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:12PM (#15738316)
    Did you know that users of Netflix who continually use their limit of what they pay for for access get the speed at which they receive movies limited?

    Several friends of mine, as well as myself, have noticed that you can get movies rather quickly for the first two months or so, but after that the pace slows down. When the time between you shipping a movie out and getting more back starts at 2-3 days, but then gets extended to a full week, the difference is noteable.

    The point is, this "paradox of abundance" only exists for the few people who don't use what they pay for, people who honestly want abundance get screwed over by design.

    • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:20PM (#15738396) Homepage Journal
      That's right up there with broadband ISPs throttling the quality of service for users who dare to run a filesharing client or (gasp) a traditional server, even so simple as an FTP folder. You have unlimited speeds on paper, but in practice you end up forced back into the predetermined "average" use in order to keep the ISP's costs of providing the service to the general public down. Sort of like the old chestnut about how the phone network would crap itself if everyone on the system tried to make a call at the exact same time, it's not designed to handle 100% use.
      • "That's right up there with broadband ISPs throttling the quality of service for users who dare to run a filesharing client or (gasp) a traditional server..."

        In that case, get a business account with them, and you can have a static IP address, no limits or blocked ports, and in my case with Cox Business...and low level SLA.

        Only cost me about $70/mo...which wasn't but about $10 more than my previous DSL acct. was with none of the above amenities....

        Take a look into a business acct, if you're

    • by Surt (22457)
      I think everyone on slashdot knows this, there have been, what, like 15 dups of that story in various forms?
    • by zippthorne (748122) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:25PM (#15738452) Journal
      Are you sure about that? that they're actually throttling people? i was under the impression that they put low-volume users higher in priority for disks compared to high-volume users for the same film, so you should only notice a slow-down if your queue is short and you've picked popular films.

      Of course, I haven't had netflix in a while, so i guess they could've changed it or i've been mistaken, but I was a pretty heavy user when I did have it and never noticed any throttling. I did notice that the post office box I dropped the disks into seemed to affect the delivery time quite a bit though. I shaved off a day or two by dropping off at the main branch instead of my own.
      • Empirically it is difficult to tell if they are throttling you or just giving you lower priority. Personally I think it is the former because it seems to me that on occasion returned disks don't show up as returned when they should. A priority based system would probably only show slowdowns on the outbound side.

        Some type A people really get bent out of shape with the idea that they are being throttled. I guess my personality is more relaxed - on the whole the service still works for me, even though I pretty
      • by hal9000(jr) (316943) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:38PM (#15738558)
        As a netflix users, yes, I can attest to the throttling. My wife and I had a feeling that was happening before I read the stories on /. We rent TV series on DVD and we easily go through 10 disks in a two weeks, thereby hitting the limit quickly. They slow down service by not acknowleging returned disks (it takes 2 business days in the beginning of the month and over 4 busniess days in the latter part--all being returned to the same local address. Oh, and for the official gobbeldy-gook, go here http://www.netflix.com/TermsOfUse?hnjr=8#how [netflix.com] and scroll down to Allocation. They don't make throttling a secret. The result of giving priority to low renters is slowing down top renters. Nevermind that top renters tend to go through DVD fast thereby keeping a scarce resource in circulation. Oh, what I would give for an on-demand digital medium. I would gladly use it, DRM be damned.
        • Oh, what I would give for an on-demand digital medium. I would gladly use it, DRM be damned.

          http://www.thepiratebay.org/

          The bad side effect would be that you'd start feeling that people don't make enough TV shows.

      • i was under the impression that they put low-volume users higher in priority for disks compared to high-volume users for the same film, so you should only notice a slow-down if your queue is short and you've picked popular films.

        Actually, they got nailed with a lawsuit for throttling people, that's what that whole class-action suit is all about. It's bait and switch.

        And on a personal, anecdotal tip, fuck YES they throttle. I had over 250 movies in my queue and the rate at which I got movies was liter

      • Yeah, I'm sure. That's why they changed their EULA. It was all part of the settlement for that class action lawsuit a while back.
      • "Are you sure about that? that they're actually throttling people?"

        I can attest that Netflix throttles people. I have a friend two doors up who kept churning his three-movie queue, copying DVDs so he could view them whenever he actually had time to view them, and would report a DVD missing so Netflix would send a movie before the one he returned was received.

        Then one day, three Netflix "technicians" showed up---two had baseball bats. The two beat my friend severely, then the third guy grabbed him by the thr
    • by voisine (153062) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:06PM (#15738761)
      http://replaylink.com/ [replaylink.com] is a service where you can purchase and then sell used DVDs (as well as CDs and video games). They send you postage paid mailers just like Netflix, so the convenience is about the same. The shipping and seller fee cost about the same as renting. Since you own the DVDs you keep them as long as you want and only pay for what you use. If you only watch a few movies a month or go on vaccation or something, it's cheaper than the Netflix subscription fee.
  • Win for Netflix (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nuggz (69912) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:14PM (#15738333) Homepage
    Sounds like a win for everyone.
    People have the movie to watch at their leisure.
    Netflix gets the same monthly fee to have the DVD sit on your shelf.

    I prefer to buy used books rather then borrow them from the library just to be able to read at my leisure and not have to worry about returning them.
    • I prefer to buy used books rather then borrow them from the library just to be able to read at my leisure and not have to worry about returning them.

        Hell I do that with the library and just pay the small $1-$5 fine... Or does that make me a bad person???
  • by 7-Vodka (195504) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:15PM (#15738340) Journal
    Sorry but if you think something is a negative effect, you should come right out and explain why instead of implying it.
    In this case I think that it's a good thing(TM). Now that there's no percieved scarcity, people are free to watch what they want only when they actually want to. I've experienced this with music and movie downloading as well as netflix. Sometimes I go through periods of watching/listening to these and sometimes i go through periods of doing other things with my life.
    Newsflash people are free to set their own priorities. Since when is making this easier a bad thing?
    • "Now that there's no percieved scarcity, people are free to watch what they want only when they actually want to."

      Not really. It's more like 'people are free to watch whatever Netflix sent them, and hopefully that overlaps what they would actually like to watch. Since that's probably unlikely, the movie will likely sit until they're actually in the mood to watch it.'

  • by Dephex Twin (416238) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:15PM (#15738343) Homepage
    I don't really see what's so bad about this. It's there, and maybe you get around to watching it and maybe you don't.

    One positive thing that I have noticed since I started Netflix is that I watch a lot less movies that I *don't* care about much. Back when I used to go to the video store, I might have a few movies in mind, and maybe these movies would be in, or not, or maybe I remember my mental list, or maybe not. But at that point, I've driven to the video store, so I'm leaving with at least one movie. So, I spend 45 minutes to finally decide on something that I don't even care about, just so my trip wasn't a total loss.
    • by SydShamino (547793) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:32PM (#15738512)
      >> One positive thing that I have noticed since I started Netflix is that I watch a lot less movies that I *don't* care about much.

      I, on the other hand, have been watching *more* movies that I really don't care about. With rentals, it's hard to pay good money for crap movies like "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (currently at the top of my queue). With NetFlix, though, assuming I watch and turn it relatively quickly, I'm only paying $0.80 or so for the rental - and that money is hidden away in a monthly fee that I pay anyway. Given that my tastes wander enough to appreciate B, C, and D-grade science fiction, this is a good deal.

      It really does work better than local rental places for me. As soon as we signed up and I realized this, I bought a lot of Netflix stock. That's doing pretty well for me so far, too, so I think I'm not alone.
    • by Surt (22457) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:42PM (#15738593) Homepage Journal
      But at that point, I've driven to the video store, so I'm leaving with at least one movie. So, I spend 45 minutes to finally decide on something that I don't even care about, just so my trip wasn't a total loss.

      Or from another point of view: your trip was a total loss, and you spent $2 on a movie you didn't want to see, and maybe you'll suffer through watching it, and you have to return it.

      But I'm a bit of a pessimist.
  • Yes, and they still make their money. I am a netflix subscriber, and I love their service! A while ago, I had selected all sorts of movies I hadn't seen and was interested in. I rated over 1000 movies that I had seen, and chose about 300 that I hadn't (and should, like those featuring Elvis, John Wayne, Marx bros, etc.). Like the teaser says, these DVDs come in the mail every so often. If I still want to watch the movie, I do. Otherwise, it sits on the mail table until I just send it back, and wait for the next movie.

    So, an interesting observation -- quite right in my case. Of course, my SO and I split the 3-movies-at-a-time thing, where I get to choose one, and my SO gets to choose two. I'm mostly not interested in the ones she chooses, and vice-versa. So, if she doesn't watch her movies, I just send 'em back too, and hope something more interesting arives.
  • What a horrible state of affairs! Too much choice. Do netflix subscribers also have diamond shoes that are too tight?
  • by MagikSlinger (259969) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:15PM (#15738349) Homepage Journal
    We hav Zip.ca [zip.ca] up here in Canada. It's kind of interesting to hear about this because I have a different approach to how I do things, and Zip's somewhat *ahem* silly queing system does have an option to make it useful: Park.

    What I do is arrange on my active "Can send" list (Normal priority in Zip speak) the stuff I know I would watch, and then use ASAP priority to move up things I definitely will watch if I receive it. Anything else I feel I wouldn't watch, I send to the Parking lot (Park priotiy).

    Arbitrarily ranking the queue (which I understand Netflix allows) is handy if you know you're going to watch things, but maybe they need to ask the user: I REALLY want to watch this, I wouldn't mind watching this, and "Eh, a friend told me i should watch it".
    • Arbitrarily ranking the queue (which I understand Netflix allows) is handy if you know you're going to watch things, but maybe they need to ask the user: I REALLY want to watch this, I wouldn't mind watching this, and "Eh, a friend told me i should watch it".

      Netflix only allows you to number movies by priority, and their interface is POOP. They give you little boxes for each movie and you have to change the numbers manually. What fucking year is this? HELLO? AJAX? DHTML? Drag and drop?

  • by bman08 (239376) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:15PM (#15738350)
    There are something like 345 DVDs on my shelves at home and it would not, in a million years, occur to me to actually watch one... Those movies are for even later, after the netflix movies. I've often found myself watching Pan'n'scan versions on cable of movies I own for this reason... the TV schedule provides a compelling reason to watch.

    OT but does anybody think this abundance is part of the stagnation in the movie world right now? Movies that seemed so important are just gone in days and weeks, lost in the sands of time and replaced by the next coming thing.

    • does anybody think this abundance is part of the stagnation in the movie world right now? Movies that seemed so important are just gone in days and weeks, lost in the sands of time and replaced by the next coming thing.

      I think the stagnation in the movie world (in the US at least) is at least partly due to the selfishness of the baby-boomer generation that runs the studios. They spend too much time reliving their childhoods through remakes, and too little time searching for original content.

      I'm sure there a
    • There are something like 345 DVDs on my shelves at home and it would not, in a million years, occur to me to actually watch one...

      Wow, I don't know if I should call you a consumer whore or if I should try to convince you to send them to me. There must like, 12-20 good ones in there.

      I have fewer DVDs, but I only buy movies I know are worth seeing more than once. Full Metal Jacket, Gattaca, stuff that's, you know, good.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have NetFlix, I love it. One thing the video store has going for it is when you get there you can choose a movie that reflect your current mood. Do you want something funny, deep or otherwise. With NetFlix you get movies "whenever" they appear on the top of your list plus a few days. While Hotel Rawanda sounded great on Thursday, but Monday really sucked and your not in for an expected downer. And thus the sitting on the coffee table begins.
  • by frankie (91710) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:16PM (#15738357) Journal
    The longer you hold on to movies on average, the less they have to spend on round trip postage. You're paying them a monthly fee whether you go through 15 movies or just 1.
  • If someone rents/buys ANYTHING and does not use it there is no connection to the supply method. It's a user issue.

    I've been using Netflix for almost six years now and do not have this problem. I rent things I want to watch and when they arrive... I watch them.

    It's that simple.

    I used to have the "three at a time" plan but wound up switching to "two at a time" and have found a balance between having movies to watch on the weekend and the ability to keep the queue stocked with things I'm interested in.

    If you'r
  • Similar to emulators (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aleman (825040) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:19PM (#15738385)
    This reminds me of my experience with video game emulators. I downloaded a torrent that contained about one hundred N64 games, many of them classics. But since there were so many, none of them were really that amusing and I ended up spending about five minutes on a few games before deleting everything.
  • This is like how badly you searched for music you liked before the internet and now you have more music than you can ever listen to yet you are surrounded with your favorites.

    I am on the 5 DVD at a time plan from Netflix and have 122 movies in my queue.

    Now if there were only enough time to watch them all. :]
  • It's called "Summer." Lately, I've been too busy travelling or doing other things outdoors to watch my Netflix rentals in a timely manner. I'm sure that my viewing habits will pick back up in a few months though.
  • by Gadgetfreak (97865) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:22PM (#15738414)
    But I'm not a Netflix subscriber. Just not big into movies.

    But the bigger and more complicated a decision, the easier it is for me to decide. Choosing a college: Simple. I went, I looked, and by the time I needed to apply, I'd already decided. Only applied to 1 school. (Graduated 3 + years ago, picked up a dual Engr. degree, and had a blast). Buying a car? Simple. I knew what I wanted. Buying a house? Simple. (Going on 2 years now, still satisfied).

    But man... you put me in front of a vending machine and I cannot make up my friggin mind. I'm not kidding. I can't decide. I'll stand there staring at it. Speaking of which.

  • I tried the service. First, the movie took forever to arrive, and then it was the wrong movie (wrong DVD in the correct sleeve). So, I just canceled the account and gave up.
  • I'm a new netflix user, and I find we do watch within a few days of coming in. So far, I like it a lot. There is one disk which we've had since we subscribed though, and not from lack of viewing - my kid watches it over and over again. At what point do I buy her a copy?
  • and it's really a concern!
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:30PM (#15738500)

    My job has been very busy lately, and Elder Scrolls IV wandered into my life, so I simply cut back my Netflix account to two out at a time down from four. I can just about slip in two movies a week. If I can't do that, I'll cut back to one. There's also the "rip to hard drive" option to backlog films.

    Feeling "pressure" to watch a movie? What would these "paradox of abundance" sufferers do if they had to go out and hunt a wooly mammoth for dinner? Cripes, take a Paxil or something.

    I had a further point to make, but I think I'll just say wooly some more. Wooly. Wooly. Wooly wooly wooly.

  • For some users, the delay in watching movies comes about because multiple people in the house have to feel like watching the same thing to get a movie watched.

    That's why I really like the multiple queue option - you can have another household member have thier own queue, with a balance of titles between the two of you that you agree on. So you can have some titles that only one person wants to watch and some that both of you will want to watch, and not have the latter hold up the former. That can help get
  • Paradox of abundance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hempola (974426)
    Like many of you when I joined Nexflix I thought I had discovered the answer to all my movie watching dilemas. For the first few weeks I was watching and returning movies like a mad woman and spending hours creating a queue that 3 months later is still unmanageable. While I still enjoy my subscription, my zeal for it has subsided somewhat.

    I will say that Netflix has 2 great features that will keep me as a customer. First, it gives me access to movies not often found in my local video store. Secondly, it
  • Most people watch movies to talk about them with friends or at work. Mostly just to chime in "I saw that", so they'll fit in. They stopped reading books to "wait for the movie" instead. Now NetFlix means they can still claim "oh, I rented that", without wasting time watching.

    Most movies are so bad, that everyone's better off.
  • How about ripping the DVDs to a DVR and watching it later? :) Then you have the movie you borrowed and can watch it any time you're ready... maybe that goes a little beyond fair use doesn't it...
  • by SengirV (203400) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:39PM (#15738562)
    It's called the Gold's Gym model.
  • by fm6 (162816)
    The rent-but-don't-watch phenomenon was around long before Netflix. In fact, I often heard it cited as a reason for switching to Netflix: people would keep renting but not get around to watching them before they had to go back.

    That guy who cancelled his membership because his movies were gathering dust probably should have just gone to a cheaper membership. His main "problem" is that he has a life, that consists of more than watching movies. Good for him. But it's nice to have some low entertainment arou

  • I don't know what the problem is. I'm on the single DVD plan and each week I get to watch a new DVD. This is great for catching up on all the old TV shows (i.e., X-Files, Enterprise, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) that I never got to watch when I was working 60 to 80 hours a week.
  • The amount of time Netflix saves my wife and I at the video store. That's got to be worth a lot more than the cost of a DVD lying around collecting dust.

    One of the fundamental reasons why we chose Netflix was because we didn't have to rush to get to the video store on Friday nights. Or spend an hour deciding what we were going to rent because the best movies had already been rented. Or have to fight traffic on weekend nights with a crying baby.

    Sure, I guess that if we get a movie or two we decide

    • depending on how mant films go unwatched, it might be more expensive then going to the video store.

      OTOH, I am one of those freaks who knows what Kind of film I want to see, if not a specifict title before I go to the video store. I will usually call forst to be sure they have the title in stock.

      I also know what I want when I get to the front of a line in a fast food establishment.
  • At first I read that as This simple model made Netflix into a $1.4 bin company.
  • by voidstin (51561) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @02:58PM (#15738718)
    That's the point of the article. It's not about whether you're lazy or stupid or just not disciplined enough to watch rented movies. However, when you're given an abundant amount of choices, it's often harder to make a good decision. Add netflix's delay into the mix (what do I think I'd like to watch at some point in the future?) and it gets even harder.

    Of course we want to see Hotel Rwanda, or the new almodovar film, because we are advanced, modern intellectuals. In reality, after a 12 hour day of re-factoring someone else's messy code, would you rather open a beer and collapse in front of Hotel Rwanda or Super Troopers?

    The problem is netflix (and tivo) makes you confront this issue - You have to send it back and quit on it. You have to admit that you don't want to watch Hotel Rwanda. You'd rather fast forward to the "good parts" of The Girl Next Door rather than think about genocide. You are not the advanced, modern intellectual you thought you were. Who wants an existential crisis when they thought they were just renting movies? Is this horrible? probably. So is alcoholism, but i bet you didn't cringe when I opened a beer in the above paragraph.

    This topic has brought out a lot of elitist viewpoints... I'm surprised. You may use Netflix perfectly. Congratulations. That's not what we were talking about. The intersting thing about this is how a fairly subtle shift in delivery method created a whole mess of problems (as well as solutions) for the end user, and ended up changing the experience for the user substantially.

    Now, to really make it interesting, lets talk about the Netflix friends feature, where your friends can see what you rent and what's in your queue, as well as what you thought of it. Are you really willing to give Ultimate Fighting Championship 5 stars if that girl you've got your eye on is going to find out?
    • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @06:52PM (#15740171) Homepage Journal
      I'll say it again: If you know you're not going to watch Hotel Rwanda, don't put it in your queue. What, is there some kind of culture nazi standing over your shoulder when you access netflix.com? The gap between the person you like to think you are and the person you really are is one of those life issues you're going to have to address one of these days. It has nothing to do with Netflix.
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:00PM (#15738730) Homepage
    ...that all Netflix users had burners, or at the very least, knew out to rip to divx!
  • That's me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ben there... (946946)
    I've been using NetFlix for about 6 months, and have only rented about 5 movies. For the money I've spent, I could have owned all of those movies.

    I keep telling myself it's worth it because next month I'll just rent 10 ($1.50/each).

    But as I type, I have 2 movies I've already watched that I've been meaning to drop in the mailbox since Friday.
  • DVDShrink [dvdshrink.org]

    Just copy them one after the other after the other and slide 'em into a disk wallet and when you get the urge just watch one.

    I of course would never violate copyright law in such a flagrant fashion. Just saying...
  • I found myself watching movies just to get rid of them, much like how you have to eat all the food at a restaurant, even if you are full. I felt like I was obligated to watch what I'd queued, so I'd better spend two hours before sending it back. It's no surprise that watching a movie because you feel you have to is not very satisfying.
  • by SloppyElvis (450156) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:12PM (#15738802)
    The converse of this paradox is also one. Accumulating as much of a product as possible to maximize the value of the monetary expense, even if doing so adversely affects your enjoyment of that product, illustrates a strange consequence of consumerism.

    The obvious example is that of the person who consumes far beyond a comfortable and enjoyable amount of food at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The value for the price is determined to be "volume of food" rather than enjoyment of the meal. Would someone consciously pay for a sick stomach?

    For some, Netflix is approaching this valuation on "volume of movies" rather than convenience or even personal enjoyment/satisfaction of the service.
  • by ursabear (818651) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:19PM (#15738850) Homepage Journal
    Background: When Blockbuster (the only rental place within reasonable distance of our home) started charging more than $6 for a DVD rental, then moved their rental store across town, we became Netflix users. We signed up for the "one-at-a-time" service. We used to watch about two movies a month - and wanted to watch more, typically one per weekend. It made financial sense (and saves gas) for us to switch over to Netflix. On any given month, we actually spend less money (on Netflix fees than we used to on Blockbuster rentals). In addition, we almost never have to wait before a given title is available for us to rent via Netflix - with Blockbuster, we'd have to go back more than once to get a given film.

    With the background out of the way... when we were renting on time-based rentals, we felt pressure to watch the film right away. The availability of a film in combination with what day of the week it became available always caused us to "rush to watch."

    We do not have the dust-collecting issue mentioned in TFA - rather, we just put it on the table and watch it when we're ready. I enjoy films much more when we view them when we want to (as opposed to rushing to watch before the due date/time.). As such, our enjoyment of the films we watch has gone up, the availability is better, and we don't spend gas money to get the films.

    I do, however, hear of people (mainly via work) who have the three-at-a-time plan who are now saying, "I don't have the time to watch the films, so they just sit there forever." In this way, it does seem that video rental has shifted in paradigm. I can see the comparison of TFA's mention of abundance and its relationship to the general value of a thing...

    On an interesting note (note that the following is opinion and personal observation): of the folks to whom I have spoken about this article- there seems to be a greater demarcation than just availability... folks with children tend to feel that they don't have the time to watch, and folks without children tend to avidly consume their films.
  • Piracy is similar (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brix Braxton (676594) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:25PM (#15738897) Homepage
    This reminds me of when I was a kid and had my first 8 bit computer - for the first few months I bought all of my software one tape at a time. I would play the games, good or bad all the way through - picking through every nugget I could find, playing some games for weeks on end.

    Some time later - I met a friend at school who had the same computer and offered to bring his disks over. Holy cow - he must have had two hundred disks of software that I spent a weekend or two copying. That pretty much killed it for me since I didn't really have any pressure to play anything and since I didn't invest anything into the software - I would just load a game, decide it didn't look all that great and move on to the next.

  • by nullix (100540) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:31PM (#15738938)
    I stopped renting movies from Blockbuster before Netflix was around. I could never return a rental ontime. It was more like a week or 2 after it was do. With the extra late fees added to the rental, it was cheaper to buy the movie. I just bought the movies instead. Of course, this was when I was single and had money to burn.

    Now with a wife and kids, there is no time to goto the movies. Netflix is great to catch up on the movies I missed. Plus, I can easily rent questionable movies like King Kong and Napoleon Dynamite without having to pay $50 to see it in the theater ($10 for 2 people, $20 for food, $20 for a babysitter).
  • Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aiken_d (127097) <brooks@tangenBLUEtry.com minus berry> on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @03:34PM (#15738968) Homepage
    ...they've discovered Netflix's well-advertised business model. That's some investigative, in-depth reporting for you. Maybe one day soon they'll discover that Burger King differentiates itself by emphasizing their willingness to take custom orders.

    Busy people hate traditional rental stores because you rent some movies, pay for them, get busy and can't watch them, and then return them 3 days later unwatched. Or, equally likely, you return them 6 days later and pay late fees for the movie you didn't watch.

    -b

  • by boingo82 (932244) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @04:55PM (#15739560) Homepage
    This isn't just exclusive to Netflix. Back when I was a member, I liked it precisely because I could let the movies languish on the coffe table -
    See, I did that with Blockbuster movies too, renting one and not finding the time to watch it in the allotted 5 days. It was *much* cheaper to put off viewing my Netflix movie for a week than it was to rack up $14 at Blockbuster all the time.

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