13 July 2013

Going back to DVDs on Netflix

Our family has had a Netflix account since at least 2005. It may have been longer than that; I just remember that the Netflix concept of mailing DVDs was so new that my coworker to explain it to me and I had trouble explaining it to other people. Anyway, we have used Netflix for quite a long time and been happy with it. When split their plans into streaming-only and DVD options, we dropped our DVD option. We are always looking for ways to save money, and that was $10/month that could go toward our kids' school lunches. It's been a couple years without DVDs and I am finally ready to have that option back.

One of the main complaints when the subject of Netflix comes up is that their Watch Instantly catalog is light on new releases. For quite a while, I was in denial about this. I'm old enough to remember the time before movie rentals existed, so I don't have a problem waiting to see The Heat or whatever is in theaters right now. Also, the lack of mainstream Hollywood movies gave me and the kids a chance to discover the foreign movies and indie flicks that make up the bulk of the catalog. That is how we found Bollywood films and Korean dramas. I still maintain that there are a lot of interesting movies and TV shows to be found on the streaming side of Netflix if people are willing to take a chance on something they have never heard of.

As much as we've enjoyed the streaming service, I finally have to admit that it is no longer enough. The movie studios have gotten even stingier with the deals they are willing to sign with Netflix. Now it is not a matter of waiting a few months after the theatrical release or even a few months after the DVD release of a film. There are films that are never going to be streamed on Netflix. Even though I've heard about this on various tech podcasts, the reality of it didn't hit home with me until Pitch Perfect came out on DVD. I've been checking the streaming catalog periodically since December, and it still isn't streaming. I was even tempted to go down the street to one of the few video rental stores left in our area and rent it because my girls really wanted to see it. That's when I knew it was time to add the DVD option back into my Netflix plan.

Although adding the DVDs back to my plan will raise my bill and feels like a technological step backwards, I still think it is a good choice for us. Back in the heyday of the Netflix DVD plan, I read about people who would get a movie and have it for months because they never had time to sit down and watch it. That is not our family. We don't go out much so there is a lot of media consumption going on here. When we had the two-at-a-time DVD plan, we could easily go through eight DVDs a month. Our plan cost $18 back then, and there was no way we could take all of us to even one movie in the theater for that price. We could possibly rent from the store down the street for that much, if we didn't rack up late fees for returns (which happened quite often). I know there are other online streaming rental options like Amazon, but with as many movies as we watch I think that a flat-rate unlimited price is a better value for us.

I had fun adding movies to my queue yesterday. Strangely, I'm seeing more movies that I can stream now that both catalogs are open to me. That hasn't changed my mind about getting DVDs, though. I'm looking forward to seeing those red envelopes in my mailbox again!


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