Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I've mentioned several times before that we subscribe to Netflix. We joined in June 2005, just before Linzy had her back surgery, so that she would have something to watch while laid up at home.

Overall I've been pretty happy with the service. But since we are coming up on a year of having it, I've been evaluating whether we want to keep it, cancel the service, or change to a lower priced plan (2 movies out at a time).

On the plus side, it really is very convenient to just have the movies on-hand for watching whenever we feel like it. I also find that I watch more random/obscure movies and things that I would never have spent money to rent from Blockbuster because it is easy to throw them on the queue and have them show up someday months later.

On the other hand, it is relatively expensive and several months we didn't even watch enough movies to break even (relative to the $4 price of a rental from Blockbuster). And frequently the movies we do watch are things that I question whether we would actually have ever rented in the first place.

However, having Netflix could possibly be saving us money in other ways, namely movie theater tickets and buying DVDs. In 2004-2005 it appears we went to somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 movies in the theater (at least I wrote reviews for 16 movies that we saw in the theater). In 2005-2006, we only went to 7 movies (again, or I only wrote posts about 7 theater movie experiences). Each movie we don't go to in the theater covers nearly the entire cost of the monthly Netflix fee.

Similarly, we used to occasionally buy the DVDs of movies during the first week of release (when they were cheaper), that we either hadn't seen and thought we would enjoy, or had seen and wanted to see again. Sometimes we watched the movies, other times we don't get around to it, but either way those are expensive 'rentals' if we only watch the movie once. I suspect we've bought fewer DVDs for this reason, as we tend to just throw them on the Netflix queue.

On the other hand, Linzy's back was out of commission for movie theater attendance for a good portion of the year (in fact most of the 7 movies were only attended by me), so it is entirely possible that our reduction in movie ticket purchases was solely related to that and not the fact that we had movies on-hand and ready to go from Netflix. Along the same lines, I have absolutely no idea on the number of DVDs we bought from year to year, so it could be that we didn't really used to buy as many as I thought, or that most of the movies we bought but never watched were gifts.

In the end, my assumption is that the Netflix membership price was pretty much a wash as far as being a money saver.

So, given that, I just have to decide whether it would be worth the $3.20 a month savings to move down to the 2-movies-at-a-time plan. I suspect that most of the time we could get by on that plan, and it would help make it easier to 'break even' in terms of movies per month. On the other hand, it has been nice to be able to have one movie for Linzy, one movie for me, and one we both want to see all out at the same time. Certainly the two-at-a-time plan would make weekends (which is when we tend to watch most movies) somewhat more difficult in the event we wanted to watch more then one movie in a weekend.

Also to be considered, is my vague plan to get a new TV for the family room this summer. That would significantly improve the movie experience down there, as a 32" 4:3 TV viewed at 11.5 feet isn't really optimal (though it would do nothing to make the couch more comfortable). Whether a better TV would inspire us to watch more movies I don't know. And even if it did, given its exorbitant price, I couldn't really argue about Netflix saving us money.

In the end, I think I'll probably leave the Netflix subscription alone (inertia wins again), but will have to keep an eye on it.

If you are interested, here is the monthly break down of movie rentals:

Jun: 6
Jul: 9
Aug: 11
Sep: 3
Oct: 8
Nov: 3
Dec: 6
Jan: 9
Feb: 5
Mar: 7
Apr: 3
May: 4

The total per movie rate ended up being $2.85 (but that includes 6 'free' rentals in June).


Scooter said...

Pooteewheet and I are the kinds of customers they don't like much - we tend to rotate our list fairly quickly. But it has to do with having a kid - after 8:30 at night, Eryn is sleeping, and we have to do something around the house. In the summer that can include outside, but in the winter, not a chance, so we end up watching an hour of a movie (we break almost every movie into two nights since we had a kid) and then doing whatever else we were going to do (read/etc).

Did you add friends to your Netflix list? That's sometimes a good way to get an idea of what's really worth watching (their star system is really only useful for eliminating anything with a 1 or 2 - doesn't tell you anything about 3s and 4s in my opnion).

Andrea Anderson said...

One possible suggestion I have for you is if you do have DVDs you have purchased that are just sitting around being unwatched you can sell them through That's what I do. gives me a shipping allowance of $2-3 and I can ship it media mail which is a cheaper postal rate. I mean, if I can only get $3 for my DVD it may not be worth it but it's worth checking out.

That's my justification for buying books that I see on amazon that are still pretty expensive used, obviously after making sure they're not available through the library. I mean hey, if I can resell it, it's like I "rented" the book or DVD for just a few bucks.

Steve Eck said...

Scooter, nope we didn't have any friends added, although we just added Andrea today.

Andrea, I've never sold anything on That seems like it might be a good idea for some of the videos we have that we would probably never watch. But then again I am a bit of a packrat, so I have trouble getting rid of anything.