Are you losing money with your Netflix subscription?

Via Andrew Sullivan, calculate the answer here.  I find, however, that this service does not capture the value of Netflix to me.  What I like about Netflix is that I can put a movie directly into my queue and then forget about it.  It's more a way of organizing information than a means of economizing on movie rental expenses.  But why not just set up a tagging system?  With Netflix, I feel some financial pressure –or should I say the desire to avoid feeling like a non-maximizing idiot? — to work through my queue at a positive rate.  It keeps me watching, or at least trying, more movies than otherwise would be the case.


The value of Netflix to me: no more arguments at the video store about wanting to rent Barbie's 12 Dancing Princesses yet again, or having to run the gauntlet at the checkout counter with my 3-year-old trying to grab all the candy she can. Netflix is priceless.

By the way, one of my girls thought it was called Ned's Flakes instead of Netflix. Thus we all get excited now when we get a package from Ned.

Not relevant. Netflix has far more movies available than my local video store ever did. There were many Friday nights when I would go to the video store and not be able to find anything I wanted to watch that hadn't already been rented. But they never lacked for copies of the latest Adam Sandler "comedy"! That, not cost, is the advantage of Netflix.

Also, I found that the nominal cost of movies at a video store were not in fact the actual cost, thanks to late fees. Even if the flat fees at Netflix come out higher, at least I know what I'll actually get charged.

My city library rents me new movies for a buck, and older ones for free. That makes it hard for any commercial vendor to compete. I'll go to Hollywood Video for the occasional blu-ray, and now that I've got hd-cable, just watch what's offered (I recorded Bowfinger last night, it's been a while since I've seen that one).

I think the only thing that would break into my mix would be free streaming, more hulu-like competition.

I've found that FeedFlix does a better job of analyzing your rentals.

The problem with that analysis tool is that it can't deal with gaps in your subscription nor changes in plan. I've been an on-again, off-again Netflix subscriber for 3 years, often putting my account on hold for a month or two or three. That site assumes a continuous subscription with an identical plan.

I actually just tried FeedFlix suggested by Frank, and I think it's pretty cool. Only problem is that it doesn't refresh information very quickly, and incorrectly identified which plan I was on.

I was a very early Netfix user, before they switched to subscription pricing, before Blockbuster offered DVDs. But I refused to feel pressure to watch x movies per month or feel like I was wasting money. I have HD video on demand on cable plus HBO and Showtime with a DVR. NetFlix adds little marginal benefit.

Off-topic: Is that a new TC book on this cool widget there?

Everything Tyler says, and more: their recommendations sometimes help find pictures I otherwise wouldn't know about. Their algorithm must be pretty crude though; liking "Annie Get Your Gun" got me suggestions for gangster movies.

My Netflix account also serves 2 other purposes. For one, I use my account to rent season DVDs of shows like Six Feet Under. I don't subscribe to cable as I don't like 99% of what's on, so I see my netflix account as a substitution allowing me to catch up on those rare things I would watch if I had it. So, part of the value of Netflix lies in what I'm not paying for cable, which is a good deal considering that those season DVD rentals are rare enough it wouldn't justify the cost otherwise. I also rent workout DVDs so I can try before I buy, and at least have enough variety in my workouts to encourage me to do so more regularly. That saves on those purchases and has other benefits as well. So yes, there are additional factors to consider, and I have to second the idea that the local video store doesn't have the selection I want anyway--which is why I tried Netflix out in the first place back in 2004.

Netflix is a great service for film fans but what is really scary is the now lack of funds to make new films as a result of the non recoupment of production loans due to sites like netflix putting such a low cost per viewing on such a costly venture (film). Netflix is only being competitive but at what cost to content in the future? Don't give me the Blair Witch story either as I do work in the business and know well enough that for every Blair Witch there are 10,000 that don't even get released.

go to my social experiment site (good for film and economics buffs) at

We're going to attempt to build an economy online within the world of film.

love this blog by the way

Broadband internet access will eventually be sold on a per gigabyte basis, but for now it is possible to free ride massively with services like Watch Instantly, Hulu, YouTube, iTunes all substituting for the traditional cable/rental model. Choosing the most cost effective media delivery is akin to optioning a new car or picking from healthcare plans.

Brian and Carrie please try out Feedflix. It will incorporate your insta-queue.

Supposedly I pay ~$2/movie, although if you count "watch instantly" that's probably more like $1/movie. So that's pretty good, I think.

To the poster who uses Amazon: I think the wish list is more suited to what you are doing. I keep all books I may want to read on mine (currently about 300, but increases at a fairly steady rate).

I've cancelled my netflix subscription three times.

But never again.

Reason for canceling: the movie I have is never the movie I want to watch. They sometimes end up sitting around for months until I send them back.

It's *perfect* for watching TV shows. But there aren't any (left) that I want to watch.

Why I have a ($4.99) subscription now, and won't cancel:


$100 box plugs into your TV and connects to your wifi. You can watch any of netflix's instant movies for free. Limited selection, but lots of good stuff (especially older stuff). Recent upgrade means the quality is usually excellent. (I have a a 720p projector with like an 11' screen.)

You can also view rented movies from Amazon on Demand via the Roku box.

Netflix/Roku plus Amazon on Demand means--despite my unhealthy need to choose my movie at the moment--that I almost never go to the video store any more.

For $100 up front (chalk it up to gas charges, so free) plus $60 a year--the cost of renting 24 DVDs, or two a month--plus miscellaneous Amazon rental charges.

Unfortunately I still have that one netflix DVD lying around preying on my mind. I was in the mood to watch it when I put it in my queue...

Steve Roth you are my hero!

Subjective value!!!

When I bought my VUDU I weight it against Netflix and found that the convenience and number of rentals I make a month would make more sense with VUDU. I'm glad I did because I think the quality is great and the selection is amazing.

It doesn't take into account the value of movies that aren't available at brick and morter stores

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