The debate rages ever on. Almost everyone I know is signed up for one service or the other. Strangely, no one seems to have a really good reason for their choices. My mom has Netflix* “because.” My friends have Blockbuster because they got a four-week free trial, rather than the usual two weeks. My brother pushes Blockbuster because he works there. Am I the only one with a strong, decided opinion about which one is better?
Probably not. But let’s weight the two services anyways. First of all cost isn’t a real consideration. Each one offers the unlimited 3-at-a-time plan for about $20 a month. There’s variations you can do, but it’s the most popular plan for a reason. So let’s not even consider that.
Netflix has the advantage of time. Their website is more sophisticated and they’ve got the powerhouse that comes with simply having been around longer. They rule the roost in these respects, and Blockbuster is still playing a bit of catch-up.
However, Blockbuster recently redesigned their whole site, and they have a very special advantage of their own: stores. And they’re finally starting to make use of it with the new “All Access” program. Bring your Blockbuster Online movie into the store instead of mailing it, they’ll mail it for you, and you’ll get a free in-store rental.
However, if you never really end up near a Blockbuster store (like me), and you think that going into the store to trade in your movie defeats the purpose of the home delivery (like me), you’ll probably almost never take advantage of the new program. The program isn’t meant to be an enhancement for subscribers – it’s meant to entice the people who go to the stores to sign up.
So they’re back on even ground, as far as I’m concerned. Turn-around time can be a deal breaker or maker for some, but having used both services, I haven’t noticed a difference. In LA, I got a two-day turn around. Out here in the boonies of Western NY, it’s more like three or four days. Location, location, location.
So can either of them pull ahead in my eyes? Why yes, yes they can.
And Netflix did, a while ago. It wasn’t the service itself that sold me, it was the other activities the company engages in. Namely, Netflix’s Red Envelope Entertainment division. They go around, investing (not donating) funds in independent films to help them get distribution. Maybe it’s because I was a film student, but this hits me in a special place in my heart. Independent film is gaining ground these days, but it’s still pretty cut-throat out there. Especially when there’s a lack of funds. Netflix is putting their money into promising films – and not requiring an exclusive contract in return. The films will have a chance at theater and DVD distribution – you might even be able to rent them at Blockbuster.
What my money does in the end makes all the difference to me, so Netflix has my dollars.
*Affiliate Links. I joined the affiliate programs months after writing this post.