Netflix: Boon or Bane to the Industry?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

We are all, to varying degrees, addicted to convenience. Everything at our fingertips and when denied it, many react with anger and hostility. People are becoming spoiled brats. I should know, because I'm one of them.

Netflix is becoming the most popular means for people to rent or even watch movies at home. No more trips to a video store. Too much work involved. No more late fees, which were the downfall of many movie renters in days past. Every rental from Netflix is guaranteed. It's a great thing. Isn't it?

I joined Netflix a while back and I was very unhappy with the condition of most of the movies I got. So I quit. Very recently a friend gave me a free month's rentals. And this time, I've been very, very happy with the discs that I've been sent.

It's really kind of impossible to beat. Nearly every movie in print and plenty of out of print ones too. All at one's fingertips. Oh, there's a long wait for some, but for the most part, you can see anything you want. Quick, easy and at an unbeatable price.

But maybe there is a price to pay for that convenience.

I'm beginning to hear some dark things about the DVD market. The smaller companies seem to be hurting when they were thriving a few years ago. I hear that many are barely scraping by. What role does Netflix play in it all?

It has to help a bit, at least to some degree. They are buying multiple copies of just about everything that comes out. But...

Are YOU buying fewer DVDs?

Shit, who can afford to continue to buy them? At least at the rate of which most of us did so in the early years of DVD. We can't. At least I can't.

Back when home video was mostly a rental market, prices were set to be put out of the range of most collectors. People rented and maybe bought used tapes or sometimes they would come down in price. But DVD, by its very nature, is a collector's format. Who wants to take back a movie when there is tons of content on them? And DVD prices were low enough for most working people to buy the ones that they really want.

Now figure in the ease of burning DVDs. A lot of people have software that can burn movies that they rent. Now, with the aid of Netflix, they are building huge collections at a fraction of the cost that they were paying. Whoopee!

How healthy is this situation for the industry? It's easy to hate corporations, but a lot of the really cool small companies need direct sales to exist. Dark rumors of bankruptcy are spreading.

Folks, we NEED companies like Blue Underground. Synapse. Diemos. Dark Sky. Barrel. Anchor Bay. Hell, even Shriek Show. We don't need the market monopolized by Lion's Gate and Dimension, despite all the cool stuff they release.

Remember those days when you first got the DVD bug? Remember the excitement, the thrill, the absolute joy of owning great copies of cherished movies. The market was great then. Now, maybe it's not so good.

I'm not knocking Netflix. I'll probably keep my membership this time. How the hell can I not? But I'm not going to stop buying DVDs and I'm asking you to keep buying too. Not everything that comes out, like some of us attempted to do, but to keep buying favorites. Keep some of the money going to the source. We need them and they need us.


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