First off, I am not a NetFlix customer... I have thought about becoming one... but now I can safely say that I never will.
I now have Video on Demand from my cable company - in one word: WOW!
This service is just fantastic. I can choose from hundreds of selections and watch them as if the DVD were in my player. Pause, Rewind, Fast Forward, Stop... all the functionality is there, without the hassle of dealing with the media itself.
And with the exception of the Pay-Per-View movies (new releases) it is all FREE!
There are some issues, like the menu system from my cable provider basically isn't great. It takes forever to find something. The choices are broken down by Broadcast Channel (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, etc). So, if I want to watch a thriller or a comedy, I first have to go through to the various 'channel', then choose 'movies', then choose my 'genre'. I can't flag a couple of them for follow-up; I have to navigate the channel map that they have to see all the movies in a particular category/genre.
The only other issue at this point is the selection. It is limited to the movies that are currently in rotation by the given channel. This isn't bad; it just means the movies are available at my convenience as opposed to their schedule.
Over time, I can imagine a couple of things:
- The selection will grow, possibly to thousands and thousands of titles
- A better interface will make it easier to navigate (this will have to happen, especially if # 1 does)
- Searching could be part of a better interface - by title, genre, actor, etc.
The competitive advantage that NetFlix, Blockbuster and the other rental houses have at this point is artificial. The Motion Picture Association releases movies through the rental houses for a month or so before they are available on Pay-Per-View... I could see that changing in 5 years perhaps. This doesn't matter much to me... even though I love movies, I'm never the first one to rent them when they come out, I am always a few months behind.
The one other thing that such a static delivery service is missing is the personalization or recommendations that you get from a clerk at a video store (or the software that NetFlix has built into their service - which I understand is great), but, I imagine that over time the On Demand services can add something like this. Also, who cares if I don't like the movie - it's not as if I have taken my time to rent it.
All in all, this is just killer. It is not as if this idea is brand new or anything, but hearing about something versus experiencing it makes all the difference in the world. Or, as the old sales adage goes:
Tell me and I may hear you...
Show me and I may see and possibly believe it...
But involve me, and I'll completely understand...