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Netflix vs. Blockbuster Revisited

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the it-will-matter-in-a-decade dept.

349

Thomas Hawk writes "Exactly one year ago at thomashawk.com 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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349 comments

I want what comes next (5, Interesting)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:I want what comes next (4, Insightful)

boxlight (928484) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

boxlight

Re:I want what comes next (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238474)

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.

Re:I want what comes next (1)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238684)

I don't do the burn thing, but still I return about 3-4 movies a week and have never been throttled. I don't think the throttling thing really happens much anymore. Or maybe you have to return them the same day they arrive, but really... 3-4 movies a week for $20 is worth it.

Re:I want what comes next (1)

toad3k (882007) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238902)

Yeah I rent maybe 15 a month, and I have never been throttled either. I have never seen a video with less than 'now' availability. At about a dollar a movie, which to me is great, I'm not too inclined to push to get to that level either.

Although I admit I'm getting to the point where I can't find any movies to watch, and I'm going through the anime section pretty fast. I could see myself running out of interest in a few months.

Re:I want what comes next (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238792)

Throttling is the reason I'm dumping netflix. I've gone from 5 or 5 dvd's a week, to three - four if I'm lucky - occaisionally one dvd when I'm extremely unlucky.

Re:I want what comes next (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238918)

3 or 4 dvds a week is still 12-16 a month. renting 12 dvds a month at a brick and mortor would cost you 40 dollars at least.

the next progression (2, Interesting)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238536)

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 if my download is done, etc.

Re:I want what comes next (2, Interesting)

grogdamighty (884570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238514)

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 good movies rather than whatever crap is on at the time. If I can't get what I want when I want it, there's really no point to keeping it.

Here's hoping for a well-thought out download system.

Re:I want what comes next (2, Informative)

mobiux (118006) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238700)

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.

Re:I want what comes next (2, Interesting)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238793)

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 just as quickly as they did before, but I'm sure the slightly wider DVD envelope is being delayed by a brand new mail sorting technology the USPS just installed, coincidentally right after my trial period ended, in my area.

On the other hand, while Blockbuster was quicker in sending new movies, we cancelled when it became obvious that they were incapable of sending the DVD at the top of our queue, listed as "Now Available", instead sending the next DVD in the same TV series which was listed after it. If you want to watch the episodes in order, that's pretty annoying. Especially if you keep the out of order DVD and hope to get the correct one when you return another movie. Such faith in their system would be really naive. You're likely to get the next one after the one you're holding, with the one you want to see still sitting atop your queue.

I think the whole industry is a giant conspiracy to get people going back to the bricks and mortar rental locations so they can afford their rent.

Re:I want what comes next (2, Interesting)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238795)

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.

Re:I want what comes next (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238526)

I enjoyed Netflix for a little while before I ran into the same problem.

But I've found a solution.

TV.

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, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Bubblegum Crisis, Stargate SG-1, Read or Die the TV Series, and Farscape. Plus I've got more in the queue.

I would have canceled a long time ago (after watching the obscure movies that Blockbuster doesn't carry in store) if I had not discovered how great it was to do this. It has only made me love Netflix more.

Re:I want what comes next (4, Interesting)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 8 years ago | (#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 mythbox...no 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.

Re:I want what comes next (1)

idhindsight (920184) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238638)

I agree. I just dropped Netflix after sitting on the same three DVDs for a month or two. I just don't have the time, and like you, I put something on my queue today that looks enticing, and when I get it two days later, I'm no longer interested.

Not to mention, of course, that Netflix simply doesn't fulfill the "I'm bored, let's go rent a movie" activity.

Re: you might want to check this out, then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238664)

I've never used it, but here it is, streaming movies from $2:
GreenCine Video-on-Demand [greencine.com]

I do use GreenCine's Netflix-like DVD rental service. That's how I know about their VOD service.

Re:I want what comes next (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238730)

*cough* dvdshrink *cough*

It's to be expected really (4, Insightful)

Frenchman113 (893369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238351)

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?

Re:It's to be expected really (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238381)

Video On Demand right from the cable box. Can't beat that ;)

Hmm (2, Funny)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238388)

Hot chicks at the counter?

Re:It's to be expected really (3, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#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 (4, Informative)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 8 years ago | (#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 (2, Informative)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238772)

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.

Re:It's to be expected really (1)

AndyBusch (160585) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238465)

BB online has one tiny advantage. Since they can take their pool from the stores that have been buying DVDs longer than Netflix, BB online has a few movies I am interested in seeing, but went out of print before Netflix was buying DVDs.

Not enough that I'd switch, as BB is more frequently missing things.

Re:It's to be expected really (1, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238473)

What's blockbuster got to top that?

Coupla decades of building brand recognition and customer base?

KFG

Re:It's to be expected really (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238521)

Coupla decades of building brand recognition and customer base?

Such as getting screwed by their late fee policies? That's what I think of Block Buster...

Haha
Hahahahahaaaa

Re:It's to be expected really (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238546)

Such as getting screwed by their late fee policies? That's what I think of Block Buster...

I wouldn't know about that. I simply return them on time. It's a simple plan, but it works.

KFG

Re:It's to be expected really (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238634)

Have you not seen their "late policy" lately? In essence, there's really no such thing anymore. Even a two day rental has a WEEK grace period. If you can't return it within a week, then it's really your fault.

I also never complained about getting nailed by the late policy before this, either... You rent the damn movie, they tell you when it's due back, you return by that time. If you don't, you get a penalty. It's only fair, seeing as how you were denying them from possibly renting it to someone else. I don't understand how people could complain about it.

Re:It's to be expected really (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238747)

Granted, it's been years since I last rented from them. And your right, It's no one elses fault by my own for not returning the movies ontime. The problem I have however is being raked over the coals come time for payment. Clearly I'm not in the minority. In fact, there was a report saying BB made more in profits from late fees than anything else.

Given the competition and albit disgruntled customer base, no wonder they changed the "late policy". It's a smart move.

Re:It's to be expected really (1)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238789)

Blockbuster has a really low public image. They are known for over-aggressive late fee policies, for not carrying the unrated versions of movies, for not carrying specific titles that were controversial, etc. I believe that BBO does indeed carry unrated versions, but, in general, most people have a very negative view of Blockbuster. Their brand recognition doesn't help them much (obviously, or they'd be ahead of Netflix).

Re:It's to be expected really (0)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238844)

Blockbuster has a really low public image. They are known for over-aggressive late fee policies. . .

And Netflix has the throttling people who seek to get maximum value from their subscription thing going.

Their brand recognition doesn't help them much (obviously, or they'd be ahead of Netflix).

Being late to the starting line does not imply finishing last.

KFG

Re:It's to be expected really (5, Informative)

Scutter (18425) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238510)

Infinite rentals? Infinite up to 11 per month when they start throttling [msn.com] your [foxnews.com] deliveries [acmetech.com] , you mean. Not such a good deal now, is it?

Re:It's to be expected really (1)

antibryce (124264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238724)


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.

Re:It's to be expected really (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238880)

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.

Re:It's to be expected really (1)

antibryce (124264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238941)


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.

Re:It's to be expected really (2, Insightful)

cmorgan47 (720310) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238788)

still about a buck a rental that way. seems like a pretty good deal.

Re:It's to be expected really (1)

Fett101 (810894) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238607)

"What's blockbuster got to top that?"

Monthly Free rental cupons. Very handy for sudden movie urges.

Re:It's to be expected really (1)

Morinaga (857587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238773)

Overhead. Lots and lots of overhead.

i wished they'd pay-as-you-go (3, Insightful)

boxlight (928484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238361)

I would like to use an online rental service like Netflix (more specifically, their Canadian equiv. zip.ca [www.zip.ca] ) 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.

boxlight

Re:i wished they'd pay-as-you-go (4, Insightful)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238427)

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.

Re:i wished they'd pay-as-you-go (1)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238834)

The problem with your idea is that with these services, you have movies at home even if you aren't watching them. So even if you didn't watch any movies, you have 3 or more movies at your house that whole month you didn't watch anything.

I like the idea, though. It would be nice if the rent-by-mail services would let you put a temporary hold on your account, like if you go on vacation or are just going to be busy. You would have to mail back the DVDs you have, of course, but they wouldn't bill you again until you take the hold off.

Re:i wished they'd pay-as-you-go (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238932)

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 subscription model it doen't matter how long a movie is out; with pay-as-you-go, each day a movie is in transit adds to costs. What happens if the post office messes up and the movie takes a week to get to the customer or takes a week to return it? If the DVD is lost in the mail, would a pay-as-you-go rental company be as likely to forgive the price of replacing the DVD? I would guess that instead of $5 for a three day B&M video rental, a pay-as-you-go mail order three day rental would reasonably cost at least $10 per movie if the mail takes an average of 2 days each way. Another issue is that pay-as-you-go customers would probably not be as flexible as monthly subscribers as to when a specific movie is shipped. A typical pay-as-you-go customer will probably want the latest movie that was released on Tuesday to be shipped on Wednesday so that it arrives on Friday to be watched it over the weekend. This level of service is going to require a large number of copies of each new release and if anybody ever offers a mail order video service like this it is going to be very pricey.

Let's See... (1, Insightful)

IronTek (153138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238365)

Which one did I just dump on Saturday: Blockbuster
Which one did I just pick up (again) : Netflix

If that represents the trend, the guy's wrong. If it doesn't, I just posted virtually useless info!

Re:Let's See... (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238415)

I eventually dropped em both and now just stick to the boatloads of movies my TiVo records (DirecTiVo with all the pay channels. There's a whole lotta great movies out there, especially on Sundance and IFC.)

Re:Let's See... (1)

IronTek (153138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238662)

That's certainly another good approach. But I have no TV, so it wouldn't work for me...

How I look at it. (5, Interesting)

apparently (756613) | more than 8 years ago | (#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?

Re:How I look at it. (1)

apparently (756613) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238395)

^---in addition

Re:How I look at it. (1)

xs650 (741277) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238418)

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.

Re:How I look at it. (4, Interesting)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238599)

Um, Netflix sure didn't satisfy me. Their stealth throttling policy lost them my business many years ago, before they acknowledged that they throttle their service.

Had they simply been up-front about it, there would have been no issue. However, a queue of 40+ movies, all on "delayed availability", with nothing shipping to me, told me they didn't want my money anymore.

Re:How I look at it. (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238457)

> 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, but they can hold a whole lot in a small space) AND in some areas they have a pay-per-view service with cable operators.

The little rental place downstairs from me rents DVD's for $2 for a 3-day rental. I'd have to watch five movies a month from netflix to beat that with their one-at-a-time $10/month package, and I really don't believe that their turnaround is THAT good.

Still not as good as DVDStation in the Metreon was. $1/day for as long as you wanted to rent it. Shame they're all but out of business now though (I think they have one kiosk left somewhere out in the avenues)

Re:How I look at it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238566)

If you rip them to watch later and put them back in the mail, you can get 24 discs in one month on the 3 out program. I just tested it for April.

Re:How I look at it. (3, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238639)

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.

Re:How I look at it. (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238924)

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 asking for a second helping of gruel, lowly little pissant nobody consumer that I am.

Re:How I look at it. (1)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238866)

The little rental place downstairs from me rents DVD's for $2 for a 3-day rental. I'd have to watch five movies a month from netflix to beat that with their one-at-a-time $10/month package, and I really don't believe that their turnaround is THAT good.

I watch about 12 movies a month from netflix on average, sometimes as much as 15 or 16. My movies generally arrive to them the day after i mail them, and i have a new movie the next day. Their turnaround is pretty good if you live near one of their warehouses.

Re:How I look at it. (4, Interesting)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238629)

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. (4, Informative)

szrachen (913408) | more than 8 years ago | (#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

Idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238397)

I subscribe to the two at a time plan, and feel I really get everything the plan is worth. If I am going through a viewing slump and the DVD has stayed on my counter for too long, I will rip it to my computer in full VOB format and send it back. Then, when I am ready, I can watch the movie, in high quality, delete it, and still not feel like I wasted $9 that month.

I don't want either of them to "win" (5, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238405)

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!

Re:I don't want either of them to "win" (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238715)

Not necessarily; it's entirely possible for two companies to compete each other into oblivion, leaving us with no delivery service. Remember Kozmo/Urbanfetch?

What about Redbox? (5, Insightful)

Sentryp (930976) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238430)

http://www.redbox.com/ [redbox.com] They have some they everone else doesn't... Cheap pay as you go rentals. And you can get fries with that!

Re:What about Redbox? (1)

Jonboy X (319895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238674)

Wow, that looks pretty cool. How's the selection? Is it just the DVD that the kiosk happens to contain when you wander by?

Re:What about Redbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238899)

The box contains approximately 30 DVDs, all of which all new(ish) releases.

It is .99 a day, up to $25 at which point you own the DVD. You pay by CC, validate your billing zip code, and then emails you a receipt. It remembers your card number/email address combination, so you only enter it once. My only issue with the whole thing is that I always end up buying food...

Other than that, I've never had any problems at all.

Plus, Use these codes for one night's free rental,
Sunday through Thursday, during these periods.

MAY 1 THRU 4: LAST
MAY 7 THRU 11: BIG
MAY 14 THRU 18: CALL
MAY 21 THRU 25: CHEAP

Blockbuster's New Releases (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Blockbuster's New Releases (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238824)

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 there that you want to see, you have to search for the exact movie by title. It will show up on your search window and you can add it to your queue.

And, slightly OT. The reason I went with BB over Netflix was that at the time I joined, BB was cheaper. Not sure if that is still true.

I once had NetFlix (3, Insightful)

robogun (466062) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

blockbuster in-store rental coupons (3, Informative)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

My Thoughts (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238471)

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.

Re:My Thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238563)

I think what will really break the log jam is when we can rent movies online and play then on TV. We are just now seeing some sight that sell/rent high def video but they really have not perfected the interface yet. I think when we can use a piece of equipment like a medialounge to access this type of content we will really see this area take off.

HIMNO NACIONAL - LA BANDERA DE ESTRELLAS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238507)

Amanece: no veis, a la luz de la aurora,
Lo que tanto aclamamos la noche al caer?
Sus estrellas, sus barras flotaban ayer
En el fiero combate en señal de victoria,
Fulgor de cohetes, de bombas estruendo,
Por la noche decían: "!Se va defendiendo!"

!Oh, decid! Despliega aún su hermosura estrellada,
Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada?

En la costa lejana que apenas blanquea,
Donde yace nublada la hueste feroz
Sobre aquel precipicio que elévase atroz
!Oh, decidme! Qué es eso que en la brisa ondea?
Se oculta y flamea, en el alba luciendo,
Reflejada en la mar, donde va resplandeciendo

!Aún allí desplegó su hermosura estrellada,
Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada!

!Oh así sea siempre, en lealtad defendamos
Nuestra tierra natal contra el torpe invasor!
A Dios quien nos dio paz, libertad y honor,
Nos mantuvo nación, con fervor bendigamos.
Nuestra causa es el bien, y por eso triunfamos.
Siempre fue nuestro lema "!En Dios confiamos!"

!Y desplegará su hermosura estrellada,
Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada!

I'm surprised the MPAA .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238516)

... isn't doing everything in their power to shut down netflix. Think about it, $15 bucks for unlimited amount of movies every month. I know several people who simply copy the movies and send them back and then watch at their leisure. It's far more cost effective and convenient than waiting forever for p2p downloads and weeding through the inevitable crap you get. There are people out there right now with HUGE libraries thanks to NetFlix.

frist Psot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238528)

tops responsiBility

No Netflix stores around here. (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238531)

It's not about cheap. It's about convenience and spontaneity. Suppose some friends come over and we decide to watch a movie. We're not going to wait for one to arrive via mail. We're going to pop over to Blockbuster, grab a movie or two, some popcorn and sodapops and watch the movie right away. The only thing that is more convenient is video-on-demand/pay-per-view, but the selection is usually very limited.

Re:No Netflix stores around here. (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238592)

Suppose some friends come over and we decide to watch a movie. We're not going to wait for one to arrive via mail.

And just because you use Netflix does not preclude doing a one-off rental at BB (or anywhere else) for something you have to have tonight.

Re:No Netflix stores around here. (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238799)

True... except for two points. Firstly, I don't plan my movie watching. I decide spontaneously whether or not I am going to rent a video. Secondly, this is a Netflix vs. Blockbuster thread. Choosing both is not playing by the rules [grin].

Blockbuster and Netflix each have their own issues (3, Interesting)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

My shipping history... (3, Informative)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238547)

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.)

They are both toast in the long run - here's why: (3, Interesting)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

-ted

Re:They are both toast in the long run - here's wh (1)

djhertz (322457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238779)

I'd have to agree. I look at it like buying music CDs. I used to buy a CD for $15, but then I found Napster, and then peer to peer, but it became a hassle and I didn't want to put the time in. Then there was Itunes, but the price was about the same as just buying the CD. Then I found (on Slashdot) http://www.allofmp3.com./ [www.allofmp3.com] I don't mind paying for the stuff, I just don't want to spend a lot, or have it be a hassle, there has to be a happy medium for movies. I think it's gonna be when cable companies do movies on demand for:

$20 a month watch all you want or $1 a day watch all you want, or 25 cents watch that movie all day. Something along those lines would get you a lot of customers.

Re:They are both toast in the long run - here's wh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238916)

There's no reason why Netflix and/or Blockbuster can't move to an online distribution plan. If they're smart, they're working on the R&D already and will roll something out when it makes sense.

I've tried OnDemand through Comcast. It isn't bad. The menu is functional (you can browse by Genre, Title, and New Releases). There's also a fairly sizable selection of "free" movies (although I'd need to be paid to watch most of their free movies). Any premium channel you subscribe to, will offer their movies/shows on demand for no additional cost as well (HBO typically has a good OnDemand selection, and their shows are usually available a day after they premiere).

There are two problems I have with Comcast's offering. The first (and biggest) is price. It's $4 for new releases and typically $2-3 for older movies. This is on top of whatever tier of cable you have to get to have OnDemand (lets say $50/month minimum). Now if Comcast were only competing with brick and mortar rental stores, their price might be reasonable. But for the cost of a couple OnDemand movies, one can get a subscription to Netflix and easily rent 2-3 times the number of movies before the Netflix throttle starts to get you.

The other problem with Comcast's service is speed, on Friday and Saturdays the service really degrades to the point where it'll drop frames/sound (though this can happen anytime). Pretty hard to stomach seeing as I paid $4 just to watch the thing once (although you can repeat the viewing for 24hrs after start time).

As for DRM on OnDemand stuff, I couldn't care less. I'm perfectly comfortable with the idea of renting something for a short period of time. They can lock it down as much as they want. DRM only really bugs me if affects stuff I own.

Screw those guys.... (4, Informative)

Lxy (80823) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238588)

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.

Re:Screw those guys.... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238771)

And I also here they have these strange, pictureless things made out of very thin strips of wood with some type of text printed on them. :P

Re:Screw those guys.... (1)

bmalia (583394) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238912)

And I also here they have these strange, pictureless things made out of very thin strips of wood with some type of text printed on them

I heard about those. They say they're much better than DVD's. But I can't seem to find a player for one anywhere.

Re:Screw those guys.... (2, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238946)

As well as helpful librarians who will point out the difference between "here" and "hear"

Why I switched (3, Informative)

DarkFencer (260473) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Why I switched (1)

rushiku (796908) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238869)

While I have had selections that were 'long wait' movies, I can hardly describe the experience as 'everytime'. Are (were) you trying to rent milti-disk TV shows? (which I'd imagine they have far fewer copies of than, say, the latest hit movie)

That Was A Nice Update (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238605)

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.

I think that Blockbuster has an edge (1)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238626)

If you are comparing the Blockbuster Mail DVD service to Netflix then you get an additional benefit of 1 free local STORE DVD rental each week. Netflix can't do that. On the other hand, I suspect that Blockbuster has significant employee theft. They sure have high employee turnover.

I often don't watch my rentals for several weeks! I canceled once then rejoined Blockbuster and my queue remained in tact.

People, they're talking about ONLINE rentals... (1)

holysin (549880) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238657)

From the comments I've seen so far, people are either not reading the flipping SUMMARY of the article, or else are off their meds. Blockbuster has an online rental presence, they offer a few less movies then netflix (but then again they offer some movies that netflix doesn't so it's a bit of a wash.) but in my experience, after being a netflix subscriber on and off for the last 4 years. I've now completely switched to blockbuster. The shipping times (for my area) are at least as fast as netflix, however blockbuster registers the movie as received, and sends out the next movie in roughly half the time as netflix. That coupled with the 1 "free" instore coupon each week (for those popular movies that are released on tuesday and go to "short wait" imediately there after) and I am now only a blockbuster subscriber. The fact that netflix is suing blockbuster didn't hurt matters. Personally I think netflix has as much of a claim against blockbuster as say McDonalds has against Burger King.

Either way, it's nice to be able to rent online, and I hope with more competition us consumers will see better service and lower prices.

Cheers

Amazon Rentals (3, Informative)

TwentyQuestions (945020) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Why I'm Loving NetFlix (1)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238690)

Selection. Wife likes Christian Bale (after seeing him in Batman Begins). I went to 4 local Blockbusters and only one of them had Equilibrium, and it was a $20 copy for sale. Signed up for NetFlix. Not only is there a gigantic selection, but I don't have to worry about those so-called "edited for content Wal-Mart style" movies that Lacklustre is rumored to be pushing.

I went with Blockbuster (1)

donutello (88309) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238767)

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 next day and I have a new DVD in the mail the day after that.

Way to seemingly get around it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238807)

I have found that it seems if you quit your membership for a month or two and then restart it, you will get your movies quickly again.

The Longterm Winner.... (2, Insightful)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238827)

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.

I'm still trying both services. (1)

Mad Ogre (564694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238842)

There are pros and cons to both that I'm not going to get into. But the one thing that I've found that no one has mentioned yet... For either service... there really are not enough good movies to make either service worth while. Maybe one good flick a month comes out? I was thinking about canning one of the services, but I might just cank both and rent the one flick a month that I actually want to watch.

Re:I'm still trying both services. (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238908)

"For either service... there really are not enough good movies to make either service worth while"

Have you considered the possibility that maybe you don't actually like watching DVDs?! I've been a Netflix user for probably two years now, at 8 movies at a time, and my queue consistently has 100+ DVDs. I've long since given up the notion that eventually I'll run out DVDs to get.

The shocking thing is that you apparently do not like movies but you're using two services?!

this 1s go4tsex (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238921)

= 36440 FreeBSD [goat.cx]

Or go with your local public library.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238928)

I happened to live in the Bay Area where the San Francisco, PLS, and many other libraries have a great DVD collection. I also happen to work at one library with a great DVD collection that does not charge holds or rental fees. While I may not bring home the latest month's hits, I usually get them a month later after the flurry of the 70+ hold queues get done watching, but the collection is large so I can watch other stuff that's 2-3 months released already. Or better yet, catch up on some TV shows like past seasons of 24, kurosawa movies, classics, or TV shows that are no longer availabe (even online), like Profit. (They ordered it because me and several other patrons suggested the purchase, BB sucks at stocking older stuff)
Plus I get them for a whole week and only get charged a quarter a day in late fees. (PLS charges a buck a day. argh).
The best part of it all is on average if friends with bad taste in movies come over, the worse that'll happen is I go to BB or safeway ($1 rentals) and spend less than $5 a month on dvd rentals on stuff not worth watching. Once we're done watching that, we can watch something I brought home from the public library and impress them.

Rip to DVDs HD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15238931)

Here's quick way to keep movies on your HD as long as you want:

1) DVD Shrink to ISO
2) Mount ISO in Alcohol 120%
3) Run WinDVD

All you need to do it hookup a s-video link to your TV and you're all set. (or just watch them on your monitor/laptop)

Selection (3, Interesting)

szrachen (913408) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

netflix for pr0n (1)

pdxguy (726066) | more than 8 years ago | (#15238949)

now I just need a Netflix for pr0n and I'm set.
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