Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Netflix--is it a valuable service or waste of time and money?

I decided to take the Netflix free trial offer and see whether I was interested in keeping it as a service or just see a bunch of movies and cancel at the end of the two weeks. The latter fits in better with my values. Here is why:

1. I prefer to entertain myself other than by watching television.
While it is nice to catch up on some movies I missed and did want to see, that means I have to invest at least four hours a month (at the low end of Netflix's subscription rates) in front of the TV watching the movies, assuming each movie is two hours. That does not even include any extras or listening to commentary on a DVD. At a higher subscription rate like the most popular one (subscribers can have three movies at once and unlimited number during the month), assuming three movies are watched each weekend, that is 12 movies a month and a whole day spent just watching movies. I would rather talk to friends, do crafts, read or write than watch that many movies.

2. My interest in movies is limited.
While I enjoy movies and own several DVDs and videos, there are just not many movies that capture my interest. I like action movies and am a fan of Pixar films, but most of the movie ads really do not capture my interest. In the end, this means I cannot really sustain the interest in a monthly movie subscription.

3. I would rather spend my money on other things.
It comes down to voting with my money. If there is a film I really like, I will make it to the theater and see it on a big screen with surround sound and even an IMAX screen if the film supports it. I have been to the theater twice in 2007 and both films were enjoyable. Plus I have some free movie tickets I want to use before they expire so I have alternative viewing options that reduce my movie costs.

Netflix is a very convenient service. I like having the movies delivered to my mailbox and they have an easy system for choosing films. They also let you know when the movies are sent out and when their warehouse receives them back. However, as I outlined above, I have more reasons to discontinue the service than to continue it. If you really enjoy movies in a wide range of genres and have the time to watch them all, I would recommend Netflix. If you horde your personal time, think TV viewing is a waste, and only rarely enjoy a movie, I would suggest finding alternative entertainment.

It would be easy to sign up for Netflix with the best of intentions, use it for a few months and then allow the company to keep charging you for your nonuse, draining your financial resources. Carefully consider if a subscription service is the right move for you.

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