The Cord, Severed & Burned

The new Netflix pay rates and plans to spin off their DVD delivery service haven’t made a lick of difference in how I watch TV, and I plan on having Netflix on my nifty little Roku box for the foreseeable future.

First off, streaming-only at $7.99 rocks, with or without Starz playing the high-dollar whore. I no longer waste my time watching random bullshit, and I still have about a hundred flicks in my Instant Queue. Several of those are actually for the Wife, and my kids have no trouble finding shows they want to watch, either. (Tonight they were digging on Deadliest Warrior, which is fine with me because they’re learning at least a little bit of history while they’re watching the blood fly.)

Are there flicks I want to see that haven’t made it to Netflix Instant? Sure. But even if I pay to rent them on Amazon, I come out well ahead of the $70 I was paying DirecTV every month. Amazon VOD is how I get my Sons of Anarchy fix:

Still in high-def, and I haven’t even had to upgrade our crummy cable Internet connection.

We dumped the DVD delivery when the plans changed. We had several DVDs queued up, but the problem is they’d show up and sit on a shelf for weeks before we made the time to watch them. We watched two on a good month, three if we slipped in a DVD for the kids to watch. Once again, I come out ahead in the long run by sticking to Amazon VOD.

Which is why I’m surprised at all the anger over the price hike and the instant/DVD split. The Oatmeal has a funny, if harsh, take on it, and Wired breaks it down in more detail. If you absolutely have to have the latest movies, then no, the new plan’s not going to do you any good.

But shit, son, man up and wait or shut your mouth and pay the rental price. And if you’re watching so much television that you would spend more on rentals and Amazon VOD fees than on a DirecTV sub, then again, Netflix is not for you. Deal with it.

Netflix is caught in that unenviable position between demanding customers and tight-fisted studios. While the digital consumers are chanting “Cheap! Cheap! Cheap!” for all media, the big business studios/labels/publishers are all trying to figure out how to maintain their old business models and rake in the bucks.

Netflix isn’t screwing you, people; the movie distributors are. What the distributors realize is with things like Netflix, the studios may not have to rely on them any more. The studios could drop the flicks right to Netflix and cut out the middle man themselves. Everybody wins.

I also think Netflix is taking a hint from Steve Jobs and Apple. They see the day that physical media is going to disappear. It won’t be tomorrow, or next year, but the day is coming. Apple removed floppies from their machines, and they’re starting to remove optical drives. Apple never even bothered with Blu-ray, which people bitched about, and now even that is almost irrelevant. And the decline of the DVD is only going to move that much faster when the FCC and the government get their heads out of their asses and get real broadband opportunities to remote areas.

With or without DVD service, Netflix is only going to be increasing its offerings. There are tons of indie, cult, foreign, and classic flicks you’ll never find on Redbox, and you would even have a hard time finding them in Blockbuster stores. Just as the e-book is bringing long out-of-print books back to the virtual shelves, there’s no reason studios couldn’t start mining their backlists and getting their whole catalog onto Netflix. After all, what makes the studio more money: letting the old Mission: Impossible tapes rot on a shelf, or getting the show digitized and into viewers’ eyeballs?

Voilá: new interest in an old show. Not just incomprehensible Tom Cruise remakes but maybe a new TV series. Worst case, it’s something else to sell to Netflix and earn some moolah off of.

I talked about cutting the cord in our home way back in January, and we haven’t looked back since. As of June, I cancelled our DirecTV subscription completely. Sure, they threw several special offers and huge deals at me, but the Wife and I stuck to our guns and dropped the service. As outlined in the previous post, all of our TV/movie viewing is via Netflix, Amazon VOD, and ESPN3 on XBox Live.

This month, we made the same cut of our Sirius service. They, too, begged us to stay, but those sons of bitches never followed through on their promises to provide an a la carte pricing structure. Even though I didn’t have to deal with static or commercials, I still heard the same songs over and over, too. Pandora on our Roku gives us a much better mix and more control at home, and in the car we’re better off with our iPods.

In other words, we’ve become on-demand digital consumers. This is where most people want to be. This is what most people will be happy to pay for. If the success of DVR showed us anything, it showed we want our entertainment on our terms (and the industry will recover, and will find a way to make a buck off it). If my generation doesn’t get full, on-demand entertainment, I’m certain the next generation will demand it.

Viva la revolución.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.


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  2. Chris says:

    Hey, quick question. With all of your research. Do you know of a streaming box that also decodes over the air for tube tv’s? I want to put something in the boys room that has an antannae box and want not to have multiple boxes.

    • Mike says:

      Try the newer TiVo boxes. They may still have TV/cable tuners in them. They definitely do Netflix (), and I know some do Amazon streaming, too.

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