Netflix has become the de facto way to rent movies. Growing up in the eighties and nineties I never thought I would see the day when Blockbuster would file bankruptcy within a year of Movie Gallery. But now it has happened. Why has this upstart company taken the media world by storm? What is it about Netflix that has changed the way Americans watch movies?
It started in 1999 sending DVDs by mail. The change in format from VHS to DVD was a profound shift in the way we watch movies. I have always loved to collect movies, and the fact that I could have a hundred disks where I used to store my VHS collection thrilled me. Then there was the discovery of the five dollar bin for DVDs at Wal-mart. But then I discovered Netflix in 2005, which I am sure makes me one of the last people in America to transition from buying or renting to mail order movies. I still feel like I am ordering a Russian bride when I say I order movies by mail, but I digress.
Netflix’s catalogue of movies is expansive. Almost any movie I can think of can be ordered from Netflix. The rare times I have looked for a movie and not found it on Netflix was when it was a film that hadn’t been released on DVD yet or was an adult movie. I could live with that. When I found I could get three movies at a time for 18 dollars a month, I decided I would stop worrying about my Blockbuster membership or Movie Gallery card, each of which I kept a running tab of late fees on, it seemed.
I have stuck with Netflix ever since. Then a few years ago, they came up with a brilliant strategy. They began allowing you to stream movies on your X-Box 360, which was brilliant. Now mind you, I never paid for a gold membership, so I never got this opportunity, but I used it as a selling point, when I tried to convince my friends to change over to Netflix. Finally, though, came the blessed day, when they added Wii discs. This has to be the greatest development in modern movie history. The Wii, the cheap console that hard core gamers laughed at, (I know because I was one of the many who scoffed Nintendo’s newest console) suddenly can play movies in the comfort of my living room. No wired connection, no internet charge other than the typical household connection, and my wife and I can relax and load movies on our Netflix list and watch them instantly. It is a good time to watch movies in America, let me tell you.