Remember video stores? Back in high school, my friends and I would make weekly trips down to our town’s little independent and peruse the titles on the shelves. It was a great way of finding titles that you would have never thought to look for. To this day, 555 wins the title for the campiest horror flick ever. We probably would never have found it using today’s video rental choices.
That leaves us that much poorer. As video killed the radio star, online competitors killed the video store. While there are a few other choices around, these days your options for dvd rentals are pretty much Redbox and Netflix.
So which is better?
DVD Rental Comparison: Selection
In 2005, the last year I could find any published information on Netflix’s size, they had 35,000 titles available for DVD rental by mail with a total of 1 million DVDs. Each Redbox kiosk can only hold up to 200 discs. So Netflix is much, much larger. But if you are primarily looking for newer releases, chances are availability will be about the same between the two companies.
Winner: slight edge to Netflix, for debth.
DVD Rental Comparison: Costs
Since late last year, Netflix has split it’s DVD rentals and it’s video streaming into two seperate services. There are a number of options available, but at it’s most basic, you can get 1 DVD at a time for $7.99/month. If you watch A DVD the day it arrives and put it in the mailbox the next day, you could, in theory get a new DVD about every 3 days. So up to 10 DVDs for $8 or $.80 per movie. That said, most people don’t watch a movie every 3 days. Far more common is once a weekend. In that case, you’re getting 4 DVD rentals a month for $2 per movie.
Netflix seems to have taken all information about DVD rentals off their website, but they used to over dvd rentals of three at a time for $17.99. At that rate, you could theoretically watch a different movie every night. That works out to $.60 per movie
Redbox costs $1 + tax per DVD rental per night. For the 10 DVDs that match the one at a time max, you would pay $10. For the three at a time max, $30. But just once per weekend, you only pay $4.
Winner: If you watch a lot of movies, Netflix. If you only watch a couple per month, the Redbox is the cheaper alternative.
DVD Rental Comparison: Access to DVDs
Netflix advertises they can get a DVD to you in as little as 1 day from when you request a title. That’s a far cry from the week it used to take when I first started using the service in 2002. Redbox is immediate, well a few minutes once you are at a kiosk. They boast that 68% of the US population is within 5 miles of a Redbox kiosk. Personally, I can name at least 5 locations within 5 miles of my house. But that wasn’t always the case. From my childhood home, the nearest kiosk is 20 miles away. That’s a long drive just to rent a movie.
I was an early fan of Netflix. But in recent years, Redbox has really been pulling ahead. Their pricing is far better for casual DVD watchers and access is much easier if you are one of the 68% with one nearby. But availability can be hit or miss. A kiosk can quickly “sell out” of a new release. Netflix can struggle to cope with demand of new releases as well, but at least you can add it to your queue and have it arrive when it’s ready, instead of wasting a trip to the grocery store or nearby McDonald’s to get a movie that isn’t available.
Do you use Redbox or Netflix? Which do you prefer?
- Groupon: $2 for 4 DVD Rentals from Redbox (hip2save.com)
- Sony continues to play nicely with Redbox, means DVD rentals will continue with no delays (technologytell.com)
- Netflix Epic Fall Over Epix Deal (beta.fool.com)
- ‡ Netflix’s Innovator’s Dilemma (tightwind.net)
- A Video World: the rise and fall of the video rental store (myvintagetech.wordpress.com)