My parents recently installed Netflix in their home using a Blu-Ray DVD player that I had purchased for them at Christmas. It was an instant hit with my two younger sisters who loved being able to watch TV shows and movies on-demand. Many of my friends and co-workers have also recommended Netflix, citing the ease of watching movies and television and the low cost as the primary benefits. And I admit, my sister and I do enjoy gorging ourselves on several episodes of “River Monsters” every time I come over to visit.
It got me wondering – is Netflix a good value for me? Brian and I currently pay $33 per month for internet and cable. However, our 6 month promotion is running out soon and the combined monthly fee will skyrocket to something ridiculous, like $80 0r $90. I’ve debated the cost of TV and internet before. I try to minimize television time in favour of other activities, but I still enjoy it occasionally. Brian and I both enjoy watching live sports. And it’s nice to have home internet of course. I’m planning on cancelling before my promotion runs out, but do I then go looking for the next internet and cable TV promotion, or do I jump on board the Netflix train?
Netflix offers a one month free trial initially. It’s pretty easy to set up. You just need a computer, or a newer gaming system such as an PS3 or Wii, or a Blu-Ray DVD player like my parents. After the first month, a monthly subscription runs you pay $7.99/month. You get access to thousands of movies and TV shows which you can stream and watch instantly on your computer or TV. There’s no limit to what you can watch and you have access to all of the shows all of the time. One the surface, it’s clearly cheaper than cable and has great convenience. But cheap and easy doesn’t always make for a good deal. So who is Netflix good for?
If you’re the kind of person who still rents movies (…*crickets*) then clearly Netflix is the best deal for you. You never have to worry about late fees, movies are always in stock, and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home. For the price of two movie rentals per month, you get unlimited access to movies. Even if you’re not the person who rents movies but prefers to uh… acquire… them by other means, Netflix is an affordable way to legally stream movies at your convenience. The selection can vary and recently, has actually begun to decline, but my sisters and I have always been able to find something we all enjoy.
Who has time to organize their life according to a TV schedule? Not a student! With assignments due in a few hours and multiple exams to study for, entertainment breaks must be scheduled around other commitments. Netflix is GREAT for this. If I have exams to cram for all weekend, but my Monday is completely free, I can indeed have a Big Bang Theory marathon on Monday followed by a late night Lord of the Rings detour. Watching TV at my convenience without the hassle and expense of recording devices is a definite plus for me.
I disagree with putting children in front of a TV indefinitely, and indeed, toddlers and infants should not watch TV at all. However, for older children, a moderate amount of TV does no harm. And with Netflix, you get to eliminate one of the worst parts of television – the commercials! For this reason, I’d suggest that Netflix is a great way for parents to provide structured TV-watching time to their children, while doing a little to ensure that their kids don’t become rabid consumerists. An additional benefit is that it removes the tendency for many children to structure their home hours around their favourite TV shows. With on-demand programming, you eliminate the tears and hysteria that could occur if dinner time happens to coincide with the latest Sponge Bob episode.
So that all sounds great right? TV fun for everyone. But who is Netflix not good for?
There are no live sports on Netflix. If your big thing is watching Hockey Night in Canada or catching the highlights in the evening, then Netflix is not for you. This is the biggest issue in my household. Both Brian and I enjoy watching sports and giving up cable would mean giving that up We watch sports often enough that going to games, the bar, or even a friend’s house isn’t a viable option in the long term. And, there aren’t a lot of other options unfortunately. I’m not sure if Netflix intends on expanding into this area of content, but if they ever did, it would spell the end of our cable subscription.
Do you have a Netflix subscription, or a subscription to any other streaming service? Or do you still have cable?