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This seems like one of those no-brainer deals that they should have done years ago. Like adding video game rental for an extra fee.
It'll be interesting if this service last more than 6 months to see how they decide what they should be allowed to rent. I could see a need for this if, say, you couldn't get Veggie Tales or Left Behind through NetFlix. But they can get all the movies they want through NF, they're just afraid that one of their movie envelopes may have touched an envelope containing a 'sinful' movie. BTW - I love how they compare renting a movie to fighting the Taliban.
I like the idea of something like this. In fact, there's a huge brick-and-mortar building down the street from me that does something similar. It's called a library.
If they can just redesign the envelope, then that works. But honestly, if they raised their prices a little, I wouldn't mind. I'm still getting a damn good value out of them. Some months - if we're watching a lot of TV on DVD - I'm getting close to 20 discs from them for whatever they charge for 4-at-a-time these days (around $20?). If I were renting from a store I'd either not rent nearly as much or pay way more just on the rental fees, never mind the late fees. Even the months that I only watch 6-8 discs on 3-at-a-time, it's still cheaper than the store (and what I'd pay in late fees). If my subscription went up $1-2 a month to cover the extra postage, I wouldn't really care. Heck, even if they went to some lower priced monthly fee plus a small charge for every item shipped, I probably wouldn't mind.
I think a lot of it has to do with free time and WHICH movies I get. The famous example is having a movie like Hotel Rwanda that sits on your coffee table for weeks or months because even though you want to eventually watch it, you're never really in the mood to. I definitely noticed that if I rent comedies or TV shows, I tend to watch them immediately and return them the next day. If I rent dramas, thrillers, or action movies they tend to sit a little longer. Documentaries and foreign films tend to wait the longest.
Oh yeah, even though others have already said it, I'd like it if all the various versions of a movie were listed under one title (i.e. widescreen, full screen, old version, restored version, special unrated edition that isn't any better than the theatrical version but the ads try to make you believe it'll be porn or something). And games. I'd love to be able to rent video games through NetFlix, even if it was at a premium membership level or something.
I can't believe no one has said "have distribution centers open on Saturdays." It's frustrating that if I send back a movie on Friday it doesn't get received until Monday, and often I don't get a new movie until Tuesday or Wednesday. I'm fairly loyal to Netflix (I've been a customer since 2001), but if another service was open 7 days a week then I'd probably switch. Otherwise, I'd just like it if the recommendations were better. I'm not sure how the recommendations engine works, but it seems to think that because I liked a couple Hong Kong action movies, I want to rent everything Bollywood has ever put out. Or because I like a few classic Clint Eastwood westerns, I only want to rent John Wayne westerns.