Friday, December 31, 2004

Netflix: The Year in Review

Congratulations, Netflix!! You have done an incredible job! It has been an amazing, exciting year, for movie lovers and Netflix fans. Here are some of Netflix's accomplishments that I've noted over the past year. Please be sure to comment if I've missed anything.

The number of subscribers has grown from 1,487,000 in December 2003 to more than two million now.

We are the beneficiaries of a price war. The price for the 3-out service has gone up, to a high of $21.99, and down, to the current low of $17.99.

Their collection of titles is up to 30,000 now, from 15,000 a year ago. They ship 3 million discs each week. Over 85% of subscribers, including me, receive their discs the next day, most of the time. I would imagine the other 15% write snarky blogs :).

I've recorded 38 shipping center locations, but the official count is 29, which means they must have closed a few. The only ones officially announced in 2004 were Lakeland, FL, Kansas City (MO or KS?), Louisville, KY, Las Vegas, NV, Pittsburgh, PA; Baton Rouge, LA; and Columbia, SC. They haven't announced any closings, of course.

Netflix has added the Friends service, RSS, and an "official" blog. They've repeatedly redesigned their Web site to make it more interactive and user-friendly, adding little details like the "in queue" and "move to top" buttons.

In the last year, via the 3-out and 5-out plans, I have managed to rent over 180 titles. That's an average of 15 per month, at an average cost between one and two dollars each. I've experienced a couple of lost discs, a couple of damaged, and two wrong discs. A 3% error rate is very good, if it ain't brain surgery.

Because of Netflix, I have bought two more DVD players, a large-screen HDTV, and a sound system.

I have become a movie geek and started writing my own blog. I think Netflix is better than color TV :). Thank you, Netflix, for providing so much good material for my blog!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Marla Jo Fisher compares Netflix with Blockbuster Online and Walmart DVD in 4-month experiment

Via San Jose Mercury News

BY MARLA JO FISHER
The Orange County Register

"But was Netflix, which pioneered the movies-by-mail business five years ago, the best among the numerous competitors that had sprung up? Especially since Blockbuster, the video-rental chain with 40 percent of the video-store market, has now entered the Internet game?
I decided to find out. I signed up for Netflix, Wal-Mart and Blockbuster and used all three from August until November."
Read the rest

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Cin-o-matic

Cin-o-matic is an interactive, free, online movie database, which allows you to track upcoming theatrical and DVD releases. Each movie is assigned a rating by a panel of 19 critics from major publications. You can rate movies yourself, also.

You can personalize it with your own list of movies to watch out for, called a "watchlist". If a movie on your watchlist is released to a theatre near you, or on DVD, you will be alerted by email. There's even a button to add each movie to your Netflix queue.

They provide a very simple cut-and-paste javascript so that you can publish your watchlist to your Web site or blog. I've posted mine on Listology.com.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

AFI AWARDS 2004

via AFI.com:

AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR-OFFICIAL SELECTIONS:

THE AVIATOR
COLLATERAL
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
THE INCREDIBLES
KINSEY
MARIA FULL OF GRACE
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
SIDEWAYS
SPIDER-MAN 2

Read more

Monday, December 27, 2004

Walmart's DVD service rules

via Je ne sais Oz:: "It's very early in the game to give Walmart.com's DVD rentals an A distinction, but they do have some awesome features that no one else does. " Read the rest of her review of Walmart vs. Netflix. Manda has tried nearly all the online DVD services, and switches from one to the other frequently. She's recently rejoined Netflix.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Change of policy?

MarthaHair wrote this comment on my blog:

Last week I returned a movie, and was irked when they didn't acknowlege it the next morning. That afternoon I received a very polite email saying I had "inadvertently returned a disc from my personal collection." Ack! The asked me to check for their movie, and that my DVD would of course be returned.

I sent the right one back the next day, and I received my OutKast CD a day later in a nice cardboard mailer.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Last-minute gift idea

I'll give you one guess...
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
A one- or two-month gift subscription to Netflix.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Blockbuster & NetFlix Will Merge

Phillip Swann has three reasons for Blockbuster to buy Netflix next year:
1. NetFlix's current subscriber base of two million plus.
Despite churn issues, that's a sizable audience. Plus, NetFlix has a large database of former subscribers who could be re-targeted.

2. Name brand.
Blockbuster would benefit from the NetFlix brand name, which has a strong
association with online DVD rentals. By using NetFlix, Blockbuster could distinguish its online service from its retail operation. If you don't think that's important, ask Borders and Barnes & Noble.

3. Preventive medicine
By acquiring NetFlix, Blockbuster would ensure that its rival was not gobbled up
by a larger company, such as Amazon, which would give Blockbuster an even more
formidable foe in the future.


Do you think it's hogwash? Or will it happen?

Blockbuster Cuts Price

via Reuters.com: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - Blockbuster Inc. (BBI.N: Quote, Profile, Research) , the largest U.S. video rental chain, on Wednesday cut the price for its online rental service, undercutting its rivals in an escalating battle for online customers.
Blockbuster said it was cutting the subscription price for its online rental service by $2.50 to $14.99 a month plus tax effective immediately, guaranteed through January 2006. " READ MORE

Things that make you feel stupid

A friend of mine, whose identity I'm protecting, accidentally returned her own personal copy of a movie to Netflix, by mistake. She removed it from the DVD player, put it in the Netflix sleeve, then into the Netflix envelope, sealed it, and put it in the mail, before she realized it was her own movie. She discovered the one she had rented from Netflix still sitting on the TV.

She contacted me in a panic, but I told her I doubted anything could be done. I described to her the process each disc goes through at each Netflix distribution center. They are not shelved. They are not catalogued. They are scanned once, which is when you get credit for the return, and thrown in a bin before lunch. After lunch, they are scanned again, relabelled with their new destination address, and thrown in another bin. From there, they go into the custody of the United States Postal Service. There is no way anyone at Netflix can put their fingers on a specific disc without looking at the contents of every sleeve. They process tens of thousands of discs per day.

This is from their FAQ:
Q: I sent back a personal CD or DVD accidentally. How do I get it back?
A: Unfortunately there is no way for us to save it aside and return it to you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Netflix Drop Boxes

I knew that a post that started with "Netflix drop boxes" would get your attention, but I'm being a smarty-pants. I ran across a discussion in a newsgroup in which a Netflix subscriber asked if there is a Netflix drop box where he could return his videos in order to speed delivery of his movies. Yes, there is. It's called a "customer mail recepticle", otherwise known as a MAILBOX. There's usually one at the end of YOUR DRIVEWAY

or parking lot

or on the side of the road, if you live in America. I've enclosed a couple of photos to help you recognize them.

The only thing I can think of that might speed delivery would be if you dropped your disc in a curbside box at a Post Office within the same zip code as the Netflix distribution center's PO box. That might help. But why? If you're going to do that, you might as well go to Blockbuster instead.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Movie Criticism for the Retarded

Noel at Movie Criticism for the Retardedwrites:

I finally joined the rest of the 21st century and joined Netflix at the end of September. I had balked on joining previously because I get so busy sometimes that I'll go a month or more without renting a movie, and didn't figure I'd get my money's worth. But when I was doing the Troma tribute for Halloween, I needed quick access to a decent number of Troma DVDs, not readily available at the local video holes. Also, the price dropped to 17.95 a month, so I figured it was as good a time as any.


Read the rest

Netflix's Corporate Blog?

Not quite. However, James Rocchi, the Netflix staff movie reviewer, has launched an official Netflix blog, where he's posted his top ten worst and best films of 2004, which is worth a look.

It appears he's going to restrict himself to commenting on movies and the movie business only, without addressing Netflix corporate affairs. I wish their blog would provide "Insight into the news, technology, and culture of" Netflix, the way Google's does.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

DVD Service Standoff

Before they cancelled their subscription on June 17, 2004, this person did their own comparison of Netflix and Walmart, comparing DVD availability and shipping times.

Every day this page is updated by a script that grabs my Netflix queue and compares the availability of the movies on it to the availability of those movies from other services. Note that nothing from Netflix will ever be not carried, as it would be very difficult for me to have queued an unavailable DVD.


Read the rest.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Quote of the Day

via slantmagazine.com:

"Movies, perhaps more than any art, can cast profound, epiphanic illumination on our personal histories."

Blockbuster Web site gets more visitors than Netflix in November

via Always-on network:

Blockbuster's Web site saw 9.3 million unique visitors in November, surpassing Netflix's visitors of 8.2 million in the same period, according to comScore Networks....

While November was a good month of traffic at Blockbuster.com, the question is whether the video-rental chain can sustain it....

Additionally, it's unclear whether all the news-generated traffic resulted in customers. It may have just been an audience full of media and Wall Street investors conducting due diligence....

Dallas-based Blockbuster's increasing popularity on the Web coincides with its entry into the online DVD rental business, and subsequent series of hard-to-pass-up offers to customers.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Reed Hastings reacts to Blockbuster "eliminating late fees"

via News-Leader.com: "Reed Hastings, the founder and CEO of Netflix, said Tuesday in response to Blockbuster's move that 'I'm not sure that customers will consider it an improvement if they are charged a purchase price for the entire product.'"

Ha!

Jeff Jarvis on bloggers like me

via Buzz Machine

I sometimes get the reaction from people that blogging about Netflix exclusively is somehow weird or eccentric, so I'm encouraged to discover that Jeff Jarvis talks about people like me and MikeK (HackingNetflix.com), who blog about a brand name or company, in this "PowerPoint Presentation on citizens’ media and marketing" he did in July 2004. He's encouraging companies to have a relationship with bloggers. Be nice to us bloggers, and you'll get free publicity, good word of mouth (which is priceless), and find out what people are really thinking about your business. You'll know what works and what doesn't, if you'd just pay attention to the comments and complaints on this blog, Mike's, Manuel's, and Raven's.

In this excerpt, Jeff Jarvis is referring to the post Mike wrote back in June, about his effort to reach Netflix's public relations department:

This isn’t all about blogs and all about advertising. It’s also about relating to consumers in a new way and listening to them. Repeat: listening to them.

There’s a blogger who writes about nothing but Netflix. You’d think that would make the company deliriously happy. But some company bureacrat didn’t like it when the guy tried to get press releases out of Netflix. Get that: He was begging for puffery and they wouldn’t give it to him. So he did what any red-blooded blogger would do: He blogged about it. Other bloggers linked to it and protested. Netflix quickly gave in and now sends him PR. Smart.

Just so you'll know, they aren't sending me PR.

In addition to blogs, I suggest you look at the newsgroups and discussion boards, too, if you want the customer's take on Netflix. Google and Yahoo each have a couple of Netflix groups, as well as alt.video.dvd.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

“Friends” social networking feature helps boost Netflix`s subscriber tally

via InternetRetailer.com

Although it pioneered online DVD rentals, Netflix Inc. has had to keep the innovation flowing to deal with growing competition. Its latest venture: the “Friends” social networking feature to build its number of subscribers. “The response has been extraordinary,” CEO Reed Hastings tells Internet Retailer.

Netflix launched the Friends feature last month as a way to build on its base of more than 2 million subscribers and fend off mounting competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Walmart.com, Blockbuster Entertainment Inc. and others, Hastings says.

Although Netflix has long posted film reviews written by customers, its Friends feature organizes reviews and other personal information related to individual subscribers, allowing other subscribers to choose movie reviews and recommendations from people with common interests, Hastings says.

“We started with a couple hundred Friends users, and it’s been growing as much as 15% per day,” Hastings says. “As subscribers start using Friends and invite others into their personal network, including some who are already Friends members and some who aren’t, more people are becoming Netflix subscribers.”

Monday, December 13, 2004

Netflix all over the Web

per Nielsen//NetRatings: Netflix is still the top advertiser on the Web, with 1,893,655
impressions in September 2004.

Best of 2004 Lists have begun

Fimoculous.com has posted a list of lists. The year's best of this and that. Here's a sample from their DVD bests lists:

Best DVD Sets from Village Voice.
The Year's Best DVDs from Rolling Stone.
Top 100 Customers' Favorites from Amazon.com.
Most Overlooked DVDs from MastersOfCinema.com.
Best DVDs from BarnesAndNoble.com.
Best DVDs from Borders.


Click here for more links. More added all the time.

Traffic to Netflix's Web site declines 6% in October

via Comscore

Blockbuster, which recently launched its Blockbuster Online DVD subscription service in direct competition to Netflix, saw traffic increase by 52 percent between September and October. The online movie rental space has become increasingly competitive as Netflix, Wal-Mart and Blockbuster have all recently announced price reductions. Netflix saw its audience decline by approximately 6 percent in October, although the site still holds the lead in the Retail-Movies category, with 8.2 million visitors compared to Blockbuster’s 6.4 million.


Friday, December 10, 2004

Netflix auctions on eBay

Several people on eBay are auctioning Netflix certificates good for "two free months" on the 3-out plan. Read the fine print (see below). You have to use your American Express card to pay your Netflix bill. If you plan to do that anyway, be sure your final bid is substantially less than $34.98. Can be applied by new subscriber or existing subscriber.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS :

By redeeming this Certificate, you agree to remain a Netflix subscriber for no less than six months. You will not be billed for the first two months. Netflix will begin to bill your American Express Card for standard monthly subscription fees (currently, $17.99 plus applicable taxes) at the completion of the first two months and will continue until you cancel. No refunds or credits for partial periods. Offer must be redeemed by December 24. 2004. May not be divided and is redeemable only for a consecutive two-month membership under the Netflix Standard Program - three DVDs out at a time. Cannot be combined with any other special Or free offers. Valid in the U.S. only. Not redeemable or refundable for cash. Netflix is not responsible for lost or stolen offer subscriptions. Use of the Netflix service and Web site constitute your acceptance of Netflix's Terms of Use.

Do it

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Amazon.co.uk enters DVD rental market in UK

via Reuters.co.uk:

"LONDON (Reuters) - The Amazon.co.uk is launching a DVD rental service, the online retailer's first foray into a market that was pioneered by U.S.-based Netflix.

The service will be integrated into the website's popular DVD store, and rental customers will receive 10 percent off DVD purchases.

'Amazon is determined to be the best place to rent DVDs -- online or off,' Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said on Thursday.

DVD rental services allow customers to keep a set number of DVDs at one time for a monthly fee, with no late charges. They are managed online, but customers receive and return their movies through the post.

Unlike most other services, Amazon imposes a limit on the number of DVDs customers can rent per month. Its lower-priced plan costs 7.99 pounds per month for two DVDs at a time, with a limit of four per month. The more expensive package is 9.99 pounds per month for three DVDs at a time, with a limit of six per month. Postage is free."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Netflix Opens Shipping Center in Hawaii

Hacking NetFlix readers Canoe Ride, Dave, and Cyanatus, alerted Mike to the news of the new Netflix distribution center in Honolulu. They say that turnaround has shrunk from 8-10 days to 2-4 days, which we on the mainland experience regularly.

Read the rest

The best films you've never seen

If you're looking for suggestions for your Netflix queue, I recommend Never Coming to a Theater Near You by Kenneth Turan, a book which I purchased and read last week. It contains reviews of about 150 movies you might have heard of when they were in the theatre, and meant to see, but they went away before you had the chance. This book will remind you of those, and introduce you to some you might have missed.
From the book review on CNN.com:
Never Coming to a Theater Near You serves as a handbook for curious film lovers who, in looking for a good film, need a way to tunnel through heaps of dreck in order to find worthy films that just didn't get much attention the first time around.

'I envision this book to be a guide for the perplexed -- to be like a video store in your mind,' he says. 'People are so hungry for the kind of films this book represents, entertaining works that don't talk down to them.'

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Will the studios release content?

via PHOSITA ::: an intellectual property weblawg:
The recent TiVo/ Netflix Partnership Presents Security and Licensing Issues

Studios will be reluctant to release content to be distributed through the Netflix/Tivo partnership, because of fears of piracy and loss of control of content. It's not the vehicle of distribution that's the trick; it's the value of the content. That's why you hear about movie libraries being bought and sold for billions of dollars.

"It seems that technology is not the hold-up in the TiVo/ Netflix partnership. The details regarding licensing agreements and anti-piracy security systems will be a hurdle that will take a lot of time to overcome."

MGM Chief: Content's still king

via Yahoo! News:
"In a wide-ranging talk, Yemenidjian[Alex Yemenidjian, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.] argued there's plenty of growth left in the DVD revolution, that high-capacity DVRs will hobble the TV syndication business and that Hollywood's film download service MovieLink is failing -- but that's a good thing. "

"The high-capacity DVR, however, is a huge threat to the film and TV biz. As disk storage becomes cheaper, with drives able to store 500 movies or TV episodes, consumers will use them as home media servers, decimating the DVD and TV syndication business."


Read more

Friday, December 03, 2004

Blockbuster is hiring

via VarietyCareers

Director of Product(DVD)-Online Subscriptions

"Develop and maintain studio and wholesale vendor relationships. Identify and procure titles based on customer demand. Manage the supply chain timeline and recommend changes accordingly. Manage the financial aspects of the online subscription model. Ensure customer satisfaction with product availability. Hire and manage a team to support the online subscription business.

Qualifications
This position will maintain studio and wholesale vendor relationships making it possible to identify and procure over 20,000 titles. Oversee the financial aspects of the online subscription model. Measurements include gross margin as a percentage of TNR, title level profitability via average product turns, and all associated supply chain expenses within gross margin. Ensure customer satisfaction for product availability. Measurements include the average position within a queue from which a customer receives a product and that both high and low demanded titles are available for consumption. Hire, train, and manage a team to set up and run the online subscription business. Ensure employee development and succession planning."

Blockbuster is also hiring Warehouse staff for the following distribution center locations:

Atlanta, GA
Cleveland, OH
Dallas, TX
Houston, TX
Jersey City, NJ
Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Queens, NY
Sacramento, CA
San Jose, CA
Santa Ana, CA
St. Louis, MO
Stamford, CT
Tampa, FL
Worcester, MA

Visit VarietyCareers for more info.

Amazon.com has job opening for a DVD Buyer

Things that make you go hmmmm.....via VarietyCareers: "The Amazon.com Video/DVD Team is looking to hire an exceptionally motivated and talented individual who has good negotiation and communication skills. This person will be expected to build vendor relationships, negotiate terms, manage inventory (by handling the forecasting, purchasing, and returns of both New Release and Catalog product), monitor and ensure vendor operational efficiencies and potentially help manage other Buyers. This individual will also work closely with our merchandising department to develop and support promotional initiatives. The ideal candidate will have prior buying and vendor management experience, particularly with media products. This candidate should also have experience in planning/forecasting, be comfortable performing detailed data analysis, and a background in retail or e-commerce. Strengths in problem solving, issue-resolution skills, ability to work in an extremely deadline-driven work environment, attention to detail, and ability to multitask are essential. Please be flexible and both action- and results-oriented, self-starting, and comfortable with varying computer systems. Intermediate knowledge of MS Office (particularly Excel and Access) is preferred, as well as an agility with UNIX- and web-based software applications. A bachelor's degree is required, MBA preferred. "

Indiangeek's Netflix Search [Beta]

Samya at Indiangeek.com has made a Web site that allows you to search the Netflix database by date range (year to year). I think it's great, since I organize my queue chronologically. It's not finished yet, but I've used it to find movies released between 1910 and 1920, since Netflix doesn't have a specific category for that decade.

Thanks to HackingNetflix.

Suggestion for Netflix

Alt Text, a Netflix subscriber, has a suggestion for another Netflix feature which would allow you to share the love of movies with your friends, but I think it has flaws. On the surface, it looks good. What if you could have Netflix send a movie to a friend on your behalf? It wouldn't count against the movies you have out. It would be a useful referral tool, so that your friend could see the advantage of receiving a movie in the mail without having to sign up first. The friend would be able to keep the movie as long as they like and return it directly to Netflix. If they want more, they have to subscribe. This would work if you were confident you understood your friend's taste in movies/tv.

However, it wouldn't work if you used it as a way to steal movies or spam people. What if your friend proved untrustworthy? Without payment details, who would hold them accountable? Do you want to pay for it if the disc goes missing? Would your friend mind if you gave Netflix their address? This method is too risky for you and Netflix.

Still, I think it speaks well of the Netflix service, that it fires our imaginations, gets us thinking about it. Fans all over the Web are working on ways to interact with Netflix. I think that's cool.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Netflix Launches "Friends List" Feature

Mike at HackingNetflix.com was kind enough to send me an invite :). The big news is that Netflix has added a new Friends List feature, which allows you to form a community with other Netflix subscribers, sharing reviews and movie lists with them. I have invited a few friends, too. It looks pretty nifty, so far. The site says this feature is available only as a "sneak preview":
"We're letting a handful of customers give the Netflix Friends feature a try before everyone else. We do this to get feedback from these special, early customers so that we can make the right improvements to Netflix Friends before we make it available to all customers."
Check to see if you can see it now. If not, you'll need to wait for a friend to invite you.

Netflix, Warner partner to push movie

Via Yahoo and Reuters:
"LOS ANGELES, Nov 30 (Reuters) - In a new take on targeted marketing, online DVD renter Netflix Inc. is helping lure audiences for the movie, 'A Very Long Engagement,' by recommending it to subscribers who loved 'Amelie,' a 2001 film featuring the same director and star."

"Before the film's release, Netflix sent e-mails to 4,000 subscribers who gave high marks to the former movie pairing of actress Audrey Tautou and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet on the rental service's personal ratings system, called "Cinematch."

"Although Warner Independent did not pay for the Cinematch data this time, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the service could be a future source of revenue for Netflix."

Netfix has identified a total of 300,000 people who said they liked the movie and are potential ticket buyers.

By cross-referencing the ratings against addresses and preferences for 2 million subscribers, Netflix created audience profiles for each of the 25,000 titles in its library.

"We can do audience matching to 100 people in a community that might like a film -- we can find that customer," Sarandos said. "If that movie would only appeal to three people in a city and there are 10,000 cities, that's pretty exciting."




Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Netflix Fee Calculator

Frog Circus has made a Netflix Fee calculator that takes into account your turnaround time and your plan to figure how much it actually costs per day, per disc, to use Netflix, regardless of where you live or what kind of plan you have.

Where Netflix gets its disc-polishing machines

Here's where Netflix has bought disc-polishing machines in the past. I can't be sure they are still using this same company. Of course, this info is of interest to you only if you are either a corporate spy, or an obsessive stalker.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

IFP teams up with Netflix to distribute Independent Spirit Awards nominees

Via the LA Times [subscription required] and Hacking Netflix, Netflix is partnering with the Independent Feature Project/Los Angeles. The partnership allows the 9000 IFP members free access to Netflix in order to see movies nominated for the annual Independent Spirit Awards, strictly for the purpose of voting on the offbeat alternative to the Oscars. They won't be able to get other movies without paying. Netflix will require all copies of the movies to be returned. They will have their own special limited-access page on Netflix.com. This means that independent movies, which couldn't be distributed otherwise, will be able to find an audience, hopefully.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Damaged discs in Greensboro

Patrick Eakes is a fellow blogger and Netflix subscriber who receives his discs from the same Greensboro, NC distribution center as I do, but he's having a big problem with damaged discs. This is what he says:

I have noticed that over the past three or four months, a large number of the DVDs I have received from Netflix are scratched and will not play properly. I would guess that about 1/3 of the discs have been damaged in this way.

Because of the recent problems, we clean every disc before playing. The problem discs we are receiving have visible scratches or gouges in the playing surface. Just to be sure, we even took the disc to my in-laws' player to confirm the problem, since it was unplayable past the 80-minute mark. The other player confirmed the defect.

In the case of Lost in Translation, I received the disc on the release date, so presumably I got a brand new disc. It had a gouge in the back so large that it looked like it had been struck with a screwdriver or similar object.

I always report the problems both at the web site and on the white sleeve. So far, Lost in Translation is the only disc that I have had them ship a replacement copy. We just lived with poor play performance or missing a few minutes of the other movies.


He has been very patient, I think. I think Netflix and the USPS should investigate. What are your comments on this issue?

Next generation of DVDs on track to replace today's version

Next generation of DVDs on track to replace today's version: "A pessimist might say that right about the time the last person on the planet buys a DVD player, the popular digital video system will be made obsolete by new technology that uses blue lasers."
But an optimist might reply that people worldwide bought DVD players mainly because they made movies look better than videotape. And, within the next few years, blue-laser technology will make further improvements over today's DVDs.

HDTV owners are boosting sales of progressive-scan DVD players because they get the best possible image out of a DVD when played on a digital TV, Kishore said.

Progressive-scan DVD players display twice as much information from each frame of a DVD as do standard, or interlaced, DVD players.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Missed a Netflix giveaway at Mervyn's?

Too bad I missed this! Mervyn's, a west coast department store, gave away Netflix gift cards on November 26 with purchases of $100 or more. If you hear about anything like this happening again, let me know, so I can post it here for you before it's too late to take advantage of the offer. Read more

Death of VHS

via CNET News.com

Because a big retailer in Britain has stopped selling VHS tapes, people everywhere are interpreting this as the beginning of the end for VHS. The world is going digital, whether you like it or not. A major indicator is that "Blockbuster reports that over 80 percent of its rentals are DVDs." No wonder. My local Blockbuster has completely removed VHS tapes from its shelves. Read more

Friday, November 26, 2004

Bought a movie from Netflix?

I've finally bought a movie from Netflix. They say you're not supposed to do it, but it was an accident. I was carrying a copy of Only Angels Have Wings in my jacket pocket. I forgot it was there. When I buckled my seatbelt over it, I discovered DVDs don't fold; they crack. I'm thankful the offical Netflix Web site has the option to "buy this disc" when you're willing to admit you're the one who's responsible. They charged my account $20+tax. I had it reshipped to me. I'm being extra careful with this one. (It's a great movie; I highly recommend it).

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Netflix Workout

Tuttle has discovered a practical use for Netflix: "I've still got the bike trainer set up in the attic, which I don't mind, except for the incredibly freaking boring aspect. I finally remembered that I could take the PowerBook up with me and watch movies while I ride. So I set up a Netflix account and so far, it's working out quite well." Read the rest.

My Netflix Ratings by Kevin Elliott

Kevin Elliott -- Software Engineering, Tinkering

Over the last couple of years, I have done my best to rate as many movies as I have seen in my life on my Netflix account. On November 17th, 2004, I put together a script that screen scrapes my Netflix account to retrieve all movie ratings that I have made.


I have seen the following movies, and they are rated from best to worst, 5.0 to 1.0. Movies with the same rating are in alphabetical order, not most preferred. This list is incomplete, because I have only rated movies that I could remember, or were presented as recommendations by Netflix and I had already seen them. Once I get some more time to clean up the scripts, I will release them for public consumption.
See them

Octopodial Chrome

Bob, who blogs at Octopodial Chrome, says "Man, I’ve watched a lot of films since getting a Netflix subscription: in two and a third years, I’ve seen 677 movies—over 5½ a week! For most of that time, I’ve been on the 8-at-a-time plan, and thus have paid a bit less than $1,200, averaging $1.76 per movie. It’s amazingly cheap."

Jimmy O's Top One-Hundred Most Influential Movies

Jimmy O of Filmsnobs.com has made his list of what he thinks are the 100 most influential movies. After looking at his list, I'd conclude that "influential" doesn't include "great". The list.

Post Number Eight, or how I joined Netflix and decided that it was really cool

StudioGlyphic has a nice positive review of Netflix.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Old TV favorites turning up on DVD

By ANDREW GUY JR.
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

"You know how you go to a convention, and there's these old, obscure celebrities that people have barely heard of, and yet there's a crowd of people who want their autograph?" asked Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix, which rents videos online. "That's how this DVD evolution is. Even the most obscure shows have followings."

"Netflix -- which mails rentals to customers' homes -- ships more than 3 million discs a week. Of those rentals, about 15 percent are television shows, Sarandos said."

"For retailers, stocking up on shows like Seinfeld and The Sopranos are "no-brainers," said Netflix's Sarandos, because the series have huge followings.

"Older shows are a bit more tricky. Netflix, for example, scoured the Internet and found a following for Pink Lady . . . and Jeff, which had only five aired episodes with guests such as Donny Osmond, Alice Cooper and Hugh Hefner. It stocks Pink Lady even though fewer than 1,000 of its more than 2 million customers have requested it. "

Meanwhile Netflix is gearing up for Seinfeld. Expecting high demand, the company is treating it like a major theatrical release. Sarandos said Seinfeld is its largest commercial purchase ever. He didn't elaborate on numbers.

Sarandos said he expects Netflix to continue to increase its television inventory over the years.

"We see no signs that this is going to slow down," he said.

Napster and Blockbuster Online in Co-Marketing Deal

Via Clickz.com:
"Napster and Blockbuster Online entered a co-marketing deal to package their music and movie services together in a 'Digital Duo' gift card. The card, which will be available in time for the holidays, costs $20 and is available at RadioShack retail outlets.

Card holders get unlimited access to Napster's music library and two free track downloads from that service, as well as a month of free movie rentals from Blockbuster's DVD-by-mail offering.
The Digital Duo card offers 32 percent savings off what consumers would pay by purchasing the same digital entertainment packages separately. Ordinarily, the Blockbuster Online membership is $17.49 per month and a month of Napster access costs $9.95. "
Read the rest of the article

Monday, November 22, 2004

Netflix Tracker: Turnaround Time by Center

Turnaround time isn't my problem; it's finding time to watch them all. For those of you concerned with getting the most movies for your money, Listology's Netflix Tracker has a great feature where you can check your turnaround time according to your distribution center, as reported by users of Listology. You can see that turnaround time from the Greensboro distribution center averaged 2.43 days for the last 21 rentals. This data contradicts the idea that Netflix is slowing down deliveries for heavy users. You can see other reports, too, like per-person monthly average, or turnaround time by monthly plan. You can sign up and track your own turnaround time for free, with nothing but a pick-your-own anonymous user name and password.

Where are those new releases?

via The Paul Wall: "Users of the rental service will notice that new releases hardly ever pop up in their 'recommendations' list. The reason, Hastings told me, is that Netflix doesn't want everybody rushing for the same DVD title at once. Makes sense, but it's a potential vulnerability." Read more

Saturday, November 20, 2004

macteens reviews Netflix Freak from LittleAppFactory

via macteens.com:
"After being a Netflix subscriber for little over a month, I was handed a nifty little application named Netflix Freak. It makes life easy for Netflix users by allowing the user to manage their account without going through the web site. This Macintosh only software is so easy to use, confining everything needed into a nice compact window."


Read more

Friday, November 19, 2004

Netflix Site Redesign *updated

Dan at wooba.com has an interesting screencap of a Netflix site redesign. I've never actually seen this when I go to Netflix.com. Have you? It has a search box on the queue page, as well as arrows for each movie, enabling you to move it up or down in your queue with a click. Is it real, or Photoshop?

*Updated Friday PM: I guess I just had to believe harder before I could see it. As Mike commented, it might have been buggy last night, which could have been why they pulled it. Now that I've seen it, it's real. What do you think?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Try scratching this DVD

via CNETAsia
Researchers at electronics giant TDK have developed a tough new coating that promises to make scratched DVDs a thing of the past and that will help usher in an emerging data storage format with 10 times the capacity of the current DVD standard.

In a test conducted by CNET News.com, a DVD treated with TDK's coating survived a determined attack with a screwdriver and a Sharpie permanent marker with no effect on playability--a remarkable feat considering how easily standard DVDs can be damaged, for example, by children.

'Wow, every family with a young boy could really use that,' quipped Elizabeth Berry, a Berkeley, Calif., resident and one-time Netflix DVD-by-mail subscriber, when told of the scratch-resistant coating. 'My 3-year-old must have destroyed half my DVD collection.'

Already one of the most popular technologies in history, the DVD is poised for further greatness as companies tinker with improvements such as better durability and increased storage."
The article goes on to discuss how this development will improve the high-capacity Blu-Ray disc format. Read the rest.

AFI's 100 YEARS...100 MOVIE QUOTES

via AFI Online:
"LOS ANGELES, November 17, 2004-The American Film Institute (AFI) today announced that AFI's 100 Years . . . 100 Movie Quotes will be the theme for AFI's eighth annual celebration of 100 years of American movies.
AFI'S 100 Years . . . 100 Movie Quotes: America's Greatest Quips, Comebacks and Catchphrases will count down America's 100 greatest lines of dialogue spoken in the movies, as chosen by experts of the motion picture community, in a three-hour television event on the CBS Television Network in June 2005."
Read all about it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Netflix Updates Q4 Guidance

Netflix Updates Q4 Guidance: "Netflix CEO and Co-founder Reed Hastings commented, 'We're impressed with the demand for our service at our new price points. Although it is still early in the quarter, subscriber growth is exceeding our earlier expectations, churn appears to be heading toward historical lows, and U.S. SAC should be in the neighborhood of last quarter. The strategy of rapid subscriber growth we announced last month is working.' "

Movie group puts swappers on legal notice

via DetNews.com: "Inexpensive, convenient DVD rentals combined with easily downloadable, gray market software for copying discs is costing copyright holders millions of dollars, says Dan Glickman, the new president and CEO of Hollywood's trade group, the Motion Picture Association of America.
That's why the industry group says it will sue online movie swappers, following in the footsteps of the Recording Industry Association of America, which began suing unauthorized Internet song traders last year. " Read more

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Netflix CEO to Speak at the Credit Suisse First Boston Annual Technology Conference

Via Yahoo! News: "LOS GATOS, Calif., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX - News) today announced Reed Hastings, CEO and Co-founder will present at the Credit Suisse First Boston Annual Technology Conference. Mr. Hastings is scheduled to present on Thursday, December 2, 2004 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time / 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The live webcast will be available on the investor relations page of the Netflix web site at http://ir.netflix.com . A replay of the webcast will also be available from the investor relations page of the Netflix web site."

Monday, November 15, 2004

Netflix streamlines fulfillment to help boost subscriber base

via InternetRetailer.com - Daily News for Thursday, November 11, 2004
"Growth in its market depends on the ease subscribers have of receiving the movies they want through the mail. But to maintain an efficient inventory and fulfillment process, Netflix only promises to ship out whatever is available in its inventory among a subscriber’s top three movie choices. Subscribers can change the order of their choices at any time on Netflix.com, where they can see real-time updates of how long it will take Netflix to deliver any particular movie title. "
"By analyzing subscriber activity and improving the way it fulfills orders, Netflix now is able to ship the top choice on someone’s list nearly all the time, Hastings says.

“In the past, there were more times when we would have to send the No. 2 or 3 movie,” a spokeswoman says. “Now we’re delivering No. 1 movie on subscribers’ lists 95% of the time.”

“The more subscribers watch their favorite movies, they more they stay as customers and the more they tell their friends,” Hastings says.


Want to work for Walmart's DVD Rentals Operation? P/T Assistant Operations Associate opening in Brisbane, CA

via Yahoo! HotJobs
GENERAL SUMMARY: This position is responsible for assisting our DVD Rentals operations lead in processing incoming and outgoing DVD Rentals mailers in our DVD Rentals distribution center in Brisbane, CA. Hours for this job will be based on weekly demand and should range from 10-30 hours per week. Read More. Posted on Hotjobs 15 November 2004.

Netflix for "Dashboarders"

via RoadTripAmerica.com
If you're a "Dashboarder", that is, someone who connects to the Internet while traveling, Netflix is the plan for you:
"A roadtripping purist might insist that a glorious fire-red sunset is as good as it ever gets, but we've always enjoyed movies as an occasional escape. Going to a theatre is not always possible for dashboarders on the move, and although chains like Blockbuster have offered nationwide movie rentals for several years, a trip back to the same store to make returns is not always convenient."

"One feature that makes Netflix the clear choice for dashboarders is the ease with which a subscriber can change the 'ship-to' address. A few keystrokes on the www.Netflix.com Web site, and travelers can receive movies wherever they expect to be. Netflix spokesperson Peter Mullen suggests that customers change their 'ship-to' address with enough advance notice to ensure that the title goes to the right location, but there is no restriction on the number of times this address can be changed. Wal-Mart's DVD rental program also allows frequent changes to the 'ship-to' address, but some companies require that the 'ship-to' address match the credit card billing address."

Friday, November 12, 2004

Blog-cleaning

I've reorganized my sidebar by categorizing my links. If your link is missing from my Blogroll, it's because I thought it fit best in a category instead.

If you're looking for help filling your queue, my sidebar contains what I think are the best places on the Web to get recommendations, reviews, and background information on any kind of movie.

Please peruse my Blogroll. It contains links to friendly movie fans' blogs, as well as reviewers, theatres, and listmakers.

Blockbuster might buy Hollywood Video

via Fool.com::
"So why make an offer now? I see two drivers. First, Hollywood Entertainment has an existing buyout plan to take the company private at about $10.25 per share, making time of the essence for a move. Second is a protection of its bricks-and-mortar business. Blockbuster's model is changing, but unlike Netflix or Amazon, its network gives it the ability to build in-store pick-up into its subscription model. For people who still wish to take advantage of a spur-of-the-moment video selection, this remains a differentiator. But this only works if the network of stores doesn't become a financial albatross around the company's neck. Management determined that its best move, then, was to eliminate some of the competitive forces that Hollywood Video stores cause. In other words, this $11.50 bid by Blockbuster isn't necessarily an indication of the value of Hollywood Entertainment as a stand-alone company, but rather the price that Blockbuster is willing to pay not to worry about it as a competitor anymore."

Blockbuster buying Hollywood Video would make me sad. I rely on my local Hollywood Video store for many of my classic, independent, and foreign rentals which are still available only on VHS. The last time I was in a Blockbuster, there was a foot of empty space between the videos on its shelves in the non-new-releases sections.

Have you seen this before?

A couple of titles on my queue were highlighted in pink, with status changed to "click for update".



Upon clicking, I got this message: "Casino has been moved to the DVDs Awaiting Release section of your Queue. We no longer have enough copies of the DVD to satisfy customer demand. This movie will be rereleased on DVD within the next 12 months, and we will buy additional copies at that time.

We apologize for the inconvenience and hope you find many Netflix movies to enjoy in the meantime."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Top Ten Reasons To Join Netflix...

...as an employee at headquarters. From the official Web site:

#7 Work hard, play hard.

Singing, dancing and practical jokes happen fairly regularly.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Subscriptions reverse rental drop

Via Video Business online:

By Jennifer Netherby

NOV. 10 | Rentrak Corp., using a new model that includes revenue generated by online and in-store rental subscriptions, is showing that consumer rental activity is basically even with last year, not down dramatically as it previously thought.

Online rentals now account for 7% to 9% of overall rentals, according to industry estimates, up from about 2% in 2003. Netflix is the dominant player in the online segment, where it competes with Blockbuster, Wal-Mart and a variety of small rental operators.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Blockbuster offers DVD Rentals for $15.99?

If you try to cancel during your two week trial period with Blockbuster.com, according to Fool.com, they might offer you a rate of $15.99 per month on a six months contract, or one month free.

Spotlight shines on Web film sites

Via NJ.com:
As Web sites have become easier to create and update, countless film aficionados have begun to churn out do-it- yourself spots devoted to movie reviews, essays, parodies and just about anything else for the sort of person who pre-orders the three- disc, 10th anniversary version of "Clerks."
Along with a cadre of commercial efforts targeting film geeks, the Web is a boon for anyone with even a mild obsession about the movies.
"Other spots stick to reviews. Take Day for Night (www.dayfornight.net), where you will find brief, paragraph-long movie critiques -- or maybe just an excerpt of someone else's review, followed by a short phrase ('I agree'). The site's creator, Scott Black of New Orleans, lists every movie he sees. So far this year: 231. And he rates them, too. 'Van Helsing' got trashed with a 14, while 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,' a favorite, earned an 85. "
Like me, Scott is a Listologist.

Monday, November 08, 2004

CEO Bobblehead

The base of the bobblehead is inscribed with
"Thanks 2M A Million"


Bobblehead doll in the image of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Gift to employees in 2004 for achieving 2 million subscribers.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Walmart Cuts Price on 3-out plan to undercut Netflix and Blockbuster

via Reuters.com: "Information on Wal-Mart's movie rental web site on Wednesday showed that the discounter now charges $17.36 per month for customers to rent as many DVDs as they want, but with a maximum of three titles out at any one time.

Previously Wal-Mart's standard subscription plan cost $18.76 and with its price reduction, the discounter has moved ahead to undercut both Netflix and Blockbuster, who recently announced their own tit-for-tat price cuts.

Blockbuster cut its fee to $17.49 from $19.99 on Oct. 15, egged on by Netflix which said the day earlier it intended to cut its price to $17.99 from $21.99.

Wal-Mart.com spokeswoman Amy Colella said the discounter's price cut is effective from Tuesday. She also sought to play down any suggestion that the cut had been prompted by Netflix and Blockbuster's cuts.

'We're always reviewing the landscape, and based on that we want to maintain a focus on providing customers everyday low-prices and we would continue to evaluate opportunities for the DVD rentals business and make decisions accordingly,' she told Reuters. "

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Green Envelope Madness?

What's this? I had cancelled Greencine, but today, I got a green envelope in the mail. I thought they'd messed up. Turns out Netflix has Shrek-ified their envelopes. Raven at Netflix Odyssey blog had just complained about a Garfield ad on his, but at least the envelope remained the same color. Don't worry, I'm not freaking out or anything.


(c)2004 Netflix, Inc. Patent Pending V99C
Shrek 2 TM & (c) 2004 Dreamworks, LLC

UTV Motion Pictures signs breakthrough DVD deal with Netflix!

If you're a Bollywood fan, today's your lucky day. According to Bollyvista.com,
US-based Netflix has placed an advance order for 5000 DVDs for Swades (being co-produced and distributed overseas by UTV) and an order for 1000 DVDs each for Lakshya and Phir Milenge. Swades releases worldwide on December 17th 2004. UTV Motion Pictures is releasing Swades Overseas as the widest simultaneous release for a Hindi Film ever.

Lakshya is the 4th biggest grosser at the Indian Box-Office till date in 2004 (at an All India Nett of INR 244,584,783), which places it above Hum Tum (at an All India Nett of INR 182,353,634). At the US Box-Office Lakshya grossed USD 748,000, positioning it above Dhoom (USD 320,000).

This deal will give Netflix access to all the titles, which UTV Motion Pictures is distributing in North America.


UTV is an Indian television and motion picture corporation. Bollywood is a word coined by combining the words Bombay and Hollywood, which refers to the film industry of India.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

GreenCine Daily

I've just quit Greencine, after enjoying their service for about five months. They are on the West Coast, and I'm on the East, so delivery times ranged from 3-7 days. They were especially fast over weekends. I used them as a supplement, because they had some old movies, foreign, and out of print titles that Netflix doesn't carry. You don't have to be a Greencine subscriber to enjoy their blog.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

DVDHomePage.net

There's an astonishing number of online DVD rental businesses trying to break into the market, and more are springing up every day. It is not my aim to test and review them all, but maybe you, my faithful readers, can tell me if you've had any experience with them.

Along with the plethora of new businesses is a corollary: a proliferation of online advertisements disguised as helpful review sites claiming to be dedicated to helping you decide which service is best for you, but in reality, they are all pushing one over the other. However, DVD Home Page is one that seems to be unaffiliated, and simply links to them. It includes some of the online DVD rental options for United States, Canadian, and European residents. Here's a sample:

NetFlix.com
DVD Avenue
Qwikfliks
CleanFilms.com
Familydvd.net
DVDOvernight.com
Cafe DVD Rentals
Rentdvdhere.com
Greencine.com
DvdBarn.com
CinemaFlow.com
HollyWebDVD.com
Moviesforme.com
RelayRentals.com
Davada.com
DVDHype.com
IndianDVD.ca
Canada Flix
DVDAvalanche.com
Rentadvd.ca
DVD-Rental.ca

Monday, November 01, 2004

Mislabelled disc--The Man Who Knew Too Much

I queued the 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much on Netflix. It was the only one of Alfred Hitchcock's films that he later remade. What they delivered to me instead was the 1955 remake of the same film. I am reporting it to Netflix as mislabelled, but I've run into this problem with Netflix before. Because both movies share the same title and director, you can imagine how difficult it would be to convince them they have made a mistake. Therefore, I am not even going to try. I just wanted to warn you, in case you have your heart set on seeing the 1934 version, and you get your discs from the Greensboro shipping center.

Netflix First: VOICES OF IRAQ

Netflix AND 2929 ENTERTAINMENT RELEASE VOICES OF IRAQ FOR DVD RENTAL SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH FILM'S THEATRICAL PREMIERE
LOS GATOS, Calif. - October 29, 2004 - Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), the world's largest online movie rental service, today announced that Voices of Iraq, an innovative new film from Magnolia Pictures, the distribution arm of Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban's 2929 Entertainment, is immediately available to its more than two million members on DVD. Coinciding with the film's release in theaters across the country, the film is available to rent exclusively through Netflix, giving millions of people immediate access to a groundbreaking portrayal of Iraq in the wake of war.
Voices of Iraq was filmed and directed by more than 2,000 Iraqis from all walks of life over six months in 2004. The producers distributed 150 digital video cameras across the country and received over 450 hours of footage from people of all walks of life such as teachers, doctors, policemen, children and insurgents. The film portrays the diverse perspectives of the Iraqi people ranging from their thoughts on the war and their prospects of democratic reform; their hopes and dreams for a new nation; and their understanding of how the world perceives their country at this time in history. Read More

Netflix Announces Upcoming Conference Calls

Netflix Announces Upcoming Schedule of Events With the Financial Community:
"Morgan Stanley
Software, Services, Internet & Networking Conference
Scottsdale, AZ
Wednesday, November 3, 2004
8:15 a.m. PT / 11:15 a.m. ET
Reed Hastings, CEO and Co-founder

Lehman Brothers
2004 Small Cap Conference
Scottsdale, AZ
Thursday, November 18, 2004
11:20 a.m. PT / 2:20 p.m. ET
Barry McCarthy, CFO

The webcasts will be available on the investor relations page of the
Netflix web site at http://ir.netflix.com ."

Saturday, October 30, 2004

JS Online: Movies in the mail

JS Online: Movies in the mail: "Dan Neesley of Greendale came back to Netflix three years ago after quitting the service for a while.
He had tried purchasing the DVDs he wanted to watch, but 'realized that that was a war I could never win.'
Instead, he relies on Netflix to find movies he wants to watch and to learn about films he has never heard of.
'It's an embarrassment of riches,' he said. 'I'm watching much more selectively. Things I wouldn't have bought or wouldn't have rented.'
Clouston, Netflix's spokeswoman, said that's the key to the company's success.
'We're turning movie watchers into movie lovers,' she said."

New contenders take stab at Internet TV

via MSNBC
Internet TV is a mirage, seeming so close yet turning out to be far away or downright unreal when you try to watch it. At least that's my take on the many past plans for zapping motion pictures over the Internet.

Now comes a fresh group of contenders for the Internet TV throne, all trying new twists on sending video over the global computer network. They carry funky names, too, like Akimbo, DaveTV, RipeTV and TimeshifTV. All are trying to exploit the increasing number of high-speed Internet links in homes and the declining costs for transmitting and storing digital video.
Read more

Friday, October 29, 2004

Another satisfied customer

I received a lovely email from Lou, who got one of my free one month Netflix trials last month. Here's what he says:

"I just wanted to say thanks again for the free one
month trial. I have been able to check out about 20
DVD's, and so far I am pleased with Netflix compared
to my trial time spent with Blockbuster. I haven't had
a DVD with a wait from Netflix (compared to DVD's with
numerous waits from Blockbuster), they always come
quickly from Netflix, and I haven't had a lost DVD
from them yet. I think I will be sticking with
Netflix, especially since they are lowering their
3-out price to $17.99."

Thanks Again,
Lou

Return something today...

...or tomorrow, if you want a new release sent to you on Monday. This is especially helpful if you're looking for something that's to be released this coming Tuesday. Tuesday is Netflix's busiest day. Everyone returns movies they watched over the weekend on Monday, so Tuesday, Netflix is swamped with returns. The best day to return stuff, I've found, is on Tuesday or Wednesday. They get it Wednesday or Thursday. I get the next batch on Thursday or Friday--just in time for the weekend.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Breaking News: Blockbuster in the Red

via Smartmoney.com[subscription required]
The following factors are contributing to money troubles for Netflix nemesis Blockbuster:
resignation of its president and chief operating officer, Nigel Travis.
Rental revenue declined 3.8% to $1.1 billion, as solid growth in DVD and game rentals failed to offset a sharp drop-off in videotape rentals.
The good news: "Merchandise sales rose 26% to $333 million."
Blockbuster is facing a shrinking video-rental business amid growing competition from mass retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Best Buy Co. (BBY) selling low-price DVDs.
[don't forget Netflix]
The company also said its profitability for 2004 will "decline significantly" because of the goodwill impairment charge and increased investments in key initiatives, among other things. The company's full-year investment in new initiatives will increase to about $120 million, in part because of early launch of online rental.
Blockbuster expects the rental industry will continue to decline in 2005, but said it believes the sector will stabilize by the end of 2005 as DVD penetration is projected to reach 70% of U.S. households.
The company also said it expects to continue to invest heavily in the business next year, which combined with projected softness in rental revenue, will hurt profitability in 2005.
"Investment in key initiatives" might mean VOD, and we all know what the "early launch of online rental" means. They started that business too soon. Between the decline of in-store rentals, and trying to build an online rental business, they're not going to make any money this year or next. That gives Netflix, who says they'll break even next year, the advantage.

Here's a link to a press release that you can view without registering or being a subscriber.

Ox-Bow Incident conspiracy theories

I've recently entered an online discussion, with Jim at Listology.com, regarding the puzzling absence of the Ox-Bow Incident (1943) from the Netflix library of titles. It is a terrific Oscar (r)-nominated movie, starring Henry Fonda, which Amazon.com lists as being available on DVD since March 2, 2004. Why doesn't Netflix have it?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

New Netflix Features: Move to top, and In Queue

New titles are added to the bottom of your queue by default, but this "Move to top" button allows you to put it in your #1 slot instead:

I'm always forgetting what's in my queue, so this "In Queue" button saves me from getting dumb looks from Netflix when I try to add the same movie again.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

GameZnFlix--Taking on Netflix

via Nashville Business Journal 10-25-04

"Based in Franklin, Ky., GameZnFlix's inventory of 28,000 video game and DVD titles comes from Ingram Entertainment Inc. in La Vergne. Fulfillment services are provided by National Fulfillment Inc. in Lebanon and California.

"We consider ourselves to be the third-largest company in this business," says John Fleming, chairman and CEO of GameZnFlix.

That business is being led by NetFlix , which has about 2.4 million subscribers. And GameZnFlix (OTC:GZFX) isn't the only recent entrant: Big names like Blockbuster and Wal-Mart have joined the fray with similar business models."

They're going to have a Superbowl ad, too.

Commentary: Competition could help Netflix

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Competition could help Netflix: "Netflix, after all, is almost as much a cult as it is an e-commerce site. You run into someone at the post office returning DVDs and it's instant bonding. At a party talking movies, soon you're off in a corner with other Netflixers. " Read more


Monday, October 25, 2004

Scary movie suggestions

I've noticed that all the horror movies in my queue have been on "long wait" status for the entire month. Hmmm, must be because Halloween is coming up. If you're looking for ideas, may I recommend the following two lists for inspiration? Both sites take a while to load.

THE 100 SCARIEST MOVIE SCENES OF ALL TIME!
As determined by the writers of Retrocrush Web site.

100 Greatest Scary Moments from TV and movies: as chosen by Channel 4 viewers.

Friday, October 22, 2004

ReelTime Public Beta Test

ReelTime Rentals Announces Public Beta Test Registration to Evaluate Cutting-Edge Technology

SEATTLE, Oct. 22, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- Reeltime Rentals, Inc. (Pink Sheets:RLTR) is pleased to announce that it is offering the public an opportunity to participate in a free beta test to evaluate the Company's revolutionary Rental-on-Demand (ROD) service. ReelTime invites consumers who are interested in becoming a part of this groundbreaking product development to apply at ReelTime's website, www.reeltimetv.net. Participants will be able to view a full feature length movie free of charge.

This test marks substantial progress for ReelTime as it prepares for a full-scale national launch. "We have been very successful with our initial evaluations," said Alex Stanczyk, CEO Reeltime Rentals, Inc. "Consumer feedback is imperative to our product's ultimate success in the national and international markets. Inviting potential consumers to participate will provide us with more extensive feedback than any controlled focus group might offer and we anticipate exciting results."
Their web site contains no information regarding system requirements, but it looks like you have to view the movies on your computer in streaming format. There is no pricing or movie information available until you register for the service. If you try this service, please post your comments here :).

Queue trivia update

My Netflix Queue Stats

147--Number of movies I've rented from Netflix since I joined.
266--Number of movies in main queue
3--Number of movies I have out
3--Number of movies in "DVDs Awaiting Release" queue
31--Number of movies I've rented in the last 3 months
1--Number of movies labeled "Very Long Wait and Out of Print”
3--Number of movies labeled "Very Long Wait"
1--Number of movies labeled "Long Wait"
4--Number of movies labeled "Short Wait"
0--Number of movies in the queue that are actually television shows on DVD
8--Number of movies in the queue that I've already seen
0--Number of movies I feel are categorized wrongly
7--Average number of times I check the queue per week

Inspired by Megan at jumpingmonkeys.com
Here's Megan's queue.
Here's my queue.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Nicheflix has something to offer, too

I'm in the middle of a two-week free trial of Nicheflix , which is more of an alternative to Greencine than Netflix but they all work the same. Nicheflix , as the name suggests, offers otherwise hard-to-find "multi-region DVD and D-VHS" rentals by subscription model. They have a very narrow selection, but what they do have is nearly impossible to find anywhere else. You have to have a special DVD or D-VHS player in order to play these titles, because they might be encoded for another country. Their database is very fast and easy to search, but small. I signed up on Friday and received my first two discs on Tuesday. They ship from Indiana. If you're looking for something not available from Greencine , Netflix , or Blockbuster , and you must have it digitally, they are worth a look. Here's what I have in my queue so far:

Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932) Received
Top Hat (1935) Received
Ju-on: The Grudge (Juon) (2003) Available Soon
Pandora's Box (1929) Available Shortly
The Wolf Man (1941) Available Now
Cat People (1942) Available Shortly
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) Available Shortly
A Matter Of Life And Death (1946) Available Now
Bright Young Things (2003) Available Shortly
La Jetee / Sans Soleil (1962/1983) Available Shortly
Belle De Jour / Diary of a Chambermaid / The Milky Way (1967/1964/1969) Available Now
The Taming of the Shrew (1929) Available Now
Napoleon (1927) Available Now
The Battle of Algiers (1965) Available Now
Cul-De-Sac (1966) Available Now
Dr. Mabuse - The Gambler (Disc 1 of 2) (1922) Available Shortly
Fist of Fury (1972) Available Now
Croupier (1998) Available Now

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Hastings speaks regarding Amazon entering the fight

Via IMDb.com's Studio Briefing for 10-20-04:

" Netflix Founder Predicts Online DVD Shake-Out

Netflix founder Reed Hastings said that he 'went through the normal anger, denial and grief syndrome' when he confirmed rumors that Amazon was planning to enter the online DVD rental business. However, he told today's (Wednesday) Wall Street Journal [subscribers only], he had been expecting some such occurrence. 'From inception, we have been telling our employees, there will be big new competition coming in the future; we don't know when or how. So everyone is pretty prepared for a big fight.' Hastings expressed confidence that Netflix will eventually obtain the rights from studios to distribute their films electronically as well as by mail. He said that Netflix will be able to compete with more established firms in online delivery 'by having the best brand, the best service, the best movie-choosing, the best pricing. ... Somebody has an opportunity to build a 20-million subscriber base here ... and if you do the math, 20 million subscribers is about $4 billion in [annual] revenue.' " (c) Studio Briefing

Nearly One Billion DVDs Shipped to Retail This Year; Robust Fourth Quarter Expected With Top Grossing Box-Office Hits Coming to DVD and Variety of Players

Via Businesswire : "Nearly 110 million DVD players have sold since launch (including set-top and portable DVD players, Home-Theater-in-a-Box systems, TV/DVD and DVD/VCR combination players), bringing the number of DVD households to over 63 million. Currently, 42 percent of all U.S. DVD households have two or more DVD players. "

Hastings speaks on Blockbuster threat

Via Reuters.com:
"Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings told Reuters on Monday he had expected Blockbuster to do something 'drastic' because the stakes in the growing industry were so high. 'I think it's important for them to get a toehold in this market,' Hastings said. 'We are the leader with 2.2 million subscribers and they waited five years to enter it so they have to play catch up.'
Hastings said the lower prices would expand the market of online subscribers and steal market share from traditional retail rental stores. 'The important aspect of that is the video stores in America will be vacant,' Hastings said. 'We are going to see a complete shift of the video service to go online. Blockbuster is recognizing that online rentals are a better way to go.' Hastings said the coming year would be dominated by a 'land grab' between Netflix and Blockbuster as the companies race to reach 5 million subscribers. That number represents the 5 percent of U.S. households that own a video recorder or DVD player. That 'critical mass' would position the industry leader to dominate a market set to grow from $500 million in sales to 'a few billion,' he said."
"We think and Blockbuster thinks that online movie rentals will be bigger than online book rentals. It may be one of largest online markets ever," Hastings said. "Maybe we'll both be winners with 5 million subscribers, and the only losers are store-based rentals."

Netflix tracker on Listology

Here's another great reason to join Listology.com: Jim the Webmaster over there has developed a great online tool, called Netflix Tracker, which you can use easily to track your Netflix usage and generate reports. All you need to do is create a username and password and supply a little anonymous information: your Netflix cookie shopper ID, your distribution center, and membership anniversary, all of which he'll show you how to find. With this tracker online, you can see your Netflix history from any computer, check your turnaround time, and know at a glance if you're getting your money's worth out of the service.

It's still in Beta, so be sure to report any weirdness to webmaster@listology.com.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

HackingNetflix: Engadget Interviews Mike Ramsay, TiVo CEO

Via Hacking Netflix:

Tech site Engadget cornered Mike Ramsay, CEO of TiVO, in the hallway of Web 2.0 conference.

Ramsay had this to say about the Netflix relationship:

Engadget: Tell me about the new deal with Netflix.
Ramsay: It’s about video rental. Most people these days, at least in this community, are buying music electronically. They’re not buying physical media. And I think the same thing will happen with video. Instead of going to the video store or getting your Netflix in the mail, it’s going to show up in your TiVo. It’s a natural. It doesn’t matter if it takes a day to get there, because Netflix takes a day anyway. People will get used to having a pipeline where content drips through. The transition to electronic distribution will be complete and we won’t be dealing with physical media.

Engadget: So you’ll be competing with services like Movielink and CinemaNow?

Ramsay: Not really. Netflix will be a download, and those other services are streaming. All broadband Internet distribution will be a download for the foreseeable future. Streaming offers less than television quality. We believe that everything you deliver to the television has to be TV quality or better—you can’t compromise on that. The only way you can do that in the U.S. today is by download.



Will Netflix drop their price even further?

This business analyst suggests that Netflix should drop their price even further, and has included a screenshot of the Netflix Web site where he claims they have done just that:

Price War!

NewsFinder: "Blockbuster cuts monthly online DVD rental rate (BBI) By Anne Stanley
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) -- Blockbuster (BBI) said early Monday it's cutting the price of its online DVD rental subscription service by $2.50 to $17.49 a month, effective Oct. 25. The company also said that, as part of new consumer incentives, the two free in-store rental coupons that online subscribers receive each month can be used for game rentals as well as movie rentals."

Bring it on!

Monday, October 18, 2004

He's angry, and he's not going to take it anymore...

By Bill Mann (TMF Otter)
October 14, 2004
Fool.com: Arrogant, or Desperate? [Motley Fool Take] October 14, 2004: "I have a deep well of ire, and this week the company that has raised it is Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX). Some dear friends of ours gave us a three-month gift subscription to Netflix, which we enjoyed thoroughly. One would think, though, at the end of a gift subscription, that a company would let you know that, for the first time, your credit card was going to be charged should you wish to continue with the service. So being a naturally unaware person, without such notification I allowed the three-month mark to come and go without canceling. I missed by one day. It's not really the company's business to save me from myself, so my fault.

But check this out: When I went to the Netflix site to cancel, one day too late, I found that I could cancel at any moment, but at the moment I cancel, my subscription ends, and company policy is for no refund for the unused portion of the month to be granted. Miss canceling by a day? That's $23." Read more.

Af if you didn't already have enough reasons.

Friday, October 15, 2004

How did she do that?

I have the same movie title ("Forgotten Silver") in my queue twice, which should be impossible. Netflix usually warns me if I try to do that. I got around it this time, because I added the movie to my queue back when it was available. Then, it went "out of print". I added it again, without deleting the first one, and it ended up in my "awaiting release" section. Now that it has a release date, it's in my regular queue area.

Hacking NetFlix : Major Netflix Announcements!

I was out sick yesterday, so I'm a bit slow with the news. Hacking NetFlix reports several big ones:
1. Netflix is lowering the price of the 3-out subscription plan to $17.99 per month, starting in November.
2. Amazon is entering the DVD rental maket, according to Netflix.
3. Netflix announces GAAP Net Income of $18.9 million for Q3 2004, based on revenue of $141.6 million for the quarter.
4. Netflix has postponed European expansion plans to focus on the increasing U.S. competition.
5. The churn rate remained constant at 5.6% since last quarter.
6. The stock dropped from $17.43 per share to $10.99 in after-hours trading tonight.
7. Netflix is expecting to break even over the next year instead of being profitable.
Read more.

Mike says Netflix is on the defensive, trying to deal with increased threats from competition with Amazon, Blockbuster, Walmart, Greencine; hence the price change and the more conservative strategies. Sounds about right to me. He has a list of links to news reports around the Web.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Netflix Freak version 1.3 has new Browse Tab

Netflix Users: Get Your Freak On With Version 1.3 || The Mac Observer: "Version 1.3 adds a new Browse tab to the interface, which allows you to view the following:

This week's new releases from Netflix
Personalized recommendations from Netflix
Top 100 movies from Netflix
Top 25 movies by genre from Netflix "

Netflix Freak is available as shareware from Little App Factory.

Netflix redesigns Web site, now accepting checks...

Alex Designs analyzes Netflix's Web site. Netflix seems to be testing two different versions of it to see which is more effective at getting you to sign up. You'll get one or the other only if you're not a member or if you appear not to be.

Netflix has also begun accepting checks in addition to credit cards for payment.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Video Without Boundaries

Video Without Boundaries makes all-in-one devices which enable you to use your TV to view E-mail, Internet, Games, play MP3/CD/DVD/MPEG-1/MPEG-2/MPEG-4, and download movies. You can use it to record TV. With it, you have access to anything on your PC from your TV. They also have a built-in hard drive and DVD recorder.

Home Is Where The Movies Are; Home Theaters Replace Cinema

BY PATRICK SEITZ

INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Today in Investor's Business Daily stock analysis and business news:
"The growing popularity of DVDs and home theater systems are factors in declining movie theater attendance, some observers say."

"Nearly 36% of U.S. adults polled recently by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence say they're going to the movie theater less often than just a year ago.
And owners of home theater setups are cutting back on trips to the cinema even more. About 45% of them say they're going to movie theaters less than a year ago. "

"The rise of DVDs and home theaters isn't the only reason behind the slide in movie theater attendance. High cost is the most cited reason by those who go to the cinema less often. 20.5% of respondents cite high movie theater prices.

Almost as many — 17.8% — say they prefer watching movies at home as their main reason for going to the theater less."

"Other reasons for avoiding movie theaters include people being too busy to go and not liking the quality or selection of movies in the theaters."

"There's some evidence that when a movie is announced theatrically, people make up their minds whether they're going to see it in the theater or wait for it (on DVD)," Alexander said. "As the in-home display stuff gets better and better, it will become an increasingly important decision."

70% of people who rent and 40% of people who buy a DVD never saw the movie in the theatre.


Monday, October 11, 2004

How Blockbuster Snared Me

How Blockbuster Snared Me Motley Fool contributer Nathan Slaughter gets caught by Blockbuster online:

This morning, my inbox was full of inviting offers: everything from rock-bottom prices for Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE - News) Viagra to a promotional code for 10% off any order at Target.com (NYSE: TGT - News). There was also an unusual notice -- not junk, but a congratulatory welcome message from Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI - News). That's right, I am now a proud member of Blockbuster's online movie rental service (on a free trial basis, anyway).
However, HackingNetflix has this to say:
I am a paying member of both services and believe that Netflix is superior in many ways (see my prior posts about movie availability and distribution centers). The fact that Nathan picked Blockbuster because of the 2 free rental coupons worries me -- Netflix has no counter to this offer at this time (next year they could offer 2 free movie downloads).

My experience with the coupons is less than satisfactory. The first time I used one it took them at least 15 minutes to sign me up (they can't pull up my old membership and I didn't have my card with me). The fine print on the coupon limits you to only one coupon per visit, so that means multiple trips to the video store, and multiple attempts for the store personnel to try to tempt you with carbohydrates like candy or popcorn. I joined Netflix to avoid the hassle of going to the video store, and I always forget to return movies. I know that I will wind up paying a late fee on the "free" movies.


Don't get Blockbuster, unless you really need to go to the store twice per month.

Netflix Fan interview in Video Business Online

You think blogging about Netflix is weird?. This week's Video Business Online interviews Netflix Fan!!
"I wanted to know every detail on how they operated," Netflix Fan's Becky explained. "I was partly wanting to maximize my value. I found very little out there from the users point of view. And Netflix seemed very mysterious and kind of hidden from view. Nobody could drive up to a Netflix store."

Becky has since tried to take some of the mystery away, tracking locations--and location changes--of Netflix shipping centers so that users can estimate shipping times and giving tips to getting movies faster."
Read more.

Friday, October 08, 2004

More on Hollywood Video's in-store program

"They don't even have to walk in the door with money in their hands," said Ralph Noe, a store director for Hollywood Video. "The customers are really enjoying the convenience. We've had people rent as many as three titles a day for three weeks in a row.

"...the newest releases do not become available to MVP cardholders until they have been on store shelves between three to five weeks, Noe said customers are renting more from the store's library to either see fairly recent movies or to catch up with a classic.[This happens with Netflix, too--Becky]

"'It's been terrific, absolutely terrific,' he said. 'People are realizing their membership is much more now.' " Source

Hollywood Video starts all-you-can rent program **Updated

What the other guys are up to, via Recordnet.com: "At Hollywood Video , for example, a customer who pays a $9.99 monthly fee for the first three months -- the price goes up to $14.99 a month after that -- can check out dozens of DVD movies a month for less than the cost of three movie rentals at the $4 each regular price. "

Also,

"Wal-Mart just opened its 13th distribution center and will soon open another. Wal-Mart also expanded its catalog of titles to 15,000, compared to more than 25,000 for Netflix ."

**Update: The Hollywood Video deal, called "movie value pass", is for 5-day rentals only, and includes "most new releases" and all Hollywood Film Library(r) titles.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

With Friends on DVD Who Needs Real TV?

Straight.com: Dot Comment: "If you're old enough to remember the days when a VCR was an expensive novelty item that you or your parents occasionally rented from a video store (along with a couple of prerecorded movies to watch over the weekend), then you've lived through the biggest period of transformation the entertainment industry has undergone since commercial television caught on in the 1950s. " Read more.

The Netflix Neurosis

by Gabriel Sherman

In the mental iconography of the New York culture junkie, the Netflix queue has joined the line of must-have life accouterments. The kind of person who fixates on arranging just the right titles on his built-in bookcases or artfully stacking back issues of Granta and The New York Review of Books now spends countless hours searching the Netflix Web site. His Netflix neuroses requires him to add to his queue all the high-end movies that he never got around to catching at the theater—if not necessarily to watch them. Read more.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Protect the environment--use Netflix!

If Netflix members, instead of receiving movies by mail, drove two miles each way to a rental store, they would consume 250,000 gallons of gasoline per day and release 750,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Breaking even

I managed to get nine discs from Netflix in September, at an average cost to me of $2.61 each. That is a good value. Netflix saves me the 40 minutes of driving to and from the store twice, the hour it takes to find what I want in the store, and the headache of due dates.

My local Blockbuster and Hollywood Video stores charge about $3.75 each plus 7% tax, but Video Review charges just $2.79 for DVDs and $1.99 for VHS. If you live in the Greensboro, NC area, I recommend Video Review , an independent video rental store with two locations and a tremendous selection of rare classics and new releases. As long as there are still so many titles unavailable on DVD, I will continue to go to Video Review for their extensive library of VHS.

DVD collectors thrill to the chase, not the viewing

Via AZCentral.com:
Adam Graham
The Detroit News
Oct. 5, 2004 12:00 AM

"'We're a society of collectors. We just want to own stuff,' says Scott Hettrick, editor in chief of Hollywood-based DVD Exclusive magazine. 'It's a social phenomenon capitalizing on a very common part of human nature - the want to own things and buy things.'

Hettrick says consumers form a strong personal connection with DVDs.

'People have more passionate personal feelings about movies and TV shows than a lot of other things,' he says. 'People start to identify with characters in movies and TV shows, and they feel like the movies or the characters really speak to them. They somehow touched a nerve. It can be as simple as the music in 'The Breakfast Club' bringing back some sort of nostalgic feelings, and they want to own that somehow and have a piece of it.'"

Studies show people are buying movies, rather than renting them, more than ever. In the first half of this year, sales of DVDs and VHS tapes were up 23 percent over the same time last year, while rentals of VHS and DVDs fell 19.1 percent, according to data complied by DVD Exclusive.