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3/29/2005

Netflix Inflates Multi-DVD Sets

Netflix Undergrounder, Michael Cader, just reported that Netflix seems to have a unique six-DVD version of Oz: The Complete Fourth Season while every other company has a version of Oz: The Complete Fourth Season that contains three double-sided DVDs.

Why does Netflix have an edition with twice as many DVDs? Does Netflix have some special expanded edition? Has Netflix intentionally arranged to have the standard three-DVD set spread out over six DVDs?

This is an important issue because, if Netflix intentionally doubles the number of DVDs for any given multi-DVD set, Netflix can make you use up twice as many of your allotted monthly rental slots to view that set.

Have you noticed Netflix inflating any other multi-DVD sets? If so, this may be Netflix’s newest tactic.

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UPDATES:

Without a Trace: The Complete First Season
Normal = 4 DVDs : Netflix = 7 DVDs

The West Wing - The Complete Third Season
Normal = 4 DVDs : Netflix = 7 DVDs

Dallas - The Complete First and Second Seasons
Normal = 5 DVDs : Netflix = 10 DVDs

Miami Vice - Season One
Normal = 3 DVDs : Netflix = 6 DVDs

Quantum Leap: The Complete Second Season
Normal = 3 DVDs : Netflix = 6 DVDs

Quantum Leap: The Complete Third Season
Normal = 3 DVDs : Netflix = 6 DVDs

Kojak - Season One
Normal = 3 DVDs : Netflix = 6 DVDs

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries - Season One
Normal = 2 DVDs : Netflix = 4 DVDs

The Dukes of Hazzard - The Complete Second Season
Normal = 4 DVDs : Netflix = 8 DVDs

The Dukes of Hazzard - The Complete Third Season
Normal = 4 DVDs : Netflix = 8 DVDs

12 comments:

ghlu said...

Without a trace Season 1 is one example. It shows 7-discs on netflix but only 4-discs on Blockbuster. The problem is that netflix makes their own "rental only" discs but are too cheap to make it dual side, hence doubling the amount of discs.

Editor said...

Dear ghlu,

Given that Netflix burns their own DVDs, could making two single-sided DVDs possibly be cheaper than making one double-sided DVD? If it’s cheaper to make two single-sided DVDs, why doesn’t the studio just use the single-sided DVDs in the first place? If the studio did that, they could get away with charging more for the set. Paying $40 for a three-DVD set sounds pricey, but $40 for a six-DVD set sounds reasonable, even if the actual content is a constant.

I suspect that Netflix has decided that they can slow down users by making them wait on twice as many DVDs.

If a three-out user is already being throttled to three DVDs per week, watching a three-DVD set on six DVDs will take an extra week. Since Netflix bills at a constant price, Netflix essentially doubles the user’s expense to view the set.

For example, if the user is paying approximately $4.15 ($17.99/4.33) per week, it will cost the user $8.30 to view the inflated Netflix set. The user should have been able to view this set for only $4.15. Essentially, Netflix cheats the customer out of an extra $4.15.

Anonymous said...

While I hate to defend Netflix (They have placed my orders "shipping tomorrow" 10 times in a row), I just rented West Wing Season 1 and this wasn't the case. They used double sided discs. Just my thoughts.

Editor said...

Dear Anonymous,

Your comment wasn’t actually a positive statement about Netflix, because we’ve just established that Netflix does still carry some double-sided DVDs. They must be inflating selected DVD sets for some other reason.

Here’s an important thing to consider about this particular set. The West Wing - The Complete First Season is an older release. Maybe Netflix has just recently begun inflating DVD sets as a new policy to slow users down.

Once you work your way up to The West Wing - The Complete Third Season, you are going to be furious, because Netflix has inflated that four-DVD set to seven DVDs. Because of this inflated DVD set, you will have to use up three more of your allocated monthly rental slots to view what should be a four-DVD set. If your cost per rental is $1.50, Netflix will make you pay an extra $4.50 to view this set for a total of $10.50.

Anonymous said...

The Underground,
Here's how you responded to my comment (anonymous). "Your comment wasn’t actually a positive statement about Netflix, because we’ve just established that Netflix does still carry some double-sided DVDs. They must be inflating selected DVD sets for some other reason."

Yet you also asked in the original comment "Does Netflix not carry double-sided DVDs? Has Netflix intentionally arranged to have the standard three-DVD set spread out over six DVDs?"

I was merely establishing the fact that double sided discs do exist and thereby answering your original question. Furthermore, while I understand your outrage over the inflation, I do not exactly see it as a primary problem of netflix. In this case netflix are being honest. They state exactly how many episodes are on the disc and that it will take 6, 7, 8... discs to finish the set. You know how long it will take you before you start the series. Netflix doesn't expand the series after you've started it. You don't order 8 episodes and only get 4. I think this is a nonissue. Netflix may have found a way to squeeze a few pennies out of the nonsophisticated user, nothing more.

NF problem is their delaying tactics and customer service. I've written their customer service deparment a number of times about their "shipping tomorrow" of my discs. I've received responses (not always satisfactory answers) every time. Yet nothing changes.

Anonymous said...

They've done the same thing for Dallas: Season 1&2 which is normally a five disc set, but ended up being on 9 discs with netflix.

franconero said...

Same deal with Miami Vice. I got the first disc which lists episodes that are supposed to be found on the other side - I put the thing in and got the old "cannot read" message then it occurred to me Netflix has turned a 3 disc set into six disc set. Wow, what lengths. Or so I thought tonite I learn I've been throttled the last month or so, a marked man.
If I didn't hate Blockbuster so I'd....

Anonymous said...

That theory makes no sense. Netflix financial reports are directly tied to number of discs returned per member per month. Increasing the number of discs for a series would directly effect their bottom line. A person is more likely to keep a disc sitting around on top of the TV longer if it has more episodes on it.

The answer has to be somewhere in the initial costs. There is probably a signifiant amount of money saved somewhere else in the chain to make this worthwhile.

Editor said...

Dear Anonymous,

For a random visitor, you seem to know a lot about the fine points of Netflix’s financial statements. You must be a Netflix shareholder and/or employee. Please clarify.

Regardless, do you not see the numerous ways that DVD set inflation benefits Netflix and decreases the benefits of subscribers? Do you not see how easily Netflix can use DVD set inflation to boost their profits? Isn’t this obvious? If not, please respond with a detailed explanation of why you think Netflix is inflating DVD sets.

Anonymous said...

Here's one answer to this question

Editor said...

Dear Anonymous,

Do you actually believe the “fragile DVD” excuse? If so, why does Netflix have such a hard time mailing double-sided DVDs while their competitors are able to handle it?

Anonymous said...

GAY