Compare Netflix to Blockbuster

April 24, 2007 · 8 comments

in Reviews

Blockbuster is a newcomer to online DVD rental scene but have stirred things up by offering users the ability to return movies at the local stores and get free in-store rentals, something previously unheard of.

My experience with Blockbuster was a little worse than with my Netflix experience, but I did not utilize their new “All Access” features which allow me in store rentals as well as one free game or movie rental per month. For me it does not make sense to actually have to go to the store to rent movies…one of the reasons I signed up for online DVD rental in the first place…I am a lazy.

Compared to Netflix, Blockbuster has a smaller selection, especially when it comes to foreign and independent films. As far as mainstream movies go, Blockbuster and Netflix are on the same level.

As far as shipping goes, I ran into many of the same problems I saw with Netflix. They seemed to throttle my account and show that movies took longer to receive then they actually did. In addition to this, Blockbuster does not seem to ship on Saturdays, which is something that Netflix does. Lastly it seems like Blockbuster had a smaller stock of popular movies since in my 3 month period with Blockbuster I never received movies that were on my queue.

Depending on your situation and your proximity to a Blockbuster store, Blockbuster all access may be a better choice for you than Netflix, but I would recommend trying both out, since they offer risk free trials, and may perform differently for you than they did for me.

Netflix is arguably the leader in online DVD rental services. They have been in business since 2000 and have over 3 million subscribers. They have a huge selection, including rare foreign and indie film gems that you cannot find anywhere else.

Despite these great features they have a few skeletons in their closet, mainly something called “throttling”. Throttling is something Netflix may do to your slow the shipment of movies in your account if you have too much activity on it. Early on when you sign up for an account you may be able to see turnaround times of 2-3 days from the time you return a movie, until the time you receive a new one. Throttling will make this period be longer, allowing you to rent less movies per month, and increasing the amount of money Netflix makes from you. Netflix may perform the throttling by shipping from a distribution center outside of you closest one, adding a few days in the transport. It also seems like they will say it takes longer to receive one movie than another. A better article about throttling at netflix and blockbuster.

An example of this is that I returned 3 movies at one time. They should have all shipped together and arrived together, but Netflix says they received one the next day, one the day after that, and another THREE days later. I have had problems with the USPS in the past, but something like this is not very normal, and I have seen it time and time again.

In the past I have upgraded Netflix plans, to allow 5 out at a time, and have seen similar throttling. This angered me and I quit and wanted to try out Blockbuster, which I found to be worse than Netflix so I returned.

I have been a member of Netflix for around 3 months this last time, and have just sent 2 movies back from the post office. They should have arrived at Netflix today, but I have not heard of anything yet. My guess is they will say one will arrive tomorrow, and the other on Thursday or Friday. This is just wrong, but the only choice I have is to quit, or have a lesser selection from elsewhere.

Without the throttling, Netflix would be the greatest online rental service. With the throttling they can be annoying, but for the user who watches only a handful of movies a month, you should be extremely happy with their large selection of movies and the ability to rent from the comfort of your own home.

Has anyone used either Blockbuster or Netflix, and if so what are your thoughts? What about any of the other companies out there like GamezNFlix or Intelliflix? This site seems to do a pretty in depth comparison of these mail order dvd companies. This site, compares even more DVD companies, and has some good points on Blockbuster versus Netflix.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark 05.16.07 at 10:52 pm

Blockbuster is best, to me. And, by using the all access feature, there is no throttling. When you return the shipped movie to the store, you get a free movie to replace it on the spot, and the store checks in your shipped movie, which releases the next movie in your queue immediately, instead of them waiting to receive it. That, combined with the no late charges on in store rentals, and the fact that I also earn a free movie every 5th in store rental, and can rent two for one non-new releases on Mon-Wed, plus other specials, like unlimited 1.99 in-store rentals this month, make Blockbuster online combined with the store the best value for me.

Like you said, the only drawback is the lack of selection, which I could cure by buying the cheapest Netflix membership for getting hard to find movies.

2 J Lopez 05.20.07 at 11:38 pm

I use blockbuster. Haven’t tried netflix. I was trying to sign up for netflix but they couldn’t process my debit card. So I went with blockbuster and In my opinion it was the better choice in the long run. I like the fact that I can return my movies in store and replace them.

3 miamiujen 05.25.07 at 3:30 pm

Blockbuster must throttle. We returned 3 DVD’s to the store on Sunday and it took them 4 days to send out more DVD’s from our que. And instead of sending 3, they only sent 2. We have not received them yet. Their customer service people have been trained to be very “polite”, but during this experience they have been totally ineffective and have not given us one valid explanation of why this is going on. We went into the Blockbuster store and they pulled up our online account – and THEY even hinted that there was throttling going on. We have 50 DVD’s in our que and most all are showing available.

4 Tom A. 06.12.07 at 11:43 pm

I’ve used Blockbuster for 3 months now, so far. Netflix throttled me even during my trial period, so when Blockbuster mailed me info about their Total Access, I went with them. Because I’m home so much and close to a store, it was a no-brainer for me. I can say that I have not noticed any throttling, except when I returned a dvd on Sat or Sun I didn’t get another dvd shipped until Wednesday – but this happened once. Customer service really couldn’t explain it, and I mentioned I had marked a dvd as being lost because I hadn’t received it after 6 days but I did receive it, finally, on the 8th day. USPS problems do happen, so I wasn’t upset, but the customer service rep gave me a free month because of those 2 “problems” I had experienced, which surprised me!
Their queue has changed as of yesterday (June 11) to reflect that a dvd was received at the store. Nice feature. I get another dvd shipped out the following day. Always. So turn around is fast.
Also, they DO ship out on Saturdays. I’ve received dvds on Monday and my queue stated the ship date was on the Saturday before. I watch dvds the same day I receive them and usually return them that evening to the store, and I always get another dvd shipped out the next day. No throttling (so far). And I am a heavy user, on the 3 out plan, with the in-store movies I get around 42-44 per month total. Can’t beat that!

5 Mike 07.07.07 at 11:02 am

I used Netflix for 2 years and stopped because they would throttle me to about 10 movies a month on a 3 at a time account. I have been with Blockbuster for 3 months and love it. Blockbuster does throttle me to about 13 moves a month on a 3 at a time account but I get another 13 by turning them in at the store. I then take the free one a month cupon and get my son a free game every month. I can not ask for more than I am getting at Blockbuster.

6 JimF 07.05.09 at 2:14 am

Netflix don’t throttle DVD delivery any more. Their online stuff is rubbish though. You can’t order a recent movie online like you can with Blockbuster, but I don’t think you’d want to anyhow. Quality is really terrible even when you have a very fast DSL connection (used to be better, don’t know what happened…).

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