I love Netflix, but not so much…

…as I used to before the company decided that “free” streaming was such a wondrous thing that they should raise the prices for those of us who actually want discs.

In our case, even though we only watch one movie a week, we watch old TV on DVD–typically two series at a time in addition to ones we’ve purchased–so we’re on the three-DVD plan. And since we can tell (and appreciate) the difference, we get Blu-ray when available. As of January, that puts us up to $24/month (oh, sorry, only $23.95).

Which, frankly, given that we usually require about six or seven (at the most) disc swaps per month, seems a bit high.

Why not use streaming?

Because when we’ve tried it on our HDTV, using our AT&T DSL Pro broadband, the quality was awful–perhaps VHS-quality, certainly not up to S-VHS quality, not even in the same ballpark as DVDs. Any comparison with Blu-ray or broadcast HDTV would be ridiculous.

At this point, I’d love to sign up for a disc-only Netflix. Ideally, that should cost $16/month (since streaming-only is $8/month–you can subtract the $0.05 if you prefer), but even $20/month would be OK.

But Netflix doesn’t offer disc-only service. You get streaming “free”–whether you find it usable or not.

Just get faster broadband?

That’s one solution. Only it’s not really. AT&T won’t even sell us their 6Mb DSL: We’re too far from the central office. AT&T U-verse isn’t available yet either–and if it was, it looks as though we’d need to pay something like $90/month for basic cable-equivalent and true high-speed broadband. Right now, we’re paying $30/month (as part of a bundle) for DSL and $15/month for basic basic Comcast. Doubling that so that we can get roughly DVD-quality streaming from Netflix doesn’t seem like a great deal.

Comcast broadband? Also considerably more money to get the speed we’d need, and, well, Comcast.

Just lower your standards?

I think that’s the Preferred Answer: We shouldn’t give a damn about picture quality. We should settle for lqTV: a big screen with a crappy picture.

I’m seeing a lot of people saying The Future of All TV is streaming, even though it’s pretty clear that 20mb cheap broadband isn’t going to be universal or affordable any time soon…which says to me that these people don’t think picture quality is important. Are these the same people who think 64k MP3 is all the music quality you need, and that nobody can really tell the difference between Sennheisers and the earbuds that come with MP3 players? Dunno; I just don’t want them telling me that I have to lower my standards.

Letting Netflix know

Consider this a message to Netflix. We’ve been subscribers for a very long time. We like the way Netflix has operated, and I think we’ve always been low-volume enough to be profitable. We still like the way Netflix operates, and have no real desire to switch to Blockbuster or Redbox or whatever.

I would send email to Netflix, but you can’t really do that any more, except to a report a specific problem. I find that worrisome: It’s always unnerving when an internet-based corporation, or any customer-oriented company, makes it impossible to contact them via email.

I checked the Netflix blog. The post announcing the rate hike had more than 1,200 comments. Of those I looked at, at least one out of four of the literate comments (man, there are a LOT of people who can’t spell, punctuate, or whatever) was from somebody in our situation. I added mine.

We’re not anxious to leave. We’re not threatening to leave, for that matter–at least not yet. But we also aren’t thrilled about paying for something we have no use for. That’s why we dropped our cable to “limited basic”–we didn’t feel like paying $35/month more for 100 (or whatever) channels that we might watch for a total of one or two hours a month.

2 Responses to “I love Netflix, but not so much…”

  1. mugabo says:

    You think that sucks? Try going mobile-only for all Internet needs. I got tired of paying $30 for mobile + $60 for Comcast HSI (Internet-only, no cable TV) for web.

  2. Lazygal says:

    I have Comcast for broadband, and can’t stream thanks to their lovely system: I get 20min or so just fine, then it pixilates and goes wonky. Why? Because they don’t want customers to stream. So yes, I’d love a disc-only Netflix option. Consider me signed onto your petition!