Netflix: Stream Instead

Netflix begins to phase out disc movies 112810

Netflix, a primary provider of entertainment to the scattered folks of the rural Sierra has taken the next step in its effort to wean its consumers off plastic movies and on to licensed “box” movies which are downloaded from the internet.  

The effort began about two years ago when Netflix made downloadable movies available to some computer devices, then dramatically improved accessibility to many other common media devices.

The next change Netflix made to encourage customers to go streaming or download is to place the blue “play” button next to the “add” button customers already had. By 2008 it was offering unlimited downloads with the DVD rental plans.  Next change, early this year, the home page ONLY features suggestions to play instantly, not to add to the DVD queue.  

Now, Netflix has changed the fee schedule, increasing the cost for DVD renters and making streaming and download very, very inexpensive.  The basic movie price has gone up by one to eight dollars, while streaming only is a mere $7.99 a month.  Netflix has stated that it already sells more streaming media than DVDs; with it’s continuing efforts to discourage DVDs, that shouldn’t be a surprise.

The downside: you must have at least high speed internet.

Downloading movies on broadband or even satellite download is often slow, and it rapidly uses up a gig allowance for those on such plans.   Most movies consume about 700 MB per download.  
The vast majority of clients do have high speed internet, and continue using plastic DVDs because it’s familiar and tactile.  The “vast majority of clients” is all most corporations hope to serve; in particular fewer and fewer tech corporations like Netflix want to serve people who only have a DVD player and dial-up.  Netflix spokeheads have been reported as saying “Netflix is a streaming media provider” rather than a DVD rental company.  News of the recent change brought Netflix stock to an all time high; clearly mainstream is behind the idea.  

There are lot of great reasons for Netflix.
--Plastic DVDs cost to mail, and the Post Office has been complaining for a couple of years about the tide of red envelopes that surge back and forth through the mail, particularly on Friday and Saturdays, and worst of all, in the holiday season.
--Plastic wears out, breaks, and gets “lost”.
--Customers will watch more movies if all they have to do is press “play”.  Ordering movies takes time and reduces the number of movies you can watch in a week.
--Customers demand it.  People with low cost high speed internet like the idea of downloading a movie instead of waiting for one.

It’s tough on those without cheap high speed internet, though, like many of our readers.

Recently HBO announced it would not make its movies available for direct download to Netflix, and would continue to provide DVDs.  That decision, made in August, is likely to change by this time next year, since Netflix is too big to ignore.  Even so, users complain that the streaming library is still rather small, and many movies, particularly older ones, aren’t available on streaming.  Further, the quality of streaming products may not match that of the physical DVD.  

Either way, it’s unlikely Netflix will reverse the trend, and since it’s the leader in the field, rural users might again find themselves tromping down to the video store, if there are any left now.

Netflix has rented over a billion DVDs.
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