Thursday, September 30, 2004

Netflix and TiVo Officially Announce Deal

Netflix and TiVo Announce a Joint Development Agreement : "LOS GATOS, Calif., Sept. 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO) have signed an agreement to work together to develop a joint entertainment offering. Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will develop technology and will work with Hollywood studios to secure content for digital distribution.

As a result of the new agreement and in an effort to avoid any potential conflicts of interest that might develop, Mike Ramsay, chief executive officer of TiVo, submitted his resignation from the Netflix Board of Directors, effective September 29, 2004."

Netflix distribution center locations

Hacking NetFlix compiled this list of 29 Netflix shipping centers, as of September 29, 2004. (29 on the 29th. Hehe)

Baton Rouge, LA
Chicago, IL
Cleveland, OH
Columbia, SC
Coppell, TX
Denver, CO
Duluth, GA
Flushing, NY
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Gaithersburg, MD
Greensboro, NC
Houston, TX
Kansas City, MO
Lakeland, FL
Lansing, MI
Las Vegas, NV
Louisville, KY
Minneapolis, MN
New Brunswick, NJ
Phoenix, AZ
Pittsburgh, PA
Rochester, NY
Salem, OR
San Jose, CA
Santa Ana, CA
Southeastern, PA
St. Louis, MO
Tacoma, WA
Worcester, MA

United States Postal Service Reports Mail Theft Investigations

Two different incident reports from the Official USPS Web Site:

"On June 14, 2002, a former mail handler at the Tampa, Florida, Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years' supervised release, and restitution of $21,295 to Netflix, Inc. , an online DVD rental company that mails millions of DVDs to addresses throughout the country. After numerous complaints from Netflix about missing DVDs that customers claimed they had mailed back to the company, Postal Inspectors identified the postal employee in November 2001 for the crime. Inspectors recovered thousands of the company's DVDs while searching the subject's vehicle and residence, with losses exceeding $100,000. As a result of this investigation, Postal Inspectors are now working closely with Netflix on a national level to increase mail security."

"In June 2003, Netflix, Inc., a major retailer that rents DVDs via the U.S. Mail, asked Los Angeles Postal Inspectors for help when it encountered problems with mail theft. Inspectors tracked the cause to four Netflix employees who worked in the mailroom and an outside co-conspirator, who together were believed to have stolen more than 1,000 DVDs-plus another 403 on the day of their arrests. The employees opened the DVDs in the mailroom and placed them in the trash, then paid a collaborator to pick them up from Netflix's outside garbage dumpsters. They sold the stolen DVDs for $2 to $3 each. The employees lost their jobs, and prosecution is pending."

I recommend you report each lost DVD to your local Postmaster , just to protect yourself, in case it is part of a larger problem.

Top Oscar Failures

Here's a list of movies from the BBC news Web site that, although they were great, inexplicably failed to get a Best Picture Oscar (r), or even a nomination, in some cases, the year they were eligible.
Film critic and Radio Times columnist Barry Norman said: "Looking at this list really exposes the major voting mistakes Academy members have made over the years.

"Each of these films have left their own indelible mark on the face of movie history, but amazingly, all managed to go home empty-handed in the major categories on their respective Oscar nights."

Number one on the list is The Shawshank Redemption . Rent it from Netflix .

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Internet Beats TV

Plugged In Online has a new poll: if you could have only one media avenue in your home, which one would it be?

The winner so far is the Internet, beating out radio, TV, Recordings (DVDs, CDs,), and all print media.

Paid Movie Downloads Follow Digital Music's Lead

The NPD Group notes similarities between early days of music downloading and digital movie rentals today: "NPD data show that digital music customers tend to be heavier buyers of music CDs, and that pattern is echoed in digital movie rentals. Those consumers paying to rent digital movies from the Web are twice as likely to be heavy movie buyers (i.e., they purchased seven or more movies in the past three months) relative to consumers who acquire movies though PPV [pay-per-view] or VOD [video-on-demand]. In addition, 34 percent also reported being heavy renters (i.e., they rented seven or more movies in the past three months), which is significantly higher than those who used PPV or VOD. "

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Another example of great customer service

Via The Colonel Sanders Conspiracy Here's a screenshot of the message they received from Netflix when they tried to cancel the service. They offered him a better deal. This happened over a year ago, so it might not work now.

Infernal Affairs

I'm getting Infernal Affairs (2002), a Hong Kong action movie not yet released in the U.S., from Greencine, instead of Netflix, because Greencine has it now (short wait), and Netflix has it listed with "release date unknown". I think it's because Greencine buys imported copies, whereas Netflix has a deal with the American studios not to distribute it in the U.S. until it's legally available here.

George Lucas vs. the Stormtroopers

Is it fascism? Box Office Mojo has an interesting commentary regarding the recent brouhaha over George Lucas's "improvements" to the original Star Wars movies released on DVD. Scott Hollaran proposes that we as fans have no right to tell George Lucas what to do with his own movies. Lucas owns the movies; we do not. Rent Star Wars from Netflix
and see the changes for yourself.

European options for home flicks

As Netflix prepares to move into the U.K., this article details the online DVD rental options already available to Britain and Europe.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Akimbo Systems

Akimbo Systems: "Akimbo is proud to introduce the first high quality video on demand service over the Internet straight to your TV!" The Akimbo player, "matchmaker between your TV and the Internet", is the first device that allows you to download TV or movies from the Internet directly to your TV. You no longer have to watch downloaded programs on your tiny monitor, sitting at your computer desk.

Akimbo just made a deal with Turner Broadcasting to provide content from CNN, Cartoon Network, and others for download to their set-top box so you can watch these channels via the Internet, without having to have cable TV service.

This is the sort of thing that the Netflix/Tivo rumor is talking about.

Secrets of Netflix - How to Maximize your Netflix Rentals has posted an article with some great tips for using Netflix , essential for new subscribers.

Map of Netflix locations

Here's a map of Netflix locations.

Most searched movies

These are the top movies as being searched for on, collected via has some interesting ways to search for what's happening on blogs around the world.

End of an Era

I started with Netflix in January. Soon after, I decided to put my queue in chronological order. Since then, I've rented 118 discs from them. Out of those, about 90 were made before 1930, meaning they were made before the techniques of adding sound to film were effective. I have finally finished watching all the silent films in my queue.

Watching such a silent film is like reading a book, in some ways. The viewer must use her imagination to understand what's going on beneath the surface. It takes more concentration, because you must watch the faces, the hands, the background, very closely. The actors use a type of pantomime to convey emotions. If necessary, the filmmaker will interrupt the action with an intertitle periodically, which is a blank screen with brief text on it, for dialog or a scene description, to help you along. Otherwise, all the action takes place on screen. Because they can't tell you much, they have to show you. This makes the films more active and visual. Netflix has hundreds of silent film titles. I recommend you start with The Thief of Bagdad (1924)

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Play nice, and your DVDs will too

From the Everything I Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten Department:

Netflix has over two million subscribers. None of us wants to receive a damaged DVD, or one with fingerprints or scratches on it. Someone else had it before you did, and someone else will get it after you. 99% of the discs at your local distribution center go to someone else the next day. Please use care in handling your DVDs from Netflix. Here are a few tips:

Handle a DVD more carefully than a CD.

Do not bend or twist discs.

Handle discs only from the edges and the center hole.

Do not touch the disc surface.

Don’t stack discs.

Make sure the disc is properly seated in the tray before closing the door.

Single-sided discs should be inserted with the titles and artwork facing up.

Always store the disc in its sleeve.

Keep discs away from extreme heat or direct sunlight (don't leave them in the car).

Do not use any abrasive solvents or cleaning solutions (liquid soap or window cleaner works best).

Wipe discs gently in only a radial direction (a straight line between the hub and the rim) NOT in a circle.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Dog Eat Dog Video Market

From the Tahoe World - News

Some video stores are being eaten alive by the combined forces of DVD and Netflix. The Watchdog Video store in Tahoe City, Nevada just closed. However, other stores are enjoying an increase.
Steve Hanson, owner of Video Stop in Tahoe City and Video Maniacs in Incline Village, said "There's a slim margin of survivability in the video rental business," Hanson said. "Business is volatile, but stable."

Hanson said the impact of stores like Blockbuster and online rental businesses like Netflix affect local video stores - both positively and negatively.

"Businesses like Netflix give people easy access to DVDs, but they also create more publicity about movies in general," he said. "So basically, it offsets itself, and doesn't actually change my business."

The rising popularity of DVDs has affected business, Hanson said. "Starting in January, it was the first time where I was making more money on my new release DVDs than on my new release VHS tapes." Now, he says DVD rentals are up 35 percent more over VHS.

True, DVD rentals now have 75% of the market. If your corner store can't afford to convert their inventory to DVD, say goodbye.

New Netflix Poll on **Corrected

Please visit Listology and vote on how long it takes you to get your movies from Netflix. You'll have to sign up, but all it takes is an email address and a password. Very simple and anonymous.

**Correction: Jim at very kindly pointed out that you don't need an email address at all, just a made-up user name. Sorry about that!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Forbidden Planet (1956)

I removed Forbidden Planet from my Netflix queue, because I received it from Greencine instead. Netflix had it as "Very Long Wait-Out of Print" when I first added it to my queue. When I added it again, it was not available, with release date unknown. I don't know where Greencine got their copy, but it was in good shape. It had no special features. Maybe MGM is holding onto it in anticipation of a 50th anniversary re-release in 2006. Or maybe they sold it to Sony.

KLM to Offer Revolutionary In-Flight Entertainment Via APS; digEplayer Provides up to 64 Feature Length Movies For Passengers

Daily Business News reports that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will provide portable digital movie players to their passengers on which you can watch an available library of 64 titles!!

Or, you can bring your laptop and a few Netflix discs. Your choice.

Netflix, Warner Bros. in video-on-demand test

CNET reports that Netflix, Warner Bros. have an arrangement to test a new video-on-demand movie download service that Netflix is planning to begin providing next year. Sources at Tivo, Netflix, and Warner Brothers all deny the existence of such a deal, but "industry sources" report that Warner is allowing Netflix to use their movies to test the video-on-demand service they're working on.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

CBS News Reports Old News: Online Renting Grows

According to their Web site, "CBS News This Morning", a TV show I do not watch, aired a feature September 21, about the online renting phenomenon, covering handbags, videos, videogames, and even dogs. It included an undated video clip from an interview with Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, which was apparently about a year old. The reason I believe that it was old, is that he says Netflix has "14,000 titles", which is a figure they haven't used in ages. They reported having 15,000 titles over a year ago. The current figure is 25,000. The video is available on the "CBS News This Morning" Web site.

Box Office Express comes to Greensboro, NC

This is hometown news to me. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, my alma mater, has just installed a couple of Box Office Express machines in the student center and cafeteria, from which students can rent latest movie and game releases on DVD with the swipe of a credit card. Up 'til now, I've heard of these kiosks being available only in airports and Times Square, but now my city has them. They won't carry a very wide selection, so Netflix has nothing to fear :).

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Netflix Official Site Crashes

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Netflix Opens Three New Shipping Centers

Netflix Brings Faster Delivery to More Than Five Million Households With Three New Shipping Centers
LOS GATOS, Calif., Sept. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --
Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX - News), the world's largest online movie rental service, today announced the opening of three new shipping centers. New facilities in Pittsburgh, PA, Baton Rouge, LA and Columbia, SC now serve more than five million households in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, South Carolina and Mississippi.

Netflix has said it expects five percent of all U.S. households to become Netflix members by 2006, resulting in five million members and generating approximately $1 billion in revenue.

Netflix can reach more than 85 percent of its subscribers with generally one business-day delivery.

More reasons to rent, NOT buy

There is a battle afoot among the video industry regarding which format of high definition will prevail. They are trying to make you upgrade your equipment to HD, including your DVDs. Going from VHS to DVD was a big enough step, but going from ordinary DVD to HD-DVD, is it worth it?

Sony has its own version of HD, called Blu-Ray. The New York Post reports that the reason Sony acquired the MGM movie library, was so that they could flood the market with their Blu-Ray formatted titles, essentially forcing everyone else to adopt their HD standard. They want you to replace your entire library of DVDs with Sony-formatted versions of the same thing, only "high definition".
"Most people are not eager to upgrade all over again", says Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits newsletter.
Duh. Rent, don't buy. Don't let them milk you.

Netflix Official Site

Have you noticed that the Netflix ads on Google say "Netflix (r) Official Site"? It's because of all those pesky fan blogs masquerading as the Netflix site, that Netflix is afraid poor Googlers haven't been able to tell the difference! Or, it could be their affiliates' sites have been leading too many poor Googlers astray from the real site. Alas.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Star Wars is on DVD

By the way, Netflix doesn't list Star Wars as being a new release, but it's available on DVD now. If you wanted it to ship to you tomorrow, they should have received your latest returned disc today.

I wouldn't buy it, because George Lucas has fiddled with it too much, but I might rent it some day, just for laughs.

New trivia

Since I've known about Netflix for nine months now, I feel like an "expert", so I'm continually astonished at the online newspaper articles that report on Netflix like it's a brand-new phenomenon, like this one, from Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota.

Not alot of news here, but there are a couple of bits of new trivia to be found:
"We're in every state, in 3,000 cities," says Shannon Clouston, senior manager of corporate communications for Netflix
Last astonishing 15 percent of Netflix shipments included the title "The Whale Rider."
95% of all online DVD rentals come from Netflix.

Motion to be filed in Securities Action against Netflix, Inc. on September 20, 2004

Scott Scott, LLC, Announce That It Intends to File Lead Plaintiff/s Motion in Securities Action against Netflix, Inc. on September 20, 2004

I think this is a silly lawsuit, but I must alert you anyway, because there is the potential that one of my readers is a member of the class.

Friday, September 17, 2004

European squatter

Here's an Austrian German-language (correct me if I'm wrong--I don't speak German) Netflix imitator who appears to be trading on the Netflix brand. Naughty, naughty.

The Cult Brand

Ryan Saghir, in his article Building the Cult Brand, discusses how Netflix can market their business using us rabid fan-bloggers:
Mass Customization is key to connecting the consumer with the brand. We're not talking about Cookie-writing techniques for "the page you built", but instead consumer outreach efforts for fan sites, community sites and blogs. These sites are tenticles of communication from the company directly to the consumer. Companies can simply wind up the people behind these sites and let them go; creating unpaid workers who put more effort behind the product than employees do (think the "unofficial guy" from Wendy's). As companies nuture these sites with information, support, and especially empowerment, they gain hoards of cultlike masses following (and purchasing) their every move.
Sound like anyone you know? He goes on to ask
Why is there no cult for Blockbuster, yet one for Netflix? Because the Blockbuster experience is plain old horrible.
If you're interested in marketing, it's a fascinating article.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

One Month Trial is back up!! ***UPDATED

I don't get paid by Netflix to do this, but if you email me, I can get you a ONE MONTH FREE TRIAL with Netflix. If you click on the link in my sidebar, or here, or any of the underlined Netflixes, you will get just a TWO WEEK TRIAL. You must be aware that you will be billed when your trial ends, if you fail to cancel before your anniversary date comes around again.


The Internet at 35

Netflix is one of several good things about the Internet we can enjoy today. Did you know the Internet turned 35 this month?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Failed experiment

Y'all know I was on vacation last week. Well, I wanted my nephew to see The Black Pirate while I was out of town, so I changed my delivery address to his address, before Netflix sent it. I thought it would be a simple matter for Netflix to mail it to him rather than to me. Wrong! They still mailed it to my address. I think it's because I failed to change my billing address, too. They require your billing address and shipping address to be in the same zip code. Perhaps I could have gotten away with it, eh? If you try this experiment, let me know the results.

I can gloat, can't I?

Astute observer Anonymous, who said "Man, you had this idea long before it was announced", points out that I proposed the idea (now a rumor in Newsweek) of a partnership between Tivo and Netflix back in June. I hope all the hype doesn't jinx it. I think it's a great idea (if I do say so myself).

Monday, September 13, 2004

11 Things to Do With Your Netflix Account

Thanks to Luke for the tip: has a nice list of suggestions for your Netflix queue, in case you've run out of ideas.

Hacking NetFlix : Netflix Launches RSS Feeds

Mad props to Hacking NetFlix for staying on top of things while I was incommunicado. RSS feeds are something for which we Web-heads have been clamoring, so praise be to Netflix for making it happen! Y'all subscribe, now, y'hear?

P.S. If you're wondering where I was, I went to Dragon*Con Labor Day weekend, then Boston, the following few days, for the Lord of the Rings exhibit at the Museum of Science. I was a total geek for a week.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Shanafelt Sector Reviews Peerflix & Number Slate

Thanks to HackingNetflix for this link.
Mike over at the Shanafelt Sector, he does a great job reviewing Peerflix and Number Slate. Mike takes an extremely in-depth look at two smaller Netlfix alternatives and he shares his experiences with us.

They both work by relying on users to mail the discs to each other, rather than using a centralized shipping warehouse.
If you're thinking about cheating on Netflix, er, trying out an alternative, I suggest you check out Mike's review first.

Self-serve videos in NYC

From the New York Times (registration required):
The store will resemble a bank lobby full of vending machines that renters can use to select a movie or video game.

Besides convenience and a large selection, Mr. de Laforcade is betting that customers will be attracted to the self-service store by the price. Movies will cost 99 cents for six hours or $2.50 for 24 hours with a free membership card. Users can also reserve a movie in advance on the company's Web site,, and the video will be blocked from other customers at the store for three hours. In addition, customers can sign up online to get an instant message or an e-mail when a movie that is not available is returned to the store's inventory.