Friday, April 28, 2006

DVD-on-Demand via Amazon subsidiary CustomFlix

Via Video Business Online [subscription required]:
By Jennifer Netherby 4/24/2006

NBC Universal, A&E Home Video and PBS have signed with DVD publishing subsidiary CustomFlix Labs to make their niche TV content available for on-demand disc production.

Amazon VP of worldwide media Greg Greeley said Amazon is hoping to create a new way for studios to keep smaller titles from going out of print and bring out other films and TV shows that it wouldn't make economic sense to mass produce for a traditional release.

"What we're trying to address is the barriers they have for why they don't bring some of their great works to market," Greeley said.

Not only can Amazon make those programs and movies available when a customer places an order, Greeley said Amazon also can reach and target customers who might be interested in niche titles based on their previous purchases.

"This is a campaign by us to help unlock that long-tail selection of video content not available to customers right now," Greeley said, referring to niche product that tends to sell better online for a longer period of time, thus being dubbed long-tail.

This is exciting to me, because I'm on the hunt for some out of print titles. I hope DVD-on-Demand catches on with folks who own those titles, so I can see their movies, and they can make some bucks without signing away their rights to a distributor.

Netflix's Sunnyvale location

This is the Netflix distribution center located at 545 Oakmead Parkway, Sunnyvale, CA.

Originally uploaded to Flickr by

Netflix is a hit at Princeton

Via The Daily Princetonian
Netflix fills film void for students
"Often the turnaround is only two days," Netflix user Melissa Kessler '06 said. "I had doubts about the mailing process and picking it up at first, but it's pretty smooth. There's also no postage cost to return [the films]."

Netflix goes on the road

THE SKINNY: Here's a novel concept: NETFLIX, the largest online DVD rental service, is launching a screening event in August dubbed the 2006 NETFLIX ROLLING ROADSHOW which will embark on a 10-city tour to screen 10 popular Hollywood movies at their original filming locations.

From THE SHINING to FIELD OF DREAMS, this look like it's going to be one cool screening program.

The coast-to-coast trek will be hosted by a celebrity guide as it brings these modern day classics to communities large and small across the United States. Each screening offers attendees the opportunity to participate in activities based on the featured film's specific theme, such as a subway scavenger hunt in New York City for WARRIORS. In some cases, screenings will include cast appearances and Q&A sessions following the screening. CLERKS director Kevin Smith and cast members are expected to attend the screening at the Quick Stop shop in North Jersey.

The schedule of films and locations is posted here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rent Classics from SilverScreenArchive

I've joined another online-DVD-rental-by-mail service. SilverScreenArchive is a member of the Zdag consortium of video stores around the country which use the Netflix business model to rent DVDs online. I joined them because they have an amazing collection of classic titles not available from Netflix. SilverScreenArchive carries titles from 1930 to 1970, over seven about three thousand of them, in three types: transfers from commercially released VHS to DVD transfers from non-commercially released VHS to DVD, and commercially released DVD's.

I've been using SilverScreenArchive for about a month now. Although there are no due dates, late fees, or added shipping costs, all of their plans have a monthly limit. I'm on the "Gary Cooper" "Orson Welles" plan, which is $19.95 $21.95 for 3-out, maximum of 8 per month unlimited. Turnaround is was slower than Netflix, but since they don't promise "unlimited" rentals that's not an issue.

11/14/2007 UPDATE: Per their request, I have changed all references to Classicflix in this post, to SilverScreenArchive. ClassicFlix, as described here, no longer exists. They changed their name to SilverScreenArchive in October, 2006. I've updated the info about the plans and titles, and removed the old logo.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Netflix testing lower price plans

Netflix has a 1-out plan at $9.99/month, "unlimited," but they are testing lower priced plans which are not unlimited, but rather have different monthly limits of 2, 3, or 4 DVDs. If you have been a Netflix customer before, you can't see the lower price plans unless you first delete your Netflix cookie and reload the home page. You may have to reload it several times until you get the lowest price possible, which is $4.99 at the moment. Then sign up.

Here is where your cookie resides on your Windows XP system:

C:\Documents and Settings\yourname\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files

Your cookie will look like a plain text file, like this:

That's the file you delete.

Patricohet's experiment with Netflix testng the lower price plans.

News highlights

HackingNetflix has caught a lot of good stories this past week. Here are the highlights:

Netflix's Q1 earnings report (10-k). Conference call transcript here. I read the transcript, and I'm amazed at the questions some of the analysts ask which reveal they do not do their research.

USA Today profiles Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

Evolution of the Netflix envelope design. Slideshow here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

New Netflix TV advertisements

New 30-Second Spots Extend 'Movie Waiting for You at Home' Campaign on
Network and Cable TV

LOS GATOS, Calif., April 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), the world's largest online DVD rental service, today introduced new creative that extends the brand's 'There's A Movie Waiting for You at Home' television advertising campaign. Three new 30-second spots that entertainingly highlight the ease and convenience of the company's subscription service will begin airing nationally on April 24, 2006.

A spot entitled 'Gangster' features actor Tony Sirico of 'The Sopranos'fame. Sirico portrays a gangster who comically 'encourages' a homeowner to sign up for Netflix. The homeowner's wife puts her two cents in, at her peril.

A spot called 'Office' features an exchange between two co-workers, one of whom is already a Netflix member. The member reflects that he probably has a movie waiting for him at home and he does indeed, as a gladiator is giving his wife a massage at that exact moment.

There is a second ending to the 'Office' spot that will be alternated throughout the flight to keep viewers guessing. The second ending reflects that a movie is waiting at home as a spy hangs suspended in the member's living room.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Who is Neil Hunt?

Originally uploaded to Flickr by rnair.

I spotted a photo of Neil Hunt on Flickr, and thought you'd like to know more about the guy. He is one of the Netflix executives you don't hear from much. He has been the Chief Product Officer at Netflix since 1999, in charge of the design and implementation of the Netflix E-commerce store.

He was recently on a BayCHI panel discussion, called "Beyond Search: Social and Personal ways of finding information." You can find audio and notes from the presentation at the BayCHI Web site. The panel included folks from Digg, Live 365, Pandora, and Neil Hunt talks about how Netflix gathers and uses ratings to recommend movies to users. He says, "We know that some users will rate a film highly even though they didn’t necessarily like it. Netflix surpassed a billion ratings at the start of 2006, and they collect 2 million ratings a day."

Neil Hunt is the only Netflix employee, that I know of, who is a member of the Netflix Operations discussion group on Yahoo!, but only as a private individual, not as a Netflix spokesperson. He has a personal Web site, but he doesn't update it often.

Just based on my impressions of him, he seems like he is really proud of Netflix and enjoys working there.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy 8th Anniversary, Netflix!

On April 14, 1998 NetFlix Inc., started the world's first online store to offer DVD rentals.

At the time it opened, Netflix carried more than 900 DVD titles, which was every DVD available. They rented titles for a period of seven days, at a rate of $4 or $5 + shipping and handling. The DVD format had been around for about a year, and there were only 400,000 DVD players sold in America.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Notes to Blockbuster

Originally uploaded to Flickr by Keyser Soze.
Are sometimes funnier than notes to Netflix. Too bad I discover these AFTER I cancel my BBO account.

I have quit Blockbuster Online

I have finally quit Blockbuster Online. I was on the 3-out plan at the promotional rate of $14.99/month. I started on January 14, 2005, when they had the 3-out plan at the promotional rate of $9.99/month, and my first month was free. I received the $9.99 deal for about three or four months, so you can see why it was hard for me to quit.

Because I'm using Netflix for my 1001 quest, I decided to use BBO like a normal person, for current movies and mainstream classics. Now I'm going to concentrate purely on the quest, so I should be zipping through the 1001 twice as fast.

BBO says my account info and queue will be saved for six months, in case I want to restart my membership with them. That's nice. Another nice thing about BBO, is that I can still sign in and see my account information even though I've cancelled.

Bootleg Netflix t-shirts back on eBay

Please do not bid on or buy the Netflix t-shirts currently being offered on eBay. These shirts, according to the photo, are identical to ones that were offered a few months ago, which turned out to be not as described. They are cheaply made counterfeits. They are also charging $7.95 for shipping, which is excessive.

EBay has a new feature which allows you to immediately and easily report fraudulent or misleading listings. Look for the "report this item" link at the bottom of the listing's page. After clicking on the link, you will be asked to pick the category of violation you think it falls into. Please join me in reporting these items to the eBay authorities.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

242 to go

I have seen 759 of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
I have 193 of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die in my Netflix queue, including eight in the "saved" section.
I own 11 of them on VHS.
I know where I can rent about six of them on VHS.
That leaves 40 missing titles, which I will have to beg, borrow, or steal from somewhere.
The remaining films are going to be difficult to obtain. For example, Bruce Conner's Report, is a 13 minute film, distributed by Canyon Cinema on 16mm, for a rental fee of $40.00.
This quest is going to end up costing me a lot of dollars.
I may have to be content with beating Roger Ebert's record, which is 943.

Five Lessons From the Netflix Startup Story

Mark sent Hacking Netflix this great article by Jim Cook, one of the co-founders of Netflix, about Five Lessons From the Netflix Startup Story. If you're curious about how Netflix got started, and what sort of problems they faced, it's a fascinating read.

I joined Netflix as a subscriber and began blogging about them in 2004, after Netflix had already solved all of their problems, so I saw none of the trial-and-error aspects of the early business. They tried 150 envelope designs before they settled on the one we have now! They originally rented movies one at a time and had due dates and late fees. They were trying to replace the video store concept. It wasn't until they invented the queue and the subscription model that they really took off.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Netflix plugin for Beyond Media

SnapStream Blog is reporting that there's a Netflix plugin for your Beyond Media application, which allows you to view and interact with your Netflix queue on your TV, using your television remote control.

You can download the Netflix Plugin to your Beyond Media PC. Beyond Media is a program which "turns your PC into an all-in-one media center."

Make it a Netflix night

taco night
Originally uploaded by kidalan.
Netflix goes great with tacos

Friday, April 07, 2006

Too perfect to have been intentional

What do you think, folks? Is this a "normal" break, or is it "too clean?"

If a human didn't break it with bare hands, then how was it broken?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Netflix sues Blockbuster for patent infringement

Does silence mean consent?

As Reuters is reporting, Netflix has finally decided to sue to defend its patented business model, the DVD-by-mail, rotating subscription, queue-building model. Why did they wait so long? Why did they let Blockbuster Online spend $300 million dollars rolling out their online rental model, without a peep out of Netflix? Someone can infer from Netflix's silence heretofore, that they had no intention of enforcing their patent. If Blockbuster goes down, so will dozens of other smaller DVD-by-mail firms who have followed their example.

I found out about this from HackingNetflix

I'm fixin' to quit Blockbuster Online

I joined Blockbuster Online for the one month free trial, and then they gave me several months of the 3-out plan for $9.99, so I didn't quit, even when that promotion ended and the price went to $14.99. I've been a member for about a year now.

However, Hacking NetFlix is reporting, and I received notice from Blockbuster Online, that BBO is finally ending the $14.99 3-out plan. I am going to quit a couple days before the price goes up to $17.99. For that amount of money, it is my opinion that Netflix is the better deal. My Netflix distribution center is in Greensboro, NC, where I live, whereas the Blockbuster Online distribution center is in Charlotte, NC. As for BBO shipping from stores, that hasn't been better for me. It's been worse, because the stores are farther away and take longer to respond. The in-store coupons are of no value, because the nearest Blockbuster Video has a lousy selection of titles.

Monday, April 03, 2006

IndiePix - burn-on-demand

IndiePix is a download-to-own service which allows you to burn DVDs of your downloaded films, so you can watch them anywhere. They distribute independent, classic, documentary, and other genre films, and they expect to be adding more titles continuously. You can also search for films according to which film festival had them. This looks like a cool way to get film festival content that is unavailable elsewhere. It looks like the films cost about $15-17.

'Sin City' in the Mailbox

'Sin City' in the Mailbox
Originally uploaded by thelifeofcy.
This Netflix art required skill and imagination. Thanks to thelifeofcy for the creativity.