Is Netflix a Good Deal?

Netflix, Blockbuster, cable, going out to Theatres... there are many ways to get your fix, if you love the cinema.

I signed up for Netflix in August of 2005 about 21 months ago and have rented 154 movies so I watch on average 7.3 movies per month. I have 275 movies in my queue so I will not run out of films I want to see, anytime soon. I am on the '3 movies at a time' plan which costs exactly $18.89 so the cost of watching 154 movies has been $396.69 or $2.58 per movie. I have not paid that much however.

If you have family or friends who give gifts for birthdays or holidays, and you use and enjoy Netflix, if those family or friends like to give you gifts you will actually enjoy and ask you for ideas, you can suggest a gift certificate for Netflix. I am blessed to have such family and friends and clearly enjoy Netflix and have said as much and have gotten a few certificates as gifts since I signed up. Combining these gifts (Thanks again!) with the first two weeks I got free from Netflix (you can occasionally find a month free for new users) I have spent $170.01 so I have actually paid $1.10 per movie.

There are no good video stores near my house. There is a blockbuster, but it has terrible selection and is often out of new releases. Plus, Blockbuster is evil.

For a while they had a corporate 'values' issue with movies that included content too adult for Americans. As a result of this 'issue,' they used their clout to force film distributors to censor certain films. Bad Lieutenant and Last Tango in Paris are a few I tried to rent which is how I learned about this 'policy' from Blockbuster. These were not 'made for TV' edits or cuts the studio did on their own with or without the directors and producers approval. These were 'censored for Blockbuster' versions.

I have no problem with a video store only carrying titles it wants to carry, for values or profits or any other reason. But to carry a movie that does not fit with your values, so you can profit from it, but force the distributor to come up with a censored version to somewhat assuage your guilt strikes me as hypocrisy. Is hypocrisy itself a 'value?' Does using Blockbuster mean this is a value you support?

Blockbuster copied Netflix' idea and now rents movies through the mail. Plus, you can go straight to your local Blockbuster and turn in your home delivered movies and get new films without having to wait for the next home delivery. This is a great idea. The one friend I have who switched from Netflix to Blockbuster took two movies to Blockbuster, but only had one return envelop with her. You can actually stuff a couple of movies into a single envelope and return them no problem through the mail, but Blockbuster would not take both movies without individual mailers, apparently unable to pull off what the US Postal Service has mastered so she actually had to pay for the second movie she wanted. Also, she went in looking for a specific new release which they did not have in stock.

I imagine your mileage will vary depending on your local Blockbuster branch, but let me present an alternative approach.

I use and am a fan of Netflix but sometimes I too want to watch a movie at home that is not one of the three I have from Netflix. Instead of running to Blockbuster, I hop down to my local Library. Although it does not carry as many titles, it has far better selection including a wide variety of independent and foreign films as well as many of the more popular TV series on DVD. It carries uncensored versions of the films it stocks which is nice and I pay $1 per rental and can keep each title for a week. So while $1 extra is not the same as 'included in the price of my rental program' I'm happy to pay my local Library $1 per movie.

Netflix is not perfect. Sometimes the discs are scratched or arrive broken and sometimes returning a broken disc means getting the same broken disc in the mail a few days later. They have some videos available for streaming over the internet, but this service is not available on a Mac which is what I have.

Regardless, for me, Netflix is worth it. Since I can get most TV programs I am interested in on DVD via Netflix I actually do not need cable. More about that soon.

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