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NetFlix vs. Blockbuster

An article on TechCrunch has me re-evaluating my NetFlix subscription.

I've never switched to Blockbuster's online delivery service because, frankly, we've never had reason to. We're happy with NetFlix. Still, the quest for a better bargain has forced us to at least ask the question from time to time.

Carey and I pay $17.99/month (which comes out to less than $20 after taxes, etc.) for three-at-a-time rentals. We average about 10 movies per month (roughly half our optimal rate of 19 or so). We each have our own queue - Carey is allowed one movie out at a time and I two - and we maintain them with NetFlix Freak and online, both of which present enjoyable experiences.

Though the nearest Blockbuster is only 3.1 miles away, it takes approximately 100x longer to get there and back than it does to make a trip to the mailbox and back, so "free" "extra" movies don't interest us much, particularly when they require two such trips, and the added negative of a "due date" I'd prefer not to have to remember. Additionally, I'd much rather browse for a movie online - where I can check IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and other resources - than in a retail location. All of this makes the "free" "extra" movies a perk I'm unlikely to use with any regularity.

NetFlix has never noticeably stalled a movie in my queue and they seem to have a much larger library. I appreciate adding in-theater movies to my queue so that I receive them shortly after their DVD release. The nearest NetFlix distribution center is in Pittsburgh, so if I return a movie on Monday, I have its replacement on Friday. As someone who recently burned through five seasons of 24, each of which consists of six discs, I have no complaints about NetFlix's speed. I've only ever had one "lost movie" (and it was on return) and NetFlix handled the notice quickly and sent the next movie in my queue, then notified me a month later when the USPS delivered it.

Carey and I see a fair number of movies (the ones we want to see, anyway) at the local dollar theater, and we're not "we need a movie TONIGHT" type people.

In other words, there's absolutely no reason for me to switch to Blockbuster now. However, I'm interested in hearing the thoughts of others. Which service do you use and why?

P.S. I don't rent games and Carey and I used the "turn in your NetFlix covers for a free rental" to the tune of about six free rentals, one of which we still need to return.

23 Responses to "NetFlix vs. Blockbuster"

  1. It seems like you're pretty happy with Netflix. What's making you consider a switch to Blockbuster? In my experience, Blockbuster's online service has a much smaller catalog and they seem to be quite a but slower. They also seemed to ignore the order in my queue; they would send me, for example, numbers 12 and 28 from the queue. Now, this was about a year ago, so they're service may have improved by now. And I have to admit that the new system for returning movies to the brick and mortar store is pretty tempting.

    There was a pretty good discussion on Digg a few weeks ago about Digg vs. Netflix, if you're looking for more of a users' comparison between the services.

  2. Jason Bessey said on December 26, 2006:

    It seems like you're pretty happy with Netflix. What's making you consider a switch to Blockbuster?

    As I said, I'm simply weighing my options. I've found that periodically doing so is wise. It prevents brand loyalty through laziness, which means it prevents me from getting ripped off simply because I'm too lazy to update myself on the latest features of competing products.

    But as I also said, there seems to be no reason to switch. The TechCrunch article actually has quite a lot of user commentary as well, and the general vibe appears to match my own: that NetFlix is the better service.

    I do welcome the competition, of course.

  3. My wife and I use NetFlix, and we're pretty happy with it. The local distribution center is in Raleigh, so if we drop something in the mail on Monday, they have it Tuesday, and we have a new movie on Wednesday.

    Our NetFlix DVDs go to our post office box, as all of our mail does, and that's about as far as Blockbuster is from our house, but NetFlix sure is a lot more convenient.

    And, from what I've seen, the selection is better. NetFlix has a lot of old movies, where Blockbuster's thing seems to be recent releases.

  4. I've used Netflix but currently subscribe to Blockbuster Online. The benefit is being able to either (1) mail your movie back in, or (2) take it to the nearest blockbuster store to get either a free movie OR video game rental. I've been taking advantage of #2 big time. I'm currently paying $9 a month to get three movies sent to me PLUS 3 movies or video game rentals from the store. While I have out the video from the store the next video in my queue is sent to me--they don't hold it until I return the store rental. Another thing is that although Blockbuster store current movies are only 2 day rentals, they have no late fees (except for some weird 'it becomes purchased after 7 days and if returned there is a stocking fee'--stocking fee=late fee). The reality is that a 2 day rental is really a 1 week rental. That's plenty of time to return the movie.

    Although Netflix may have more movies online, being able to watch 6 movies a month for $9 is well worth it. The mix of online/brick n mortar is convenient.

    I'm no hater of Netflix by any means, but Blockbuster has a good deal going on.

  5. I have been a member of Netflix since 2000 and have been impressed with their ability to add new features over the years.

    They also sort of have me as a happy captive since I have rated approximately 1500 movies and use it to keep track of all the movies I have seen.

    Like Erik and Carey, I do not play games and I do not usually need to "see a movie now" I usually see blockbusters in the theaters, and now I've been working my way through the AFI and IMDB top movie lists.

    Like Daniel, if I send a movie out on Monday, I will have a new one by Wednesday. Which means if I'm keeping up with watching them, I can get another round of movies again before the weekend: Watch it Wednesday night, return it on Thursday, get new movies on Saturday.

  6. I tried a one month trial of BlockBuster probably 15 months ago or so. It was like NetFlix only not as good. Movie returns seemed to be slower (less distrobution centers?), and selection was weaker. There were in store perks but I really don't enjoy going to the rental store, and if I do I prefer the local Videoland to the Blockbuster's anyways. Everyone else must have too because the Blockbuster stores in town here closed in the Spring of 2006.

    Neflix has really upgraded their site with a lot of cool features, plus the ability to have separate queues within an account is awesome. I'm staying with Netflix for the substantial future probably.

    What I would really like Netflix to do Movie and Games. I know there are some sites doing both but the reviews are less than stellar to say the least.

  7. Mike, I too am using NetFlix to go through AFI's top 100 list. I also use NetFlix for TV shows - there are so many shows available on DVD now that I can almost cancel my cable... almost.

    I also use NetFlix to watch every movie that starred a particular actor or was directed by a specific director. It's very cool.

  8. Corrections to my previous post:

    I pay $8 a month. I do not get to exchange my online DVD's in store for games - just movies. I get an additional rental when using the coupon available online and given out once a month. This coupon is also good for games. I am able to rent 7 movies (or 6 movies and 1 game) every month. That works out to be about $1.15 per rental.

  9. Blockbuster Online Experience
    I cancelled my account, removed all DVDs from my queue, and returned all movies within the specified time period. Blockbuster Online, a week after I canceled and with nothing left in my queue, sent two DVDs without my knowledge. I did not request the DVDs, and I never wanted to use the service ever again. I have now been charged for the two DVDs forcibly sent after cancellation.

    I only used the Blockbuster Online service for two months, and I cancelled because of extremely slow service, and missing, incorrect or broken DVDs. The Blockbuster Online website shows an Internal Server Error when I try to make contact, and when I call, I am put on hold for over 20 minutes only to be disconnected. Now almost two months after I cancelled, I have to deal with unauthorized billing because my financial information is still on record. I have to change all of my financial information at my bank because Blockbuster states that it is impossible to remove it from their records.

    Do not use this service.

  10. [...] NetFlix vs. Blockbuster [...]

  11. Between Netflix and Blockbuster, I do believe that Netflix has the more robust web interface and interaction with its users. Even with Blockbuster's redesign, it's still not as appealing as I remember Netflix to be. However, I've never had a major problem with Blockbuster and consider it to be the more economical and convenient of the two. Not to say the previous user didn't have a bad experience, but I remember not to long ago users were blasting Netflix for playing favorite with new users. Bottom line is that there is bound to be good and bad with both services.

  12. Certainly Netflix has more movies, but I have switched to Blockbuster because I don't watch TV, so watch a lot of movies. With Blockbuster I can walk or bike to my nearby store and swap movies whenever I feel the need. With Netflix, I would rack up about $25 extra a month buying movies from local video stores when I was waiting for them to send me a movie. So for me the fact that there are probably fewer choices is compensated by the fact that I never have to wait for a movie.

    Also, of course, my local Blockbuster store is pleasant, and they always give my dog a treat when I stop by!

  13. Netflix has a much larger catalogue than Blockbuster. This is not to say that you'll find everything you may ever want at Netflix, but if your taste goes beyond the plethora of newly released crap and mainstream mindnumbing movies (apparently sometimes edited for viewing by children in chastity belts), Netflix has a lot more to offer.

  14. Well I switched from Netflix to BB about two weeks ago and BB seems much better. I have been a member of netflix for over 4 years but lately they have been taking longer to ship my movies and I can never get new releases. I had netflix 8-at a time plan which worked out good for the first month but then was only as good as the 3-at a time plan since they took their time shipping me movies and made all the new movies have a short-wait.

    I have the 3-at-a-time plan with bb and over the last two weeks I have rented 18 movies. When I had the same plan with netflix I barely got that a month.

    Blockbuster's website does suck but they are better when it comes to new releases, primarily because you can get any new release in the store. The ship movies fast and I always have a movie at home because by the time I have to take the movies i rented back, new movies come in the mail.

    Oh, no late fees! Don't know how they do it but you wont be charged late fees unless u keep the movie for two weeks.

    Oh, my bb is 5 mins down the street and I work at home so it works out for me. I just moved and at my old place the nearest bb ws around 20 mins. away so of course then I wasn't interested in it at all.

    My conclusion, switch if you like to get more movies and the movies you want. I love netflix but bb has a great deal that's just to good to pass up. Oh, you can still use netflix website after you cancel to get recommendations and stuff. I actually use their site to add new movies to my bb queue since bb's website is pretty bad.

  15. I've been using Netflix since 2001, and it works for me. For the past 3 weeks however, they have been sending my movies a day later than I used to get them.

    I have used Blockbuster probably about 4 times in the last 2 years. I usually cancel within 1-2 months due to VERY slow delivery(2 week wait one time), and the odds that I would get an unplayable movie were much higher than with Netflix. Also, I would hardly ever get movies that were at the top of my queue, despite it supposedly being "available". While the return in store is nice, I prefer to just go to my mailbox.

    Even if I use Blockbusters in store swap, I still will end up renting more through Netflix just because the shipping is so much faster with about 2 days turn around rather than 4-14 days with Blockbuster.

    When Blockbuster opens more distribution centers, and clears the bugs out of it's web site and queue system.. I'll try it again.

  16. I am surprised just how many people are in favor of Netflix than Blockbuster.

    I understand people's loyalty towards Netflix, especially those who have been members for years but for their own benefit they should at least try Blockbuster for 1 month before making their minds for which service is better.

    I have personally tried both services for a few months each before settling down with Blockbuster for the following reasons (I am located in Rochester, NY):

    1) Quicker Shipment: For me they were much faster than Netflix. In case of Netflix sometimes they ship the discs the next day after receiving my disc; blockbuster on the other hand in 80-90% cases shipped it same day.

    2) Blockbuster shipped another disc in case the one I ordered didnt receive within 3 days, this in case of Netflix requires 6 days before Netflix will take any action. In addition, Blockbuster will ship the disc that was un-playable or didnt receive by them within a day I shipped or received it...Netflix again one has to wait for 6 days before anything happens

    3) No. of discs I obtained from Blockbuster ranged between 19-24/month in 3 disc scheme. This in case of Netflix, for me, ranged only between 12-16/ month.

    4) Customer service: I personally founded Blockbuster customer service much quicker in replying back with convincing reply than Netflix.

    5) Return service of Blockbuster is MILES better than Netflix. This is because I found that Blockbuster, no matter where the disc is shipped from, gave me advantage of shipping the disc back to my local Blockbuster return facility (by mail) in Rochester than ship it to a different state. On the other hand, in case Netflix doesn't have a disc in your local area, they will ship it from a different state and you are required to ship it back to the same facility where the disc came from...hence taking 2-3 days extra in return which results in slowing of discs shipment.

    5) One thing that goes in favour of Netflix over Blockbuster is the catalogunig of their discs is fantastic where as Blockbuster is very mediocre. I personally realized that Blockbuster has probably 85-90% of disc selection that Netflix has but they are not well indexed/ cataloged so one has to know the precise name of the film in order to find the movie or serial they are looking for on Blockbuster (which isnt a problem for me as I know what I want).

    Overall, I found Blockbuster service much more reliable and most importantly speedy. I receive, surprisingly, 45-50% more discs/ month in 3 disc option from Blockbuster than Netflix.

  17. NetFlix was the first online service that I used until Blockbuster Online first came online. I switched and have been on the program ever since. I used the NetFlix trial since then to see if it improved and there really is no comparison. First off Netflix is an "online service" only which right off the bat is a problem for me. I have been with Blockbuster since 1997. Blockbuster gives you both worlds "Online & A Place You can walk into to visually see the movies you want to get. " Here are the reasons I won't go to Netflix :

    1. Savings- You get almost Double the movies with Blockbuster that you would get with NetFlix because you get a free rental in the store for every movie that gets mailed to you on-line.
    2. There are Blockbuster Stores all over the country. Your card is good in all the stores so no matter where you are you basically can get you exchange movies anywhere that you got from the online to get your free rentals from any of the stores. (Especially nice if you went on vacation)
    3. You get a coupon once a month in your account that you can use for either a movie or a game. (Which costs almost $9.00 normally for just one).
    4. Being on the Online program gives you benefits at the store that regular store customers do not have- Special Deals on Movies - Example: Instead of getting 2 previously previewed movies for $20.00 you can get 3 for $20.00 when getting your free instore rental.
    5. You have access to your account in the store so if you want to get one of the movies in your queue while you are there you can get it , access your account to remove it from your queue and then add another one.(Most stores have the Laptops that you can access while you are there.)
    6. People can assist you in the store anytime you are there when trying to get movies.
    7. You can watch those constant trailers on the several t'v's at the stores when your walking around looking for movies.

    The Bottom line is you have more choices with Blockbuster that you do not have with NetFlix. Let's not forget when Blockbuster first went online - NetFlix Sued Blockbuster because they wanted to be the "only one " to be able to offer that service to their customer's. That's a monopoly they tried to create. The Online feature is a service that Blockbuster offers to their customers. NetFLIX online movie shipping is the only service they offer. (That makes them limited and less efficient. Blockbuster has been around longer and are always finding ways to improve. I'm not going to turn away from a business that's all over the place to one you can't even see except on a 17 inch monitor or from your mail box. Why would anyone else?

    There is definitely things that need to be improved with Blockbuster but from what I've seen they are making it better. Some of the things above are just a few ways they have already improved.

  18. Mike Ferlo said on May 1, 2007:

    The Bottom line is you have more choices with Blockbuster that you do not have with NetFlix.

    And yet, you have less actual choice when it comes to movies. Blockbuster has far fewer movies in its inventory/library than NetFlix.

    Mike Ferlo said on May 1, 2007:

    Let's not forget when Blockbuster first went online - NetFlix Sued Blockbuster because they wanted to be the "only one " to be able to offer that service to their customer's. That's a monopoly they tried to create.

    And Amazon sued people for "one-click." They didn't try to create a monopoly, they tried to protect their intellectual property. And if anything, BB is the monopoly player here.

    You made a nice effort at really selling Blockbuster. Are you an employee? :-P I'll stick with NetFlix, personally.

  19. I used Blockbuster for a while. I quit because the DVDs seemed to take too long to arrive.

    Then I used Netflix. They were ok for a time. Once I was on the 5 at a time plan and they came pretty quickly. Then I got a rash of broken and cracked DVDs so I went down to the 2 at a time plan and then the 1 at a time plan. I still received broken DVDs. Some of the replacement DVDs were even cracked. They need a better method of shipment. I just cancelled with them today.

    I never received cracked DVDs with blockbuster.

  20. MD TN said on October 10, 2007:

    I never received cracked DVDs with blockbuster.

    And not once have I ever received a cracked DVD from NetFlix. Perhaps your postman has an issue with them?

  21. I have never received a broken DVD from Netflix as well. I have only had 1 go missing in 2 years. Blockbuster Slowline had 30% damaged or broken during the trial period before I greatly enjoyed cancelling their service. I have never, ever, ever, believed in a company as little as Blockbuster.

  22. Been using Netflix since 11/07. Blazingly fast response. If this is throttling, then keep on throttling till you throttle me up. The only problem has been broken dvds. I've received 4 broken dvds since November. I received one that was completely ripped from hole to edge, flapping. I received one that was cracked, sent it back and Netflix promptly mailed me the SAME DISC. Is that lame or what? I decided to try BB. I signed up on 3/30 for the 2-week trial. I am in Seattle. Notice that Netflix's local depot is in Tacoma; BB's allegedly in Seattle itself. Both companies mailed 3 on 3/31. THE 3 BB DISCS HAVE YET TO ARRIVE. Tomorrow will be 4 days. Tomorrow I will most likely receive from Netflix a SECOND MAILING THIS WEEK. In 4 days, 6 from Netflix; 0 from BB. I will be cancelling BB tomorrow, whether the discs arrive or not. A prediction: BB will be dead with 18 months. Note to self: I think this "broken dvd" thing may be a very cunning throttling technique. Hmmm. Yes. I can *almost* respect that. Sly devils.

  23. This must be a Blockbuster sister site. Netflix has normal problems. Blockbuster scams.


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