Why Netflix Will Make Online Movie Watching a Reality

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If you missed the Netflix news last week, the company announced that it will offer existing subscribers the option of watching movies and TV shows online at no additional cost. So if you pay $18 a month for your regular three DVDs at at time mailing plan, soon you’ll be receiving 18 hours of free online watching time too.

What I found intriguing about the story is that just days and weeks earlier, certain prominent bloggers posted why Netflix is in trouble. Mike Arrington had his post “Why I Am Breaking Up With Netflix” while Robert Scoble had his thoughts on “Netflix is dead.” Both came back with follow up stories after the news release (“Netflix, I Was Just Kidding About Breaking Up With You” and “Netflix tells Scoble he’s wrong” respectively).

Netflix obviously had these plans in the works well before either of these bloggers shared their thoughts on the matter. While the company faces stiff competition from the likes of Apple and Amazon (among others), what it’s offering is free to its 6.3 million subscribers. And Netflix has a fairly loyal following. I’ve had friends bugging me about joining again just for the social aspect of seeing each other’s movie rankings.

And despite a good chunk of the bleeding edge tech evangelists thinking otherwise, I don’t believe that DVDs are dying tomorrow. Sure, watching movies on your PC is cool, but it’s still not ready for prime time for oh-so-many reasons (read: restrictions and inconveniences). That’s probably why I, and most of the free world, aren’t willing to pay much for it yet.

All the major vendors are coming out with formats that only work in this or that way but cost this much. Wal-Mart is even trying the pay-a-few-bucks-more-to-get-your-movie-in-two-places move. But I don’t want to pay more to adopt your new technology. I want to pay what I was paying before and see you offer me more for my money.

I think that’s what some are missing: consumers aren’t necessarily willing and waiting to pay for some new convenience. They will and do with a lot of convincing, but Netflix has jumped over that hurdle in its marketing plan and moved to the front of the line.

I was already thinking of joining Netflix for other reasons in the same way I’ve been interested in online video for quite some time (though I haven’t really joined one particular way of getting it because I’m not willing to pay for something that’s one big experiment).

But for those interested in the possibility of online movies and TV, Netflix just did us a huge favor. We can legally get into watching movies and shows online for free all while still using our current favorite not-dead-yet way of cinematic entertainment: the DVD.

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