For years, I visited the brick-and-mortar Blockbuster stores, renting movies first on videocassette (ask your parents, young ones) and then on DVD.
I completed the membership form everytime I changed cities, each instance just slightly less painful that the government security clearance application I had to fill out a few years back.
I dealt with deadlines and late fees and a computer system that insisted month after month that the wife had lost a movie despite everyone in the store saying “No, you returned it, ignore that $100 charge we keep sending you. Honest. No big deal. Your credit report is cool and all.”
Then came Netflix. And the (mythical) angels sang from on high!
We’ve been members for over five years and have nary a complaint. Movies arrive quickly, selection is great, and when a disc happens to be unplayable, it’s usually the fault of our even older DVD player; much like a senile old man, it quickly swings from friendly to refusing to cooperate. I was sure that the end of Blockbuster was nigh.
But, it seems like some of you didn’t get the memo, and they’re still hanging on.
From what I can see, there are two main differences right now:
- Blockbuster allows you to return and pick up movies from the store rather than waiting for them to arrive in your mailbox.
- Netflix now offers a number of movies on demand for streaming to your computer, included in the price of your membership (and, it seems, without affecting the number of movies you can have out at one time). You can stream one hour of movie goodness for every dollar in your monthly plan charge.
I’m still sticking with Netflix. I dropped Blockbuster because the convenience of mail was better than having to make yet another stop on my way home from work, or a second trip out in the evening. As the turnaround time for us is negligible, adding that inconvenience back and calling it a feature isn’t a really big selling point for me.
However, Netflix’s streaming movies are a nice touch in my opinion. I can watch a movie on my lunch hour if I choose, or at the airport, or… well… just about anywhere given that I’ve got wi-fi and broadband wireless service on the laptop.
For people like my friend Rhett, who have an XP Media Edition PC hooked up to a beautiful television and middle-of-the-road speakers, it’s like having a home theater on demand, with a better selection than Comcast gives you.
And for dorks in their mom’s basement, those with eyeballs glued to the computer 24-7, one would think it would be heaven (note to Netflix: add a looping feature so they can watch nudie scenes over and over… ok, maybe I’d like that too).
So, for this family, Netflix it is, at least until Blockbuster pays to advertise on my site. Unless Netflix offers more.
Not that either has come knocking.
Update: Looks like it has been a good choice to stick with Netflix, as Blockbuster has seen fit to “improve” one of their current plans by stripping away features. Awesome job, Blockbuster!