This Netflix-360 deal ain't all it's cracked up to be.
When I first heard its announcement during E3, I was excited. I love to watch movies, and I already stream movies through sites like Hulu. I've been using Blockbuster to rent movies by mail for many months, but I figured I'd gladly switch if I could watch more movies through Netflix via streaming or downloads.
Alas, there's a catch.
I've been trying Netflix for the past month to find out if they're really just as good as Blockbuster; to figure out if I want to switch. It turns out Netflix already allows members to stream movies if the membership plan includes it ($14 per month gives you unlimited streams, in addition to mail rentals).
The catch is only some movies are offered for streaming... and most of those movies suck. Oh, there are some real gems (like The Taking of Pelham One Two Three or The Riddle), but most are shoddy B-movies and stuff you'd probably never watch if it was offered any other way. Odds are, this is the same content that will be available to 360 users.
Screw it. Blockbuster still seems like the better deal to me. They've got an exclusivity deal with The Weinstein Company (Hannibal Rising, 1408, The Last Legion, The Forbidden Kingdom, etc). And they just added their own download program... which is both better and worse than Netflix streams. It's worse because Blockbuster doesn't offer a subscription add-on to download movies, as Netflix does; you have to pay to rent each download. But it's better in that you can purchase movies via download (good movies); and those are cheaper than DVDs, of course. As long as you have a big external hard drive, as I do, that's not a bad deal.
It seems to me that all forms of electronic media are gradually merging. The Netflix-360 deal is a step in that direction, but also shows how far we are from the ideal for now.