Wednesday, April 01, 2009

ABC Nightline reports on Netflix: Is the Red Envelope going away to Broadband? Remember, Netflix makes movies, too.

ABC News is reporting that Netflix will soon offer a video-streaming only service to customers. But Netflix currently has “Instant Play” features for about 12000 films, compared to about 100000 DVD’s. The story is “No More Red Envelope from Netflix” here although the title of the spot is a bit misleading.

We’ve come a long way from renting VHS (competing with Beta) in the 1980s to DVDs and now movies on demand. But cable companies are trying to limit the amount of bandwidth customers can use.

ABC Nightline on April 1 provided another report on Netflix (video URL not available yet; keep looking at the abcnews “Nightline” link).

Netlfix is known for its “no late fees”. Its rental agreements let the customer keep a certain number of movies at home (usually 3 or 4). Netflix is also a production company of record for some small independent films (“Saint of 9/11”, directed by Glenn Holsten, about Father Mychal Judge) and their own films start with the “Red Envelope Entertainment” trademark banner.

The company has delivered 2 billion disks as of today. The company (stock symbol NFLX Nasdaq) is only ten years old.

The company has 58 distribution centers and now has 46 million individual DVD’s. The shift at a center opens at 3 AM and is production and assembly line intensive. The report showed a distribution center with employees working in red t-shirts as a uniform, although that might have been "show and tell" for the ABC Nightline report.

Because the shift opens so early, the USPS delivers early and returns are often posted quickly by about 7 AM often. There is considerable machine automation and sophisticated software, as much as in a typical post office.

The Netflix website aggregates movies in many categories and by user tastes (and has software that aggregates user experience). In some ways, its aggregation is like mine on this blog, except that my categories are specialized over particular artistic or political issues. But, for example, Netflix has “gay and lesbian” itself divided into many subcategories (comedy, independent, foreign, etc) which may overlap.

It’s main competitor is Blockbuster.

Believe it or not, I put in a job application to Hollywood Video in 2004, before I became a substitute teacher.

Netflix management says that a complete shift to broadband viewing (without mailed DVD's) can't happen anytime soon.

Since the Netflix shift in nearby Sterling VA starts at 3 AM, I’m glad to be going to bed and be able to sleep in. No, I don’t work there – now. But who knows. Jobs there appear stable. I wonder if they're hiring. At least tonight I get to sleep in the dark.

Think how much we depend on graveyard shift workers. We have to pay our dues, don’t we.

Update: April 2

The ABC News "/nightline" directory has a video of this story without a specific URL or accompanying text report.

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