Do you have any idea what are parents had to go through back in the day just to rent a movie? They had to trudge five miles through eight feet of snow to the local video store in frigid, below-zero weather. And when they finally arrived there, they only had a selection of twenty or so movies to choose from, none of which were new releases. After they rented a video, they had to hurry home and quickly watch it because if it wasn't back by 5:00 the next day, they had to pay a late fee that was twice as much as the original rental. And you know what, they liked it and they appreciated the opportunity to be entertained.
Fortunately, times have changed and it has become a lot easier for people to enjoy the cinematic arts in the comfort of their own living rooms. In particular, the video-rental giant Netflix, now a household name across America, has revolutionized the nature in which a person is able to rent a movie; providing an online service offering unlimited rentals for one flat monthly rate and no late fees. With delivery and returns provided by the US Postal Service via pre-stamped envelopes, Netflix has become an economical, no-brainer for voracious movie watchers across the nation.
Now, as a huge film buff myself, Netflix is just about the greatest thing to happen to me since cheese in a can. But when I converse with certain friends and family who are also big movie lovers and I tell them why they should join Netflix, they seem hesitant and ask a lot of questions. Many seem like the offer seems to good to be true, while others don't see a problem with the traditional method of visiting a video store to rent a movie. Whatever the reason, I have personally found myself having the conversation of why or why not join Netflix enough times to recite from memory and write an article.
So here we are, and as much as I love Netflix, I am also fair in my debate and admit that there are some downsides to the online service that people teetering on the edge of signing up should be aware about. So, without further ado, here are my three big pros and cons of using Netflix.
Pro: Price – The cost of Netflix is without a doubt the cheapest way of going about renting movies, especially if you watch more then three movies a week. My first month as a member, I did the math just to reassure myself that giving Netflix my credit card number was a smart decision. I divided the number of movies I watched that first month by the flat rate of $16.99 (three movies at a time) and it came out to 87 cents per movie, which if you'll note, is also cheaper then the $1 price of the popular and competing Redbox. Now if I watched that same amount of movies by renting them from a video store at the average price of $4 a rental, it would have cost me around $80. I'm sorry but that my friends is a steal and by far the biggest pro of Netflix.
Pro: Selection – It has happened to me a lot in the past and I'm sure it has happened to you at one point or another. You catch wind of a low-budget independent festival winner or a critically acclaimed foreign thriller that you absolutely must see. So you go to your local video store to rent it only to have the 16-year-old clerk behind the counter tell you they have never heard of it. Now in the past, your only solution to this problem would be buying a DVD copy online. But, if you were a member of Netflix, you're almost guaranteed to be able to rent that movie. With a movie library that offers over 100,000 different titles, Netflix has by far the biggest variety of films to choose from. I have been a member for almost two years now and there have been three occasions where they did not offer the movie I was looking for. And in all three of those cases, the movie was issued as “out of print” by the film company that owned the rights, which by law means Netflix cannot offer it for rent.
Pro: Convenience – “No Late Fees,” Netflix knows that this statement is by far their biggest selling point and that is obviously why it is splattered all over their advertisements and commercials. But that is not meant to take away from how nice this perk really is to the customer. I probably could afford graduate school with the money I have spent in late fees in my lifetime. And as everyone knows, a video store never forgets a late fee. It will stay in their computer for years, haunting you until you pay up. But the convenience of Netflix does not stop with the absence of late fees. Commuting to and from the video store is also eliminated. And their website, where all of your rental selections are made, is so incredibly user-friendly that I seriously know a 5-year-old who navigates it with ease.
Con: New Releases – I started off with the biggest pro of Netflix and here is by far the biggest con. To receive a new release when it first comes out is incredibly difficult. So that means, those movies that you meant to go see in the theaters but kept putting off until you finally missed your opportunity and now you can't wait to see on DVD, Netflix will most likely make you wait even longer to watch them. It's a popular complaint from users that Netflix has found rather difficult to address. A movie's most popular rental period is in the first 30 days of it being released on DVD, and even though Netflix has increased supply of the most popular titles being released every week, it is not financially smart for the company to match the demand due to the fact that interest in the title will slowly fade. So as a member of Netflix, there is a good chance that the new release that you have been dying to see might get issued the dreaded “Very Long Wait” as it's availability status. And trust me, the status lives up to its name.
Con: Stuck Without Movies – Depending on what package you sign up for with Netflix (anywhere from 1-8 movies at a time), there will most likely be instances where you will not have a movie at home on a night when staying in, making some butter-coated popcorn and watching a flick is all you feel like doing. The speed at which movies are received and returned are as quick and convenient as they can possibly be (one business day) but occasionally, due to bad planning on your part or a movie not arriving when it is suppose to, you'll be stuck without a movie and pondering just driving to the video store and renting one anyway.
Con: Video Store Blues – Any avid moviegoer or film buff will tell you that there is an unexplainable, almost majestic like quality to visiting a video store. You enjoy walking through the aisles of new releases, comedies or horror movies and reading the back of the covers and making your selection. Before joining Netflix, I frequented video stores on a very regular basis and I must say that there is a very nostalgic, if not organic experience to visiting a video store that is lacking with Netflix.
I personally have remedied many of these cons myself by designating Netflix as my primary source of renting movies but when I find myself in a situation as explained above in the second con or when there is a new release I really want to see and Netflix stamped it with a “Very Long Wait,” I look forward to going to the video store and renting one or two movies every month. Therefore, I still get all the perks of using Netflix but at the same time, don't give up on the video store completely. Kind of like the best of both worlds.
So there you have it, the top three pros and cons of using Netflix. Now, I don't know how many times my argument has actually persuaded someone to give up on video stores and jump on the Netflix bandwagon but I will tell you this, if you are anything like me and watching movies takes up a significant part of your past time, Netflix is by far your best option and what you should be using to rent movies. The selection and convenience is unmatched an the money you'll save by using Netflix will hopefully allow you to break even with all of the late fees you have been forced to pay over the years.