Netflix Value Calculator
This Netflix History Analyzer (link via Andrew Sullivan) allows one to paste in “your Netflix DVD rental history and determine how much you’ve been paying per DVD, compare it to what you would have paid somewhere else, and compute your savings.”
It’s especially helpful if, unlike our family, you use the same rental plan each month rather than changing it frequently depending on your current habits.
UPDATE: Tyler Cowen observes that simply calculating the per-unit-watched price understates the value of the service.
What I like about Netflix is that I can put a movie directly into my queue and then forget about it. It’s more a way of organizing information than a means of economizing on movie rental expenses. But why not just set up a tagging system? With Netflix, I feel some financial pressure –or should I say the desire to avoid feeling like a non-maximizing idiot? — to work through my queue at a positive rate. It keeps me watching, or at least trying, more movies than otherwise would be the case.
It also has a recommendation engine. And going to the mailbox is easier than stopping by the video rental store, wandering about looking for a movie I haven’t seen — only for it to be out of stock! — and then waiting in line to pay. That would be worth a reasonable premium above whatever it now costs to rent at a store (presuming that’s still an option; aside from a couple of seedy-looking adult video stores I drive by, I don’t recollect having seen any video stores recently).
Yeah, well without looking, having been subject to DirecTV’s rental prices, I can tell you that getting two dvds per week via Netflix, I’m saving about $30-40 a month.
I’m only getting 38% of the possible value the calculator thinks I could from my account and I saved 135 bucks in the last 10 months.
And, as you note, that doesn’t even count the value of the time I’m not spending driving to and from the store and wandering around looking for something to rent. Not to mention that I use it mostly to watch TV shows these days, few of which Blockbuster even keeps in stock.