Wrath of the DVD

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By SlothropsMonkey
February 14, 2007

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"Even if people stop renting DVDs" is a monster of an assumption and hypothesis. Lest we all get our heads caught up in Futurist la-la land, may I be impudent enough to remind everyone that some people still listen to audio tapes? And by some, I mean, folks with cars, folks who go to the library, older folks, folks with limited income? By analogy, the day people stop renting DVDs and rely solely on VOD will be a long, long time coming. Really. Think about it. I dare you to really think about it.

There are approximately 300 million people living in the United States. The number of those that will have access to both the hardware and the cable company's infrastructure that makes VOD a reasonable option in terms of both the price and the tech-weenie-fear factor (not succumbing to it) is also being vastly overestimated. 300 million. All of them are going to stop watching DVDs? I can't comprehend that kind of analysis. Because that's the only kind of situation in which the NFLX model would be completely outdated, since the core of their business is DVD rental. But, an important word, since NFLX has both formats covered, both renting and on-demand, plus movie distribution rights and a great recommendation system, I just can't see everyone, rich and poor, tech-savvy or not, old and young, in urban and rural areas all of a sudden getting 70,000 movies at their fingers solely through download or on-demand.

Another thing that puzzles me is the general ethos of impatience. It seems like there are folks who claim that NFLX is on the way out because mail just takes too long. By this argument, if you have the three at a time plan, you watch one Monday, return it Tuesday morning, watch the second on Tuesday, return that Wednesday morning, watch the third Wednesday, return that Thursday at which point, probably, a new one will be waiting and ready to be watched, ready to repeat the cycle. So one movie a night, every night is not enough? Seriously? I thought people do, like, things with their lives, sometimes? And even if there is a day's delay, and there is no new movie, and one is forced to say, read a book, or have a conversation, or listen to some music, this is reason to call NetFlix slow, and unreliable, and not cut-out for the times? Do most people genuinely do nothing but watch movies every single night of the week? The 'I want it now' mentality reeks of some serious disintegration of the soul.

And as long as I've fallen off my rocker, rant-wise, I'd like to add that there are some people, still, who kinda get creeped out by media existing in the ether. I know this is horribly old-fashioned of me, but I'm only 27, and I swear the thought of owning all my music on MP3 format gives me the shivers. Same with movies. I like the aesthetics of getting a new album. Of looking at the insert in the DVD box. Of handling something, and feeling like I own it. I think many other folks do too. Otherwise vinyl would have been extinct years ago. But go on. Go to a local music store. Or talk to a DJ. Tell them how vinyl is on the way out and they best burn all their records.

Man, the way I see it, NFLX is a great company that loves movies, loves sharing movies, rents them out hassle free, and is simultaneously preparing to satisfy the minority of its customers who will want their movies VOD. All this at a severely beaten down price that the market refuses to acknowledge as a bargain, because futurism and "the next-big thing" mentality (a close cousin of impatience) is blurring its vision. I'd like to think that I'm seeing clearly for once, the three whiskeys I'm about to drink notwithstanding, but merely a version of my own futurist prognostication.


Slothrop (and his Monkey)


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