Monday, October 31, 2005

Using Feedburner for Netflix Fan's self-aggrandizement

Netflix Fan commenter JD suggested, on this post, that I use Feedburner to display my Netflix queue on this blog, which I have now done. You'll need to scroll down to the nether regions to see it, but it's there--just the first ten items for now. He's right; it's pretty nifty.

You can use Feedburner to subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog, also.

Look up self-aggrandizement

NetFlix History Analyzer

Here's another way to "Analyze your Netflix rental history and determine exactly how much you've been paying per rental, compare it to what you would have paid somewhere else, and compute your savings."

This one is online, so there's no spreadsheet involved, just a box where you paste your history. The results are nicely formatted. It gives you an estimate of your "limit" (how many discs you can rent before Netflix de-prioritizes you), which is entirely hypothetical. It doesn't allow you to include more than one plan at a time, so you need to know when you changed plans and split your history to calculate each separately.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Japanese alternative to Netflix *UPDATED*

It looks like Japan has their own version of a Netflix imitator. From what I can tell, it's called Posren, but I can't read Japanese.

Netflix Fan reader Andy writes: "Just a comment for your recent post. The company is actually called "Live Door" and not "posren." The "posren" is actually "postorento" or "Postal Rent" in the Japanese script. My wife, a Japanese citizen, says Live Door is similar to Google in Japan. The cost per month is 2079 Yen or $17.96 USD."

That price might be for the one-out plan.

Thanks for the update Andy!

Tivo's new corporate blog

Tivo has launched a corporate blog, and it's being written by their number one fan! Dreams do come true.

At one time, Netflix and Tivo were in talks to provide video-on-demand, but that effort has stalled, due to lack of content.

Video store strikes back

Image hosted by
Video Rodeo, a new "independent/alternative" bricks and mortar video store in Gainesville, FL, "for people who love movies but hate Blockbuster," attacks Netflix as a faceless "multinational corporation" in this amusing ad.

Visit their ad archive for anti-Blockbuster elitism.

I find their snobbery ironic, since it is Netflix that is democratizing video distribution, making it possible for mainstream middle America to have access to films which were formerly the exclusive domain of large cities or film festivals. 99% of the films I rent from Netflix are in The Long Tail.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"Alien Loves Predator" Loves Netflix

"Alien loves Predator" is an irreverent weekly net-comic about Abe the Alien and Preston the Predator as roommates in New York City. It's a great commentary on what it's really like to live in New York, and the normal problems that come with being single guys who are really scary-looking. And they have Netflix. This one is about a visit from a guy named "Jesus Christ" who plays for the Yankees who just happens to be their temporary third roommate for the baseball season.

The previous one also mentions Netflix

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Halloween queue fodder

You can find excellent queue fodder at Exclamation Mark's B-Movie Reviews, especially if you're looking for ideas for a Halloween-themed Netflix party. Mark is "A fan of the genre [who] reviews the sci-fi/horror B-movies and cult films of yesteryear. Films of the 1950s a specialty."

Via Yahoo! Picks

"Brand blogs" in New York Times article

This New York Times article surveys several of the different brand names that have blogs about them, like Netflix, Barq's root beer, Gatorade, Walt Disney, Starbucks, and Trader Joe's. They interviewed me for this article, but I didn't get quoted, because I requested anonymity. Ah, the sacrifices I make. You can't be anonymous and famous at the same time. However, our good buddy Mike Kaltschnee, of Hacking Netflix, got himself quoted and linked in the NEW YORK TIMES. Way to go, Mike!

Here's the excerpt about Netflix:

some companies are starting to pay attention to blogs, using them as a kind of informal network of consumer opinion.

"In addition to viewing blogs as another media channel, it allows us to keep our pulse on the marketplace," said Ken Ross, a vice president of Netflix, the movie rental company based in Los Gatos, Calif. One of the best-known blogs about Netflix,, was started last November by Mike Kaltschnee, who lives in Danbury, Conn.

"I post anything I find interesting, and it turns out 100,000 people a month find it interesting, too," said Mr. Kaltschnee. He also started a blog about Trader Joe's, the specialty grocery chain based in Monrovia, Calif., at

When it comes to Netflix service, postings about scratched discs or torn return envelopes generate dozens of comments from readers. "It's sort of like the unadulterated truth about Netflix," Mr. Kaltschnee said. "We hope that Netflix reads these things and notices trends and fixes them."

Read more

My favorite brand blog, besides my own, is this Wal-mart blog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Use Netflix for fundraisers

I think this is a great idea. As far as I can tell, you have to go through

STEP 1. Hand out free Netflix Movie Cards to your supporters.

STEP 2. Your supporters simply go online and sign up for a 2-week free trial of Netflix!

STEP 3. They'll get free DVD rentals and your group earns $10.00 for EVERY person who becomes a paying member after the 2-week free trial! That's easy money!


Netflix Movie Cards come 8 to a sheet. These sheets are provided to you for FREE from FundRaising.Com.

Your group's name and 6-digit code are printed on the back of each Netflix Movie Card.

Your supporters go to and enter your 6-digit code. (If your supporters skip this step and go directly to the Netflix website, your group will not receive credit!)

Once the hit "submit", they will be taken to the Netflix website where they will sign up for their 2-week free trial.

After their 2-week free trial is over, they can choose to allow Netflix to begin charging their credit card the monthly fee and continue their subscription, or they can cancel their subscription and owe nothing.

Your group will earn $10.00 for every person who continues the Netflix subscription after the free trial period ends. Your group will receive a check from FundRaising.Com on a quarterly basis. (PLEASE NOTE: Your group will earn credit for first-time Netflix members only.)

Sign up for Blingo Search for a chance to win a year of Netflix

Every time you use Blingo Search (powered by Google), you are potentially qualified to win various prizes, including a year of Netflix. There appears to be two ways to win. You get a sweepstakes entry for your first ten searches in the promotional period. The other way to potentially win is to be the first to use Blingo Search at randomly selected times. If you're notified that you have a qualifying search, you have 30 minutes to claim your prize. No registration required unless you win. Read their privacy policy first.

Reed Hastings backs Proposition 77

Via KTLA The WB in Los Angeles: Proposition 77 would "Give three retired judges the job of redrawing congressional, legislative and Board of Equalization districts, now done by the Legislature. Would require new districts, normally redrawn every 10 years with new census data, to be determined immediately, subject to voter approval in the next general election."

Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings is one of the chief proponents.

Read more

Monday, October 24, 2005

Blockbuster One Month Free Code

Hacking NetFlix has learned of a code to get a one month free trial of Blockbuster Online. The code is bbstore. It's probably good for first-timers only. If I were you, I'd use it right away, because once they find out that it's been publicized online, they'll be sure to change it. According to the anonymous source, "It's a promotion code for employees, but they don't check to see if you are actually an employee or not. As a current employee, I have tried it, and it works. I have also had several friends, who are not employees, try it, and it works for them too."

Pisano Resigns from Netflix Board

This will teach me to read those SEC filings from Netflix. Via Hacking NetFlix, I learned that Rob Pisano has resigned from the Netflix Board of Directors. This will make SAG happy.

More places to check Netflix

John L. Dilbeck has a plethora of marketing blogs, and several of them link to me! So in gratitude, I am linking to his pages where he provides the Netflix new releases and the Netflix top 100 for your clicking pleasure.

Is there a Cult of Netflix?

Bill Wallo, of WorldMagBlog, writes:
If I'm being honest (which I usually strive to be), I would have to admit that part of my decision to go with Blockbuster was, in fact, motivated by the existence of the Netflix "brand tribe." You see, in Alex Wipperfurth's book Brand Hijack, he explores a host of marketing principles, including his research into the similarities between "brand tribes" and religous cults. Now, I don't have a problem with people being in love with a product, and I recognize that part of what makes any product successful is people who are passionate about it and communicate that passion to others.

But candidly, on occasion that brand loyalty can go a bit far (the naming of children, the tattooing of body parts, etc). Not everyone who buys into a hot brand or a identifiable commodity necessarily drinks the Kool Aid, but certainly there are the ardent faithful (the product evangelists, if you will). And there is often a dogma that gets established about the product and its competitors; a dogma that goes beyond the product's actual merits and raises its worth to almost metaphysical levels. Allegiance to the product ends up becoming demonstrative of allegiance to other principles as well.

Do you think there's a cult of Netflix?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Another reason to love Netflix

Yes, there really are more commercials on TV nowadays.

Via MediaBuyerPlanner :
TV viewers are complaining about excessive commercials that seem more intrusive than ever and slow down the programs they surround, USA Today reports. Some of those complaints could be due to ABC requiring all drama producers to move to a six-act format, rather than the traditional four-act format, this fall. All of The WB's dramas use the format too. CBS, NBC, and FOX use it on some shows.

Only 45 minutes of each hour of TV are devoted to programs. The rest is "clutter."
ABC ad-sales chief Mike Shaw says he's perplexed by increasing complaints.[emphasis mine--B] Viewers must "feel that way because they love the show so much, that they really notice it when the breaks are there," Shaw says.

With Netflix, you can get hours of commercial-free programming for less than the price of cable.

Why you won't be downloading Star Wars legally from Netflix any time soon

In a conference call with analysts on Wednesday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that Netflix is indefinitely postponing their plans to offer online movie downloads, because they couldn't strike a deal with Hollywood to release more content.

Here's an example from E! Online that should give you an idea of what they're up against. "Spike TV has won television rights to all six Star Wars movies, E! Online reports. The price for the series hovered at $50 million a few months ago, but the exclusive, six-year deal finally went for a reported $65 to $70 million."

Via Media Buyer Planner:

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Carl reviews the Rentcaddy

Carl Cravens, author of "A Netflix Odyssey" sent me this very nice review of the Rentcaddy:

When I first saw the RentCaddy (, I thought it was a neat product, but balked at paying $10 plus $4 shipping for what looked like a generic CD/DVD folder with some branding on it. But when I searched around for something similar that I could pick up at Office Depot or Best Buy, I found that I couldn't find anything remotely like it. Small cases weren't tall enough to hold the envelopes, and tall cases held 30+ discs.

So I thought, "Hey, I'll buy one of these for Mom for Christmas and get one for myself while I'm at it." And I'm impressed.

The first thing I noticed about the RentCaddy is that it's heavy. And that's because it has big, sturdy backer boards in the covers... if you leave it lying on the couch and cousin Phil sits on it, I'm betting it's not going to bend. It's like armor for your rental discs.

So I open it up, noting the snap closure, another nice touch to keep the discs secure. The next big thing I notice is that the DVD sleeve bundle isn't just attached to a big tab that slides into a pocket in the folder, it's sewn into the folder. No opening the folder and watching the whole packet of discs fall to the floor. There's a pocket that the return envelopes fit in quite nicely, plus a short pocket in front of that and an identical pair of pockets in the back of the folder. I don't know what you'd put in these pockets, but it doesn't hurt to have them there.

Nothing but your own common sense can keep you from opening the folder upside down and watching half the discs slip out on to the floor unprotected. It would have been nice to have had a little flap to help hold the discs in, especially if it were designed so that it was optional, but it's not an essential feature.

There are four pages pages of disc pockets, with two pockets on each side of the page, for a total of sixteen pockets. Quite a few pockets for the average three-out or four-out subscriber, but better too many than not enough. RentCaddy's webpage shows taking the disc out of its shipping sleeve and inserting the sleeve and disc into separate pockets. The sleeves easily fit into the pockets, and I've been doing this, but I'm not sure how I like it. It means extra handling of the disc and it may increase the chance of getting the disc back into the wrong sleeve if you're not paying attention. I'm not quite sure what the benefit is.

Overall, I really like the RentCaddy, and I'd certainly recommend it to just about anybody on a DVD-rental-by-mail plan. I think it would be especially valuable to those folks who don't watch their movies quickly and find themselves searching for discs that have wandered off. If they always go into the RentCaddy, they won't get lost. So long as you can keep track of the RentCaddy.

BTW: The RentCaddy is now available directly from their webpage through their PayPal shopping cart. You don't have to buy through their eBay store anymore.

Carl Cravens, of "A Netflix Odyssey"

Review: Rentcaddy

Hacking NetFlix reviews the Rentcaddy, which I've mentioned here twice before.

Netflix Q3 Results, Webcast

Hacking NetFlix has posted a nice summary of Netflix's latest financials.

Netflix doesn't have enough children's educational videos

Thieves have stolen half of the Gwinnett County (Georgia) public library system's DVD collection, so they are considering discontinuing lending DVDs. They are searching for inexpensive ways to keep the DVDs secure, with limited staff and storage space.

The people who are being hurt the most are homeschoolers, who rely on the library for access to educational videos they use as part of their children's schooling. Says one library patron, "Denise Varenhorst, a Suwanee mother who home-schools her children, said the library’s decision had thrown a wrench into some of her curriculum plans. She wanted to show her 10-year-old daughter, Ivy, a movie about Florence Nightingale, but said Blockbuster and Netflix do not carry most of the educational videos she wants to share with her children."

I checked the Netflix site, and she appears to be right about Netflix not carrying many educational videos for children. What do you think?

If this is the case, I hope Netflix will change. The homeschool market could be greatly helped by Netflix.
Read more

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

the Movie Quote Database

Do you love quoting your favorite movies? Now that Netflix has made you a movie expert, there are fun things you can do with your knowledge. There's a new database out there on the Web, free and easy to use, for Movie Quotes only. Anyone can submit favorite movie quotes, or rate them, or just browse to your heart's content. Add your movies today.

Reds (1981) no longer available

I had Reds (1981) in my Netflix queue last week, but its status was Very Long Wait, so I borrowed it from Video Review instead. After watching it I removed it from my Netflix queue. Now it's no longer in the Netflix database at all. I think they were running low on copies of this now out-of-print movie, so people who had already queued it could still rent it eventually, but no one else would be allowed to queue it. Amazon has it available only on VHS.

Netflix exec Ted Sarandos on Indie Filmmaker panel

Indiewire was at the forum "Sell Your Film Without Getting Screwed!," in Los Angeles Saturday. They heard Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief of content acquisition, speak on using Netflix as an alternative to theatrical film distribution. Here's an exerpt:

"People from all over the country read a New York Times review now - they get the newspaper at their Starbucks," Sarandos said. "They know a (small) film will never play in their town, so they put it in their Netflix request cue [sic] right now." That creates instant demand and a growing, impatient market.

Sarandos' comments - coming during a panel on "It's Not Over Your Head: Sales Contracts and Revenue Streams" - carried weight because he also said Netflix is now reaching a larger audience for some specialty releases than theatrical distribution does.

He said his company now has 3.2 million subscribers, is growing fourfold and that its membership demographics correspond with those of art-house movies: about 55% female, college-educated, $75,000 annual income, evenly split between married and single, and 50% of its married members have children at home. And they are curious about well-reviewed independent movies that do well at festivals and major cities but don't get timely or national releases.

To meet demand, he's acquiring 6,000 titles a year and has even bought 70 films directly from filmmakers so far this year. Additionally, Netflix is starting to finance and produce indie films, to build a catalogue when it begins delivering films via the Internet. As of now, his contracts with studios would prevent delivery of many of their higher-profile films via such technology.

Because of these changes, he sees the window between theatrical release and other sources - DVD, cable, downloads - steadily narrowing for specialty films. "When it gets down to four weeks, maybe there won't even be much of a discussion about it anymore."

After his panel, Sarandos was besieged by filmmakers handing him their cards or wanting his. He was like a movie star signing autographs.

Read more about film distribution

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Netflix is flexible: another great customer service story

Nick Queen blogs, after generally raving about how great Netflix is, that he had a little problem with his payment this month:
"I use a pre-paid credit card to pay for mine, and I keep just enough on it to pay for the account. I used my card to sign up for a Yahoo Wallet account, and Yahoo authorized me for a $1.00 hold, which gets credited back in 30 days. This was 10/05 and Netflix charges out on 10/06. I was $ 0.25 lower then I needed, and no way to add enough to fix it in time. So I call Netflix who gives me a 25% rebate this month to avoid a problem, with no hassle or anything! "

If you're looking for Netflix friends, visit his blog. He and a couple of his commenters are looking for invites.

My first Note to Netflix

Visit Netflixfan
Originally uploaded by Netflix Fan.
Apologies for the crappy camera phone. The note says "Visit" The heading says "For All Your Mac Gear" and the footer says "". The movie is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966), directed by Sergio Leone, and starring Clint Eastwood. After taking the photo, I put the note on the disc inside the sleeve. It is disc 1 of a two-disc set, but you have to rent disc 2 separately.

Use Firefox keyword search to find Netflix titles

matthom as a time-saving tip for using the keyword feature of the Firefox browser to search the Netflix site without having to go there. He explains here.

Rachel needs Netflix Friends

Rachel is the author of the Oddities Abound blog. I'm her only Netflix Friend. Can you help her out by inviting her to be your Netflix Friend? - Adding Hollywood's trash--every week. is a new Web site which not only lists the new releases available at Netflix, but with an extra feature: an add-to-queue button for each listing, so it can go right in your queue.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Netflix responds to customer requests for multiple editions

Netflix is constantly improving their service, listening to their customers and responding. The complaints I posted a couple of months ago might still be on the Web, but Netflix has since made them obsolete. One example of this is a post I did in July, slamming Netflix for not carrying alternate versions of films, when available. Now I find that Netflix has the original theatrical cut of Alexander (2004) as well as the new director's cut. Do a search for director's cut and see what you find.

They are also doing the same thing with widescreen and fullscreen editions.

Unwatched Netflix DVD Stares At Area Man With Single Unblinking Eye

Originally uploaded by fuzheado.
The Onion feels your pain.

Chris Boese is having "A love affair with Netflix"

Chris Boese says"

I've canceled cable and so far don't miss it.

Here's a trick: create your own time-shifted PBS channel with Netflix. Just plug PBS into the search field and find all the DVDs that come up (start with the documentary sub-field if you don't want a gazillion results right off the bat).

Think of it. Your own personal PBS channel, and you know public broadcasting will get money from your patronage, but you won't have to listen to those nauseating extended beg-fests.

Read it

Video-on-Demand "Unexciting"

Hackingnetflix is linking to a story about how video-on-demand is "unexciting", because the selection is so poor.

There are some early-adopting geeks out there who claim to love VOD, but I think their taste in movies is suspect. The selection (except for porn) is so limited, no self-respecting movie buff is going to be excited about VOD until the content providers release more titles. Right now, the number of movies available on VOD just does not make it worthwhile, compared to the 50,000 choices you have with Netflix. Greencine has about 700 non-porn titles. Movieflix has 3000. Movielink has 1200.

The other big obstacle to my adoption of VOD is that I do not want to watch movies on my iMac, which is not networked to my TV. I would use VOD if it were the only source for an otherwise out-of-print title, and then only if I had a video iPod

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix will be at Film Independent’s First Annual Filmmaker Forum this Saturday, in Los Angeles, CA. If you're an independent filmmaker submitting your film to festivals, this forum will teach you how to sell your film. Since Netflix will be there, you can find out about "alternative distribution."

Read all about it

O'Grady's PowerPage: Free TiVo's in NYC on Friday

Via O'Grady's PowerPage:
Seems the company has decided to display its vim and vigor by staging an interesting event at the Oct 14 opening of NYCs Digital Life technology and entertainment show. Sort of featuring a mock funeral, TiVo is encouraging anyone who still may have an old VCR tape laying around to come on in and trade it in for a free TiVo box. Just toss that old episode of Quantum Leap in the VHS casket (which will include an old VCR with blinking 12:00) and you can walk away with a brand new DVR. And to make it even weirder, there will be a eulogy and speakers, sharing their personal memories of the VCR. Fascinating, no? Now remember folks, thats as supplies last, so get over there and start tossing your tapes! Starts at noon on Friday Oct. 14 at the Crystal Lobby of the Jacob Javits Center.


Another viewing milestone: 601 out of 1001

I have now seen 601 of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die! All of the titles in my Netflix queue come from this book. I am really enjoying working my way through this list of films. I have seen films from all over the world, like the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Italy, France, Germany, and that's just this month! I've seen sci-fi, drama, animated, experimental films, many of which I would have never considered seeing before. It's really helped me grow as a film lover, to have more diverse taste. The 2005 edition has new cover art as well as some different movies.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

See your NetFlix Queue on your TV using Tivo says:

If you are a NetFlix user, you probably have wanted to be able to take a look at your NetFlix account directly from your TV. This application allows you to do just that. NetFlix provides a lot of your account information in "RSS" format, which can easily be translated into a screen you can view from your TiVo.

You need a Tivo with a networked PC and a Netflix account.
Read more

Delayed return? It could be detoured

If your DVDs arrive promptly from Netflix, but seem to take longer to return, it's possible your mail is being intercepted on the return trip. Someone is noticing when you return a disc. They could open your envelope, watch or copy your movie, reseal the envelope and return it to Netflix, and no one would be the wiser. This is much easier than outright mail theft, because all it takes is a little detour. Netflix is too busy to notice if a return envelope has been opened and resealed.

I suggest returning your discs from an alternate location for a few weeks, to see if return times improve. I always use a blue USPS box on the street, and I experience very prompt check-in on all my returns.

If your movies disappear entirely, even once, report it missing to Netflix AND to the United States Postal Service. The USPS has a convenient online form for reporting mail theft. If you have a pattern of lost discs (I don't know how many constitutes a "pattern") Netflix will hold you liable, so in your own self-defense, you should alert the authorities.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Amazing service

Even though yesterday was a Postal Holiday (Columbus Day), I forgot, and put two Netflix in the blue USPS box on the street at work. Netflix checked both of them in this morning before 9 AM. They already have two more shipping today. I received 13 discs in September, on the 3-out plan.

Facts and figures about Netflix profitability

There's been some discussion about how much it costs Netflix to operate. Specifically, what is the cost per disc, and at what number of discs per month, per customer, does Netflix fail to profit? This is part of the ongoing debate about Netflix's strategy for allocating titles among users when there aren't enough to go around.

This Motley Fool commentary includes some figures from Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter: "Pachter estimates that it costs Netflix $1.80 to store, mail, and receive DVDs. So at the $17.95 price point and a gross margin percentage of 34% (data provided by Capital IQ), customers can rent 6.6 disks per month. At the $9.95 price point, to maintain the gross margin percentage, customers can rent 3.7 disks per month."

Read more

list of 1001 movies you must see before you die which are available via Netflix

Listology user RColaBean has put a lot of work into making a list of What NETFLIX Has of The "1001 Movies to See Before You Die" (816 at present).

ex-Netflix critic James Rocchi contributes to Cinematical

Cinematical has a new contributor, and it's ex-Netflix critic James Rocchi. (I just love saying ex-Netflix)

Monday, October 10, 2005

She can't quit!

Group member Nanci wrote this wonderful message to the Netflix Operations discussion group on Yahoo! about how she tried to switch from Netflix (NF) to Blockbuster Online (BB).

Well, you are all going to laugh at me so hard, aside from rolling your eyes I couldn't do it!!! LOL ... I'm halfway through my month with BB, and though they have *all* the movies I want right when I want them, and I even found one they had called *The 4th Floor* that Netflix doesn't have which I’ve been dying to see as I caught part of it on TV about a year ago ... as I got to my 2nd page of 15, typing in my movies and adding them to my NF queue... I kept feeling this *pang* of being torn and frustration of not only typing again, but trying to reorder everything which was not fun.

~ It is a PITA to reorder movies in BB's queue.

~ You can't add new releases until about 3-4 weeks before they come on DVD(I find this very inconvenient because when I see a movie on TV I think I’ll like I can add it to NF right away. I don't want to be writing these down 8months ahead of time and trying to remember them)

~ They don't have the fly out blurb on the movie, which for someone with over400 movies in their queue finds very convenient, as when trying to remember what they are all about is hard. Clicking on them and waiting for the plot is a pain when you're not used to it)

~ You can't change your billing date; with NF I could

~ If you cancel in order to change your billing date you lose your queue, with NF you don't

~ They don't have a *Friends* feature which to me is not that big of a deal other than to get recommendations, but I know they are working to add this.

~ They don't have the plot summary on their sleeves, which again, when someone asks me what the movie is about I just throw them the NF sleeve instead of remembering all of them. I don't like that at all, not having it.

~ They just are not Netflix. I will say Netflix' ease of service and
superior Website compared to BB, well you can't compare. I know BB is fairly new and I kept telling myself in time all these things would probably change but I've been with NF for so long now, I didn't like the change. The novelty of new releases wore off real fast!

~ Right now the only thing they have going for them is the new releases are available *now*. I suspect if you're a new customer, the above mentioned things would not bother oneself, but they bothered me.

So, for all the bitching I did, and I know I did a lot ... when I was typing and getting ready to cancel my NF account, I kept feeling really torn and just couldn't do it. The bottom line is I love the *old* NF and until the last year or so off and on their service has just gotten really bad. It was great for my daughter to get 2 free rentals and she got a free movie, and BB s shipping times are pretty much the same, but when I really weighed the pros and cons, the cons got to me enough to stay with NF LOL ... I know, I know!!!

Anyway ... not that I am truly happy with this, but I backed down to 4-at-a-time. I am going to send 2 movies back every Friday in hopes of getting at least 2 new releases on Monday and save 2 movies for the weekend. I know it's still playing games, but when I read, I believe tallrock’s new cycle of shipping, I thought this would work for me too. This way I know for sure I will get at least 4 movies a week = 16 movies a month = $1.50/movie. Can't beat that and I will be a happy camper. I may even end up with a couple more each month depending if there are new releases I want that week. I've gone back to getting my movies next day, and they seem to be getting them pretty fast now that I'm not *stressing* over it.

So there's my story ... I couldn't do it ... they have me as a lifelong customer ... and the good news is I won't be doing anymore bitching after all this LOL!!!

So you're stuck with me, but I think I'll be much happier :)


Holiday sales set to jingle

From the Stating-the-Obvious department, ZDNet is reporting on the results of a study which says people will be buying "clothing, followed by toys, movies on DVD or videotape, consumer electronics and books" for Christmas. Duh. Do something interesting this year. Introduce your friends and family to the unique joys of Netflix. Definitely a gift that keeps on giving.

And in your giving, don't forget the needy. Many people in our country will be unemployed and homeless this holiday season.

Friday, October 07, 2005

CinemaTech's notes from Reed Hastings' panel at Web 2.0 Conference

CinemaTech has very good coverage of the 'The Future of Entertainment' panel discussion at the Web 2.0 conference, in which Netflix CEO Reed Hastings participated. It took place Thursday afternoon, October 6.

“Why won’t Hollywood give us any of their content to play with?”

That was the major theme of yesterday’s “Future of Entertainment” panel at the Web 2.0 conference. Techies are eager to experiment with new ways of delivering content that will make consumers happy. But TV networks and Hollywood studios aren’t just reluctant to offer up their content for experimentation -- they’re often prevented from doing so by the long-term licensing agreements that underlie today’s business models.

Some notes:

- Hastings used Movielink of an example of how reluctant movie studios are to license their content for experiments in new ways of delivering movies. Even though Movielink is owned by the studios, “it only has about 600 titles from the studios, and another 1000 from other firms – out of a universe of 50,000 to 100,000 [total] titles,” Hastings said. By simply buying DVDs, Netflix doesn’t have to jump through the same contractual hoops that a company like Movielink does, trying to obtain new rights for Internet delivery that don’t conflict with those of existing rights-holders.

- Hastings...feels that NetFlix will eventually start delivering movies over the Net. “I’m more optimistic on bandwidth. If you could delivery [content] at night and cache it [on a home server, like a TiVo], you could actually get very high bandwidth, delivering multiple hours of high-definition to the home. It wouldn’t be real-time television. But for NetFlix customers, it’d be an improvement if they could get something in 12 hours [via the Net] instead of 24 hours [delivered through the mail.]

- A questioner from the audience asked Hastings “what’s going on with the TiVo/Netflix deal?” Hastings said, “The fundamental issue isn’t technical. It’s really licensing. Traditional media companies, like TV channels, have exclusive licenses on much content. Even the studio-owned distribution service, Movielink, has a tiny fraction of the total content, and it’s not because they don’t want it.”

“Consumer expectations are extremely high,” Hastings continued, “They want iTunes for video. Unfortunately, it’s going to be many years before that happens – but it has nothing to do with technology.”

Read more from CinemaTech. Also see Artific Industries' blog which has notes about the same session, with a different take on some of the remarks.

Circuit City to Offer GameZnFlix's Online Video Game and DVD Rental Program

PRESS RELEASE Circuit City to Offer GameZnFlix's Online Video Game and DVD Rental Program

FRANKLIN, KY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 10/05/2005 -- GameZnFlix, Inc. (OTC BB: GZFX), an online provider of DVD's and video games for rent, today announced its service will be available to Circuit City customers at and in select Circuit City stores beginning November 1, 2005.

GameZnFlix's offers variety of monthly subscription plans, starting at $8.99, that allow members to rent DVDs and video games delivered directly to their mail boxes. Each rental includes a postage-paid return envelope. Members can enjoy their rental for as long as they wish, with no worry about late fees.

"We're excited to add GameZnFlix's unique DVD and video game rental program to our product selection," said Marc Sieger, senior vice president, general merchandise manger of services at Circuit City Stores, Inc. "As the Internet has grown, we've learned a lot about consumers and know they want value and convenience. I feel this new relationship offers our consumers both."

"This relationship is a win-win for both parties," said Donald "Chip" Gallent, president of GameZnFlix, Inc. "Circuit City is a top destination for movie-lovers and gamers alike and we believe we can fulfill both needs through our service."

Netflix has The Muppet Movie

I probably shouldn't be telling you this, because I'm only hurting myself, but the Muppet Movie (1979) has just become available from Netflix. If you get it before I do, please handle it gently; it's in my queue :).

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Blockbuster slacking off

It took Blockbuster Online until today (Thursday) to check in a movie I returned on Monday. I returned it along with two others which they received on Tuesday. The two others went to bricks and mortar stores in NC, whereas the one checked in today went to the Charlotte distribution center.

Another Netflix Analysis Spreadsheet

Geektronica has created his own version of a spreadsheet to analyze his Netflix data. He wanted to know if Netflix was saving him money as compared to renting from a bricks and mortar store.

I tried it out, and these are my statistics for the period from January 2004 to April 2005:

You see why I'm a fan?

Netflix Friends wanted

Invite Schiesty to be your Netflix Friend.

Vicissitudes of Netflix

Vicissitude One of the sudden or unexpected changes or shifts often encountered in one's life, activities, or surroundings.

I have worked in a retail distribution facility before. I understand there are many factors, controllable or not, that can affect the performance of a facility. Netflix has about three dozen distribution centers and who knows how many postal drop points. Some of the distribution centers belong to Netflix, and some are contractors. They are serving over 3 million customers and shipping millions of discs.

There are seasonal fluctuations in demand. I remember we had to work a second shift for months before Christmas. People who are not in the retail business don't realize that Christmas begins in September for those who stock the shelves. The movie business is seasonal, too. The rental business drops off a little in summer because (normal) people enjoy spending the warmer, longer days outside. If you're a DC manager, maybe you let a few people go in the summer, but something changes which you don't anticipate and you need to hire those people back in a hurry. You use a temp agency. Those temps have to be trained. Meanwhile, your DC's productivity suddenly drops, causing shipping delays of a day or two. Even if this isn't happening in your area, changes in a the next region could have a trickle-down effect. For example, hurricane Katrina caused the loss of thousands or millions of copies of movies which have to be replaced, temporarily straining the resources of every distribution center in the country.

I'm sure that Netflix is continually evaluating delivery data to determine where are the most efficient locations. They occasionally close the distribution centers or drop points which aren't performing well and re-open new ones in another nearby location. This can cause fluctuations in delivery times.

Sometimes it's because there's been a sudden uptake in the number of subscribers in your area. Whenever a new DC opens, you might notice you are experiencing faster delivery times. Then Netflix increases the amount of advertising in the area, or there's a Netflix story in the paper, or on the evening news, that causes an immediate surge in subscribers. You say to yourself, "If I have a new DC, where is my faster shipping?" All those new people are getting great turnaround times, while the new DC adjusts to this rapid increase in workload.

Not every DC does things the same way. As improvements are made, machines or systems are designed and purchased to increase efficiency, it takes a while for these changes to roll down to each DC in the country.

As individual customers, we experience an extraordinary level of excellent customer service when you realize the volume of business that Netflix is doing. They have managed to rapidly adjust to their phenomenal growth while maintaining next day delivery for 80-90% of their customers. Whenever I look at the big picture, I am amazed at the great job they are doing. If you are used to getting next-day delivery, and it suddenly drops off to second-day delivery, or if many of your queue items are on Long Wait, think about where you live and what's going on in the world that might be affecting Netflix. I would like to encourage you to hang in there and give it time to iron itself out.

Wanted: better Netflix-blog integration

Blogger Christian Crumlish of Radio Free Blogistan wants "better Netflix-blog integration"

So I just returned Coffee and Cigarettes and Netflix invites me to give it some stars and maybe review it for my Netflix friends. I guess I can bother to improve their data and their ability to recommend things for me and my friends (not that I've ever yet relied on their recommendations), but it sure would be nice if they gave me an easy way to post my rating and review to my blog as well, sort of like the way Flickr lets me post pictures. Sure, I can plug in a badge with my Netflix queue in it. I do that on my personal blog, but I'd like better integration, please.

I'm sure there are quite a few bloggers out there who blog about what they've Netflixed and would love to discuss those movies with not just their Netflix Friends, but also their blog readers. This would be a nice feature to have.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 will violate your privacy

Mike Smit did a review of the service, which is the Canadian Netflix imitator. He believes that, according to Canadian law

" will violate your privacy
You heard me - has privacy practices that violate both their own privacy policy and federal privacy legislation. In particular, after you cancel your membership they will keep your credit card and personal information indefinitely, "...incase you will be renewing again (as many members do)". They are currently under investigation by the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner.

When he uses the word "Federal", he's talking about the Canadian legislature, not the American government.

Perks of blogging

Perk=perquisite A material favor or gift, usually money, given in return for service

I've noticed some bloggers who write about movies or videogames become famous and attract attention from movie studios or videogame makers who give them gifts. Sometimes the gifts are a reward or incentive for mentioning their product or for writing a positive review.

This Netflix fan has not received any perks.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Back on time? You are so kind.

I was returning my movie to the Blockbuster store six days after I checked it out. Something about this sign is a little creepy. Like they are trying to make me feel guilty.

Display your Netflix Queue on your blog

You can actually use this thing to display anything on your blog, as long as it's available in RSS. It's called the JavaScript RSS box viewer, and all you have to do is fill in a form with your RSS feed URL and it gives you the HTML to cut and paste into your blog's template. You can see mine way down at the bottom-right side of my blog.

It is a little bit slow to load, because it's coming by way of the site. They have instructions to make it run on your own site.

1001 Movies at Blockbuster Online

Blockbuster Online must be reading my blog. Where else would they have gotten the idea to have the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die as a special DVD collection on their Web site? (It's my aim to see every title in the book)

You can't rely on their Web site to match the book, but it's a good start. They get some of them wrong. For example, the book calls for Los Olvidados (1950), which translated means "The Young Ones", so Blockbuster Online links to the 1961 movie with that title starring Cliff Richard. Instead of Lola (1961) directed by Jacques Demy, they link to the 1969 Richard Donner movie by the same name. Blockbuster lists the movies in groups, like 1960-1979, but not in chronological order within the groups. If a title on the list is part of a boxed set, they link to the whole set.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Poor Nate has a crazy Mom

Nate says:
I signed up for a free trial with Netflix this weekend and was eagerly awaiting my first three DVDs in the mail today. When I woke up, my mom handed me the three DVDs in their sleeves and I was excited since I'm a big proponent of that kind of business model.

Then it dawned on me: where are the return envelopes?

I went to find Common Sense mom and ask her. Her reply brought a shocked look to my face.

"Oh, I think I tore those up and threw them in the trash."

Aack! I can just barely understand opening your son's PRIVATE MAIL (a Federal offense) and discarding the envelope, BUT WHY TEAR IT UP FIRST?! It's not like it contains CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION. On behalf of subscribers everywhere, I vent my fury on the woman.

Frank Chavez v. Netflix Class Action *UPDATED*


NETFLIX INC.: Consumers File Fraud Suit Over DVD Delivery in CA
Netflix, Inc. faces a class action filed in California Superior Court, City and County of San Francisco by Frank Chavez, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated.

The complaint asserts claims of, among other things, false advertising, unfair and deceptive trade practices, breach of contract as well as claims relating to the Company's statements regarding DVD delivery times. The complaint seeks restitution, disgorgement, damages, and injunction and specific performance and other relief.

Case management conference was held on March 23,2005 before Judge Thomas J. Mellon, Jr. The conference will be continued to May 11,2005.

The suit is styled "FRANK CHAVEZ VS. NETFLIX, INC., A FOREIGN CORPORATION et al, case no. CGC-04-434884." Representing the Company is Keith Eggleton of WILSON SONSINI GOODRICH & ROSATI, 650 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto CA 94304-1050 USA Phone: (650) 493-9300. Representing the plaintiffs are Adam Gutride LAW OFFICES OF ADAM GUTRRIDE 835 Douglass Street, San Francisco CA 94114 USA Phone: (415) 271-6469; and Seth Safire, 6467 California, San Francisco CA 94121 USA Phone: (415) 876-4345.

According to the revised third-quarter guidance issued by Netflix last week, "Settlement expenses in the quarter are expected to range from $3.0 million to $4.0 million. The settlement remains subject to court approvals."

Usually in a class action suit, there is some effort to contact the members of the class to give them an option to join the suit or to be left out of the suit. I am presumably a member of the class, since I'm a Netflix subscriber. I have never been informed of my options regarding this action. Have you?

*UPDATE: Settlement information has been emailed to subscribers and a Web site has been set up. You can read the email here.