DVD, or no DVD? That is the question


Netflix (www.netflix.com), the online video renter that built a customer base by sending DVDs in the mail and eliminating trips to the video store, is changing the rules.

You see, sending movies through the U.S. mail just isn't efficient. So Netflix is scaling back that option and making it a little pricier than online-only, on-demand viewing. So far, I've opted to pay the extra dollar (plus tax) a month to still have one real DVD movie mailed to me every time I return the one I just watched.

I used to pay $9.72 per month and now pay $10.80, for one film at a time with no late fees or time limits. I've been known to hang onto a DVD for months. I can’t really explain why I don't pop it into the DVD player when it arrives and slip it back into the mailbox the next day. It must have to do with Netflix’s never-a-late-fee marketing ploy. Genius.

In addition to making it pricier to get DVDs by mail, Netflix made it harder for customers to manage your DVD-by-mail movie queue. Unless you log into Netflix on a computer, you won't have access to your movies-by-mail queue. The only list you can manage from your Blu-ray player/Xbox/IPhone/iPad is the instant queue. And the two queues don't often match up exactly.

One gripe I'm hearing from some Netflix customers is that the list of instant watch films isn't as robust as the DVD movie list. I've also found the "watch now" films list to be rather fluid; movies fall off the list as new titles rotate in. But I usually manage to find something to entertain me.

I do watch Netflix movies on my iPhone and through an Xbox. I'll soon add Apple TV to my home entertainment system, so the DVD queue won't be manageable that way. The old-school side of me that still wants a physical disc is winning for now, as there are times I'll watch a film on a TV or laptop computer that isn't connected to the World Wide Web. I like having that choice.

But let's face it, the company's name is Netflix. It's not DVDbymailflix. It's a connected world, and getting more connected all the time. I should return that last DVD and drop that option from my service, leaving only the instant watch queue. Problem solved. Or, more accurately, problem ignored.

Out of mail, out of mind.