Friday, July 30, 2004

Businessweek interview with Reed Hastings

Q. How serious is the threat from Blockbuster now?
A. ...we certainly do take the Blockbuster threat seriously. The difference is that we've got five years of experience. We're shipping nearly a million movies a day, so we've got tremendous operational perfection in what we do. We've had a lot of practice at it. We have overnight delivery to nearly 90% of our subscribers.
Q. ...is Netflix worth the extra $2?
A: Netflix is worth the extra $2 because the service has consistent overnight service to 90% of our subscribers, we have great recommendations, we've got a well-developed and mature site, and the service works extremely well. All people have to do is ask their friends who are using Netflix to see that. We think consumers will prefer the service that is well developed and mature at a slight price premium, which is $22.

Friday movie update

I went over to the dark side last night. I went to the Hollywood Video store. I had coupons: .99 each for five-day rentals and I could rent three movies per coupon. They expire tomorrow. I had to use one! I rented Hellboy, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, and Bubba Ho-Tep. Hellboy was the only one not on my Netflix queue. I wanted to get Before Sunrise, so I could see Before Sunset this weekend, but I was distracted by the "New Releases" before I got that far. I'll be returning Hellboy and Aileen tonight.

Aileen was very disturbing. I pitied her far more than I would have pitied a male serial killer. The movie portrayed her as a product of her upbringing, rather than a monster. She even says in the movie that she was not "special enough" to qualify as a true serial killer.

Hellboy is a demon, raised by humans, who goes straight. He becomes a superhero, working for the FBI. That unconventional premise, and a quirkie sense of humor, keep it from being an ordinary superhero movie.

That's funny. I just noticed the coincidence that I viewed two movies about demons in the same evening.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Investors Sue Netflix Over Churn Rate

This sounds to me like a bunch of money-grubbing lawyers trying to exploit Netflix's success on behalf of greedy speculators, but you can read all about it yourself. Investors as a class are suing Netflix for "material misrepresentations to the market which had the effect of artificially inflating the market price." Good grief. You can join the class if you qualify.

Greencine sets new record

Greencine ships from San Francisco. I live in Greensboro, NC. I just received today, Wednesday, July 28, a disc they shipped at 6 PM on Monday, July 26. That's a record. They've taken a week to get here, in the past. However, there were two discs shipped that day, and I received only one.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Live in Pennsylvania? Want to work for Netflix?

Volt Services is a temp agency with an office in Pottstown, PA. They're advertising for an "operations associate" to work in the Phoenixville, PA Netflix distribution center. This job was posted July 6.

Intertitle-o-Rama

Intertitle-o-Rama Y'all know I'm on a silent film kick right now, don't you? It's all part of my quest to see the best movies of the 20th Century. I've already seen about 80 of them, all made before 1929, via Netflix. Here's a site that provides quotes, some bizarre, some hilarious, from the intertitles of silent films. The intertitles are the text-filled screens that periodically interrupt the action to tell you the dialog or give you some narration.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Googlism for: Netflix

Just for fun, I went to Googlism to find out what Google thinks of Netflix. Here's a sample:


netflix is a trailer park
netflix is growing
netflix is the best game in town
netflix is slow
netflix is a flat
netflix is one of our sponsors here at movies for guys
netflix is older
netflix is well positioned to capture at least some of the action
netflix is probably the godfather of all the online dvd rental sites
netflix is basically the biggest and best and has also been around the longest
netflix is agnostic about delivery channel

Monday, July 26, 2004

Canadian Netflix-clone is Today's Featured Competitor: VhqOnline.ca

VhqOnline.ca: Rent DVDs online in Canada - Free Trial!

Canadian Netflix Clone. Ships from Toronto and Vancouver. Good for you, eh?

7/27/04 Update: here's a link to a blog entry about more Canadian Netflixes.

Custom Printing Example: Netflix

Custom Printing - OnTheMark - Commercial & Professional Printing Services These guys print (or used to print) the clever red mailing envelopes for Netflix. According to Reed Hastings, they tried out hundreds of different designs before they came up with the patented one they use now.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Netflix Addict 0.4.1 Released

Netflix Addict is a Java application similar to Netflix Fanatic/Freak for Mac OS X. It gives Netflix users more control over their account with features such as drag and drop re-ordering of titles in their queue and title search and addition. I haven't had the chance to check it out. Send me a review, and I'll post it here.

Bookmarklet to randomize your queue

Here's a bookmarklet, a link which you can add to your Web browser's toolbar, that allows you to randomize your Netflix queue.

OscarWatch - Monitoring Buzz Throughout the Year

OscarWatch is one of my favorite sites. I'll be adding it to my sidebar. I like to keep an eye on the Academy Awards frontrunners. One of my goals each year is to see every single nominee.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

From the Dead Horse dept: Netflix Numbers Q1/2003 (Info Feed)

I'm afraid the better they are, the less profitable they will be: the more DVDs you rent, the happier you are with Netflix. However, the more discs you rent, the smaller their profits.

Netflix Numbers Q1/2003 (Info Feed): "It will be significant to see how this effect plays out going forward and whether the company will be able to strike a profitable balance."

Netflix Featured FAQ: Wait statuses definitions

Question

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
How can I tell if a movie is in stock and how soon it will be sent to me?



Answer

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To help you manage your Rental Queue, we provide inventory information for each item in your Rental Queue. Because inventory status fluctuates constantly, it is possible that the status may vary before the movie can be shipped.
Available Now: We have copies of this movie available for immediate shipment.

Short Wait: We don't have quite enough copies of this movie to meet all current demand, so we may not be able to ship it to you right now. We should have enough copies in the near future. The wait for this movie is generally less than 14 days.

Long Wait: There's considerably more demand than available copies for this movie. It's unlikely that we'll be able to send you this movie in the next week or two. The wait for this movie is generally less than 30 days.

Very Long Wait: There is very high demand, limited availability and/or a very long wait for this movie. The wait for this movie is generally less than 4 months, but could be longer, for example if the movie is out of print or we are otherwise unable to buy more copies.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Russian Cinema

I just finished watching the last silent Russian film on my Netflix queue, Storm Over Asia (1928) . Nearly all of the ones I've seen have to do with the Bolshevik Revolution, which makes them difficult to watch. I picked them because they are renowned for their cinematography and editing, mostly, because otherwise, they are just a lot of historically inaccurate Communist propaganda. They are all directed by one of two people: Sergei Eisenstein, who used alot of montage, juxtaposition, and shock cutting, and Vsevolod Pudovkin, who was an experimental surrealist. Pudovkin used surrealism to great effect in Storm over Asia, my favorite on this list, which also featured the most natural acting, in my opinion. Both directors used a lot of obvious symbolism. Most of the acting is in the exaggerated style of the Silent Era. I thought the only Western-style entertainment to be found on this list is Chess Fever, a satirical take on the Russian national obsession. These films are sensationalistic, manipulative, and contain an almost unremittingly bleak world view filled with harsh images of suffering. I am very glad to be finished with them!


Battleship Potemkin (1925) (Eisenstein)
Strike (1925) (Eisenstein)
Mother (1926) (Pudovkin)
Earth/End of St Petersburg/Chess Fever: Triple Feature (Pudovkin)
October (1927) (Eisenstein) and
Storm Over Asia (1928) (Pudovkin)




Monday, July 19, 2004

Today's Featured Competitor: GreenCine

Any of you try GreenCine? They ship from San Francisco, CA, so discs take about five days to get to me here on the East Coast. They "carry the best selection of off-the-wall indie and arthouse". I've found a couple titles there that Netflix didn't have. I use it as a backup of Netflix.
 
I think the only way to make Netflix better is to have competition. I'm a big fan of free market economics, because I believe competition lowers prices and improves quality. OK, that's two topics in one post. Bad blogger.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

I'm back!

This blog had a great vacation! I went to Chicago. Climbed the Sears Tower. Viewed not a single DVD. I appreciate your patience. I'm sorry I was not here for you.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Netflix Fan reader poll










Are you now or have you ever been a Netflix subscriber?
Yes
No
What's Netflix?


  

Free polls from Pollhost.com

On Vacation

This blog will be on vacation from July 11-17. Meanwhile, you may enjoy the reader poll. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Rate Netflix at Reseller Ratings

You can go to ResellerRatings and do a review of Netflix. You rate Netflix according to various factors, like Pricing of Products and Services, Likelihood of Future Purchases, Shipping and Packaging, Technical Support, and Return or Replacement. So far, they have only 20 reviews online.

New distribution center in Indianapolis

According to Jefflog, there is a new Netflix distribution center in Indianapolis, Indiana. There was no official announcement about this one opening, which leads me to believe it might be a relocation of one which has closed. I get the feeling, based on what I found out about the Stamford DC, that Netflix is closing and re-opening centers occasionally without any fanfare. This would account for the abrupt, inexplicable changes in local service levels.

Film canon

The reason for the endurance of theatrical movies along side the home video industry is that film-going is a social experience. It's the 20th century secular version of church. We share our culture corporately at the theatre. It gives us a common language and reference. We feel we must see the same movies everyone else has seen in order to share the culture. Film is the premiere art form of the 20th century.

I like the idea of a canon of must-see films that doesn't change (especially for the 20th century), if only to teach each generation to appreciate the progress, if any, that film has undergone, and to give them a common film language. To exclude from the canon those films which our predecessors found significant is ignorant and short-sighted. We must understand the historical context in which films were created. We need to know what the standards are in order to grasp when they've been exceeded. There's nothing new under the sun, except what's been forgotten.

I would encourage you to check out the classic films of the past, the AFI top 100, or the Academy Award winners or nominees. It will give you a feel for what our previous generations were thinking and experiencing. The 20th century was the most documented period in all history. Through film, we can experience history with amazing immediacy.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Snail Mail Still Winning The Bandwidth War

This is an old bit of news from Slashdot, but it's still relevant:

Posted by timothy on Mon Sep 23, '02 04:18 PM

LR_none writes "Today's New York Times has this short piece suggesting snail mail is the leading broadband technology, at least for video movies on demand. The article states that the 8 to 9 gigs of data on a DVD would take two weeks to download at 56kb, making Netflix' three-day distribution by mail seem speedy. (Since they can send three or more movies at once, Netflix compares favorably with DSL download speeds, too.) The author estimates Netflix alone distributes 1,500 terabytes a day, which is impressive considering the Internet carries 2,000TB a day (by estimates cited in the article). The 'immediate gratification' aspect of Internet consumerism has given a huge boost to companies like FedEx and UPS, but it's surprising to think of the post office as being the leading infrastructure provider for digital entertainment, in terms of market share and efficiency, for the forseeable future. (Disclaimer: I don't work for Netflix or the post office.)"

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Netflix FAQ: Availability vs. Priority

Netflix: "Question


Why was I not shipped my first movie although it is available now?



Answer


We are continually striving to make improvements to our delivery times. Since the first title in your queue was not available at the time we processed your next order, our system shipped the first available title in your Rental Queue from the distribution center nearest your location. This will allow you to receive your movies faster, in turn, improving the value of our service. We truly apologize for any inconvenience or frustration this may have caused. "

Monday, July 05, 2004

Constructive Complaining

This is a copy of a comment I made on one of my posts. I'm reposting this on the front page, because it might prove helpful to someone.

From what I've seen, the good experiences with Netflix outnumber the bad a thousand to one. However, if they are not performing up to standard, start with the customer service section of Netflix.com. That's what they are optimized for. Read the Frequently Asked Questions . If you want to write a letter, their address is in the Press Room section. Or you can try these suggestions from the Federal Government's Consumer Protection Agency
.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Changing our viewing habits

This commentary from the Motley Fool is trying to figure out who these crazy Netflix subscribers are:

We've seen them all:
"that 80% of Blockbuster's rentals come from its top 30 titles is not at all surprising when you consider that about 80% of the store is dedicated to new releases."

We couldn't afford to, before:
"according to company surveys, more than three of 10 subscribers watched fewer than three movies per month before signing up. As Netflix subscribers, they watch significantly more -- on the order of six to seven per month."

We would have seen them, if we could have found them:
"Netflix derives the majority of its business from older titles. A full 99% of its titles are rented in any given year. That means Netflix subscribers watch roughly 19,800 of the 20,000 titles that Netflix keeps in stock. The popularity of older titles among Netflix subscribers often matches or exceeds that of newer titles."

We're not just movie buffs. We're normal:
"More than half of all subscribers are more than 34 years old and earn less than $75,000 per year. More than 40% do not have a college degree. In other words, Netflix subscribers are mainstream."

Niche I Am

I will not rent them from a store:
I want to get them at my door.
I have broadband. I have a Mac--
But movie downloads I can't hack.
For legal films I want to pay,
Bring them here the Netflix way.
Miramax, Warner, Disney, others
If you want my renting dollars
Listen to the Netflix fan,
This is me, I'm Niche I am.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Do you have Netflixia?

Netflixia is the affliction which causes you to rent a movie that someone recommends to you, or because it's a great "classic", but then you hold onto the movie forever without watching it, feeling guilty the whole time. If the guilt becomes too great, you cancel your subscription. You are a Netflictim.