Blog Post

UPDATE: DVD-by-Mail Users Stuck in the Past

UPDATE: Well, go ahead and affix the dunce cap to my head. As many commenters pointed out, I misinterpreted the Netflix Top 100 list. I had contacted Netflix earlier in the week before writing the story to learn how the list was created and didn’t hear back until this morning that it is indeed a Top 100 of all-time list. My apologies, my mistake, and there is plenty of egg on my face as I retract this original post.

Movies-by-mail rental services like Netflix and Blockbuster seem to have ripped open a hole in the movie-watching time/space continuum. Subscribers are stuck somewhere between the years 2004 and 2006, unaware that movies like Juno and No Country for Old Men are out on DVD. How else to explain the dearth of anything remotely resembling a “new release” in their respective Top 100 lists?

The following chart compares “Top DVD Rentals” (supplied by Home Media Magazine) to the Netflix and Blockbuster top rentals. There isn’t a single film from 2007. In fact, on Netflix, the highest-ranked movie from 2007 is Knocked Up, at No. 33 (Ashton Kutcher’s The Guardian is more popular).

Yes, waiting on the Postal Service is a lousy way to rent movies on impulse. And the beauty of Netflix and Blockbuster online is that they can accommodate the mid and long tail of movies. But the three-year old Crash tops both lists? And there are people who still haven’t seen Mr. and Mrs. Smith? I suggest my fellow Netflix subscribers rent Back to the Future.

10 Responses to “UPDATE: DVD-by-Mail Users Stuck in the Past”

  1. Matt_

    Netflix is also skewed by the rent ,rip return crowd who are building thier DVD libraries every time they recive a DVD in the Mail.

  2. David

    I can only speak for myself, but I’d be much more likely to netflix a pre-2007 DVD because pre-2007 DVDs far outnumber 2007+ DVDs. I’ll get around to watching 2007 movies when I catch up with 2006. ;)

  3. Even if this was “Top 10 Weekly” vs. “Top 100 All-Time” some folks may just have a lot of movies in their queue and not using the ‘Move To Top’ button. There’s over 300 titles in my queue.

  4. dusty

    I think this is their Top 100 of all-time. The Hollywood Reporter runs Netflix’s Top 10 weekly rentals every week. I think No Country was #1 last week and Michael Clayton, etc. were also on there.

  5. Of course the lists of the top 100 rented movies are of all time and of course it will be filled with titles out for four years instead of three weeks. If you actually think more people are renting Crash this week on Netflix than any other movie, I’ve got some oceanfront property in Kansas I’d like to sell you.

  6. Chris Albrecht

    Hey Austinandrew,

    I contacted Netflix earlier this week to find out how its Top 100 worked, but didn’t hear back from them.

  7. austinandrew

    Isn’t Netflix list calibrated over a long period of time? So it would make sense that recently released movies don’t show up.

  8. Chris Albrecht

    Hey Stuart,

    I agree. I use Netflix mostly to catch up on TV series that I may have missed (my “X-Files” marathon darn near killed me).

    It was more just an observation.

  9. Stuart

    Actually, I use my monthly Blockbuster-by-post DVD rental service to watch a lot of “oldies”. The great depth of these online DVD companies allow you to add all the movies you’ve missed – as well as the new releases. Much more flexible than your local rental store.

    For example, this is packed with entire Anime series, Boxsets of TV series, documentaries, and more. You have full control of where you rank these in your rental list.

    I’d be more surprised (and a little sad) if members of these amazing dvd sites only slavishly added the latest releases each month.