Thursday, May 22, 2008

At first blush...

OK, so anyone that nows me knows that I am a GEEK. I love my tech. I love having the newest stuff.

That's why, when I read this article in the NY Times about Netflick's On-Demand Movie Box, I sort of reflexively salivated. ANY movie at ANY time without having to wait for the DVD to be shipped? Hell yeah baby!

Then I took a breath. And another. And finally thought back to the last 20 or so DVDs I've watched. When I did, I realized that this thing is evil.

Being a busy person (family, work, writing and keeping my cars running takes a lot of time) leaves me with only small cracks of time to watch TV or movies. Inventions like the Tivo/DVR, which lets me "time shift" the few shows I actually watch on network or cable TV, is a God-send. Because of this newfound flexibility in when I watch TV, watching DVDs has sort of slipped down my priority scale. In fact, most DVDs I watch any more are seasons of old TV shows.

Thinking about the Netflix on-demand box made me realize that of course Hollywood wants stuff like this out there, despite their protestations. They've known ever since VHS movies went on sale that it would be even more profitable if they could not only charge a viewer to own the movie, but to literally charge them each time they watch it again, just like they do in a theater.

Boxes like this fulfill that need. Want to watch The Lord of the Rings on the Netflix box? Better pony up your $9/month to Netflix. Want to watch it again in two months? You'd better still be a subscriber, then, because you don't own the film - you just rented it the last time. Want to take the kids on a long car trip and amuse them during the 6-hour drive to Grandma's? Well, you're S.O.L. there, buddy, because you likely don't have a Netflix box hooked to an Aircard in your minivan (although one day, you might).

I don't know about you. but I like owning things. I like using the things I own any time I want and in any manner I want. And, quite frankly, I'm getting tired of everything in the world trying to switch to a "rental fee per use" business model. Rental DVDs are great, don't get me wrong, but I like places like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video mainly for the by-product of their rental plans: the piles of used DVDs that I buy for $5-$9 each. If this Netflix box fulfills the promise made by its inventors and backers, then where will I get my used DVDs on the cheap?

Am I being paranoid? Did I miss something crucial to this that invalidates my opinion? What do you think?

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