Unlimited Movies, No Time
I’ve been a Netflix member since 1999. I love the service, selection, the fact they rent Blu-Ray discs and I’ve been pleased with how I’ve been treated as a customer for almost 10 years. And I love movies. Love.. LOVE movies. But I’m thinking about quitting… Why?
“Would someone please watch us… now?”
Most of it is that I rarely make time to watch the films anymore. They just sit on the TV stand for days, weeks… [not quite months yet]. Some of these movies we get have been in our house for at least two weeks. So I sat down and started doing some math.
We pay $14.94 a month ($13.99 plus taxes) for the 2 at-a-time unlimited Netflix plan. During the winter months, we’ll get through an average of 6 movies in a 30-day period.
— Ok, that’s not too bad. Cheaper than Blockbuster and that’s pretty reasonable. Plus, that 3 movies every two weeks. Not a lot, but an average amount.
But there are some months where we end up watching 10-12 movies during the month.
— See… It gets even cheaper per movie. The plan works great if you can follow this process: sending the movies back as fast as you can watch them. If I get one on a Monday and we watch it that night, we send it back on Tuesday in the mail. They get it Wednesday, pick a new one from my movie queue and mail it that same day. It arrives in my mailbox on Thursday and we have a new movie to watch that night. Sweet, huh?
Reality Sets In
Now let’s look at the reality and apply it to our Netflix subscription. A new movie arrives on Monday, because we found time to watch one on Thursday night. Monday passes. So does Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Sunday morning arrives. We start to watch a movie.
*** RING ***
*** RING ***
Pause movie. My wife answers the phone.
“Oh… ok… what time? Ok. We’ll be there. Sure, no problem. Bye.”
Hit the display button on the remote. “We got 34 minutes into the movie. Remember that.”
Take movie out of player and try to come back to it later on in the week, most likely forgetting how far into it we were and just starting it from the beginning.
And that’s how it goes for a lot of our movie watching at home. We don’t always get interrupted and actually make it through an entire movie in a single sitting. But that seems to be the rare exception.
Based on the above common scenario, we can guarantee maybe 2 movies a month.
WTF? That’s almost $8 a movie. For that, both of us can go to the actual theater for a matinee price. Or go see four dollar movies at the also-ran budget theater.
Quit or Cut Back
So with that, we are contemplating quitting the service or dropping our plan down to the 1 at-a-time unlimited plan [$8.99 plus tax]. We also have considered putting the account on hold for 3 months, where they don’t bill you or send you movies from your queue. We did the account hold last summer, which was nice. But then we ended up spending more money renting locally from Hollywood Video and Blockbuster.
I’m putting this one out to my readers. What do you suggest? Are you in the same boat? Do you end up watching more movies? Belong to another online DVD rental service? Should we try out iTunes movie rentals? I await your responses.
We just started, because we rented 6 movies on one weekend. We are on the same plan as you, and we rent about 2-3 movies a week. So it’s working out really well for us. So… I don’t really have a good recommendation! But I can see how we could get behind. We don’t have that many movies in our queue. If that happens, we will probably go to a smaller plan. Right now though, it makes sense to do this – it’s better than driving to pick up movies and having to take them back!
We switched to Blockbuster Online because we just couldn’t ditch that “urgent browse-now impulse” shopping we always end up doing once or twice a month with movies. We joined Netflix to save money and we did at first but then we ended up still spending money to rent something on demand.
BBO fixes that because we still get the unlimited rentals, 3-at-a-time, but instead of sticking the movies back in the mail and waiting a day or two before they ship out the next in the queue, we take it to BlockBuster, they scan it in immediately (saves 1-2 days) and we get to rent a movie in-store for free in exchange.
In this way, we make our entire movie renting budget the same each month. We only rent a movie in the store when we have one to return.
I used to watch at least 10 movies a month — and that was just rentals. Yes, no more than five years ago I seriously watched at least 200 movies per year. Lately I am lucky if I get a few in each month. I came up with a solution but can’t really discuss it here. 😉
I don’t think the iTunes rental is a good idea because once you start watching it, you only have 24 hours to finish it or it gets deleted.
We used a lot of Netflix, but recently I’ve had the same movies for several months. I like the concept, though, so I’d rather support it with my money even if I’m not using it as actively right now as I’d like.
kilax – Netflix is pretty cool. And they have a good selection. The 1 out at a time unlimited plan does cost a bit less, but still gives us at least one movie we can have. Plus in the winter, we can always change that back to the 2 out plan.
whall – About 3 years ago, I tried BBO for a month for free. Back then, they didn’t have the return in store option. They seemed ok and very similar to Netflix. A friend of mine likes them, so I may have to look more into that. The in store return and get another rental now sounds like it may be a good fit, if I can get my movie watching time management down.
dagny – I think I know what your solution is, so it’s ok to be mum about it. 😉 200 movies a year? That’s a lot. I tend to watch about 50 a year, on the average… and that’s both rental and in the theater.
avitable – Yeah, that iTunes rentals only having 24 hours to watch the movie would fuck me up big time… and take an even bigger bite into the money I spend on movies. As for supporting Netflix, I’ve been with them so long that I really don’t see myself quitting. I would like to keep them, yet find more time to watch movies.
I’m the wrong guy to give advice on Netflix. I’m so addicted to Netflix, I’ve been known to alter my life to watch a film, get it off my queue, and drive for miles to make sure I get to a post office that gives me a quicker turnaround.
I would stick with Netflix just because they have many movies Blockbuster does not. It’s not a close contest for me. Wayne may not like foreign/independent films. He may only stick to the blockbusters (no pun intended). I don’t. I watch everything that is supposed to be at least decent, no matter what kind of film it is.
Now, if it’s not cost-effective for you, that’s another story. I completely understand that.
Maybe you can go down to one film and not feel bad about letting it sit for a week or two.
I switched to Blockbuster also, one for the fact that you can take a movie that they mail to you back to the store and exchange it immediately for something you want to see, the other and most important reason is every month in addition to the movies you get as a part of the service, you also get an coupon for one free game or movie… Since I don’t get time enough to play many games, I have a hard time buying them anymore… but this coupon allows me to rent a game a month, it’s supposed to be returned within a week but I usually end up keeping them about two weeks…. So from the game stand point that makes it worthwhile for me, plus with four kids home alone during part of the summer we go through plenty of movies….
ajooja – Cost wise, I’m not all that concerned. It’s the point of having these movies sit around for a couple of weeks and not being watched that bothers me the most. I think the bigger part of this is better time management for me to watch a movie. Adding into this is my wife, who would like to watch the movie with me, so when I have time to watch, she doesn’t. Coordination is a key to all of this. Your suggestion is a good one to drop down to 1 out at a time would help ease my concerns about these discs sitting around.
The selection that Netflix has is incredible. There’s a been a lot of independent films that no one else had (for example, a indy doc called “Kissing On The Mouth” which was pretty good). So even if I go to the next lowest unlimited plan, I’ll keep Netflix around at least for the selection.
kris – The main advantage you have is multiple people in the house watching movies, plus the game rental. For us, it’s just Reba and I. Earth tries to borrow our movies, but most of them that we’ve gotten are Blu-Ray, which we are the only one with the player. And unless Earth wants to come over and watch the movie at our place, they continue to sit.
Since they closed a Blockbuster and Hollywood Video (the one on Redwood and 7000 South) close to our home, we now drive a bit further (at least for the Blockbuster) to get movies. The Hollywood Video in the Wal-Mart parking lot is not bad, but their selection has sucked pretty bad the last few times we’ve gone there. I’ll check out Blockbuster’s plans again to see what they have to offer, which could help our movie viewing.
That is true. more people make it more worthwhile… our blockbuster is very close, I can ride my bike down to it most days…. if you don’t have one close that does stink…. The way we have it set up is karen and I, usually Karen select the movies she wants to see, then when that one gets watched we let the kids take it back to the store and get whatever they want. The cost of the blockbuster plan is higher but if you take into account that we can have three movies out at any time, plus three more that same day, plus a game, it works out well in our situation, I think there normal game rental is about $8.50 alone… So even if we just watch 3 movies and rent one game it is reasonable…
I had thought about putting Netflix on hold a couple times. Then just as I’m about to push the button, we wind up watching a ton. But the one thing we know is we’ll never go back to a bricks and mortar video store ever.
kris – The Blockbuster we go to is on 7000 S. and Redwood. It’s not that far away, but hard to get to in traffic. Your’s is closer to you. Much easier to get to your’s without a car.
kapgar – The 3 month hold last year was nice… gave us a small reprieve during the summer. But I think we’ll hold off doing that this year. After all of the suggestions I’ve gotten so far, I think I really need to find a way to make more time for movie watching. Too many movies I don’t want to miss out on.
We have the best movie rental system ever. Since we rarely see movies anywhere near when they come out, we have a friend who BUYS a ton of movies as soon as you can. When he comes over about once a month, I feed him dinner, we play some games and then he gives us all the movies he has watched so we can watch them and return them the next time he comes over for dinner. It is working pretty well for us. Maybe I should introduce you to our friend?
Just don’t answer the phone!
I am in the same boat, but for a more pathetic reason. I got the live feeds for Big Brother and am not watching anything but that. I’m constantly hitting delete on my Tivo even. I’ve been meaning to put my Blockbuster account on hold, but I think I procrastinated too long. I think I was due to be billed a few days ago.
tori – I used to have such a friend, back in the VHS and Laserdisc days. I borrowed a lot from him. Then I started building my own library of Laserdiscs and people started borrowing from me… what comes around goes around. But it sounds like you are hooked up for some time with movies, without needing a Netflix or Blockbuster.
xisor – Oh yes. Sometimes, that’s the best option.
blondebogger – Ah. See, I don’t have Tivo or any DVR yet, and watch most of my TV online (with the exception of Monday nights for all of the CBS shows up to CSI: Miami [blech!]), a distraction I don’t have to worry about (yet).
I stuck a movie in the DVD player one day and it was a week before I had time to press “play.”
But, by God, I was ready and could have been watching at a moment’s notice.
delmer – LOL… that’s funny, but so true. I’ve gone to the DVD player and found a movie in from before, wondering when was the last time I had watched it.