Will Netflix Suffer from Delayed Gratification?

I've been using Netflix for a few months now. It's a good service--particularly the $9-a-month plan that lets me stream unlimited online movies and re

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nt one DVD at a time.   I'm finding it's far more convenient to stream videos rather than fuss with those shiny plastic discs, which I suspect aren't long for this world anyway--although home theater and Blu-ray aficionados would probably disagree.

As much as I like Netflix, the service isn't for everyone--particularly movie buffs who crave immediate access to the latest titles. The company in January agreed to offer Warner Bros. movies 28 days after they go on sale, and it just announced a similar deal with Fox and Universal.

These deals give the studios a four-week window to sell their newest DVD and Blu-ray flicks. As a result, the most impatient of Netflix's 11-million-plus subscribers may opt to buy a copy of "Avatar," drive to Blockbuster to rent it, or stream the flick via a competing online movie service--one that rents titles à la carte--such as Amazon Video On Demand.

Please Wait

Netflix isn't necessarily timely. Rather it's about convenience and catalog. It's a great way to access a vast library of titles--both movie and TV--that you may have missed over the years.

If you want just-released latest flicks, chances are you'll have to look elsewhere. As I write this blog on April 9, 2010, last year's "Sherlock Holmes" is the most popula

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Artwork: Chip Taylor
r movie rental on Amazon. But Netflix subscribers can't get the DVD until April 27 at the earliest. Personally, the wait doesn't bother me. But impatient types may be miffed.

"Holmes" via Netflix streaming? Forget it. Check back in 2011 at the earliest. The online catalog has an anemic selection of newer titles, specifically popular movies and TV shows that have been out on DVD for six to 12 months. (This isn't always the case, however.) And some classic films such as "The Godfather" aren't available online either. Sure, it's not difficult to order the DVD, but video streaming is immediate. Despite the superior image quality of discs (DVD or Blu-ray), I prefer the convenience of online viewing.

On the plus side, Nexflix's online catalog offers thousands of titles that you probably won't find elsewhere--certainly not at your local Blockbuster. And while other movie-streaming sites may have a similar selection, Netflix's all-you-can-watch plan encourages experimentation. Hate a movie after the first 10 minutes? Delete from your queue and catch another flick.

Why Buy When You Can Stream?

There's another perk to Netflix's unlimited video streaming--one that probably makes Hollywood uneasy. Since you can watch an online movie an unlimited number of times, you essentially own the title, even though you didn't buy it. True, you can't loan the movie to a friend as you might with a DVD, but you can invite the friend to come over and watch it as often as you'd like. And parents with small children, who typically watch the same videos over and over (and over), Netflix's video streaming is a boon.

Again, Netflix's 28-day delay isn't a big deal to me. I can easily wait four weeks (or longer) to watch a movie. How about you?

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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