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Does Netflix Want Out of the Disc Business? Say It Ain't So!

Aug 15, 2011 5:33 PM, by Jason Bovberg

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Today, a month after the announcement, I wonder how many people are sticking by their original reactions. My guess is that a lot of people have gotten past the initial shock of the price increase and have had a chance to weigh the new numbers against reality.

In years past, I've been known to spend more than $16 per month for video rentals from local stores. And if you were one of the millions getting your monthly shakedown from Blockbuster, that cost was probably much higher. Remember driving to the local store, wandering the aisles, browsing titles, settling on dubious blind-rentals because all your top picks were gone, and finally spending $4 or $5 per tape/disc and driving home? That might have happened every weekend. It was not out of the realm of possibility to spend $40 per month on video rentals, plus the fuel to get there, plus the valuable weekend time devoted to driving there and back. Come on, admit it: You once spent upwards of $50 per month on rented video entertainment.

Netflix is about to give you access to unlimited disc and streaming video services for $16 ($18 for Blu-ray). Heck, you probably spent that on gas every month for your Blockbuster trips.

So, just remember, as you start brainstorming about alternatives to Netflix: It's still a bargain. Perhaps you're thinking of increasing your reliance on on-demand cable or switching to Hulu or Amazon streaming. I think you'll quickly find that, yeah, Netflix is the best show going—at least for now. And yeah, it's probably worth the extra six dollars. The danger here is probably allowing an old behemoth like Blockbuster to regain its footing in this space. (Surely you remember Blockbuster and its fee-happy, censorious ways!) We can't let that happen.

But from one high-def nerd to another: Don't be so quick to drop the disc option in favor of the dubious pleasures of instant-access streaming. After all, it's not always so instant, and it's certainly not "unlimited," and it's by no means high-definition—and won't be for years to come. I might be a lone voice in the ether urging you to hang onto your DVD-rental option, and I wish my voice were louder, but hey, a movement has got to start somewhere. Netflix may want to ditch the disc business, but for viewers like us, that would be the true end of Netflix.

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