One of my favorite web applications and companies is Netflix. Even though I don’t get to watch as many movies as I’d like, and perhaps not enough to make my Netflix subscription a smart financial decision, I enjoy using their site and service so much I’ll keep paying for it regardless of if it makes financial sense.
It’s always surprised me that financial analysts and the media have beaten Netflix down and figured it’s a dying business due to the impending wave of downloadable movies. First, I think people underestimate the staying power of DVDs as they are a very portable format that can be exchanged by people easily and moved from location to location easier than a huge movie file on a computer. But second, why does everyone assume that Netflix won’t be able to partcipate in the downloadable movie world? Since they’ve nailed their website and business already, I’ve always thought they’d be a natural leader in getting movies through the internet.
It looks like we’ll start to see that in the coming weeks as Netflix is set to release a streaming downloadable movie service. And what’s more, is that it’s basically free to their current customers. If you have the standard Netflix subscription of three movies at a time, you’ll get 18 hours of free streaming movie watching time. That’s essentially 9-10 streaming movies per month.
Why streaming? Well, according to Netflix it’s instant gratification so you don’t have to wait hours for a movie to download. That’s nice, and it also allows you to start a movie and sample it before deciding if you want to keep watching. This sounds like a great way to browse movies to see if they’re worth watching in full. It also makes it easy that if I started watching a movie on one computer and had to move to another, I could pick it back up later. The downside I see to this is I couldn’t download a movie to watch on a plane or while offline. I guess that’s why a DVD is still useful!
Good luck to Netflix in the internet movie space, I expect them to do well based on how they’ve handled their current business.