Thursday, February 28, 2013

Manipulating Netflix

I've been on Netflix for going on eleven years.  Yes, I apparently like it.  But over the years I've learned some things.  Netflix will "throttle" you if you send back too many discs in a period of time that is undefined (so is "too many").  What this does is keeps you from getting new releases.  It costs, I've read, Netflix $1 to send out a disc and have it come back (I assume postage both ways, the package, handling).  So they want to minimize that expense and "throttling" (not their term) is the way to do it.

So here's what you do.  You limit how many movies you watch.  When I was on the three-disc at home plan, I never watched more than two movies a week.  When (because of their price hike, mostly) I switched to two discs at home plan, I only sent back three discs every two weeks.  I alternate: one disc one week, two discs the next.

Now, we all want new releases, right?  Unfortunately, Netflix due to a content deal (to get more streaming content) told studios that they won't release new releases until four weeks after they go on sale.  Yes, it sucks.  For instance, I am hoping to get Skyfall on the 12th of March, four weeks after it was available in stores to buy (and probably rent elsewhere).  New releases usually come out on Tuesday.  What you want to do is get a disc to them on Monday before the new release.  For me, that means sending Saturday (until mail stops on Saturday in August, then it'll probably be Friday).

This is very important: if there's only one new release, send only one disc to arrive Monday.  If you need to send a second disc back, send it so it arrives Tuesday at the earliest.  If there's two (or more) new releases, you can send two discs to arrive Monday.  This probably won't get you throttled if you've been judicious in your disc returning.

Now this means my discs sit around a lot.  This is a "two movie week" (as I call them) so we needed to watch two discs to send back this weekend.  But we watched them last Saturday and last Tuesday.  So one is going to sit around for a week after being watched, the other for at least 5 days.  But this keeps you from being throttled.  Yes, I know Netflix is manipulating me.  But I like having a queue with the movies I want to watch and having them delivered to my house.

So, that's all I know about Netflix.  I've heard rumors of streaming throttling (slowing down the download or lowering the quality) but I don't stream enough to notice.

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