Streamlining Our Netflix Subscription

Back in April, I wrote up a fairly detailed comparison of Netflix vs. Blockbuster. In a nutshell, we started out as Netflix subscribers, eventually migrated over to Blockbuster Total Access for the in-store exchanges, and then came back to Netflix when Blockbuster tightened up their exchange policy.

Overall, we’ve been quite happy with this decision. When things started getting busy this fall, however, we realized we weren’t taking full advantage of our Netflix subscription. Thus, we decided to streamline things a bit.

Dropping to a lower level of service

Our first step was to drop form the “three-at-a-time” plan to the “one-at-a-time” plan. In doing so, our monthly rate dropped $16.99 to $8.99. While this lower tier might seem a bit pricey for the service that we receive, we also get unlimited access to Netflix online.

To be honest, we could’ve just dropped the DVD service entirely and relied on DVD rental kiosks (more below), but we still wanted to be able to stream Netflix online. Thus, the one-at-a-time plan gives us what while cutting our bill nearly in half.

Supplementing with DVD rental kiosks

The other key to our strategy has been ready access to a DVD rental kiosk. While RedBox has begun moving into our area, there still aren’t any near us. Our local grocery store, however, had a MovieCube kiosk where we could get movies for $1/night.

More recently, the MovieCube has been replaced by a Blockbuster Express kiosk. Movies are still $1/night, but there are also tons of Blockbuster Express promo codes out there so we’ve gotten a lot of free DVD rentals from this.

Maximizing our Netflix experience

As I noted above, we’re big fans of the Netflix online streaming service. We are not, however, crazy about watching movies on the computer screen. Fortunately, you have several options when it comes to viewing Netflix content on your TV.

One of your best options is to stream to your TV using a game console (if you have one). This is already available for Xbox 360 (requires Xbox Live) and was recently announced for PS3. Support for the Wii is reportedly coming, but it might be next year before it happens.

If you don’t have a game console, and you don’t want to go through the gyrations of connecting your computer to your TV, you can use a Roku player (also available in HD format) to stream Netflix content to your TV. We actually have one of these little beauties (the SD version) in our living room, and it’s been fantastic.

14 Responses to “Streamlining Our Netflix Subscription”

  1. Anonymous

    Great post! Media consumption is always something we are trying to figure out. I have to believe that Netflix is currently where it’s at, and the Roku option is a great choice. It would be great to see Apple/iTunes get on board with some kind of subscription option integrated with AppleTV as well. It seems cable/FIOS providers are going to have to work much harder to keep our TV business!

  2. Anonymous

    Just a heads up for those wanting to investigate streaming online video content:

    Make sure you’re internet connection is FAST.

    I believe HD video requires at the very least 6mpbs. And that’s assuming you aren’t doing other bandwidth consuming activities.

  3. Anonymous

    Quit Satellite service in March. Bought a Dell studio system with HMDI output. I am able to watch Hulu, Netflix and Itunes on the 46″ LCD. Also have Microsoft Media Center and with a USB tuner able to get all my local channels. Computer output is 1080p so can’t complain. I too have the basic plan with Netflix and like the streaming video. Just wish that they would increase video streaming to HD quality to at least 480 like Hulu. I wish they would include the option of captions other than that very Happy.

  4. Anonymous

    Netflix streaming is the best and why I keep my subscription. The only problem is going to one DVD is that we tend to watch in bunches, like 3 in a weekend. Almost every new device in the future is going to have ability to stream from Netflix so it makes sense to keep at least the minimum. We watched 2 seasons of Dexter through streaming and it was great.


  5. Anonymous

    Are the movies streamed through the TV or computer in high-def formats? I have a computer hooked to my TV with Blu-Ray drive and I’ve thought about using online access to netflix or similar. Is the quality equal to that of Blu-Ray disc media?

  6. Anonymous

    I will have to look into running a cable through the wall and upgrade tv to the 21st century. We mostly rent dvds at redbox but it seems that there are many horror low budget movies at our redbox locations. Also lots of Cuba Gooding Jr. movies. He either has come down in the action world or is like Gene Hackman and doesn’t get picky about roles and likes to keep busy with acting.

  7. Anonymous

    The only TV I watch is through NetFlix — no cable. I really like their selection of prior year shows, and like the ability to watch episode after episode with no commercial interruption.

    We were supplementing our subscription with RedBox, but I wasn’t finding much I liked. So, we upped our subscription from 3 to 4 at a time. I might drop it down to three when I get the streamer to work with my TV 😉

    To Roku or not Roku, that is the question. (And if Wii gets streaming access any time soon, I may not need a Roku.)

  8. Anonymous

    Yup. There’s an RJ-45 in the back, so we tested it by running a cable through the hallway. I was hoping Netflix integration would be coming soon but didn’t think they’d already have it since Sony just recently signed the deal with Netflix, but the first time we hooked it up all we had to do was update the firmware on the TV.

    So, now that I’ve got a patch going through the wall, I just plug the router into the wall plate in the office and the tv into the wall plate in the living room and it’s all set.

    Our home theater system also has a network jack but I haven’t bothered hooking that up yet. I figure that I can move the cable if I ever want to hook it up rather than putting to jacks in the wall plate. If we want to use it regularly then I’ll just put a hub in the living room.

  9. Anonymous

    We’ve been hooking my wife’s laptop up to our old TV w/an S-Video cable for a long time to watch Netflix or Hulu on it. Quality wasn’t great but it was convenient.

    We recently replaced the TV w/a new Sony Bravia, which allows us to hook up my wife’s laptop using VGA cables and allowed us to hook up the audio to it as well, which is much better but still not great since her laptop is pretty old and at the higher resolution the video skips now and then.

    We are waiting for a mini-display-port to HDMI cable to show up in the mail so we can hook up my newer laptop to the TV which will probably fix those problems when watching Hulu.

    For watching Netflix, we just hook the television straight into our home network and stream directly to the TV, which looks way better than even using the VGA cables did and is very convenient.

    In fact, this weekend I made installed wall plates into the wall between the living room and office so that we didn’t have to run the cable through the hallway now that we know Netflix is available directly on the television.

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