The Netflix Money Suck

My friend Karen told me how much her life has changed and how much money she saved after she decided to cancel her cable subscription.

“I’d turn on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and then three hours would pass,” she said. “I thought, ‘Is this how I want to be spending my time?’”

I confessed to Karen that I had received a Netflix DVD rental of The Artist in June, and that it was still sitting in my apartment somewhere. There’s no reason for me to hold on to it—The Artist is now available on Netflix Instant Streaming. Paying $8 a month to receive DVD rentals in the mail seems reasonable and affordable until you realize you’re paying $8 a month to keep an unwatched DVD hidden under a stack of magazines for half a year. I canceled the DVD portion of my subscription, but kept the streaming service.

The reason I kept the DVD-by-mail subscription for so long was because, well, sometimes your friend from Dallas says she’d like to stay in and watch The Coal Miner’s Daughter with you one night, and it’s not available to stream. My solution for that is to now pay for individual streaming rentals on Amazon or iTunes (at $1.99 to $4.99 per rental, depending on the movie). I figure paying for things when you’ll actually watch it makes much more sense.

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15 Comments / Post A Comment

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

Replace “Keeping up with the Kardashians” with “Search for the Next Pussycat Doll” and “endless Law and Order re-runs,” and that was exactly my experience with cable when I moved in with a partner and had it for the first time in like 5 years. Moving pictures! That weren’t kind of fuzzy from the over the air signal or part of my miniscule DVD collection!

Let’s all admit what Netflix DVD we hoarded for staggering amounts of time before we cancelled the DVD part!

First Netflix account: League of Gentlemen Season 1 (OVER A YEAR; to be fair, watched a couple of times)
Shared Netflix account w/ bf: Bright Star (never watched, possibly still somewhere in the apartment)

bgprincipessa (#699)

@MollyculeTheory The Last Song with Miley Cyrus – never watched it.

@MollyculeTheory I can’t even remember what mine was. I do know it sat in my apartment unwatched for…many months. By the time I was ready to give up, send it back and switch to streaming-only, I couldn’t find it anywhere so I put it off again. Then I moved and it didn’t ever turn up so I think it probably got dumped in the trash with a pile of junk mail. After that it seemed incredibly dumb to keep paying for a movie I didn’t even have anymore, so I reported the disc as lost in the mail, cancelled the DVD subscription, and then used the couple of discs they sent me before the month was up to make my boyfriend watch the sci-fi channel Dune miniseries so he’d get my Dune jokes.

Vesna@twitter (#2,738)

This is relevant to my interests! We just cancelled the cable in our house because our maman does not want to pay exorbitant fees for it anymore. My sister and I watch watch most of our tv online. Actual TV watching is mostly the mindless “two hours just passed and all I have to show for it is House Hunters/Diners, Drive Ins and Dives knowledge. Which is USELESS. We don’t even LIVE in the USA”.

Although we are in Canada, so we’re going to have to figure out a way to get Netflix (the good one, not the crappy Canadian version) and Hulu and then we are set for life.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@Vesna@twitter there are firefox extensions that help your computer appear to be in the us. thus, hulu, and, free internet phoning when Living Internationally

3jane (#645)

I’ll see your “kept DVDs for over a year” (done that at least twice) and raise you a “reported multiple DVDs and/or DVD sleeves missing and then found them, months later” (usually when packing to move).

We are probably canceling cable (at least until the NBA playoffs/Breaking Bad comes back) soon, and I’ve debated going back on the DVD plan basically solely to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which is available at exactly one Redbox in Boston, apparently, and zero streaming services. I will probably just hoof it out to the Stop and Shop in Jamaica Plain (which I did not know existed) and go the Amazon Instant route. This is ultimately as affordable as Redbox given my inability to watch and return a DVD within 24 hours.

ThatJenn (#916)

Yes, this.

Another good option for getting TV shows right when they’re being aired: Amazon Instant Watch. You can buy a whole completed season, or subscribe and get charged for each episode as it comes out. It shows up to watch via Amazon within hours of airing in TV. This only works for some shows but it’s helped me with separating myself from cable completely.

I am one of those rare birds who only has the DVD option for Netflix, because I also have Amazon Prime (paid for by my employer because I order a lot of books for my department). I probably pay way too much attention to my media streams though; I keep on top of my queue pretty well and make sure I want to watch everything in the top 10 or so fairly soon. I frequently run through the queue and make sure none of those options are available from Amazon Instant Video or the library at school. I tend to watch TV shows on Amazon and movies via Netflix, but usually when I finish a series I will move a short series to the top of my queue because I hate seeing the numbers so high (my Netflix queue is at 238 right now…I think probably about 75 of those are TV shows spread across multiple discs. My Amazon watchlist is about 30 shows/movies deep.)

Sometimes I like to do cost/benefit analyses of how many items are in my queue (238) divided by how many discs I get per week (usually 2) to see how long it’ll take me to watch everything in the queue (119 weeks, or about 30 months, or 2.5 years) which equals about $240 assuming the price doesn’t go up. If I switched to 2 discs at a time I could theoretically watch 3 per week, which would take 80 weeks, or 20 months, and at $12 a month (instead of $8) it still comes out to $240 BUT it also means I sit on my ass more and have to scrounge up another $4 a month. And since I have the library and Amazon I can wait an extra day between discs.

Anyway, my point is, I love the DVD feature because I like getting newer movies faster and I like some of the old tv shows I never saw the first time around, and I spend WAY less on purchasing DVDs now, I think I’ve bought 3 in the past year. Plus with DVD service you can theoretically go without internet (which I did for like 8 months this year and didn’t really miss it–I only got it back because I started grad school).

AGREED! I pay for Hulu, boyfriend pays for Netflix streaming, we’ll buy a movie off Amazon every once in awhile for a total monthly expenditure of around $45 including internet, and I am SO much more productive (I’ve read 60 books this year!). Although, to be fair, I stayed in a hotel room this weekend and soaked up all that delicious cable for hours upon hours. It’s a treat.

LouisePlease (#2,740)

Winter’s Bone. Had that for a year, but kept getting trash from RedBox to watch instead. I finally dumped NetFlix and just get trash all the time.

chic noir (#713)

A Single Man by Tom Ford. I had that movie for about six months before I got around to watching it. The wait was worth it, the cinematography was sublime and I haven’t seen such a well dressed cast in a movie made after 1960.

Now holding “thin” for three months and counting

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@chic noir Ugh, Good Lord, A Single Man is on my “to buy” list – so, so stunningly beautiful.

questingbeast (#2,409)

Series 1 Disc 1 of The Killing has been knocking around for three months. I like the DVD service though- it means at some point I’ll get round to all the boring worthy films I feel I should watch. I’m with Lovefilm (UK) anyway, and I’m not sure you can even get the two services separately with that. Also, I’m too technologically inept to work out how to make things stream from the laptop to the telly (that’s a thing, right?)

katiekate (#1,051)

Or rent your DVDs from the independent rental place in town, if you have one! Local Movie-ways!

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