Wednesday, November 30, 2005

WCCO-TV Compares Blockbuster And Netflix

The CBS affiliate in Minneapolis, MN, WCCo-TV, compared Blockbuster Online and Netflix for three months. It's the usual yada-yada except for this bit:

"When it came to delivery, Netflix beat Blockbuster. In a three month time period, Blockbuster only beat Netflix once, and that was during the trial period.

As for the cost, it was $60 to rent 24 movies. To get the same number of movies from a video store would have been $93."

Hacking Netflix beat me to it.

Suggestion for a new Netflix feature

Nige says: "Netflix should have a feature where if any two members rate all their viewed movies with exactly the same ratings, they are declared cinematic soulmates and forced to share a bed."

Netflix gets some new releases early

According to faithful reader Manda. She received Long Way Round a month before Amazon's release date.

Another way to keep your Netflix handy

If your house is littered with Netflix envelopes, here's an idea to help you keep track of them: use a magnet to pin them to the fridge.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New niches springing up all over

Via DVD Exclusive Online.
Partly because Netflix is increasing demand for many niche titles, the studios and independent filmmakers are stepping up production of straight-to-DVD titles in many niche categories that were previously ignored. Like, for example, college sports, dog-sitting, wine tasting guides, talk shows, quiz shows and Broadway musicals.

Read more.

Netflix Fan's Christmas wish list

This is the first item I've added to my Christmas wish list:
Logitech Harmony 520 Advanced Universal Remote - universal remote control ( 966191-0403 )

Its Fremont, Calif., seller touts it as "the first activity-based remote" that has "a simple online setup process for complete customization."
You can set up the remote to work with your TV, digital cable box and DVD player/VCR combo using a computer and the Logitech Harmony Web site. Once configured, one press of a button will turn on the TV and digital cable or the TV and DVD player. And, just about everything works perfectly.

Via the Washington Times

I'm making an exception this year, and I'm accepting bribes, payoffs, kickbacks, and whatever else my loyal readers or Netflix wants to send me :). You have to do it in the spirit of Christmas, though, and not ask for anything in return.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Now I'm angry, or "Netflix Fan goes on a rant"

Netflix has finally disappointed their #1 fan. Y'all are right. Now I feel your pain. I can understand why you get angry. If y'all thought that I was receiving a special experience from Netflix because I'm a blogger, IT AIN'T SO.

It's not fun if you are excited about getting a new movie and it doesn't ship when you expect.

I have had the Harold Lloyd Collection in my queue, in the number one spot, ever since I found out it would be released. Netflix has it as being released tomorrow, so I returned a movie on Saturday, hoping that Netflix would receive it today, and then send me my number one choice. Didn't happen.

Did they send me my number two? Nope. I've had Masculin Feminin in the number two spot for about a month, with "Long Wait" status.

Did they send number three? Nope. The Producers has been in the number three spot for about two weeks, also with "Long Wait" status.

I have returned 12 titles in the last 30 days, so my top two choices were passed over 12 times (not counting Harold Lloyd, which wasn't released).

Instead, they sent me my #4 choice AGAIN.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, because I do not queue anything I don't want to see, but I was hoping to get lucky.

That brings up another thought: I don't understand complaining about Netflix sending you an old piece of crap movie IF IT'S IN YOUR QUEUE. What's it doing there if you don't want to see it?

Please pray for Netflix Fan, that she'll bounce back from this crushing blow.

Manic Monday

Carl blogs about his bad Monday, and a near-tragedy with an accidental Netflix-envelope switcharoo, via Insomniac's Dream Sequence:
"It's 3pm. I head on over to the Post Office to place my Netflix envelopes in the box. I do and drive off.

Just then I realize that of the three envelopes I have in my back, I have one left. This one has my movie in it...

This means I have placed my envelope with my software backup and web site backup DVDs in the mail, going to Netflix.

I panic.

Then I head inside to spin my tale of woe to the (who I hope) will be sympathetic postal workers.

On my second person, I gain success. The nice girl there brings a cart and we go out front to the boxes. She opens the box and I pull out my envelopes and quickly locate the one I need.

I thank her profusely and head back to my car feeling thoroughly stupid."


Notes to Netflix
Originally uploaded by
Here's a note I really hope Netflix gets!

DVD box has hints if it's bootleg

If you're looking for bargain DVDs, and you don't want to be suckered into buying a bootleg copy, the Courier-journal has the scoop:

A dead giveaway that a DVD is a bootleg is if the seller advertises that the DVD comes in a "color collector's case." That means a plain package. It also means "recorded off TV."

You don't want something that's been recorded off TV. Quality suffers.

Do your research. Check to see if the studio logo or other trademarks are on the box. The absence of these could be a sign it's a bootleg. Check or to see if the movie has been released on DVD. If it hasn't been released yet, what you're buying isn't legit.

Read more

Netflix spokesman at investor conference

Via AZ Central
International banker Credit Suisse First Boston is sponsoring an invitation-only conference for 400 investor clients in Phoenix, AZ, and Netflix will be there.

"Face time," said Steve Swasey, spokesman for Netflix, the online movie rental company whose CEO and co-founder, Reed Hastings, is scheduled to present the company's outlook Wednesday.

Hastings may tell all about how the company expects to grow to 5 million subscribers next year or how the company ships 1.2 million DVDs daily - 25,000 at its Phoenix distribution center alone - and other information readily available on its Web site and elsewhere. But for the investors, the conference provides better insight, Swasey said.

"They get to know who's behind the management team in which they're investing," Swasey said.

Read more

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Need suggestions for how to get Netflix movies when your mailbox is too small

WindyCityMike writes:

I was wondering if I might either pick your brain, or pick the brains of my fellow readers should you choose to publish this. In the past, I had Netflix delivered to me at my workplace. However, I recently began work at a company that has a policy that discourages its employees from receiving personal mail at work (I've not been there long enough to know whether the policy is actually carried out). As I live in an apartment building, my apartment's mailbox is too small to accept a Netflix DVD, and it does not have a bin (not that I'd feel safe leaving DVDs unattended anyway). And the property manager's answer, leaving packages with the custodian at my building, is a less-than-optimal solution due to the frequency upon which I would need to bother him. So, how do I get my Netflix movies delivered to me? The only other solution I can think of is to rent a mailbox at a nearby UPS Store or a Kinko's. However, if someone can think of a less expensive or more palatable response, I'd be appreciative. Any ideas on how best to resolve the situation?


Friday, November 25, 2005

Quitting Nicheflix

Nicheflix is a great service, but I've decided to quit and go with Nicheflix a la carte instead. Nicheflix is an online DVD-by-mail rental service which specializes in multi-region DVDs. I was using the service as a supplement to Netflix, to obtain the titles Netflix didn't have and which I couldn't find anywhere else. I was on the two-out plan for $19.99/month, and I quit with seven titles in my queue. Of those seven, three were unavailable or out of stock, and three were "available shortly." I think I'll have better luck trying to obtain those titles through the Nicheflix a la carte service, which allows me to rent them individually without a monthly fee. They charge for shipping, but they supply a prepaid return envelope.

If you are looking for rare European, Asian, or American films which haven't been released on DVD here in Region 1, you can rent them from Nicheflix, but you might need to have a multi-region DVD player, and sometimes a PAL converter, too. You can learn more about the various regions and formats here.

I am still a member of Netflix (3-out) and Blockbuster (3-out).

Netflix envelope "damaged in handling"

Seems like everyone got one of these new holiday-themed Netflix envelopes this week. I received three, one of which was damaged by the USPS, as you see here.

However, I remembered to be thankful that the disc inside was unhurt, and the envelope was delivered promptly, and it has this nifty new design, with an ad for Aeon Flux on the inside of the flap.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Classic Film Preview

Classic films that are finally restored and released to DVD don't receive the same fanfare that so-called "new releases" do, so if you've been waiting for a rare film like Harold Lloyd's The Freshman (1925) to be available, you might not hear about it. Now you can. If you love Classic film, check out Classic Film Preview, a new blog which my Web buddy David English just started in which he alerts you to great classic, silent, and foreign films coming soon to television or DVD.

He has good things to say about film.

I'm also going to keep an eye on his blog for rare movies coming to TV which are not available on DVD yet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Netflix has Ringers: Lord of the Fans

I don't usually mention a specific new release film on this blog, but this one has a special place in my heart. It was made by some of the people behind, affectionately known as TORN. If it weren't for the loyal Tolkien fans at that site, I would never have survived the long wait between episodes of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They provided me with daily production news and spoilers that kept me in the mood for four whole years. My heroes. TORN is also one of the sites which inspired this Netflix Fan blog. I kinda model myself after them.

Ringers: Lord of the Fans is a documentary about Tolkien fandom and the enormous influence Tolkien has had on the fantasy worlds of art, music, literature, and film.


TiVo to Transfer Shows to iPods, Sony PSP

Via The New York Times
Published: November 21, 2005
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 20 - TiVo, the maker of digital video recorders, plans to announce a new feature on Monday that will let TiVo owners watch recorded television shows on Apple's video iPods and on Sony's handheld PSP game machine.

DVDs delivered "in about an hour"

DVD Revolution is a video store located in a suburb 50 miles outside of Chicago, which delivers DVD movies and games to your home "in about an hour." You have the option to order snacks with your movie. You get the movie for about a week, and you can return it by mail, or have it picked up. They are now teaming up with pizza restaurants to deliver pizza and a movie. You have to register with their site to find out if you live in their delivery area and what their rate structure is.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Theory: what Netflix does with double-sided discs

A faithful reader hypothesized, in an email to me, that Netflix delayed the release of the Harold Lloyd Collection because it contains double-sided discs, and they needed extra time to print a single-sided version. It would come to you with the gray Netflix label on it. It's in my queue, so I can test this theory myself.

What do you think of this hypothesis? Have you ever received a double-sided disc from Netflix?

Geektronica's Netflix spreadsheet is in the New York Times!

via the New York Times:
"A middle school science teacher in Seattle, Justin Baeder, wondered whether he saved very much getting his DVD's through the mail. So he created an Excel spreadsheet that calculates exactly how much he does save. It turned out to be just a little, about $6 a month, but he loves Netflix and keeps using it.

He's posted the calculator on his Web blog, the Republic of Geektronica at All you need to do is download it and paste your Netflix rental history, which Netflix provides on its site, into the spreadsheet."

Read more

What it costs Netflix to make you happy

According to the latest SEC quarterly report filed by Netflix, they spend about 10% of revenues on fulfillment. That is, "those costs incurred in operating and staffing the Company’s fulfillment and customer service centers, including costs attributable to receiving, inspecting and warehousing the Company’s DVD library."

I may not be reading the report right, but that sounds cheap. What do you think?

Click here for the PDF.

Netflix Friends (circle yes or no)

Ryan thinks he is a newbie. He's just now joined Netflix, and he's looking for Friends. Would you invite him to be yours?

Netflix makes top 50 in Best of the Web for 2006

Internet Retailer magazine announced its Top 50 Best of the Web online retailing web sites. “We are pleased to recognize The Top 50 for 2006. They reflect the best of what retailers can do online,” says Kurt T. Peters, editor of Internet Retailer. “Retailers in our Top 50 aren’t necessarily the biggest, the most profitable or the best known—they are the sites that innovate to take online retailing to the next level.”

Netflix made the list in the Computers/Electronics/CDs/DVDs category, along with these others:

Friday, November 18, 2005

How many movies I've seen so far this year

I have seen 400 movies since January 1, 2005. Only two of them were repeat viewings. This does not include many short films I've seen this year.

157 were from Netflix
87 from Blockbuster Online (not including in-store coupons)
29 from Nicheflix
33 from Blockbuster Video, Hollywood Video, and Video Review stores
38 in the theatre (not including various film festivals I've attended)
5 from Greencine

Netflix Testing Lower Prices

This is from Video Business:
Netflix is testing lower price points on its monthly subscription plans, chief finance officer Barry McCarthy told analysts and investors at the Lehman Brothers Small Cap Conference Wednesday.

“The reason we’re testing it is we think the market is price elastic,” McCarthy said.

The company also believes lower prices could drive more subscribers its way, forcing some moderately successful video stores to close and push even more renters online. As more people go online, the company expects to have to spend less money on marketing, McCarthy said.

Via Hacking Netflix

Props to Jennifer Netherby at for covering the Netflix stories. She interviewed me once. Nice lady.

Who's your ideal Netflix customer?

This is from a FastCompany interview with Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO:

FC: Who's your ideal Netflix customer?

RH: A customer who's traveling and forgets to rent a movie and watches no movies in a month [might be], because they haven’t cost us anything and they've paid us $9.99 or $17.99. On the other hand, a customer who's a very light user is not going to stay with us very long. It's not that there's something wrong, that they don't like you, it's just that they aren't watching any movies. That's the number one reason for customer churn. On the other extreme we've got users that are total movie hounds -- they're watching 15 movies a month -- and in some narrow sense, it would be better to get rid of them because you're losing money on them. But then, they stay with us a long time. So there is no best customer. We try to make the experience work for all of them and we try to balance that.

An interesting exercise is when we run short of titles. We try to always be in stock, but sometimes we're not. Say we've got 1,000 copies and there's 5,000 people who want a movie. So maybe somebody's already gotten a lot of value for their $20 or $18 or $9 because they've watched a lot of movies while other people have hardly watched that many movies this month, so they haven't gotten enough value yet. Our sense of fairness is that if we run short, it goes first to the people who haven't gotten the most value yet in order to create a fair and balanced experience for our customers.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Netflix Analysis Spreadsheet Revised to Work with Website Changes

Netflix is no longer emailing rental histories, so the previous Netflix analysis spreadsheet won’t work.

Geektronica has revised the spreadsheet, so now you can just copy and paste your rental history from their website. The upshot is that it now factors in the time it takes for Netflix to ship you a new disc after they receive your previous disc, which the old spreadsheet didn’t do. In other words, any shipping delay, intentional or not, is factored into your cost analysis.

Via Geektronica

Netflix gives The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection new release date

Netflix says The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection will be "Available on Nov 29, 2005." If you receive it before I do, please handle it with care!

Cross-platform Netflix widgets via Konfabulator

Konfabulator* is a little tool which allows you to run dashboard-like widgets on your Mac or PC, without having to have Mac OS X.4 (Tiger).

They have a couple of Netflix widgets which allow you to see your queue in a little window on your desktop, without requiring your browser to be open. It helps if you have an always-on Internet connection.

*Konfabulator is a JavaScript runtime engine for Windows and Mac OS X that lets you run little files called Widgets that can do pretty much whatever you want them to. Widgets can be alarm clocks, calculators, can tell you your WiFi signal strength, will fetch the latest stock quotes for your preferred symbols, and even give your current local weather.

Market Emerges for Online On-Demand Programming

Via Media Buyer Planner:
"A market is quickly emerging for on-demand programming offered online (and via cable or satellite TV). Nearly one in five - 19.1 percent - who are web users say they would probably purchase online on-demand programming (TV shows, movies, concerts or sporting events) that could be watched on their computer; about a third (32.9 percent) say they are unsure whether they would; and 48.0 percent say they would not, according to a recent Burst Media survey (via MarketingVOX) of some 3,300 web users age 18 or older."

If you like survey data, click through for more digits.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Online DVD Rentals will have 25% market share by 2009

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

LONDON (Reuters) - The online DVD rental market is expected to capture a quarter of all video rental spending in the United States and one-third in Europe by 2009 as consumers get more comfortable paying for the convenience of receiving Hollywood blockbusters in the mail.

Market research firm Screen Digest said on Tuesday that by the end of 2005, 6.3 million subscribers will have spent more than $1 billion renting DVDs over the Internet, with the market seen tripling to almost $3 billion in four years despite the growing threat of video-on-demand services.

"Our cash-rich, time-poor society values convenience very highly, and is willing to pay for it," Screen Digest analyst Angus Wood said.

The U.S. online rental business is led by industry pioneer Netflix, while in Europe the diverse number of players has led to speculation of rampant consolidation.

Via Reuters

Enjoy a FREE advance screening with broadband!

TiVo and Tai Seng Entertainment are pleased to present RED TROUSERS as part of the TiVo Video Download trial program. To receive RED TROUSERS through TiVo Video Download, your TiVo box must be connected to the Internet via broadband.

I hope this means that the Netflix-Tivo video-on-demand joint development deal is still in the works.

Netflix is helping the Independent Spirit Awards again this year

The Film Independent Spirit Awards celebrate the best of independent film. FIND (Film Independent) and IFP (Independent Film Project) members are allowed to vote for the Spirit Awards, and, this year, FIND members will receive a free three-month Netflix membership and a special code allowing them to rent all the nominated films.

Via FILMMAKER MAGAZINE | BLOG Promises A Whole New Way To Rent DVDs Online In Canada

I'm sorry, but I just had to laugh when I saw the headline for this press release announcing the arrival of Cyberflix, a brand-spanking-new Canadian online DVD rental service: Promises A Whole New Way To Rent DVDs Online In Canada. Their "whole new way" is the Netflix way of renting DVDs online. I guess they are aiming for the demographic that lives under rocks, eh?

They are also "the best way to rent movies online", I guess because a simple Google search reveals that the other taglines were taken.

DVDHype is "Canada's First Online DVD Rental Store" is "Canada's Largest Online DVD Rental Service"
DVD-Rental is simply "Canada's Online DVD Rental Service"
DVDFlix is "Canada's First Choice Online DVD Rental Store"

Netflix loves!

My blogging mentor Mike K of Hacking Netflix, was featured in a Danbury (CT) News Times article and what they have to say about him is true:

Kaltschnee doesn't treat Netflix with kid gloves. He posts messages from angry customers. He writes about rival companies — Blockbuster, specifically, which recently entered the online rental world.

Still, the folks at Netflix love him.

Neil Hunt, the company's chief product officer, had awfully nice things to say about HackingNetflix when he appeared with Kaltschnee on a CNBC show last month.

"He's extremely well-informed. In fact, we find that the comments posted on Mike's blog and other similar blogs are extremely useful for us to help keep a pulse on what people are saying and thinking out there," Hunt said, according to a transcript of the show posted online.

You can call NetflixFan the "hacking hacking netflix" blog :). Mike inspired me to blog about Netflix, and he's been very helpful to me about it, not being bothered by the competition, but rather linking to me repeatedly. Now that's a nice guy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Netflix's fast growth could have affected service

According to the latest SEC filing by Netflix, "the number of DVDs mailed to paying subscribers increased 56 percent," and the average number of subscribers increased by 59%. This is trememdous growth. I'm amazed that Netflix has been able to maintain the same level of service to most of its subscribers, in the face of such growth. I think this is one of the vicissitudes of the business that could have affected how quickly we received our movies in the past year.

If you are a business owner, could you tell me how a typical business would handle a 56% increase without sacrificing customer service?

Possible new Netflix feature?

Greencracker got a hint from Netflix about a possible new feature they were exploring a year ago, but it hasn't appeared yet. It looks like they were considering allowing customers to put their accounts on hold for $.99 a month, instead of cancelling outright. If you like the idea, maybe they will implement it if enough people show an interest, eh?

On the other hand, this feature may not be necessary, because Netflix keeps all your ratings and queue information for two years after you cancel. Cancelling is like putting your account on hold, because it's all there when you come back.

If you've ever cancelled your account and re-subscribed later, how was the experience? Did you run into any complications, or was it easy?

Monday, November 14, 2005

50 independent films for your Netflix Queue

Jon Pliske, author of Love or Inertia? blog, has discovered more great Netflix Fodder on this list of Empire Magazine's 50 Greatest Independent Films. He says, "I don’t particularly agree with some of their picks and I wouldn’t consider several of them independent. But they assure us that they have only picked films that were made with an 'independent spirit.'"

You can see the original list here, or view my checklist on Listology, in proper order from 1-50, without all the flash and dazzle of the Empire site.

The Harold Lloyd Netflix release delayed

The Harold Lloyd Collection was in my queue with a release date of November 15, but it has since been automatically moved to the saved section of my queue, with release date unknown. I'm guessing that negotiations broke down and Netflix will not be able to rent it as soon as they hoped. However, if you can't wait to see Safety Last! on DVD, you can buy it.

Show all Netflix History since the dawn of time *Updated

This button is at the bottom of your "view all returned DVDs" page which you access through your Netflix account page. Click it to see your entire rental history at once, rather than receiving it by email request as you did formerly.

Blogger, Netflix Fan commenter, and Web genius Jim Biancolo pointed out this new feature to me on this post.

*Update: if you are logged into Netflix, try this link to view all your returned rentals.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Things to do on a long weekend when no Netflix comes

  • Play
  • Exercise
  • Eat vegetables (other than popcorn)
  • Read a book
  • Clean the house
  • Rake leaves
  • Inhale the crisp Autumn air and bask in the bright sunshine

Ah, who am I kidding? I'm going to Blockbuster.

Friday is a USPS holiday--no Netflix

I'm sorry I didn't warn you earlier, but the United States Postal Service will not be delivering mail on Friday, November 11, so no Netflix! Aack!

Check the USPS Calendar

10-Q says what the Netflix settlement might cost

Here are some tidbits of news from the Quarterly Report (10-Q) Netflix, Inc. filed yesterday with the SEC.

I've been wondering what the settlement would cost Netflix. All they say is that, "The Company estimates the total cost of the settlement will be approximately $3,980,000 with the actual cost dependent upon many unknown factors such as the number of current and former Netflix subscribers who will claim the settlement benefit."

If there are 3.5 million current subscribers, and they estimate in the settlement agreement that it affects six million potentially eligible class members, then about 2.5 million could sign up for their one month free, costing Netflix from $9.99 to 17.99 per month per person in revenues and added fulfillment expenses. The top limit would be about $45 million, if every single eligible former subscriber took them up on the offer.

Read more

Study: 12% Of Web Users Watch TV Shows Online

MediaPost's Wendy Davis reports that, "INTERNET USERS ARE INCREASINGLY WATCHING TV online, according to a new study by Points North Group. The study, presented at Ad:Tech Tuesday by Points North President Peter Storck, revealed that 16 percent of online users visit television networks' Web sites or shows at least three to four times a week, while 12 percent watch entire TV shows at least that often. Other findings were that 20 percent of Internet users watch video news segments online, 13 percent view movie previews online and 5 percent download movies. The study, conducted with Horowitz Associates, was based on a survey of nearly 1,100 people."

I think it's interesting that only 5 percent download movies. I would have thought that number would be higher, what with all the hype online video on demand is getting.

Netflix has 37 shipping centers

From the Netflix pressroom,
Netflix operates 37 shipping centers located throughout the United States.
Netflix reaches nearly 92 percent of subscribers with generally one-day delivery.
On average, Netflix ships one million DVDs each day.

Listology has a list of the location of all 37 Netflix distribution centers, based on user input.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Too much of a good thing?

Neil Van Dyke loves Netflix, but he has three problems with them. He writes:
The only nits I have to pick with Netflix so far are:
1. the weekends and 1-day shipping mean that if you watch one DVD a day for 3 days in a row, you often won't have a DVD for the 4th day;
[Yes, I sometimes get food at restaurants that is too hot and fresh, too.]

I don't know what Netflix can do about this next one, except keep releasing movies:
2. the $18/mo. is slightly higher than I'd like, and will probably mean that I cancel my subscription once I've caught up on all the films I want to see;
This is something Netflix could fix:
3. if you report a DVD as damaged and ask for a replacement, there's no way to cancel that replacement, even if won't ship for another 2 days.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Where's the history?

Astute observer Jsandpiper noticed that the "Send Full Rental Activity" link is gone from the "your account" page at If you find it, please let us know! Let's hope this is a temporary glitch, eh?

The Politics of Netflix-ing

LAist has an important article about the Pros and Cons of using the Netflix Friends feature, including these "Tips to a successful Netflix relationship"

>>If you want to maximize the experience, either remain anonymous or setup a second login (no extra fee) and use it for anything that would tarnish your street cred.
>>Only add friends that truly get your insane taste.
>>Remember that Netflix can be configured to send you anywhere between 1 and 8 DVDs at a time. Ask yourself how many movies you really can digest in any given week, and adjust accordingly. We think the 2 DVD plan is perfect: you have choices, you're rarely left without at least one movie, and you avoid the daunting surplus situation we spoke about earlier.
>>Own your good or bad taste without apologies. You're friends will still love you... well, maybe.

Bookins - Hassle Free Book Trading

Free books, and free membership, from Bookins, a new book-trading service for those times when (gasp!) you're tired of watching movies from Netflix. Looks like it operates on the Peerflix model.

» Use prepaid postage. No trip to the post office.
» Get delivery confirmation. All shipments tracked.
» Shipping is only $3.99, charged to recipient.
» 100% Quality Guarantee

The way it works:

List books you own you'd like to trade.
Select books you want to receive.
Mail your books when requested—automatically get books you select from others in return.

Netflix vs. Blockbuster: which one is better?

Cnet has a side-by-side comparison of Netflix and Blockbuster, but they don't take sides. Show the newbies where to go for the best service and selection. Go there and vote for Netflix!

Monday, November 07, 2005

TV on DVD book for Netflix queue ideas and TV Guide have teamed up to publish a book containing descriptions of all the television shows available on DVD, for your Netflix queueing pleasure.

Netflix film gets theatrical debut

Netflix will release the comedy concert film COMEDIANS OF COMEDY (103 min., USA) theatrically in an exclusive engagement at the Cinema Village (22 E. 12th Street) in New York City on November 11th, followed by a special Los Angeles Premiere screening of the film in Los Angeles at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre (6712 Hollywood Blvd.) in Hollywood on November 16th at 7:30 PM. The filmmakers will appear in person at the screening in Los Angeles.

This is a follow-up to two posts I've done about this film. I first posted about how Netflix acquired the film and then how they took it to the SilverDocs film festival.

Via Indieville

Friday, November 04, 2005

Does the Netflix settlement offer "suck"?

A commenter on this blog has started a Web site called The Netflix Settlement Sucks, in which he gives you exerpts from the long form containing instructions for how to opt-out of the class, or object to the terms. His major reason for objecting is that the plaintiff's lawyers seem to be getting the lion's share of the cash, whereas the subscribers, supposedly the injured party, are getting a "token" one month of free service, which he alleges is really a way to bait customers into upgrading their service.

I have read the entire settlement, and I can find nothing stating the total value of the settlement offer, so it is impossible to determine what percentage of the settlement is going to the lawyers and what is the value of the benefit to subscribers. However, it does say that "There are approximately six million persons who were paying members of Netflix's service prior to January 15, 2005." If the benefit of an extral rental per month were worth just $1.00, that would cost the company six million dollars, which would make the attorneys' share about 43%. I think that the benefit is costing Netflix more than that. If the attorneys' fees and costs are merely 25% of the total cost of the settlement, that would make the total settlement worth over ten million dollars. What I conclude is that we do not have enough information at this time to determine if attorney's fees and costs are excessive in proportion to the value of the benefit to the class members. If you plan to remain a class member and object to the settlement, I suggest making one of your objections this lack of information regarding the total value of the settlement.

As to whether Netflix stands to profit from offering customers a free one month upgrade to their service, that is up to the subscribers. I believe Netflix has the right to assume that subscribers have enough sense to cancel the upgrade before being charged. They also have a right to profit from their subscribers' laziness, if they have made a reasonable effort to inform the subscribers of the costs.

Another reason you may wish to object to the terms of the settlement is that it punishes Netflix too harshly for what is essentially a failure on the part of the consumer to understand the reasonable limits of an "unlimited" service. Neither have I found anything in writing where Netflix "promised" anyone one-day delivery. This is an unjust settlement. I suggest you remain in the class, do not opt out, and object to the terms of the settlement on the grounds that it is excessive, unnecessarily punitive, and not representative of your wishes as a class member.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Netflix proposes settlement in Chavez v. Netflix class action lawsuit

I received this email from Netflix at 5:21 PM PST November 1, 2005:
You are receiving this notice because you were a paid Netflix member before January 15, 2005. Under a proposed class action settlement, you may be eligible to receive a free benefit from Netflix.

A class action lawsuit entitled Chavez v. Netflix, Inc. was filed in San Francisco Superior Court (case number CGC-04-434884) on September 23, 2004. The lawsuit alleges that Netflix failed to provide "unlimited" DVD rentals and "one day delivery" as promised in its marketing materials. Netflix has denied any wrongdoing or liability. The parties have reached a settlement that they believe is in the best interests of the company and its subscribers.

Netflix will provide eligible subscribers with the benefit described below, if the settlement is approved by the Court.

Current Netflix Members: If you enrolled in a paid membership before January 15, 2005 and were a member on October 19, 2005, you are eligible to receive a free one-month upgrade in service level. For example, if you are on the 3 DVDs at-a-time program, you will be upgraded to the 4 DVDs at-a-time program for one month. There will be no price increase during the upgraded month. (If you cancel your membership after October 19, 2005 and before you receive the upgrade, you will have to rejoin to get the upgrade.)

Former Netflix Members: If you enrolled in a paid membership before January 15, 2005 but were not a member on October 19, 2005, you are eligible to receive a free one-month Netflix membership on your choice of the 1, 2 or 3 DVDs at-a-time unlimited program. (If you rejoin after October 19, 2005 but before you receive the free one-month membership, you will receive a credit for the free month when it becomes available.)
These benefits will be provided after the Effective Date as defined in the Settlement Agreement. Your eligibility for the benefits is based on your membership status as of October 19, 2005. The full Settlement Agreement is available for review at

You have four options to respond to the proposed settlement. You have until December 28, 2005 to make your decision:

Option 1. Sign Up For The Benefit As Part Of The Settlement
To receive the benefit, you must complete the online registration process no later than February 17, 2006, at By signing up for the benefit, you waive your right to bring a separate lawsuit against Netflix concerning the Released Claims (as defined in the Settlement Agreement found at

Option 2. Do Nothing
If you do not wish to receive the benefit, do nothing. You will not receive the benefit but will remain a Class Member. You therefore waive your right to bring a separate lawsuit against Netflix concerning the Released Claims.

Option 3. Exclude Yourself From the Class
To exclude yourself from the class, you must mail a letter by December 28, 2005. By excluding yourself, you preserve your right to bring a lawsuit against Netflix concerning the Released Claims. However, you will not get the benefit described above.

Option 4. Make An Objection To The Settlement In Court
To object to the settlement, you must file legal papers in the San Francisco Superior Court by January 5, 2006.

To receive your benefit, you must register by February 17, 2006 as described above in Option 1. You will not receive any other reminders to register for the benefit. If you have registered for the benefit and your eligibility is confirmed, then you will be provided additional information by email following the Effective Date as defined in the Settlement Agreement.

After the benefit period ends, the new or upgraded level of service will continue automatically (following an email reminder) and you will be billed accordingly, unless you cancel or modify your subscription. You can cancel or modify your subscription at any time.

In addition, if the settlement is approved by the Court, Netflix will modify portions of its Terms of Use. Netflix also will refer to its Terms of Use in certain advertisements.

To get more information about the settlement and procedures, and to take options 1, 3 or 4, visit

SRC: 10312005CAS
(c)1997-2005 Netflix, Inc. 970 University Ave., Los Gatos, CA 95032
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I haven't decided what I'll do yet. I may opt out, because I think it is a frivolous lawsuit and a contemptible exploitation of the class by unprincipled lawyers. I have been on a jury for a Federal court in a civil action, so I understand that a lawsuit like this could have taken weeks to try, costing the court and both parties a great deal of time and money. The negative publicity would have been damaging. Netflix is doing what they can to control the damage. A lawsuit like this is a type of extortion, forcing Netflix to pay up or take an even larger hit.

I believe Netflix has done nothing wrong, and that reasonable subscribers had reasonable expectations regarding the terms and what Netflix meant by "unlimited." Reasonable people know what to expect for $17.99.

Netflix always stated clearly that "most subscribers" could expect "usually one-day delivery". Since I understand the English language and basic logic, that tells me that some subscribers would NOT receive one-day delivery, and those that do receive one-day delivery would experience times when they would not.

In this society, you are expected to use good judgment and accept the consequences of your own decisions, unless you can persuade a lawyer to sue.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Netflix model is succeeding worldwide

For all those investment analysts who remain skeptical of Netflix's long-term success, I suggest they look at how Netflix-clones are proliferating all over the world. After I posted about a Japanese online DVD rental service, a faithful reader alerted me to the existence of MediaXpres in Spain.

Australia has BigPond Movies (Fetchmemovies), Homescreen, and Quickflix

Canada has

For France, there's Glowria and Cinehome.

In Germany, they have Frisbi and Netlieh.

For each one I find, another one springs up. I'm sure there are lots more. Please post in the comments if you know of other online DVD rental delivery services outside of the U.S. Just because I link to a business on this blog does not mean that I guarantee it is legitimate.