Saturday, January 05, 2008

In Praise of Netflix

As I sealed another Netflix envelope for return this evening, I wondered where we stood with Netflix over our four-year relationship. Don't misunderstand me -- I'm pleased with the quality of the relationship -- I'm just curious to appreciate the metrics of our interaction. Three clicks later, I discovered that Sally and I have rented from Netflix 439 movies between April 23, 2003 and January 4, 2008.

For perspective, that's one Netflix movie every 94 hours for the last four and two-thirds years. I would not have guessed that. Without looking at the numbers, I would have said that we had enough dry spells to drop the average to one per week (168 hours). This rate has to be above average (although a quick google search shows several more prolific renters), and I attribute it to several factors. (1) We're movie people. It's pretty obvious, but we don't get bored with movies like many people do. (2) We're religious about Netflix turnaround. If a movie is watched, it is returned the next day. If it remains unwatched for two weeks, it is returned (my guess is this happens once every forty or fifty rentals). (3) We have kids, so it's rare that we see movies in theaters.

How much did 56 and a half months of Netflix cost? At some point (I'll assume the midpoint, but I don't remember), our rate dropped from $18/month to $13/month. If this assumption is correct, then our 439 movies cost us a total of $875.75, or $1.99 per movie. (Actually, when you consider the $60 rebate they gave us when I stupidly mailed in our wedding video, it's only $1.86 per movie. But since I likely would not have made that mistake without Netflix, we'll call the $60 a cost of the program).

Two dollars a movie strikes me as a good deal (though I haven't looked at competitor pricing). Still, cost savings is not the best indicator of my satisfaction with Netflix. Being a movie subscriber instead of a retail-store renter has changed the way I enjoy movies. Not only am I watching more rented movies than when I had to drive to the store, but I'm watching more good movies, and movies more tailored to my personal interests. I've seen so many good documentaries that I feel like an evangelist when the topic comes up at lunch.

Speaking of documentaries, please check out this list from Kevin Kelly (the same guy who came up with the Countdown Clock we discussed earlier this year.) We had seen many on this list, and thanks to his emphatic recommendations, we've added seventeen new documentaries to our Netflix queue. Maybe someday we'll get around to culling our list for recommendations and reviews so that the world may benefit from knowledge gained in our 56-month, 439 movie odyssey.

So, try Netflix if you haven't.

By the way, if you're wondering a quick way to calculate the number of days between two particular dates, check out the swiss-army knife of calendar websites:

It is 1719 days from April 23, 2003 to January 4, 2008, end date included
Or 4 years, 8 months, 14 days including the end date
Alternative time units
1719 days can be converted to one of these units:
• 148,521,600 seconds
• 2,475,360 minutes
• 41,256 hours
• 245 weeks (rounded down)

1 comment:

Kristen said...

Your breaking down the time would have once been called "too much free time on your hands," but thanks to the internet you can have two kids and eat your cake, too. Brilliant!