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Netflix vs. Blockbuster Revisited 349

Thomas Hawk writes "Exactly one year ago at Davis Freeberg debated Wall Street analyst Michael Pachter regarding the future of the online DVD rental world. Freeberg maintained that Netflix was the clear and obvious choice for a winner while Pachter predicted that in the next 12 months Netflix would significantly underperform Blockbuster. Now another look one year later at the competitive landscape in the DVD market. Pachter is nice enough to continue the conversation and even admits in hindsight that he made a mistake regarding his prediction on Netflix vs. Blockbuster for the year past -- but Pachter still maintains that Blockbuster has the upper hand over Netflix in the coming year ahead. Freeberg, of course, thinks he's wrong once again and that Netflix will continue to dominate as the leader of this market. "
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Netflix vs. Blockbuster Revisited

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  • by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) * on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:16PM (#15238348)
    The biggest problem with Netflix is time. Like most folks, I figured to sign up, watch movies quickly, and really get my moneys worth. It doesn't work out that way. Just because "Teenage Exorcist" is waiting in my mailbox when I get home doesn't mean that I'm going to feel like watching it tonite. Recently, I've gone through nearly three busy weeks when I haven't had time and haven't been in the mood to watch a movie. At that point, my subscription isn't very cost-effective.

    I'll keep subscribing for now, but I may just be one more watching-mood-drought away from cancellation. What would really keep me as a customer is someone who could offer high quality and fast downloads for a buck or two. Then I could buy on a whim and get exactly what I'm in the mood for instead of picking from among the three Netflix envelopes on the kitchen table that just happened to be fairly close to the top of my queue but aren't *precisely* what I want tonite.
    • by boxlight ( 928484 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:23PM (#15238413)
      Just because "Teenage Exorcist" is waiting in my mailbox when I get home doesn't mean that I'm going to feel like watching it tonite.

      I think you're doing it wrong. "Netflixers" I know do it like this -- get the DVD in the mail, copy it to your PC with something like DVDShrink, send the DVD back right away so you get the next item in your queue sooner.

      Then later when you feel like watching the movie, burn it to a DVD+/-RW, watch it, then delete the file off your computer.

      This may be walking the tightrope of "fair usage", but that's the reality of how people I know are using this sort of service.

      • Good lord, how many movies are they watching? I have netflix too, but I just use the DVDs like the parent and I still find I rarely go through more than 5 or 6 a month.

        Besides, if you do the mass rip/burn thing, eventually Netflix starts to throttle your queue since it is unprofitable for them to process more than ~20 movies a month for a single account.
        • Does anyone have proof that it is Netflix that is causing the delays? In the three years that I have been a Netflix member, I have not had more than 3 movies take more than one day shipping, and those were 2 days. I even had one that was technically a same day shipment. I sent the movie out on a Saturday, and got the next one on Monday. Since Sunday does not count as a mailing day, I got a same day shipment.

          I watch a LOT of movies. In those 3 years, I have only kept a move for more than 2 days maybe
      • I used to use your primitive method. Now I skip the step of burning a dvd. I got a $15 tv-out graphics card, ran 50 foot composite/audio cables to my tv.

        It looks good, I save time burning discs, and I don't have any more inexplicably ruined dvd-rw blanks. I don't know why it was happening, but I had about a 5% failure rate with each reuse.

        Now I can show .avi or whatever on my tv without the SLOW process of converting to dvd compliant format, or watch visualizations with music, or change channels to see i

        • I used to use your primitive method. Then I got an Xbox, and put XBMC on it. Voila! Great output (for SD anyway, which is all I have) and the convenience of being able to load content over the network, which means my TV and PC don't have to be close together. XBMC can even play VOBs over the network - not sure if it will play a VOB/IFO directory as a DVD with menus and all, but it plays DVDs off the drive just fine with the full feature set, so maybe. XBMC can play anything mplayer can play, provided you ha
          • Pretty cool. I considered wireless, but the cost difference was pretty big. I wasn't planning to buy a game box, so your combination wouldn't have helped me. Things are advancing rapidly enough I don't want to put much effort or money into it.

            My friend wired his house for audio, ethernet, and coax a few years ago. It took him several weekends and thousands of dollars. (he installed a wiring panel with patch bay and everything) I'm glad I waited!

            • Your friend made a mistake. If he was going through all that trouble anyway, he should have installed conduit in his walls. This way if he needs to replace his cat5 wire with cat6, all he has to do is poke his head into the attic, and start sliding the new wire down the tube. You can buy 6 hole face plates, and plugs for most connector types, including blanks for the holes you are not using.
      • by rho ( 6063 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @03:51PM (#15239806) Homepage Journal
        I don't do that. They come in, we watch 'em when we have time. They go back out. Some months we watch 3 movies a week--some months, just 3 movies total. At $20/month, it's a good deal for me for these reasons:

        1) If I hear about a movie I might want to see, or if somebody recommends something I haven't seen, I put the movie in the queue. No fuss trying to remember anything.

        2) We don't have cable, so this is the majority of our entertainment budget.

        3) With no late fees, we have total control of when we want to watch something.

        4) Practically endless choices. I've never gone looking for a movie that I couldn't find.

        If you're going to rip the DVDs as soon as they arrive, why not just download them from torrents? It's just a legal (or illegal, rather), and you don't have to worry about shelling out that MASSIVE $19.95 every month and making sure that you somehow game the system so your Netflix rentals work out to be $0.25/movie like a penniless schlub.

      • This may be walking the tightrope of "fair usage", but that's the reality of how people I know are using this sort of service.

        It's more a licensing issue than fair use. I'm sure you expressly agreed to not do something along the lines of copying it when you rented it, so it doesn't matter if there is fair use, you've breached your contract with them.
    • I've experienced similar periods where the DVDs you have just don't seem appealing and you don't really have the time... and suddenly you've had them for two weeks. Couple this with the throttling that Netflix does (I mail two DVDs back and mysteriously there's a 4 day difference between when they receive them?), and I'm considering quitting as well. The main problem is that I chose Netflix as a cable-replacement option: pay 1/3 as much as cable so my wife and I can get watch seasons of great TV shows or go
      • The mysterious 4 day arrival thing comes from the different distribution centers.
        Most of mine are from the minneapolis, but if minneapolis doesn't have the movie I want, it comes from san jose or someplace like that.
        And they tend to ship back from where they came.
        So i print up address labels to the minneapolis center, so all my movies get back in 1 day.
        • Right. The distribution centers with the same ZIP code (in my city) they had when I was in the one month trial period suddenly moved across the country (without changing that ZIP code) once I was a paying customer.

          I suspect you think I'll believe the USPS would allow them to move and keep their ZIP code in the same way you'll expect me to believe that the postal service suddenly got very inefficient at delivering mail across town in that same time period.

          Oddly enough, my mortgage payments get across town

      • Did you notice Throttling for popular movies or extremely rare movies-- where popularity exceeds the supply? From my experience, these delays are very rare.

        Often we'll return 3 movies at the same time, and will receive 3 new movies in the mail 2 days later, all at the same time. We live in Berkeley, CA and are only a few hours from the primary distribution centers or the NetFlix headquarters.
    • I enjoyed Netflix for a little while before I ran into the same problem.

      But I've found a solution.


      Most of my rentals from Netflix are TV shows (often that don't air). I tend to get one movie for every three TV discs I rent. By the time that movie disc gets to my house, I'm in a movie mood (because I haven't seen one) or I can just hold it until I am. I've watched Neon Genesis Evangelion this way (this was years ago before it was aired on Cartoon Network), Red Dwarf, Dual: Parallel Universe Saga, Magic

      • This is exactly what I do. 2/3rds of my Netflix rentals are TV shows (often anime, or original cable programmiong I don't otherwise get). There's always a TV show I want to watch now, and I actually look forward to the movies.
    • by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:42PM (#15238621)
      That's what I've been doing when I don't have time to watch it right away (except I rip them to my need to burn anything).

      The problem I'm having is that I'm unprofitable for Netflix, so rather than just canning me outright, they are doing their best to slow me down. After the first couple months of 8 movies per month, many of my returns started taking 2 days to get back to them (the return center is very local, so they have to be sitting on it for a day). That slows my down to under 2 per week. I kept that rate up for a couple more months, and occasionally got 2 a week by mailing back the same day I received it (or when my return actually got processed next day). Now the latest trick is 3 of the last 4 movies have been being shipped from across the country. Thats never happened before, and these aren't old/rare movies, nor are they movies in high demand. They are couple of year old movies that had their run. I never had any problems before with movies being shipped across the country, so it seems more than coincidence.

      Anyway, those 2 acts have my rental rate just over 1 per week. That doesn't make it very worthwhile to use Netflix. On top of that, they've been shoving me to the back of the queue for new movies. I added King Kong to my queue the week before it was released. The morning of release, I checked my queue and it said short wait. Later that day it changed to long wait. The next morning it was now a VERY long wait. It's been 4 or 5 weeks now since King King came out, and I'm still at a long wait.

      Anyway, my Netflix subscription is just about renew, so I'm planning on cancelling and switching to blockbuster. Well see how they are, but the one real advantage I see there is that they give you coupons for 2 free store rentals per month. That means even if they do the same sort of profiling of high use customers, I can still run out and get the movie from the local Blockbuster in a timely manner.
    • *cough* dvdshrink *cough*
    • Netflix is loaning me Babylon 5. That is all that matters. All inconviences are trivial. They could require me to punch 12 Blockbuster users in the face before shipping me a disc and I would still use their services.
    • I know I don't "get my money's worth" from Netflix compared to renting in a Blockbuster store. Lately I watch about three discs a month. The Netflix is something like $17 a month, so renting them in store probably would be cheaper.

      But then I would have to go to the store, find out that they don't have what I originally wanted, pick something else from the paltry selection, wait in the ridiculously long line, and then return the thing a few days later.

      $17 a month for convenience is worth it. I always hav

    • I cancelled cable ($44/mo) and am signing up with Netflix 3-at-a-time ($18/mo) which has almost all the shows I like to watch on cable and broadcast TV, and many that I want to watch but didn't get because they were on premium channels. And it elimates what I previously spent renting movies ($10-$15/mo).

      Only disadvantage is that I can't watch the most current stuff, but I don't care. There's enough older stuff out on DVD to keep me occupied for years.
  • by Frenchman113 ( 893369 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:17PM (#15238351) Homepage
    Infinite rentals, no due dates, a massive library, and you can rent from your very own chair without ever leaving your house. What's blockbuster got to top that?
    • Video On Demand right from the cable box. Can't beat that ;)
    • Hmm (Score:3, Funny)

      by Poromenos1 ( 830658 )
      Hot chicks at the counter?
    • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:21PM (#15238391)
      What's blockbuster got to top that?

      Ummm, infinite rentals, no due dates, a massive library, and you can rent from your very own chair without ever leaving your house. (Hint: I'm not talking about the brick and mortar Blockbuster.)
      • MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Informative)

        by MustardMan ( 52102 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:40PM (#15238597)
        Not only does blockbuster online (the thing being compared with netflix) do everything netflix does, you also get coupons for various in-store promotions, as well as free in-store rentals included in the cost of your rental program. I get two free in-store rentals each month, which means if I decide on a whim that I want to see a certain flick, I can pick it up without paying any extra on top of my monthly subscription fee. I still have my 3-out-at-a-time movies to pick from as well. BB does everything netflix does, plus some.
        • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:2, Informative)

          by joshsisk ( 161347 )
          Except that their web interface leaves a LOT to be desired. Netflix is really easy to use, get recommendations, and the whole "friends" interface is great... does BB have something to compete with this? I wouldn't switch just based on how useful the friends interface is in seeing if you really would like a film... You can see what all your friends thought about a film, including a short review. It's very useful.
        • Yeah... so I can then spend 40 minutes driving and $5 in gas every week to go cash in the coupon at the nearest blockbuster store. Livig in the middle of nowhere is a really good reason to get either service, but I found that I just liked netflix a little better.

          Of course, if only Blockbuster had a subscription movies+games option, I'd be all over dumping netflix&gamefly to have a single entertainment channel.
    • by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:31PM (#15238510) Journal
      Infinite rentals? Infinite up to 11 per month when they start throttling [] your [] deliveries [], you mean. Not such a good deal now, is it?

      • Well let's do the math. 11 rentals at the "3 DVDs out at a time" plan works out to be about $0.61 per rental.

        Still seems like a great deal to me. That's even ignoring any DVDs you get after the throttling kicks in.

        • Well let's do the math. 11 rentals at the "3 DVDs out at a time" plan works out to be about $0.61 per rental.

          Wait, $17.99 (3-at-a-time plan)/11 = $0.61? How about $1.64? Still, not a bad deal, until you realize you can't get new releases for the first two months because you're sent to the back of the line, or it takes three to four days (it often takes 5-7 days for me) to get the next title on your list.

          • Yeah $1.64 is more accurate. It pays to actually look at my terminal window while using bc.

            I don't really use Netflix for new movies, as most new movies I either saw in the theater and want to own or I didn't see it in the theater because I'm in no hurry to. I absolutely love Netflix for TV shows, as there is no way I'm going to shell out $50+ per season for some of the shows out there but I wouldn't mind watching them again.

            • I actually use it for british sitcoms and some older stuff that's hard to find, I just find it a bitter pill to swallow when they lure you in and then degrade your service. I was hesitant to begin with because I didn't want YAMF (Yet Another Monthly Fee) to deal with, but the free trial was great. Then it began taking progressively longer to get my next movie. Now the $17/month isn't so great.
          • Still, not a bad deal, until you realize you can't get new releases for the first two months because you're sent to the back of the line,

            And this is why I really like Blockbuster online. In those cases where I can't get a new release from the online store, I have two free rentals at the local Blockbuster per month, and they are pretty good at having sufficient stock of the new releases. I usually rent the older movies online, and pick up the new releases at the store. I haven't had any issues yet where

      • still about a buck a rental that way. seems like a pretty good deal.
      • When I signed up I figured if I just got 5 a month it would still be a better deal than going to the local BB or Hollywood, where rentals are now over $4 each with tax.

        The last two months I've rented 11 and 12 movies respectively with Netflix. Heck, even if I dropped below 5 for some reason I'd probably keep the service, since I used to really hate going to my local video rental stores (most have stopped carrying anything but new releases and a token selection from other categories, and the lines are alw

    • Overhead. Lots and lots of overhead.
    • "What's blockbuster got to top that?"

      Edited movies, no "adult content", and masssive contibutions to right-wing organizations.
  • by boxlight ( 928484 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:18PM (#15238361)
    I would like to use an online rental service like Netflix (more specifically, their Canadian equiv. []) instead of Blockbuster, but I don't want to be locked in with their subscription model.

    If they would introduce some kind of pay-as-you-go scheme, that would be ideal. I don't want to pay the monthly fee as in any given month I may only rent one movie -- or none at all.

    • by kevin_conaway ( 585204 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:24PM (#15238427) Homepage
      And you're they're worst nightmare.

      They would make no money off of you. Business is a 2-way street you know. They get to make money and you get something in return.

      I think the situation you're describing is more suited for the "on-demand" model of cable television.
    • A pay as you go business model doesn't work very well for video rentals when the videos are sent by mail. Pay as you go rentals are based you having the video in your posession for a short period of time, usually between 1 and 7 days plus several hours because the movie is usually due back at midnight rather than at the same time of day that it was rented. In the best case scenario, three or four days would have to be added to the rental time in order to accomodate the mail delay. With a monthly subscrip
  • How I look at it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by apparently ( 756613 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:20PM (#15238373)
    With Blockbuster, my membership gets me 4 "free" in-store rentals a month for my $17.99 Blockbuster Online membership. So basically, the service is letting me make 4 rentals for $4.50 each (which is about the norm anywhere), and then in additional, I get "unlimited" Blockbuster Online rentals. As Blockbuster figures out how to further utilize their brick-and-mortar stores, I wonder how NetFlix will be able to compete against this?
    • I haven't been in a Blockbuster in 3 or 4 years because they are evil, at least they were 3 or 4 years ago.

      Netfix, OTOH, seems to go out of their way to satisfy customers.
    • > With Blockbuster, my membership gets me 4 "free" in-store rentals a month for my $17.99 Blockbuster Online membership.

      To say nothing of the fact that you get to pick them at the time that you want them, rather than Netflix picking for you out of your queue and factoring in frequent-viewer penalties.

      Netflix is virtually the antithesis of the impulse buy, and it's all because they have to mail out physical DVD's from a limited inventory. Blockbuster has existing physical stores (admittedly not cheap, bu
      • Re:How I look at it. (Score:4, Informative)

        by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:44PM (#15238639) Homepage Journal
        In-store coupons for BB are pretty worthless where I live. BBs in-store selection is pathetic (almost completely lacking in older movies, even cult classics), and greater than 50% of the store is checked out pretty much all of the time. That's the reason I got Netflix in the first place, because it was usually the case that BB didn't have any movie that I was even vaguely interested in seeing. The small handfull of cult classics they had were always checked out, and they seemed to stock huge numbers of horrible movies (that stupid ocean liner horror movie stands out in my mind with a full wall of copies with disks behind them surrounded by a sea of checked out (better) movies).

        All it took was BB screwing me on one late fee--got to the store around 11:55 or so, but had to stand outside waiting for the guy to finish his work on the door (apparently some punks had vandalized it the night before) before I could get in. Got in the store at a touch after 12 and got hit with a late fee because I was after the 12:00 time limit. The manager was insistant that I should have just gone earlier to drop it off too. Needless to say, that's the last time I've ever visited BB. I can't remember if I even paid that late fee.
        • I thought BB did away with late fees, or was that just for their subscription thing? I remember getting screwed on late fees too. Their selection was ... adequate.

          If I could effectively download the movie, I'd use that in a flash. Netflix wouldn't even be a consideration. In fact, I'd actually support strong DRM for downloadable movies, proviso that it doesn't screw up my playback hardware or dictate how and when I watch a movie that I purchased outright. But of course I ask too much. I may as well be
    • Re:How I look at it. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:43PM (#15238629) Homepage
      I received a $10 gift card to Blockbuster. It took me over an hour find two movies. Essentially, every movie I wanted to see was out of stock. In the end, I didn't rent anything. Rather, I bought two used movies "I Robot" and I forget what else.

      So, I don't think I'd find those in store rentals of much use. Sure, there may be a film that me and a bunch of friends might want to watch right this moment...and be willing to run out to the rental store to get it. But I'd wager all the copies of said film will be rented out. At least that last few times I went to Blockbuster that was always the case.

      At least with Netflix I have a steady flow. I also get to watch a lot of TV shows I miss. I've got the 5 disc program and seldom do I not have something to watch. With 5 discs it's pretty good. Just make sure you mix you queue up so you always have something lighthearted, something action and something dramatic. Plus your series filler (currently ST:DS9 for me) *lol*
    • Re:How I look at it. (Score:4, Informative)

      by szrachen ( 913408 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @02:08PM (#15238870)

      I found that to be a great deal as well. However, I also found that some months I really didn't feel like I needed any more movies than the ones that I got online (and that was when they only gave out 1 rental a month). I've since switched to Netflix because I didn't want to pay $17.99 for the 4 extra movies when I hardly need more than 2 at a time and don't necessarily need the in-store movies. I would guess that the vast majority of people are probably in the same boat.

      I guess the way I see it, here is your decision:

      Do you watch 3 or more movies a month?

      • If Yes, continue...
      • If No, just go to the movie store...

      Do you need to get a movie at any time on a whim as long as you're alright with driving to the movie store and paying a little extra?

      • If Yes, Blockbuster Online is probably better for you.
      • If No, Netflix is probably better for you. Be patient grasshoppa.

      Other considerations

      • I have had better luck getting working discs from Netflix
      • The friends recommendation system is pretty nice on Netflix (I don't recall if BBO had this)
      • You may set up individual family member queues on Netflix
  • by hellfire ( 86129 ) <> on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:23PM (#15238405) Homepage
    I want both of them to keep fighting it out... for a very long time.

    Because when video rental services compete, I win.

    Three cheers for competition!
  • What about Redbox? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sentryp ( 930976 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:25PM (#15238430) [] They have some they everone else doesn't... Cheap pay as you go rentals. And you can get fries with that!
    • Wow, that looks pretty cool. How's the selection? Is it just the DVD that the kiosk happens to contain when you wander by?
    • That's a good thing - if you have a Redbox near you. Unfortunatly, despite living in a fairly large college town, there aren't any around. NetFlix has a shipping facility a few miles away from my place and I get my movies quickly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:26PM (#15238444)
    I got fed up with turn around time with netflix and went with blockbuster. A month later I'm now back with netflix. Blockbuster will not send you a new release until it has been released for 90 days. Netflix will have the movie on your doorstep release day. After renting virtually limitless movies for a year New Releases are all I have to look forward to. Blockbuster not shipping new releases to force store visits completely contradicts what people are looking for.

    Until blockbuster can realize that they need to stop putting all their weight behind their stores, netflix will always be the superior choice.
    • Blockbuster will not send you a new release until it has been released for 90 days

      That is simply not true. BB shipped Chronicles of Narnia to me three days after it was released on DVD. And, BB also shipped Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to me nine days after it was released. (BTW, "Charlie" was a better movie than I expected. )You just have to know how to search for the new relases on BB. New releases are not placed on the main BB page after you log in. When you know there is a new release out the

    • I currently have both and have had BB since it was in beta. The two are about equal in my book for turnaround time with added value going to BB for the "free" in store rentals.

      I've never had a 90 day waiting time for a new release DVD from either service. Overall, if a DVD set to be released on Tuesday is in my queue (at the top) and I get a DVD shipped out to me on Monday, it has been the new release (this goes for both rental services).

      You either need to complain to BB about this if it really is true or
  • I once had NetFlix (Score:4, Insightful)

    by robogun ( 466062 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:26PM (#15238448)
    I found eDonkey significantly outperforms Netflix, at least for me.

    I was once a subscriber, but I dropped Netflix back when they went from $19.99 to $23.99/mo.
  • by MORTAR_COMBAT! ( 589963 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:26PM (#15238449)
    they are just a pain in the ass. they come as e-mail links, you visit the web page, print it out, pick it up from the printer, then have to remember to bring the coupon when you go to the store. in the several months that i was a blockbuster online dvd rental subscriber, i didn't use a single in-store rental voucher. if, on the other hand, they had simply tied the coupons to my blockbuster account, i would have used them. and perhaps remained a customer. but as it was, the value-add just wasn't there.
    • I agree that they should just tie them to your account and when you go to check out have them automatically applied. Please suggest to them that they implement something to that affect; I have and maybe if more people would do so we could enjoy our virtual coupons. As it is now though, it's not to hard to print out a coupon (unless you don't have a printer---that could be a problem). When I update my queue, I'll print out any new coupons and just put them in my car. That way when I stop in I already hav
    • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @02:25PM (#15239030)
      they come as e-mail links,

      Oh my GOD! The ultimate in inconvenience!

      you visit the web page,

      Great Satan's Firey Balls! That must require the use of at least three muscles to move the pointer and click the link! Does Blockbuster offer health insurance?

      print it out, pick it up from the printer,

      Jesus Tap Danching Christ On A Cracker! Those foul villans! They make you trek all the way to the printer? Do they subsidize the required team of Sherpas and ruggedized GPS navigation equipment?

      then have to remember to bring the coupon when you go to the store.

      Wow! What does Blockbuster think? That we have highly evolved brains with complex memory capabilities? Those fools! Thos bloody, viscious fools!

  • My Thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:28PM (#15238471) Homepage
    I really REALLY like Netflix. I've had them for two years or so and they are fantastic. I haven't tried Blockbuster and I don't intend to because, frankly, I hate the company. Their stores have gone down in quality and the prices have gone WAY up in last few years (specifically video games). All that said, I'd like to comment on something from the article:

    "Since the launch of Blockbuster's online dvd rental program in August 2004, they have added 1.3 million customers, but over the last 6 months alone, Netflix was able to add almost as many subscribers. Each customer that Netflix acquired represents pure growth for the company, but of Blockbuster's 1.3 million subscribers, how many of them represent former retail store customers? "

    The last few times I've been in my local Blockbuster, they have been doing hard sells on their online service to every customer. They talk about how convenient it is, how much it will save you, blah blah blah.

    I seriously doubt Blockbuster has gotten very many new customers at all to their online service. I think most of them were conversions from in-store customers.

  • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:34PM (#15238538)
    Have you been to a Blockbuster lately? Buying DVDs has gotten pretty cheap while renting movies has only gotten more expensive. The $4.50 per rental they charge is about 1/3 to 1/4 the price it would cost to buy the movie outright. And game rentals are now in the neighborhood of $7 per game! That's just crazy when the used video game market is rapidly devaluing games. Most of Blockbuster's gaming library can be bought for $20 or less. Why spend $7 just to rent it for a week?

    Then there's Netflix where I can't just go pick up any movie I want. I have to request it and have it shipped. And that only happens after they get back one of the earlier movies I rented from them. That's a minimum two day turnaround. And while it is nice that you can request Netflix movies from the comfort of your own home, the less scrupulous out there have discovered that you can download just about any movie you want in far less time than it would take Netflix to get it to your door. And on top of that, their "unlimited" rental model leaves a lot to be desired for those who don't rent very often. Their cheaper packages offer little enough that they're not a good deal.
  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:35PM (#15238547) Homepage
    For 2006 I've kept a log of my movie rentals to track turn-around-times. I recorded when a movie is sent, est. arrival, actual arrival and when I I recorded when I return the movie and how long until they log it received. It's about a 1.3 days on avg to receive a movie and 2.2 days on average for Netflix to record it received. A total turn-around time of 3.5 days per film. Not too bad, consider they're utilizing the postal service. (Which in my area is notoriously poor in performance. A letter mailed 2 hours away can take 4 days + to be delivered.)

    • It's about a 1.3 days on avg to receive a movie and 2.2 days on average for Netflix to record it received. A total turn-around time of 3.5 days per film.

      I have Blockbuster Online in Southwestern Connecticut, and the distribution center is within the same city. In all but one case (out of about 30 movies so far) I've gotten the movie the next postal day after the day they ship it. I've never had Blockbuster take more than one day to acknowledge receipt of a movie I mailed back, and on several occasions t

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:38PM (#15238579)
    On-demand movies are here to stay - they are more convenient than rentals, and as the selection gets better, a nice way to watch older movies that your local video store may not stock. Hard drive space is cheap, and soon it will be possible for cable companies to warehouse thousands of titles that you can watch whenever you want.

    Content providers aren't too thrilled with this setup since the carriers (cable companies) get a cut of every viewing.....but it is a deal with the devil they must make - why you ask?

    Piracy. Physical media is bad for the war on piracy. Everyone I know makes copies of their Blockbuster and Netflix rentals. Shipping physical media around the world is no way to control the duplication of that content.

    The RIAA and the MPAA want to make this an on-demand world - one where you don't possess physical media. You consume the content streamed to you in a protected, DRM'ed out the wazoo, format.

    The final nail in the coffin for physical media will be wireless - once wireless speeds are up to the challenge, you'll be able to stream music and movies to your portable devices and the car. It will only be a matter of time before the "lazy" media-consuming public stops collecting physical media and streams everything.

    Then the issue of piracy via "media copying" almost completely goes away. Sure it might take 10 years, but it will happen. The hardcore guys will still figure out a way to capture the streams, but if the streaming world is easy enough, available enough, and cheap enough, most people won't bother.

  • Screw those guys.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:39PM (#15238588) Journal
    Support your local library. Membership is free, and usually you can borrow all the latest movies and music at no cost. There are late fees, but nothing near what Blockbuster et al charges.
  • Why I switched (Score:4, Informative)

    by DarkFencer ( 260473 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:40PM (#15238598)
    Until this morning I was a Netflix user. I had cancelled this morning and subscribed with Blockbuster before reading this article. The problem with Netflix is getting 'new' movies. I am a medium level user with Netflix (I get a good amount but I'm not one of the more heavy users) but anytime I want something relatively new it is in "Long Wait" for weeks or even months.

    Even if Blockbuster makes me wait a while for the newer movies then I can still get the one free in-store movie a week, as well as satisfy the impulse rentals that my wife and I want.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    12 months later ... Nothing's changed. One person thinks their vision is still right. The other still thinks their's is right.

    It's like watching a soap opera. I'll be sure to tune again another year from now to find out, yet again, that nothing has changed, except that one has fallen down an elevator shaft while experiencing menopause, and the other will have an illegimate child being held for ransom by their estranged spouse on an abondonded oil platform in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Amazon Rentals (Score:3, Informative)

    by TwentyQuestions ( 945020 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @01:48PM (#15238680)
    I think Amazon will have the lead in a year or two. It has had good success in the UK and they are preparing to launch similar services in the US.

    They have more than enough stock, and shipping centers. I think they can finally do online rentals right.
  • I had been a Netflix subscriber in the past and hadn't had any problems with them. For me the determining factor was that Blockbuster, for the same monthly fee, gives me additional coupons for in-store rentals. It's nice to be able to pop into the store and rent something you want to watch right then once in a while. It also allows me to save money by being on a lower priced plan.

    Turnaround time has been identical for me in Seattle. I pop the DVD in the mail one day, Netflix/Blockbuster got/gets them the ne
  • by DavidD_CA ( 750156 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @02:03PM (#15238827) Homepage
    The longterm winner is the one that can first come to market with a downloadable delivery method.

    It doesn't have to be super fast (you can choose your download in the morning and have it ready tonight), it doesn't have to be unlimited (people will pay $2-4 like they currently do), and it doesn't have to be open (most people don't care about DRM). It just has to be mostly reliable, current blockbuster hits, and very very easy to use.

    Whoever that is (Netflix, Hollywood, Blockbuster, Comcast, or NewCompanyYetToBeNamed) will most certainly reign while the others scramble to catch up.
  • Selection (Score:3, Interesting)

    by szrachen ( 913408 ) on Monday May 01, 2006 @02:15PM (#15238939)
    In my experience, Netflix has had a much larger selection of titles as well as a greater number of obscure titles. I don't recall what movie I was trying to get from Blockbuster but it was seemingly impossible to get it because of its obscurity. On Netflix, I got it right away. I also recall that Netflix has a lot more of the Season sets for Television shows.
  • I had to pull the trigger and fire Blockbuster when they announced that they were raising their fees to 17.99 for their service.

    During the several months I was using them, I noted that it took them sometimes weeks to process returned movies, many movies would "disappear" in transit, the movies I received would be in the wrong sleeve, Disc 2 inside a Disc 1 sleeve, and did I mention that they took weeks at times to process the movies I would return?

    Their service is not worth 17.99, 14.99, or even 12.99. At b
  • There are no longer any physical Blockbuster stores near me. I still pay for the free in store rentals even though I have no use for them. This is why I use intelliflix for online rentals. They are cheap, and I have had no problems with them yet. The shipping probably could be a little faster, but for the price it's definitely worth it.
  • Experiment (Score:2, Informative)

    by dsm131 ( 903620 )
    I did an experiment: I had never tried either service before. I joined both Netflix and Blockbuster at the same time about two or three months ago, and rented from them as fast as I could (returning movies the next day most of the time). The first month, Netflix was a bit faster (I think it led 15 to 11 or something, I don't have my notes here). The second month and beyond, Blockbuster was significantly better (almost 2 to 1). Figure in the Blockbuster coupons (which I do use, since there is a convenient B

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin