In the continuing saga of by-mail DVD rentals, I have once again switched from Blockbuster Online to Netflix. The draw this time was the availability of Netfilx’s Watch Instantly feature on my TiVo HD. I must say, this is very cool, but more on that later — first, a little history.
I started with Blockbuster Online back at the beginning of 2005, switched to Netflix for their Profiles feature (and anticipation of better selection and turn-around times), switched back to Blockbuster Online for their unlimited in-store exchanges and once-a-month free video game (or movie) in-store rental. By my reckoning, I was with Blockbuster Online for about five months, then Netflix for about 19 months, then BBO again for two years.
While I really do like the Watch Instantly feature, the selection isn’t great. Additionally, I decided to downgrade my DVD shipments from three-at-a-time to one-at-a-time ($9/month instead of $17/month), which makes the Netflix Profiles less useful. On the other hand, it leaves $8-$10 (BBO was $19/month) available for those $1/night kiosk DVD rentals. I’ve also given up the free video game rental, but I was hardly ever using that, so I don’t miss it.
What I’ve really given up is the unlimited in-store exchanges with BBO, as I was grandfathered into this at my price point and I believe that you now have to pay something like $35 (versus the $19 plan I was on) to get unlimited; otherwise, you get like three per month. If the Watch Instantly selection improves over time, then I don’t think this will be a problem. Already, the kids like it because there are a number of Disney shows that they like to watch that are available (and we don’t have cable, so no Disney). Plus, being able to Watch Instantly from my MacBook Pro when traveling (assuming sufficient bandwidth) should be a nice bonus. I wonder if it works internationally?