2011-09-21 02:02 - General

So, what's up with Netflix .. err Quickster? Here's my story, and some data, and my conclusion:

Back in (I think) 2004, I signed up for a program at the local (Hollywood Video) rental store. For $10.85 per month, I could rent 3 movies at a time. And since there was no mail delay, at the very beginning I'd often rent 3 movies each on Saturday and Sunday (no penalties, so I'd grab anything that seemed interesting, and just stop if I didn't like it, because I knew I could have three more tomorrow). I very rapidly worked through the collection that one video store could provide.

Enter Netflix. Their shipping history page says I got my first disc from them on February 27th, 2005. And I was a happy subscriber for a long time. It was really easy, thus convenient. From their rental history page, I also can see that I've gotten just under 850 different movies from them, over the six year period since.

But they've changed their prices a few times. Inflation happens, OK. But the most recent series of changes were the last straw. Why? Probably because I don't like Netflix anymore. After 850 movies, there's not a lot left I want to see. I had this vague feeling, but the data really agrees. Here's some graphs!

My rental volume held pretty steady for four years, but in the last two has steadily dropped to about a quarter of that. (Streaming will make up some of the difference, but I didn't stream much, partially because of the slight catalog, and partially it just wasn't part of my routine like the physical DVDs were.) My average rating fell slowly over time, with an unexpected peak in the last few months. (I suspect increased TV show catchups, and easier finding good stuff, with the reduced volume.)

But the big kicker: cost per disc. At its lowest, it was $1.22; highest was $3.05; median of $1.65. I figured it would have been much cheaper earlier on, when I knew my activity was higher. But in general these past couple years, with reduced activity but not much reduced prices (even when dropping the subscription level I was on) cost per disc has been markedly higher. This makes $1/night Blockbuster Express (and free when I can find coupon codes!) a no brainer.

The graphs are all moving averages over four months to smooth out the jaggies. The last one with all three lines is the raw data.

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