Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Netflix vs. Blockbuster dilemma.

Let me start by saying that I love Netflix, hate Blockbuster.

Ah, if only life decisions were based soley on love and hate.

I've been a Netflix user since its inception in 1998. I've been an evangelist for the online dvd rental site, directing countless friends and family to their awesome service. The benefits were, and still are, fantastic: one monthly fee, no due dates or late charges, quick shipping, online queue, and the best feature of all: IF IT'S AVAILABLE ON DVD, IT'S AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX.

Seriously, they have pretty much any movie you can imagine, from the most recent to the most obscure. The rating system and customized recommendations have introduced me to a plethora of wonderful movies I'd never have known about, let alone seen. Blockbuster, on the other hand, caters primarily to the, well, blockbuster crowd. In other words, they're not real big on the Criterion Collection.

I was on the four-movie-at-a-time plan, unlimited movies per month. When I was living by myself, I'd easily go through 10-12 movies per month. That averaged out at about $1.50 per movie rental. Uh, great deal.

Here's the problem. Now we're a family of five, two of whom are pre-teen girls and one of whom is an 8-month-old boy. So movie watching has become much more of a spur-of-the-moment thing:

Hey, looks like we could watch a movie tonight. What do we have from Netflix? Hmm, don't really feel like that. Let's go to Blockbuster.

See the dilemma? Now, Blockbuster has a new thing called Blockbuster Total Access. It operates like Netflix where you go to their site, fill your queue with movies and they mail them to you. The kicker, though, is that you can either mail back the movie when you're finished, or you can take it to your local Blockbuster store, hand it to them, and get a free in-store rental. They send back the movie for you, and you still get the next movie in your queue mailed to you. Every time you have a movie to return, you can take it to the store for a free rental.


I signed up. I had to. For $15 per month we get two movies out at a time, plus the free rentals. Oh, plus we get another free anytime in-store rental (meaning we don't need to return one to get it) every month. It just makes more sense for the family. I'm a sellout.

But I couldn't say goodbye to Netflix. I downgraded my membership to the lowest level: one at a time, max of two per month for $5 per month.

If only Netflix would open a brick & mortar store...


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