Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Netflix: FAQ du jour: Expected Arrival Dates

"Q: Why are the expected arrival dates different for movies shipped on the same day?
A: We try to ship you movies from your closest shipping center. If a particular movie is not available at your closest shipping center, we will ship it to you from another location. This can increase delivery time, and therefore, it may have a different expected arrival date."

Monday, June 28, 2004

Netflix Closes Center in Stamford, Conn.

You who live in New England might already have noticed this, but Netflix has closed the Stamford, CT distribution center, according to an archived article in the Stamford Advocate published 5/25/04. Netflix spokesman Brinton says you are now being served by the DC in Queens (Flushing, NY).

Most popular online movie sites

Of the top online movie sites, Netflix is third, behind Yahoo and IMDB.

Netfix's web site design

How Netflix redesigned their Web site in August 2003: here's an analysis from the archives of eleganthack blog.

Late fees

This old article is interesting because of the surprising statistic regarding late fees:

"[Netflix] found that 11 percent of movie renters return movies unwatched because of the time restrictions and that 20 percent pay, on average, about $7.60 in late fees for every tardy DVD rental. "

That's rough. For one in five of us, we're paying $11.00 to rent a DVD for a week from Blockbuster. One in ten of us doesn't get to see the movie at all!

Valuing Netflix subscribers

Netflix's enterprise value is $1.3 billion, valuing its subs [that's subscribers, as in, you and me] at $1,000 per head.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Manuel's Netflix Site Has Been Updated

Manuel has made a Web site detailing his experience renting anime from Netflix. He lives in the Detroit area. He's been a member since August 2003 and as of June 2004, he's received 312 discs, eight of which were damaged and two mislabelled.

Defying the Naysayers

If you've been keeping up with all the predictions about Walmart, Blockbuster, and VOD driving Netflix out of business, here are a few reasons to bet on Netflix:

Strong Internet brand
Economics of DVDs
Economics of VOD

Friday, June 25, 2004

Today's Featured Competitor: Clean Films

Family-edited films on DVD available to rent online
Delivered to your door by mail
Free shipping and handling both ways
No late fees
All you can rent for a flat monthly fee of $19.95 (two-out plan)
Cancel any time
Free 15-Day trial
Appears to be located in Utah
Same titles available for purchase

I couldn't find out how many titles they have, but I guess about 3000. The library is small because the films have to be edited first.

Family Edited Movies are backup copies of popular Hollywood DVD titles that have been edited to remove nudity and sexual situations, offensive language, and graphic violence.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

90,000 DVDs. No shelves.

A Netflix hub reveals a rhythmic flow of DVDs, bar codes, and Band-Aids.
From: Fast Company Issue 74 September 2003, Page 38
By: Lucas Conley


There are no Nerf balls or cappuccino makers at the Worcester hub. More striking, given the hub's stock of 90,000 DVDs, there are no shelves. "I came from a traditional warehousing background," says O'Handley. "I was like, 'Okay, I want Shrek ; I'm going to go to slot S-407 . . . right?' " He smiles at his innocence. "Not so."


Instead, an ingenious daily dance takes place. Each morning at 8:00, the U.S. Postal Service (cheaper and quicker than the alternatives, incredibly) drops off "pumpkin carts," orange bins with thousands of returned DVDs from all over New England. Operators scan the discs, collecting returns data, which computers at Netflix's San Jose headquarters match to new orders. After lunch, the Worcester operators rescan every disc in their inventory; with each scan, they act on instructions from San Jose to "Ship Disc," if a customer wants the film, or "Scan Tomorrow," if not.


Regarding postage:
Presorting saves Netflix six to seven cents per DVD, O'Handley says.




Silent Film warning

There should be a warning on the silent films in the Netflix movie listings so that people will know what to expect. I'm sorry that this member (S.S.) was disappointed (from the member's review on Netflix):
"I expected this to be a B/W movie, but i did not expect for music to be playing over the actors actions and periodic flashing of text on the screen to be read. There is no spoken dialog for this movie. I turned off within 15 minutes."

The film reviewed is Uncle Tom's Cabin, made in 1927, before the sound era began. It is great that Netflix has opened up a whole new era of film-viewing for people who might otherwise never get to see such an historically significant film like this one.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Solidarity

I'm hurt that my friend Mike at Hacking Netflix got rebuffed by the PR folks at Netflix when he requested an interview or press access or something. You're not alone, Mike.

Naughty Netflix

Twice in one month, Salon posts an editorial about Netflix! Using the relationship metaphor again! Do these people think in terms of anything else but sex?

Netflix FAQ du jour: Available Now, but not shipped--Why?

"Q: The top movie in my Rental Queue says Available Now but I was sent a different movie. Why?
A: We make every effort to ship you as many of your first choice movies as possible, but our inventory levels are constantly fluctuating. The movie that is shipped is the movie that is available at the time of shipping."

Change of plans

I have changed from the 5-out to the 3-out plan, for a couple of reasons.

#1 I have other things to do. It's summer where I live. Social opportunities abound. I haven't been able to keep up with my viewing. If you can't watch 'em, don't rent 'em! Last month, I watched only 12, and so far this month, only 7. The 5-out plan requires I watch a minimum of 10 per month to break even with the brick-and-mortar stores, IMHO.

#2 I have other things to do, two. There's an historic theatre here in Greensboro that's begun an Orson Welles series AND an independent film series, so I'm there twice a week. And there are films opening almost every week that I want to see in the first-run theatres. (Spiderman, anyone?). I haven't even seen Harry's 3rd yet!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Hacking NetFlix : Great Video Industry Overview in USA Today

I'm blogging a friend's blog of an article. Is that allowed?

I like the way he summed it up:

Studios make more from videos than they do from theater box offices. Last year, people paid $8.2 billion to rent videos and $16 billion to buy them, compared with $9.5 billion to see movies at the theater.

Equally impressive, studios in the first half of 2004 licensed 20 movies to VOD in 30 days or less. That's up from 14 in all of 2003 and three in 2002. This year's fast-to-VOD films include X2: X-Men United, American Wedding, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Mystic River.

That's why he [Blockbuster CEO John Antioco] doesn't think studios will continue to shorten the period retailers have in which to offer hit movies before they appear on cable, satellite and the Internet. If they did, retailers and consumers would buy fewer DVDs. Because studios make about $2 on each VOD showing, they'd need about eight rentals to make up for just one $15 DVD sale lost.


Thanks Mike!

Video-on-demand in constant flux

Video-on-demand in constant flux

Three reasons that VOD could become a reality in a year or two:

More outlets: Starz, Tivo, Netflix, etc
More in-home capacity: Broadband and digital video recorders are growing
More content: Studios are opening up

Monday, June 21, 2004

Further analysis of reasons Netflix wants you to receive more discs

Form 10-Q

This information is from the Form 10-Q which Netflix filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission at the end of the first quarter of 2004. "Subscriber churn" is the term used to describe how many subscribers quit the service or fail to sign up following the end of their free trial. Lower subscriber churn is their goal, because it reduces marketing expenses and increases revenue.

increase in subscriber churn may signal a deterioration in the quality of our service, or it may signal an unfavorable behavioral change in the mix of new subscribers. Lower subscriber churn means higher customer retention, faster revenue growth and lower marketing expenses as a percent of revenues for any given level of subscriber acquisition.



"Subscriber acquisition cost" is the term for how much it costs Netflix to find and keep its customers, through advertising and promotions. They want to keep this low. It's cheaper to keep you as a customer than to try to find a replacement for you if you quit, which is why they want you happy. If you rent alot of discs, you'll be happy (if you watch and enjoy them, of course).

For example, disc usage may increase, which depresses our gross margin. However, increased disc usage may result in higher subscriber satisfaction, which reduces subscriber churn and increases word-of-mouth advertising about our service. As a result, marketing expense may fall as a percent of revenues and operating expenses margins rise, offsetting the impact of a reduction in gross margin.


It is also in their interest to increase the number of titles they distribute, because it makes you happy, you share the good news with your friends, and Netflix spends less on advertising.


We can also make trade-offs between our DVD library investments which have an inverse relationship with subscriber churn and subscriber acquisition cost. For example, an increase in our DVD library investments may improve customer satisfaction and lower subscriber churn, and hence increase the number of new subscribers acquired via word-of-mouth. This in turn may allow us to accelerate our subscriber growth for a given level of marketing spending.


These factors give me reason to disbelieve that Netflix would deliberately slow down the number of discs you receive under any circumstances. I realize this is contrary to the popular findings of DVD Rent Test, but it shows there would be no financial incentive for them to provide poor customer service.

I have observed a periodic slowdown in turnaround of discs, but I think there is an explanation other than that they are doing it on purpose. My theory is that disc delivery times experiences occasional slowdowns as Netflix adjusts to rapid growth. When a new distribution center opens, there is rapid overnight growth in the number of local subscribers, which puts a powerful strain on the new DC with its new, inexperienced staff and management. I think we should give them time to adjust. You'll see that your disc turnaround times will return to normal in about a month, if you hang in there.

CustomFlix DVD Duplication, DVD Replication, On-Demand Video Publishing

CustomFlix DVD Duplication, DVD Replication, On-Demand Video Publishing

Netflix partner

"Our brand is about freedom"

From September 2003, here's evidence Netflix is not deliberately slowing down delivery of DVDs. It would work against them if they did.

InternetRetailer.com - Now playing: Netflix shows how to be new-age web entrepreneur:

Hastings insists that Netflix is not concerned about the number of DVDs it has to ship to subscribers each month, because he figures that large numbers of shipments will lead to more subscribers. "Our brand is about freedom to watch as many movies as you want, freedom from late fees," Hastings says. "For us to continue to succeed, we have to embody that freedom for consumers. The more DVDs our customers watch, the more they enjoy our service, the more they tell their friends about it and the longer they stay on as subscribers."

Two years ago, he notes, the average length of time a customer remained a subscriber was one year. "Now it's about 1-3/4 years," Hastings says. "The longer the better."

Friday, June 18, 2004

Netflix isn't holding out on you

FORTUNE SMALL BUSINESS
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
By Alan Cohen

In its four years Netflix has tweaked the inventory-management software so that new orders are automatically generated even as the old orders are returned, and all 12 distribution centers can be polled before a customer is told that the movie he wants next is out of stock.


Of course, we have 29 distribution centers now. I propose the following theory:

Short Wait: means out of stock at your local distribution center (maybe they can make more copies)
Long Wait: out of stock at all of your regional distribution centers (and they can't make any more copies)
Very Long Wait: out of stock at ALL distribution centers nationwide (they definitely can't make any more copies).
Very Long Wait and Out Of Print: Their deal with the studio forbids them to purchase or release any more copies.

It has made revenue-sharing deals with 50 film distributors (including most of the major studios), giving it its large inventory of 12,000 titles, dwarfing the 7,000 to 8,000 available at Blockbuster's largest stores. (That does come at a price: Netflix shared 19.2% of its subscription revenues with partners in the second quarter.)


This is the first place I've seen an actual figure given for the percentage of revenue sharing Netflix is doing. All of the legal documents (go to findlaw.com and search for "Netflix") have that information hidden (confidentiality requested).

Reed Hastings wants you to rent more discs from Netflix:
"The people who watch just two movies a month may realize that they don't use us enough to justify the price." So he has steadily been investing time and money to boost rental rates (the average Netflix customer rents five movies a month).

British Expansion starts in September

Netflix unveiled plans here [Australia] for an overseas expansion. It will launch an identical service in Britain in September, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told AFP.


With its strong movie culture, Europe is a great "stepping-off point" to expanding elsewhere, he added, saying that Australia with its rental-friendly market is "where I want to go next".

Netflix, which set the online mail-order ball rolling, now has a two-million-strong subscriber-base in the United States and expects this to rise to three million by the end of this year.


Rather surprisingly, Netflix claims it encounters few problems with DVDs not arriving at their destination or arriving damaged. The vast majority of subscribers are also apparently honest as there are few cases of DVDs never being posted back.


That's the second time I've read in a foreign news source that they are surprised at the honesty of Netflix subscribers. Hear the skepticism?



Netflix movie downloads TESTING to begin "this year"

DVD renter Netflix Inc., which distributes DVDs by mail, has said it would begin testing movie downloads this year.

Netflix measures Reagan-related spike

Web Feeding Need for News About Reagan

Netflix reported a near immediate 1,100% increase in demand for Reagan documentaries and films that starred the former actor. His most popular movie at the rent-by-mail service is "Hellcats of the Navy," in which he starred with future wife Nancy Davis

Netflix is Number One Advertiser on the Web

Of course, if you surfed more than a minute, you'd know that!

Nielsen//NetRatings AdRelevance Top 10 Advertisers
Month of May 2004
Top advertisers, ranked by impressions, are based on data from AdRelevance, Nielsen//NetRatings'
advertising research service. An impression is counted as the number of times an ad is rendered for
viewing.
Top 10 Advertisers by Company
Advertiser*
Impressions
(000)
1. Netflix, Inc. 1,897,135
2. Dell Computer Corporation 1,840,362
3. YourGiftCards.com 1,756,991
4. Fun Web Products 1,642,216
5. InterActiveCorp 1,588,350
6. Apollo Group, Inc. 1,286,663
7. SBC Communications, Inc. 1,252,500
8. LowerMyBills.com, Inc. 1,236,348
9. Freeze.com 1,142,898
10. Ameritrade Holding Corporation 1,111,579

Tartuffe Follow-up

I must say that Netflix handled this problem with a defective Tartuffe very well. Immediately upon reporting the disc as damaged, they fired off a replacement, which I'd requested. I hadn't received it after 5 days, so I reported it lost. That very day, I received it. I went ahead and watched and returned it. However, they have a second replacement already on the way (which will arrive Monday), which I wish I could cancel. Meanwhile, they've received the "lost" one. Even though I've had the same movie shipped to me again unnecessarily, I appreciate the effort.

It was worth getting the replacement disc, because I enjoyed the second track, which was a documentary called "The Way To Murnau". Very informative.

In six months and 95 discs, my only other problems have been with the mislabelled Last of the Mohicans and a defective copy of The Passion Of Ayn Rand. I should write them to let them know they should add "The Way To Murnau" to the DVD description. Someone might want to rent it for that feature.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Netflix poetry

Busy

I don't have time to talk to you,
I have to add things to my queue.
As soon as I have watched a few
I have to add a film or two.


Lazy

For a film I do not have to go
In the car to the video sto'
Instead I just queue
A film title or two
By mail it will come to my do'

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

29 Distribution Centers!

Netflix adds Las Vegas shipping center to the list. Here are the others:

Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Greensboro, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Louisville, Minneapolis, New York, Newark, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Richmond, Rochester, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa and Washington, DC.

The same press release says they have 20,000 titles and 2 million customers.

Walmart banner ad *updated

I've finally received a banner ad on my Yahoo! from Walmart.

*update: I had to remove the link to the banner ad because it squished my blog. If you want to see it, I'll send it to you.

Greencine availability system




Three of mine are orange and and eight are green.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Reuters: Early Adopters adopt Netflix

This might warrant a big duh!

According to this Reuters article, early adopters are subscribing to Netflix at three times the rate of the population, and as the early adopters go, so goes the the general population (eventually).

MSN poll results

MSN did a poll (sorry I missed it) that is now closed, but the results show that 51% of respondents prefer to rent DVDs by mail (subscription), vs. 49% who prefer pay-per-view (cable, satellite, or video store).

Monday, June 14, 2004

Exodus no more

Exodus.net, the web hosting service used by Netflix, was bought by Savvis. I had the following conversation with them:

Dan.Walter: Welcome to our live online chat. I work in Savvis' Herndon, VA location and would like to help answer any questions you have about Savvis.
Becky: I`m just curious if you are still the company that hosts Netflix.com. They were with Exodus, so does that mean you guys bought Exodus.net?
Dan.Walter: Savvis purchased Exodus as part of our Cable and Wireless North America acquisition a few months back
Becky: Then does that mean Netflix is one of your customers?
Dan.Walter: why do you ask?
Becky: I`m just curious. I read an article about it. I`m looking for a place to put my web site.
Dan.Walter: Some of our customers sign non-disclosure agreements with us prior to hosting…






Favorite things about Netflix

This link goes to my most recent list on Listology.com.

Could I be any more embarrassed?

Don't Trip
You will be smothered under a rug. You're a little
anti-social, and may want to start gaining new
social skills by making prank phone calls.


What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Netflix on Sun Systems

InfoWorld: Directing expansion: September 27, 2002: By Jack McCarthy: E-business Strategies I realize this arcane detail from 9/27/02 might appeal to very few of you, but I like that Netflix appears to be a Microsoft-free zone.
Osier says he is staying with the basics by using Sun servers for the Netflix front-end and back-end infrastructures as well as Linux servers where possible. He is also continuing Netflix's five-year relationship with Exodus, the Internet hosting service.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Tivo + Netflix?

Tivo connects PC to the Internet. I would like this idea, if they would get together with Netflix. Netflix is planning to provide Video on Demand (VOD) over the Internet. If they had an appliance like Tivo's digital video recorder (DVR), then you wouldn't have to watch your movies on your computer, but you could download them from Netflix and watch them on your TV. Netflix has the content. Tivo has the hardware. Two great tastes that taste great together.

Karaoke movie

Blackmail (1929) is a British movie which was made on the cusp of the sound era. Hitchcock, who was the only British silent film director who didn't stink, decided to make it into a talkie midway through filming. His lead actess had a foreign accent, so he dubbed her voice by having a British actress speak the lines while Anny Ondre moved her lips. She plays a blond murderer who is a victim of blackmail by a voyeur. There's a scene in the dining room in which the woman, her boyfriend, and the blackmailer are all together, and the tension is just dreadful. The sound technology is primitive, but when you need it, the dialogue is there. If you like Hitchcock's later stuff, I recommend this one. You'll be amazed how consistent his quality was.

Netflick

Via salon.com:

"In the vocabularies of many culture snobs, 'to Netflick' has become synonymous with 'to rent,' as in, 'Yeah, I Netflicked the "Freaks and Geeks" box set this week.' I know people who have gone buck-wild on their Netflix queues, stockpiling the maximum of 500 DVD titles for future viewing and dreamily pasting their queues to Internet message boards."

author


Netflix Suite MT plugins *update

Here's a collection of Moveable Type plugins that you can use to display your Netflix queues on your blog or Web site. I do not use Moveable Type, so I am out of luck.


*update Here's another link for this plugin. The above link didn't work for me today.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Netfix operations discussion group

You may have noticed that the Netflix operations discussion group has died down a little. I think that's because you and I are content with the service we're getting. People are more likely to complain than to praise.

We seem have an influx of new members whenever Netflix enjoys an increase in visibility or membership, which is fine. Our fortunes are linked to theirs.

We might also be ending up in your spam box :).

If you know anyone who has a Netflix business-related photo, please share it with the group. We're also interested in any changes to the service you might have noticed.

Thanks,
Becky
a.k.a. Netflixfan

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

June Wait Statuses--Netflix

The only title on this list that had a wait status in May is Forgotten Silver, which was Long Wait then. I haven't experienced any actual wait times for any movies, because none of them was at the top of my queue. There are 490 titles in my queue (which you can see on Listology, so if these indicators are accurate, there are about 10% waiting.

Forbidden Planet (Very Long Wait & Out of Print)
The Sentinel (Very Long Wait & Out of Print)
The Verdict (Short Wait)
Forgotten Silver (Very Long Wait)
Topsy-Turvy (Very Long Wait & Out of Print)

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Netflix Widget

Called MyFlix. "This Widget retrieves your Netflix.com movie rental queue list and displays the DVD box art on your screen in a Mac OS X-like dock bar."

For Mac OS X. I had to use the cookie from Mozilla's Camino to get it to work. Cool.

Mary Pickford-A Life On Film

I just finished viewing a biographical documentary about Mary Pickford produced by her foundation, which I rented from Greencine, because it wasn't available on Netflix. She was a magnificent woman. They ran out of superlatives describing her. To show you what a sap I am, I cried when she died at the end! It made me want to go back and see every movie she was ever in. Amazing woman.

I've seen all but one of her films that are available on DVD, including the Biograph shorts.

Netflix and P.O.V. Provide Immediate DVD Access to Award-Winning Documentary Films

This is a deal with the public TV documentary show, P.O.V., that allows Netflix to distribute the documentaries by DVD the day after they air.

Google Answers: Want to find out ownership info on Netflix

Link expires 17-Jun-2004.

I'm sorry this person had to pay $3.50 to Google for info that's listed out in the open on Netflix.com. If you want it, it's in the Press Room section of the Web site.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Greencine Widget *updated

Mac OS X tool. Let's you view your Greencine queue on your desktop. Only shows what's checked out, not what's next in your queue.

*I posted this link before I really had a chance to check it out, but it's cool. I had to download a program called Konfabulator before I could use it. The Greencine Widget is like a plugin that works with the Konfabulator. It lets your Greencine queue stay on your desktop like an icon or floating window.

You can get other widgets, too, that do all sorts of things. Mac OS 10.2 or later required.

"Netflix" used as a verb...

...as in "to Netflix" something, as in the above-linked example "So if you're interested at all, Netflix one and check it out." I've heard it used as a noun, synonymous with DVDs, as in "Do you want to come over? I've got alot of Netflix at home."

Googling Greencine

Greencine's brand is so weak, that Google keeps trying to correct its spelling to "greenline". No such problem with the Netflix brand.

Tartuffe

I received a damaged copy of Tartuffe from Netflix this week. It wouldn't load when I inserted it into the DVD player. On second attempt, it loaded, but froze on the top menu. I found a submenu, but it played only one title of a two-title disc. Second title couldn't be found, even when I used the search feature. I was able to watch the first title, which is Tartuffe, but there was supposed to be an extra which looked to be a documentary, called Finding Murnau or something. I reported it damaged on the Netflix Web site, and I've marked the DVD sleeve. We'll see if I get a suitable replacement, eh?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Greencine vs Netflix

I think if Netflix could create the community feeling that Greencine has, with its articles and blogs, then they would lose some of that corporate feel. Alot of the criticisms I've been reading on the Web lately deal with that. They no longer see Netflix as a dot-com startup success story, but as an omnipresent corporate machine. One of the pluses of Netflix, for me, has been its intimacy with the user. I have felt like I had the video store to myself. Greencine has a dreadful user interface, but I concede they win more points in the warm fuzzies area.

FunMac Forums - Netflix Freak --> Greencine?

There might be a Greencine version of the Netflix Freak? Anyone seen it?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Nettle: One User's Experience: The GreenCine Review

Interesting comparison of users' experiences with Greencine versus Netflix. Many positive Netflix comments.

The primary difference I see is that Greencine apparently buys their DVDs off the shelf, so they can't afford as many copies, which allows for great diversity but low availability. However, Netflix has revenue-sharing agreements for their inventory, so they can make as many copies as they need.

I say Netflix is NOT a "monolith" as one user put it. It was itself a startup not so long ago. I do not fault it for its success nor favor Greencine for being "the little guy". They both have profit as their main motive, or else they wouldn't be charging, now would they?

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

My Netflix Profile

You have to review at least two films on Netflix in order to receive a profile. Your profile is customizable. It's also anonymous, unless you blab like I'm doing. I'm MaryPickford.

Netflix Freak 1.2 update

I use this little shareware app all the time, mainly to have a handy archive of my queue history, since Netflix keeps only 90 days online. I've used Netflix Freak to put my titles in chronological order. It also stores notes or comments I make about each film, so I use it to keep track of when I've put a DVD in the mail.

Most profitable month so far...

...for Netflix! The month of May marks the first time since I signed up that Netflix has made any money off of me. I rented 12 titles on the 5-out plan, which I reckon averages $2.50 per. That's still a bargain, and I've been getting quality stuff.