Today, I unsubscribed from the dvd/Blu-ray side of Netflix. I’ll keep the streaming side, but gone will be the days of getting that briefly iconic red envelope in the mail. I know I’m one of the dinosaurs, part of a quickly shrinking number of folks who still subscribed. Still, a big part of me is sad to leave.
As this blog makes clear, I love every different medium of story I can find. I love movies, music, books, video games, etc., more than the average person. Perhaps more than a sane person. Netflix was one of the greatest things to ever happen to a guy like me, who considers the year at least a partial failure if he doesn’t watch upwards of 200 movies. I don’t just use dvd.netflix.com for the occasional nostalgia of using a disc to watch a movie, I use it like a lunatic hoarder, but in dvd queue form. I had the four disc at a time plan and currently have 453 titles in my queue. Not a single one of them are available on a streaming service, paid or otherwise. My Netflix queue was the way I had easy access to those films, but also the best way I had to keep track of all the movies I still wanted to see. Now, I have to go back to the drawing board to find a new way to organize my consumption.
I put off leaving for a long time, but as Netflix continues to diminish the dvd side of their business, it just isn’t worth the money anymore. I have to believe that Netflix is intentionally tanking their mailing business. Just a few short months ago, I could send back a movie in the mail on Monday, it would register that they’d received it that night (via scanners at the post office), and the new title would be at my house on Wednesday. Now, it never takes fewer than three days before they even say they’ve received the movie, and it has taken as much as a week to get a movie back to me. At a movie per week clip it makes it wildly cheaper to use Redbox and local rental places here in Seattle. I know they recently closed a shipping center in the Northwest, but that doesn’t account for a 200% increase in shipping times.
Just like I had a weird feeling when they briefly planned to rename their dvd side “Qwikster” more than a decade after attaching the ‘ster’ suffix to things became obsolete, I suspect this has to be an attempt to wean people off of a business they want out of, without having to go to their shareholders and say, “Hey guys, we know customers still want this, but we are pulling the plug.” It’s easier to first get the customers to stop wanting it.
I know that’s crazy talk, and most of me knows it can’t be true, but every single change they’ve made to the dvd subscription in the last few years has been a change away from convenience, intuition, and customer preference. They’ve continued raising prices, they’ve removed much of the functionality from the dvd website, and now the speeds are inconceivably slow.
Whatever the reason, dvd.netflix just isn’t worth the money anymore. The streaming business is going strong, and is the best 8 bucks in entertainment. But my decade long love affair with a series of red envelopes has come to an end.