Tuesday, May 31, 2005

How other services compare to Netflix

I have used Netflix, Blockbuster Online, Greencine, and Nicheflix for online DVD rentals.

The best is . They are the most dependable: fastest turnaround, largest selection, and best Web site. They have the best blogger-fans, too :). The Netflix blog is written by the excellent James Rocchi.

would be my second choice, but they always have availability problems. I am testing BBo for comparison. No more than two-thirds of my queue has ever been "available now". I can get mainstream hits from them, but the four art titles in the top slots of my queue have been "long wait" since January. I never know what to expect from them; they never send titles in queue order. The closest distribution center is Charlotte, NC, about 90 miles away, making delivery time about two days or more.

is really good for titles that are unavailable on DVD in the United States. They specialize in multi-region discs, which require a special DVD player. Their distribution center is in Indiana, about 500 miles away, so delivery time is three days or more. They don't ship in queue order, because of availability issues. I like their Web site, but anything other than title searching requires using the "advanced search" feature, which is inconvenient. I can't be sure the discs will be in English or have English subtitles, so I have to check the Web site carefully before ordering.

has availability problems. Their only advantage is that they offer out-of-print titles on DVD. Their only distribution center is in California, 3000 miles away, so delivery time is 4 or 5 days. I like their Web site, because in addition to personal recommendations and member lists (like Netflix), they have Movie Primers and Featured Top Lists. They have a cool blog.

If you are looking for a title that has been released on VHS, but never on DVD, has an online rental option. They also sell and rent VHS tapes, DVDs, and books online. I can't evaluate their online DVD rental service, but their online VHS service is pretty good. They require you to email or call, but I've experienced excellent customer service.


  1. I disagree that the only advantage of Green Cine is that it carries some out of print dvd titles. Green Cine carries a much more complete collection of some types of in-print foreign films than Netflix does, such as Japanese anime and Indian films. I've found a number of titles for French, Spanish, Australian, and other foreign films, and for some classic American films, available at Green Cine that were not carried by Netflix, Blockbuster, or Walmart. Green Cine also seems to be strong in terms of some other genres that I rarely watch (e.g., B movie horror films). The Green Cine blog is very helpful and well-researched, and the company contributes a share of its profits to film preservation and film festivals in the San Francisco area. There is no limit to the number of films one can put in a Green Cine queue, and the company is quite good about adding titles that subscribers request.

    If you are a cinephile who loves foreign movies and can afford to maintain two dvd-by-mail subscriptions, I would recommend Green Cine over the alternatives other than Netflix. I would not give up my Netflix subscription for Green Cine, because of the faster turn-around time and excellent website of Netflix, but I maintain a Green Cine subscription as well for additional (especially foreign)movies. I am much happier with the service from Green Cine than I was with the service from Blockbuster or Walmart, though waiting for films to arrive from San Francisco can be a bit of a drag.

  2. Thanks for comparing different services. It's interesting to hear about other services I have not tried. Consumers need to know Netflix isn't the only game in town. I'd like to give my own review of the services I've tried.

    Netflix -- The best all around online DVD rental service. Just in the past few months their anime selection has exploded which makes them a good competitor to Greencine. Yet, I like Netflix the least because of the way I've been treated as a customer. First, Netflix has the worst customer service I know of. All in the interest of saving money, Netflix makes it virtually impossible to contact them for service issues. Netflix customers frequently thank me for providing Netflix's phone number on my web site. Second, it's hard to forget Netflix has shipped me 22 broken DVDs all in the interest of saving money on padded envelopes. Third, I'll never forget Netflix purposely delayed my shipments because I had exceeded they're rental limit which is difficult to accept when Netflix advertises "unlimited" rentals.

    Blockbuster -- Is the reason Netflix has improved their dismal service. It wasn't until Blockbuster Online came into existence that Netflix decided they should treat their customers better. I've called Blockbuster once to report a problem and my call was answered right away. Try calling Netflix. I'll agree Blockbuster has an availability issues. I have several titles in my queue that just aren't shipping due to long waits. However, as a new service they're further along in title selection than Netflix was a year ago which had already been in business for 4 years. I'm also critical of Blockbuster's envelopes used for their rentals. A change in design is needed as I've received numerous opened envelopes including one lost in the mail because the envelope had come apart. Blockbuster continues to improve their shipping times. I'm posting my stats comparing Netflix, Blockbuster, and GreenCine and I'm sure Blockbuster will be the best value as it's been in the past.

    GreenCine -- Is my favorite service mainly for the customer service I've experienced with them. It's also the most costly when compared to the other three. GreenCine isn't for everyone--they're really tailored for anime and indie fans. What I appreciate the most about GreenCine is that I've never had to worry about receiving broken DVDs from them. When it comes to Blockbuster and Netflix I always open my rentals when they arrive to see if they're broken. I've heard others mention that GreenCine has problems with availability. Although a title in my queue may indicate a long wait it, doesn't turn out to be. I think they err on the side of caution. GreenCine has the best web site design. Their movie reviews seem more grown up than the ones you'll find at Netflix. Their movie search engine provides easy to find accurate results. The fact that they have a message board where members can talk about their service is proof that GreenCine customers are satisfied customers.

    My GreenCine Profile:

  3. Up until the last 2-3 months, I've never really had many issues with Netflix. However, recently availability has become a big issue for me. I waited well over a month for Cinderella Man. Finally, I broke down and rented it from Blockbuster. Now, I've noticed more than 1/3 of my Netflix Queue idicates Long Wait or Very Long Wait times.

  4. I simply can not wait ,.. until a serious threat to Netflix and Blockbuster arise in this market .

    The throttling they practice is horrible ,.. i have both right now ,.. however soon i will drop both and just be done with the rental thing altogether !!!

    Blockbuster .. "lose" at least 1 dvd per 3 sent .... i quoted lose ,.. cause i'm finding hard to believe these are even sent out ... i think it's another throttling method,.. or because of those ultra bright envolopes,.. they attract thieves.

    Then after waiting for 5 days i get a broken or cracked dvd,.. unbelievable ! .. now i must wait another 5 days for replacement.

    i do not get what i'm paying for.

    now Netflix is the worst in customer service ... mind you they atleast send you the dvds ,... and they are not cracked ...

    however; need something ... their agents act as if they hate thier jobs ,.. sarcastic young people ,. who pretend they know the answer, but really don't.

    their throttling is merely long delays forced on the consumer...

    this should be against the law ,however; i will just cancel for good.

  5. There doesn't need to be another law. You are free to quit Netflix or Blockbuster Online at any time.

  6. Neither of the two are worth the paper they print on. Started with Netflix, they failed on six attempts to send the correct title. Switched to Blockbuster, took 5 days between return and new disk. Went back to Netflix only to experience every third disk damaged. One so damaged three players would not even recognize it. On each submission of damaged disk, I filed a complaint only to receive a stock reply. Waste of money and time to deal with any of the three issues and a lack of willingness from either company to correct.