The Dark Side of Netflix

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Just Say No to Netflix’s Blu-Ray Fee Increase

On April 27, 2009, those of you who have Blu-ray rental privileges enabled on your Netflix account will be treated to a subscription fee increase. You must remove the Blu-ray rental option from your account before that day to avoid the fee hike. The fee hikes vary from plan to plan. The more you pay per month, the greater your fee increase will be. Now would be a good time to swear off Blu-ray forever.

Blu-ray is a ridiculous format anyway, and you should not be wasting your money on it. When viewed on an excellent HD entertainment system, Blu-rays do offer better quality than DVDs, but the difference is just not enough to justify all of the expenses and costs associated with Blu-ray technology. Besides, the world is moving to fully digital downloadable content. Blu-ray and all other video discs will be nearly obsolete in the not-so-distant future. You can read more about why Blu-ray is a doomed format on Video Underground, an Underground Syndicate site, in “Just Say No to Blu-Ray.”

Once you realize the future of Blu-ray is bleak, make sure to cancel the Blu-ray access on your Netflix account. The Netflix Blu-ray fee increase is only weeks away. There is no reason to be wasting money on a format that has so little going for it. Save your money. Enjoy your DVDs, and wait for the era of digital downloads to come of age. It will be here before you know it.


CaptainHawk1 said...

Netflix rate increases are indeed exploitative and I did cancel my subscription and signed up with Blockbuster on Monday but you and Video Underground are either completely ignorant or just plain dishonest about the future of Blu Ray.

You sound like a talking head for Microsoft with this nonsense propaganda about the whole world switching to digital content. Try doing some actual research before you spout off about something you have absolutely no evidence of.

FACT: Blu Ray is gaining substantial ground and is expected to surpass 100 million in sales in 2009.

FACT: Netflix has made huge increases in its Blu Ray adoption.

THR: Studios are nervous about whether Blu-ray will be adopted by the masses. Do you find that Netflix subscribers are transitioning over?

Hastings: Our Blu-ray adoption is rocking. We went from 1% to 3% to about 5% over Christmas. Now it's up to around 9%.

Get over yousrelf. It will be a decade or more before universal downlaod of content is even the norm.

The industry predicts at least 20 years of disc media ahead.

Editor said...

Dear CaptainHawk1:

You seem to be very passionate about Blu-ray; however, you are defending Blu-ray with optimistic sales projections and propaganda from those companies who have a vested interest in Blu-ray. Do you have any real facts about why Blu-ray is so great that you did not copy from the Blu-ray display at Best Buy?

Your credibility crumbled the moment you quoted Reed Hastings. You must not be aware that Hastings’ company, Netflix, is a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association. Also, you are supporting your case with The Hollywood Reporter. Really? What’s wrong? Were you not able to find some hard Blu-ray facts on the TMZ Web site?

Please enlighten us. Other than a clearer image (for people who have great entertainment systems), hours of boring commentaries, and pointless viewing options; what else does Blu-ray actually offer movie watchers? Please try to explain how Blu-ray is significantly more than a glorified high-capacity DVD with some flashy features most people will never use. Please explain how Blu-ray is worth its associated costs to the consumer. Please explain why you think digital downloads are so far away that people cannot possibly be expected to continue watching those terrible, blurry DVDs until it happens. Also, tell us why DVDs are so horrible and why this fairly young format suddenly needs to be replaced at great cost and inconvenience to the consumers.

Blu-ray is just not worth the hassle. If you think Blu-ray is an absolute necessity for the full enjoyment of life, demonstrate your point with a meaningful, coherent argument. Oh, and please try not to make your response a transcript of those annoying Blu-ray commercials. We’ve all seen them hundreds of times. You are going to have a hard time selling people on Blu-ray without Spider-man and all of the exploding cars to make your point, but you should at least give it a try.

Tauvix said...

Digital downloads will not become widespread until high-speed broadband (DSL, while being broadband usually caps out at 1Mbps in most areas still, and cannot be considered high-speed broadband) penetration in the US reaches 90% or more.

Another thing to consider is that the average consumer does not generally want the hassle of dealing with download services to their TV. At this point in time, it is anything but easy, and still requires additional expensive equipment (Roku box, XBox360, etc). Most people LIKE the ability to grab a disc off the shelf and it instantly starts playing. No need to wait for buffering or lag jitter (for streaming), or no needing to wait until the movie downloads. I know that for myself, despite having download options in the form of PS3, XBox360 (both via Netflix streaming and XBox video store), and PC I prefer to have the discs. Even with Netflix via 360, the picture still doesn't match what I can get off Blu-Ray OR DVD.

Additionally, you do not need a "great" home theater system to receive the picture benefits of Blu-Ray. The picture quality is easily identifiable on any 720p television set, with 32" sets now costing less then $500.

Stand outside your local electronics or home theater store some day and watch the number of people going home with high definition televisions. People obviously want the technology. But current Internet, cable, and satellite technologies in the US can't provide them the picture to go with it, and will not be able to for at least an estimated 10 years, given how much it's costing for the current broadband upgrades:

I will agree with you that most people do not "need" to upgrade immediately. DVD will be fine with their standard definition or older high definition television sets. However, player prices are dropping, with entry level players now costing $199.99, I expect that you're going to start to see increased adoption as people upgrade their TVs.

It's obvious from reading previous posts on your blog that you have some personal vendetta against Blu-ray. And that's your prerogative. But don't pretend that you have any more facts on your side then CaptainHawk1.

Editor said...

Your comment is largely a repetition of what all of the Blu-ray fans have been saying for years. Blu-ray supporters always want to talk about market penetration and rosy sales forecasts, but they never want to discuss the technology. No one has yet been able to explain why Blu-ray is so fantastic. What amazing benefits does Blu-ray really offer the consumer? One cannot just quote sales figures and declare that a product is good. The only thing established by strong sales figures is good marketing, and Blu-ray is benefiting from an overwhelming aggressive marketing campaign.

The problem is that Blu-ray is heavy on marketing and light on actual innovation. Blu-ray provides a clearer picture and some flashy features; beyond that Blu-ray just does not offer many substantial benefits to the movie-watching consumers.

Sure, digital downloads are a hassle now, but things can change rapidly when demand and money are involved. Do you remember what a hassle it was to download legal MP3s a few years ago? Look at how quickly that changed when the music industry realized they had no choice but to make legal digital downloads happen. Now, even grandmothers are walking around with iPods.

Sure, the bandwidth limitation is the major obstacle for movie downloads, but do not expect America's Internet users to tolerate stagnation in broadband technology. Since the earliest days of dial-up, consumers have been demanding faster connections, and they are getting it. At some point, the bandwidth will reach a tipping point, and digital downloads will be the standard. It is not clear when that will happen, but what is clear is that DVDs are just fine until that happens.

It is crazy how people were elated by the quality of DVDs just ten years ago, and many of those same people are now are acting like the DVD is some primitive technology that is in desperate need of replacement. DVDs provide perfectly acceptable quality for the vast majority of movie-watchers. Yes, Blu-ray is a bit better, but it is not a lot better. The push toward Blu-ray is a manufactured need engineered by the entertainment and electronics industries. They are the ones who benefit from Blu-ray.

Before a lot of consumers get taken in by this slick sales presentation and wind up investing a lot of money and time into a new format, people need to take a deep breath and ask themselves some questions: Is Blu-ray really that much of an improvement? Should I be investing money in another new format that could become obsolete in the near future? Will I actually use these extra features? Will I benefit significantly by spending money on Blu-ray products? Can I manage with DVDs until digital downloads become more practical?

Anonymous said...

Is Blu-ray really that much of an improvement?

Yes. I have no attachment to any technology, however as the previous user, whose arguments you ignored, said - the improvement is drastic on any tv 720p or better and 32" or greater. As box tv's age and people adopt HDTV's the demand for blu-ray will continue to increase. I saw the benefits of blu-ray myself, in both picture and sound, and climbed on board, because I love movies.

Should I be investing money in another new format that could become obsolete in the near future?

Only microsoft fan boys think blu-ray is soon to be obsolete. The entertainment industry sees blu-ray as their new cash cow, very few consumers are interested in not owning a physical copy of their media and the risk that carries, and with that pairing it is safe to say blu-ray will take over dvd like dvd took over the acceptable VHS picture.

Will I actually use these extra features?

I do, so does everyone else I know that has adopted blu-ray.

Will I benefit significantly by spending money on Blu-ray products?

Yes. Low end model players are already flirting with the $100 mark, beating the hell out of dvd adoption rates.

Can I manage with DVDs until digital downloads become more practical?

You can manage with anything, no one needs blu-ray, dvd, vhs, or digital downloads, but digital downloads will not become the norm for a good long time if they ever do. It simply cannot compete with blu-ray technology.

Editor said...

Once again, you are another Blu-ray fan just writing about optimistic sales forecasts. Everything you have stated is a generalization, a talking point from a Blu-ray marketing campaign, or something related to adoption rates and sales figures. No one is arguing about Blu-ray sales. Considering the limited improvements offered by Blu-ray, the marketing has been very effective, and the sales numbers support that.

You, like most Blu-ray supporters, have failed to address the actual technology. Try writing about the actual technology. Just give it one good try. You will quickly realize there is just not much to say about Blu-ray discs that could not be said about a high-capacity DVD.

Anonymous said...

this is absurd. the quality is of a movie is an added bonus over regular dvd and the price increase from netflix is not even that extravagant. and rest assure that the quality of a streaming hd movie is nowhere in comparison to a physical blu-ray dvd. the transfer rate of data in a blu-ray disk is over 30 MBPS which your internet can't even comprehend right now.

Anonymous said...

Editor said...

Dear Anonymous from 6/03/2009 10:18 PM:

You need to understand that streaming video and downloadable video are not the same thing. If you permanently download a video to your computer, you do not have to worry about the quality limitations of streaming content.

Ask yourself this. Do you stream most of your music to your MP3 player, or do you download it? Video will be done the same way at some point. Right now, the only obstacle is the cost of bandwidth. Do you not expect to see some dramatic improvements in bandwidth during the next few years? Think about the sort of Internet connections and associated costs a few years ago. Certainly, you can see the technology is making considerable progress.

Editor said...

Dear Anonymous from 6/04/2009 8:43 PM:

That's the Web page you chose to support your argument? Those images are from ripped files from two different media on a computer using software. Have you considered differences in the actual transfer technologies used by the studios from several years ago, compared with those of today? Have you considered the effects or limitations of the software on different types of media? Have you thought about the way that particular computer's graphics card might handle HD? Have you begun to consider the effects of digital compression on image files of different resolutions being displayed at the same dimensions on a Web site? (At the very least, you should have considered that one.)

The problems with this Lord of the Rings comparison could go on and on, but they do not need to. Anyone who has watched the Lord of the Rings movies on DVD knows the images were not nearly as blurry as those depicted on that Web site. Besides, this is just a repetition of the same old argument: Blu-ray is clearer than DVD. So what? We all know that. What else does Blu-ray offer that people really want or need?

Mick Nichols said...

Editor, are you serious? I'm no Blu-ray fanboy. To the contrary, I hate Sony as the evil empire and shudder every time something I do supports them. But to say there is no advantage to Blu-ray over standard DVD's is silly. I have a HDTV that's 5 years old and it's standard DVD at 480p vs. a movie at 1080i is like color vs. black and white. I can't stand to watch standard DVD's now and only watch releases on Blu-ray or in HD on broadcast TV.

I agree with you that digital downloads are the future, but until then, I'll be watching HD content only, including Blu-ray, for the obvious increase in picture quality.

Editor said...

Dear Mike Nichols,

You are misquoting the article. The article clearly communicates there are advantages to Blu-ray, but those advantages are not nearly significant enough to warrant a change in format and the associated costs and inconveniences.

Once again, you have restated what all of the Blu-ray fans have been saying all along. You are essentially saying: "Wow, the picture is so clear!" What else do you have to say in defense of Blu-ray? Blu-ray has a clearer picture. So what? Honestly, are you really trying to compare DVD vs. Blu-ray to black and white vs. color? That's a bit of an exaggeration, isn't it? Do you really think DVDs are that blurry? What sort of incredible eyesight do you have? Are you a Peregrine Falcon?

To all of the other Blu-ray fans, stop embarrassing yourselves by repeating the same arguments. Besides all of the unnecessary technological fluff, what does Blu-ray really have to offer? This article has been posted for months, and not one Blu-ray supporter has been able to mount a convincing argument about why we should all go out and jump on the bandwagon for another format change. If Blu-ray is such a massive leap in technology, you should have no trouble making your case.

Alex said...

Hey Editor, are you really this bullheaded or just doing it for show?

At least 3 people have told you why THEY feel the cost difference in Blu-Ray is worth it to THEM. It's not about what you think is right/preferred/superior/dominant/etc.

If you want to go with your argument of what does Blu-Ray offer that DVD doesn't, how about I ask you what does DVD offer that VHS didn't? I mean, hell, why don't you bust out your old vcr and stick true to your guns.
I'm sure you prefer a DVD to a VHS tape largely in part of the leap in quality.

Your arguments against Blu-Ray are weak and pale. You've just spitted out nothing more than the same thing over and over while the responses to you have been clear...Blu-Ray is superior in picture quality and sound than DVD's, PERIOD...end of over!

Why is that so hard for you to grasp? Look past your own ignorance and read what people are telling you.

How about you tell us about the technology that makes digital downloads so vastly superior. I don't mean for the future either, I mean right now, how is digital downloading superior to Blu-Ray? I'd love to hear this...

Editor said...


Wow, just when the pro-Blu-ray comments could not get any more pathetic and redundant, you come along. You are just repeating the same drivel in a more panicked and embarrassing way.

By the way, you completely missed the point on digital downloads. Go back and read that part again before you make any more ignorant comments. Try thinking a little bit before you type.

You must be incredibly inexperienced to damage your argument by bringing up DVD compared to VHS. That--in case you didn't know it--is what is called a substantial advance in technology. Optical discs and magnetic cassettes are radically different technologies. Optical discs (DVDs) and high-capacity optical discs (Blu-ray) are not radically different technologies. With your comparison, you have just illustrated what a weak format change Blu-ray is. If you do not understand this, there is no hope for you. Just go sit in the dark, watch the pretty pictures, and leave society alone.

Anonymous said...

Editor, what's the need for another reason besides the picture is better? Isn't that reason enough? For some people, the better picture alone is worth the $2. Maybe not to you or to some others, but to them it is. If paying an extra $2 makes them happy, so what? They get what they want. If paying an extra $2 doesn't make you happy... then guess what? Don't pay it. Simple concept I think.

Even if the better picture is the "only reason" that Blu Ray is better, so be it. It's worth that $2 to them.

Why pay an extra $2 for a T-bone over sirloin? It tastes better.

Why pay an extra $2000 for a Honda over a Kia? They both get from point A to point B and "look similar," right?

As for buying Blu Ray? People still buy CDs. People still subscribe to newspapers. Digital versions exist for both. Some people still like to have a hard copy. It's just their personal preference.

You had stated the world is moving to "fully downloadable content." That is a fair statement. But at this point, it's only moving there. It isn't fully there. Until it is, Blu Ray offers many people what they want until then.

People have different values. I don't see why you can't let this go and agree to disagree.

Editor said...

Dear Anonymous,

You are correct. Sure, people have every right to spend as much as they want on whatever they want. If people want to spend more money on Blu-ray technology because they prefer the image quality, that is fine. The unfortunate thing is how people are allowing themselves to be dazzled by this massive and aggressive Blu-ray marketing campaign and buying into the idea that Blu-ray technology is a tremendous leap forward.

It's all a mirage created buy some tremendously effective advertising. The public needs to get informed and face this reality. People need to just see Blu-ray for what it really is. If the consumers understand what they are buying and still want to buy it, that is their choice. Consumers should buy whatever they want, but they have a right to challenge the mainstream and question the products the movie and electronics industries are vigorously pushing on them.

Anonymous said...

My big problem is Netflix refuses to send me Blu Ray disks at the top of the queue claiming they're a long wait - for weeks for such titles like Inglorious Basterds. So why am I paying more and getting nothing? I've about had it with them and will be investigating Blockbuster, and have let my social media circles know there's a lot less to Netflix.

Ceejo, That Last Dinosaur said...

Blu-ray is an impressive visual and audio upgrade. But, that's all.

They need to stop pretending like it's the upgrade from VHS to DVD. Now, THAT upgrade was so much more. Smaller, no rewinding, menus, extra audio, navigation without moving a tape, longer shelf-life... The list goes on. From DVD to Blu-Ray, the quality of the film and the storage size are the only improvement. It's good, but not that good.

As far as your statement about a digital format. There will never be a solely digital format. From here on out, there will probably always be a digital format for streaming or downloading, but the limitations of digital are so great that there will always be a physical format. Maybe not Blu-ray, but there will always be one. If this weren't a blog comment, and I had more time and space, I'd tell you why.

Anonymous said...

Some of this back and forth, albeit a little old now, is somewhat entertaining. If that's your aim, Editor, then bravo.

But to negate a fact, simply because it's also been mentioned in marketing campaigns by various companies, as an elaborate ploy to confuse and defraud the customer is laughable.

If the VHS to DVD argument is supposedly a legit transition based on numerous factors, but DVD to Blu Ray isn't simply because it isn't a large enough leap forward in technology, then explain to me why the VHS machine won and the BetaMax format faltered? Many videophiles of the day agreed that Betamax was superior in quality, so why was VHS the winner? Marketing!

Why did Laser Disc not become more of a widely held standard? It had better image quality, and had many of the benefits we now take for granted in DVDs. Marketing!

After all, DVD is just a smaller, higher capacity version of the laser disc, so maybe the question shouldn't be about the measly increase in technology from DVD to Blu Ray, but maybe it should be, why don't we just all move back to Laser Disc and tell these new-fangled technology evangelists to leave us luddites alone!

Ooh, let me beat you to the punch here... (in my best pinched-nasally voice) "Here we have just another banal repetition of the latest Best Buy marketing campaign to peddle a technology that is merely a 1/2 step forward and we should all just depend on our DVDs to satisfy our needs for a more immersive movie-watching experience, until we can just click and download/stream the movie we want at our leisure."

Technical facts can be used as propaganda, but aren't propaganda on their own. The main reason that Blu Ray is worth the money TO ME, just as DVD was worth the money TO ME when I was an early adopter over VHS:

VHS lines of resolution: 240 -
DVD lines of resolution: 480 - (That's double, and the reason why DVD was so clear over VHS.)
Blu-Ray lines of resolution: 1080 - (That's more of an increase over DVD than DVD was over VHS)

And don't get me started on the audio properties of VHS/DVD/Blu-Ray...

Those aren't propaganda...

I realize you're entrenched in your argument, and will simply dismiss me as a "Blu-Ray fanboy", but your obtuseness simply for the sake of being obtuse kinda intrigued me.

Editor said...

Dear Anonymous from 9/23/10,

Thank you for presenting your argument through facts and actual examples instead of resorting to Blu-ray commercial taglines, anecdotes about sales projections, and personal testimonials about how Blu-ray has made life worth living again. Since you chose to argue using facts and examples, let's examine those one-by-one.

Your argument seems to be heavily weighted toward marketing. Marketing may justify all sorts of business decisions and corporate behavior; however, marketing does not justify any sort of inconvenience or unnecessary expense for the consumer. Marketing is not meant to provide any benefits to the consumer, and it rarely does. In this discussion, the marketers are the major culprits. They have created a significant customer base for a product that largely survives on hype.

Your point about Betamax versus VHS can only be used from a marketing perspective, and--in all fairness--that did seem to be your primary intent. Yes, Betamax was better and popular among the technologically elite, but it never was a completely established format. Betamax and VHS were similar technologies. The Betamax/VHS clash was not a format shift (like DVD vs. Blu-ray) but a format war with two like technologies simultaneously fighting for the market. The Betamax/VHS format war is actually analogous to HD DVD versus Blu-ray.

Your point about LaserDiscs is an interesting topic for discussion, but it does not really apply here. No one has suggested going back to old technologies. LaserDiscs were never widely accepted in the home video industry. LaserDiscs were big and expensive. Titles were very limited. Players were expensive and noisy. The discs had to be manually flipped during movies. Movies often spanned multiple discs. LaserDiscs had some considerable weaknesses that made them very unattractive to the masses.

Yes, just as Blu-rays are basically high capacity DVDs, DVDs are basically small and improved LaserDiscs. DVDs became popular only because they were able to overcome many of the shortcomings of LaserDiscs. DVDs themselves have shortcomings, but the invention of Blu-ray did little to address most of those issues (except for copy protection, DRM, etc.). For this reason, Blu-ray has failed to justify its own existence. The design features and improvements are just not there.

--continued on next comment--

Editor said...

--continued from previous comment--

You concluded your argument with solid resolution figures. The figures are good, but that part might distract readers from an important factor. DVDs did provide better resolution over VHS, but that was only one reason behind the mass migration to DVDs. VHS tapes degraded with every viewing. Consumers did not like fast-forwarding and rewinding the tapes. Renters did not like paying the rewind fees at the video store. The VHS tapes were too bulky. Content was difficult to access on demand. Bonus features were rare. VHS tapes had considerable problems, but the DVD format eliminated many of those problems and established itself as an overwhelmingly superior format. People did not just upgrade to DVDs for the better image quality. They wanted to take advantage of the numerous improvements and conveniences the new technology offered.

It is true that Blu-rays provide very high resolution. No one is really questioning whether or not Blu-rays provide more image clarity, but just how much resolution do consumers really need? Is 1080p enough? Are we going to need to move up to a new format in a couple of years to get to 1920p. Maybe we will just wait until we can get to 2400p or 9600p. The problem is the limitation of the human eye. Human eyes can see only so much detail. At a certain point, we just do not have the capacity to appreciate any more clarity. Yes, quantitatively, Blu-rays show more detail than DVDs, but how much of this detail are we able to actually appreciate with our limited eyes, and does this increase in perceived image quality justify a whole new format?

Ask yourself, "Are DVDs really as blurry as the Blu-ray Disc Association leads us to believe?" A few years ago, were you sitting around in the dark squinting as you played your DVDs and saying, "I have to do something about this horrible picture,"?

Yeah, sure you love your Blu-rays, and that is good for you, but have you ever asked yourself, "Is all of this Blu-ray stuff really as great as I think it is, or was I taken in by one of the most aggressive marketing campaigns in the history of home entertainment?" The power of suggestion can be powerful, especially when the message is consistently repeated hundreds of times over years. What if a lot of your enthusiasm and admiration for Blu-ray is in your head? You know, great marketing can convince people of all sorts of things. Do not assume you are above persuasion.

Well, Anonymous, enjoy your Blu-rays. The Blu-ray Disc Association is certainly enjoying you.