And now back to Netflix…

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?

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  1. #1 by whall on January 6, 2009 - 11:16 pm

    We still like Blockbuster / Online / store exchanges too much to give it up. About the only thing we’d want to add is a Wii/PS2 game exchange feature.

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  2. #2 by Hilly on January 7, 2009 - 12:52 am

    I need to print this and show it to my husband who thinks I’ve switched back and forth one too many times as well!

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  3. #3 by martymankins on January 8, 2009 - 7:01 pm

    I’ve been with Netflix since November 1999 and it’s always been good, but there’s been some hiccups here and there. But overall, they seem to have kept it all together and offered great service.

    I did BBO back at the beginning of 2005 and it was ok. This was before you could take movies into the store and get a new one. I think that’s a cool service for needing a movie right away. But since Netflix added all of their service centers everywhere, it’s only a day before we get a new movie back (once we’ve mailed it off).

    I was ready to cancel Netflix recently when they started dinging me an extra $1 for Blu-Ray titles (it was free from April 2008 until November 2008), but then they added the watch instantly from a Mac (using the Silverlight, as we previously Twittered about) and decided to stay on board.

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  4. #4 by Ren on January 9, 2009 - 12:23 am

    whall, Yes, in-store exchanges are very nice. I think Watch Instantly may not quite be better now, but I have hopes that it will be. Plus, I was actually starting to have a hard time picking movies for my exchanges.

    Hilly, at least there are no contracts, so switching is pretty painless. And they both keep your queue while you’re gone, which is nice.

    martymankins, shortly before I switched from Netflix to BBO, I was actually experiencing an appreciable amount of throttling. Never had the problem with Blockbuster.

    In these replies I generally refer to the commenter by the name/id they use. But sometimes it feels odd to type “whall” instead of “Wayne” and “martymankins” instead of “Marty” — and others, of course.

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