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Netflix Rundown

The following is a guest post from my friend Mike.  Feel free to join Mike every week for Netflix Friday over at Mike Mitchell Online: http://mikemitchellonline.blogspot.com/.

When it comes to budgeting your entertainment, as in everything else, it’s important to get a lot of bang for your buck.  With the cost of movies, plays, and museum trips these days, it’s usually cheaper to stay at home.  And, if you use the right entertainment services, it can be just as fun!

My wife and I use a combination of OnDemand and Netflix to satisfy our streaming/instant entertainment needs.  OnDemand is a built-in service that comes with our Comcast Cable service.  There are no monthly fees or charges unless you rent a new movie or select a paid event or concert. In the past three years, my wife has only paid $1.99 for one old Turner Classic Movie that she wanted to watch.  The rest of the time, we use it to catch up on TV shows and select old movies to watch.

Since OnDemand is not available unless you have Comcast Cable, I’m not going to spend much time on it.  Suffice to say, it’s got a lot of free content (or content that you’re already paying for) and it’s worth looking through it each and every month because the content changes on a regular basis. Movies come and go, so just because there’s nothing you want to watch this month doesn’t mean you can’t watch it there next month.

Getting Netflix up and Running

Now let’s move on to Netflix streaming.  This service costs $7.99 a month and is a recurring charge. This comes to just under $100 a year. That’s not bad for a whole year’s entertainment… but there’s a catch. This is an online service and you will either need a way to connect it to your TV, or you will have to watch it on your computer.

Now, this isn’t really as bad as it sounds. Most game systems can stream the content: Wii, Play Station and XBox are all set up and ready to go with Netflix. Also, most new BluRay players come with the Netflix application pre-installed.

I’m lucky: I already had three Netflix-enabled devices ready before I even started thinking about giving this service a test run. I had also already wired my living room for Ethernet (as Mrs. BFS can tell you, I had a cable running down the stairs and into the living room for about a year before I broke down and wired things correctly). Which also brings up the point that you will need to have a good Internet connection for this to work. Standard cable or AT&T connections will work great, but if you’re still using dial-up or have a satellite Internet connection, forget it. It won’t work or you’ll use too much of your data allotment.

What You Get

Netflix is a great service for people like me and my wife. When we want to watch a specific movie, we want to watch it now. We don’t want to select a drama and put it in a queue and have it show up — maybe — next week or so. By the time it shows up, we may have had a hard day at work and be craving a comedy instead. Or vice versa. That’s why the streaming service is a great value for us. We can pick what we want and watch it right now… assuming that they have it, that is.

And that may be a fairly big assumption because it’s rather hit-or-miss as to what you’ll find at Netflix for instant viewing. For example, there are no Star Wars movies, nor are there any Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or most any Disney cartoon. But you will find A Knights Tale and all the Star Trek TV series (but not all the movies).

When it comes to classics, it’s also hit or miss: you’ll find many great old movies like Royal Wedding, About Mrs. Leslie, Mr. Peabody and The Mermaid, Cleopatra, True Grit (classic John Wayne version and the new one), The Longest Day, and more. You’ll also find plenty of classic adaptations of works by Shakespeare with numerous versious of Macbeth, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet.

For the teens you’ll find lots of anime, and for the tweens and kids, there is also a decent list of DCOM movies (for us old folks, that’s Disney Channel Original Movie, meaning live-action Disney movies staring young people your kids or grand kids know very well). Here you’ll find Camp Rock, High School Musical, Lemonade Mouth, Frenemies, and other films staring the likes of Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Miley Cirus, Brenda Song, Mitchell Muso, Jason Earls and many other Disney Channel favorites.

Also, the service is pretty good at taking a look at the movies you’ve watched and suggesting things you might like. It’s not perfect, but it does a good job. I think it gets confused because my wife and I have different taste in movies, so between her old classics and my strange sci-fi and anime, it gets confused. But other than that, it does a decent job of suggesting things we like. 

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for a specific movie at a specific time, then Netflix streaming may not be exactly what you’re looking for because some of the offerings here are hit-or-miss. But if you like browsing for movies and discovering new movies by genre (or rediscovering old classics you had forgotten about), then Netflix streaming is a great choice that offers a lot of bang for your buck. At only $7.99 per month, if you watch one movie a week, you’re paying about $2 per movie. That’s a great price, especially considering you don’t have to go out and rent one at a Red Box (or even more if you still frequent rental stores like Blockbuster Video).

And it’s a LOT cheaper than going to a theater and having to put up with rude people texting and talking through the movie. Plus, you get to decide how much butter (if any) you put on your popcorn!

Do you use Netflix streaming?

Crystal’s Comments:  We do have Netflix streaming but use it to watch series like Stargate more than movies.  I like having it as a backup option if we just aren’t feeling any of our DVR’d tv shows.

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14 comments to Netflix Rundown

  • We had Netflix for about six months prior to their price hike, and then- like many others- dropped them.

    It just wasn’t for us.. It seemed like every old movie that we thought of, that would be fun to watch with the kids (Indiana Jones, Top Gun, etc) was not available on the instant side.

    But as you mention, if you aren’t picky about what you watch– you can get some value out of this. For my family, we just had much better luck with cable on-demand when it comes to finding movies.

  • NetFlix does sound like it would be a good purchase for the more casual movie viewer. It’s not really for me though. I prefer to pick the exact movies I want to watch. For some kiosks like RedBox may be a better idea since the price per movie is so cheap.

  • I did have Netflix for a time but I ended up dropping it because I just wasn’t too interested in the things they have for instant streaming. I use Hulu instead for almost everything – if I can’t find something there, chances are it might be on Amazon Prime (which I have also). I have access to my friend’s Netflix account but I never really watch it. I agree though that all of these are better alternatives to cable.

  • I was really surprised at how well this fits into our viewing habits. Like Crystal, we DVR most of the shows we watch and also use OnDemand to get a lot of current shows. But this has really been worth it for us — it’s like browsing the shelves in a video store to see what they have that you might enjoy watching.

    As for RedBox: They are GREAT if you want to watch a current movie. Most of the time, though, I’ve already seen it at the theater by then… if not, I’m usually not that interested in it.

  • I got rid of Netflix when they raised their prices and haven’t looked back since. I watch some stuff on Hulu, but I’d rather be playing outside or renting a movie for a $1 if needed.

  • Nosgoth1979

    That’s not a bad arrangement. I used to have DISH and Netflix, but dropped Netflix a few months back and picked up the Blockbuster @Home service to replace it. I originally tried it out because I work at DISH, and wanted to be well-informed should I get questions on it, but I actually like it a lot more than I ever liked Netflix. I get unlimited streaming, a bunch of HD movie channels, and video games and movies through the mail. And since its Blockbuster, a lot of the new releases are out about a month before the competition. I really like it, you may want to check it out too, especially since DISH is less expensive than Comcast to begin with.

  • I don’t have netflix, but we used to have Blockbuster Express. It saved us a lot of money, but I felt like we were just watching movies just to justify the cost. Once we cut it out, we felt like we had so much more time!

  • ODWO

    We watch TV shows and {some, very few} movies with Netflix. Probably 95% streaming and 5% delivered (which isn’t really economical considering we pay for both services.

    Before we got the Blu-Ray player, we bought a ROKU box. It’s wireless and works great … in case anyone is looking for a much cheaper alternative. (Roku.com)

    Everyone bad mouths netflix for raising their prices. Can’t blame them really, and Netflix stock price reflects it in a major way. But we still love the service. Cheaper than Cable or Satellite. WTG Mike!

  • I used it, but dropped it. It was fun, but given limited time, I just couldn’t justify spending the money.

    The competition in that arena is getting steep. I’ve noticed Google getting in on the action, plus one can get movies from their cable provider, redbox, etc. Content is easier to obtain, and for less it seems, every year that goes by!

    All that said, Netflix streaming can work well for a family where the fixed costs get spread through many users.

  • I do not use Netflix but I would try it out. thanks for sharing :)

  • Being on a fixed income, I am only concerned with paying the same price even if it means no streaming. It doesn’t matter to me what they call it. I had to downgrade my DSL to the slowest speed to keep an affordable price anyway.

  • A subscription to Netflix and Hulu as a package is going to be what many people switch to over the next few years. Enough with the $100 cable bills!

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