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Watch “Lost” and other TV shows at Netflix

Netflix TV shows

I just logged in to my Netflix account and discovered that they have added Lost, Desperate Housewives, and a few other ABC shows to their streaming video collection. Here is the complete list taken from the today’s public release:

  • Lost - seasons 1-5
  • Desperate Housewives - seasons 4,5
  • Grey’s Anatomy - season 5
  • Legend of the Seeker - season 1,2

You obviously need a Netflix account to watch the shows on your computer or another Netflix enabled device but the streams are commercials free and you can watch as many as you want (no time limit) if you buy a plan for $8.99 / month. All of this is of course in addition to the DVD’s you rent from them.

By adding instant content to the website Netflix keeps pushing me closer towards shelling out a couple hundred bucks for a Netflix enabled DVD to our bedroom. We use a media PC to watch TV in our living room but every time I want to watch Netflix in the bedroom I have to use my laptop - not a very convenient setup especially if you fall asleep during the movie. ;-)

Netflix to lift “instant watch” limitations

Associated Press spills the beans about upcoming changes to Netflix marketing strategy regarding the movies available for instant watch from their website. Starting January 14, 2008 all customers who have signed up to at least “1 at-a-time” membership plan (currently $8.99) will enjoy unlimited movies. Previously the limitation was set according to the plan (e.g. $8.99 plan would buy you 9 hours of streaming movies a month).

The article then goes on to explain that this is a preventive measure by Netflix to make its service more competitive against the Apple’s upcoming entrance to movie rental business.

I have used Netflix’s instant watch a couple of times in the past and finding a decent movie to watch is always a challenge. I personally think Netflix can’t compete with Apple unless they significantly expand the selection. Apple reportedly plans to charge $3.99 per movie download and something tells me they will offer more than a set of B-rated titles Netflix currently has in the “Watch Instantly” section.

Read more from Associated Press (via Google News)

Netflix lowers DVD rental rates by $1

I did some research back in February on which service to use, Blockbuster or Netflix, and as the result I am a happy Netflix customer right now. The reasons I chose Netflix over Blockbuster? Here are some:

  • Netflix has better website IMHO;
  • All my friends are on Netflix so we can share favorites;
  • Faster DVD turnout rate;
  • Better variety of foreign titles

There is just one thing that I like with Blockbuster which Netflix doesn’t offer. For the same price you pay to Netflix for 3-DVD out subscription ($17.99 right now) you can get one free in-store rental a month with Blockbuster. This is very useful when friends drop in for a visit and you need to choose what to watch.

Netflix sure realizes the importance of this benefit. According to this Associated Press article starting tomorrow they are lowering price of their 3-DVD’s out plan from $17.99 to $16.99 and the price for 2-DVD’s plan (the one I currently have) from $9.99 to $8.99. Earlier this year Netflix lowered price on two other plans which now cost $13.99 and $4.99.

To counter-fight the measure Blockbuster has a set of plans which cost $1 less but exclude the option of free in-store movie rental and in-store movie exchange. What can I say, this looks like a war for on-line DVD rental dominance. ;-) And we as customers are the winners!

For current Netflix pricing information go to this page and click on “How much do the plans cost?” to the right. For Blockbuster follow this link and click on “See all plans” button.

Simple steps to reduce BlockBuster monthly rate

Someone at SlickDeals forums reports that they were able to lower their monthly subscription rate for BlockBuster Total Access online rental service by as much as 50% for the next two months by simply attempting to cancel the service. Others say that the options they were offered included a permanent reduction by a smaller percentage. Also, it seems that the options change when you click the browser back button and attempt canceling the service again.

It sounds to me like BlockBuster has implemented some automated customer retention mechanism to reduce the outflow of unhappy customers. Following my research on what is better between BlockBuster and Netflix, I personally subscribed to Netflix and this trick is of no use to me but hopefully if will work for some of you. If it does, let me know about it in your comments!

BlockBuster Total Access

Netflix vs. Blockbuster: what should I use?

I don’t watch too much TV. In fact I almost never watch it. For that reason I don’t even have a cable or a satellite receiver in my house. I do however enjoy a good movie once in a while and since we have two small kids all the movies we watch are rentals.

I have been contemplating for a while joining an online movie rental service. Partially to save on rental DVD’s and partially to organize and plan my movie nights. It is a rather sporadic event at the moment and sometimes we end up watching a low quality movie only because I didn’t spend enough time researching it.

Competition leveled the pricing plans

After WalMart pulled out of movie rental business in May 2005 there seem to be just two choices left: Netflix and Blockbuster. Both companies have the same pricing plans (with Netflix offering slightly more choices) and you really have to look at what other perks the companies offer.

Netflix vs. Blockbuster

Techcrunch covered it earlier and multiple Netflix users have recently reported that the instant movies announced by the company earlier in January are now available online. The service is free for Netflix customers and allows them to watch a selection of about 1000 movies and TV shows online on their PC’s using Internet Explorer.

Netflix puts a monthly limit on the streaming video to one hour for each $1 of service you are signed up for each month (so if you are signed up for the $14.99, 2 DVDs at-a-time plan, you get 15 hours a month).

On the other hand Blockbuster has such perks as one free in-store movie (or video game) per month and the flexibility to return in store the movies that you order online, thus reducing the turn-around time.

Extra perks make all the difference

One more thing to consider is the fact that Netflix reportedly has a better online software for organizing the movies you plan to watch. From what I heard it learns your preferences by looking at how you rank the movies you have watched. Another neat feature is that friends can share their movie lists.

Let’s summarize what we have.

Service plan pricing

Plan Netflix Blockbuster
2 DVD’s per month, 1 DVD at a time $4.99 Not offered
Unlimited rentals, 1 DVD at a time $9.99 $9.99
Unlimited rentals, 2 DVD’s at a time $14.99 $14.99
Unlimited rentals, 3 DVD’s at a time $17.99 $17.99
Unlimited rentals, 4 DVD’s at a time $23.99 Not offered

Additional factors

Netflix:

  • Instant movies and TV shows on your PC
  • Better movie rating/selection software

Blockbuster:

  • One free in-store movie each month
  • Return DVD’s in-store or by mail

Netflix vs. Blockbuster: what should I use?

Based on the information above, which service should I sign up to? I appreciate any comments and especially from someone who used both services and can compare the variety of offered titles and how fast the DVD’s come to your door after you order them.




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