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

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.


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


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


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:

DVD Avenue
Cafe DVD Rentals
Canada Flix

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

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 ."