Sunday, October 09, 2005

Netflix Cost Analysis

Lately I have been intrigued by the lower tier of accounts offered by Netflix as a potential way to cut my costs with minimal impact. I had intended to make a spreadsheet to figure out exactly how many DVDs I had rented over the last four years and what my average cost per disc was, with an ultimate goal of evaluating the cheaper account types.

Then just last week while perusing Lifehacker, I found a link to a Netflix analysis spreadsheet created by Geektronica. My Netflix rental history wasn't importing as expected so I modified the workbook to contain the history on one sheet and the analysis on another. I changed the formulas accordingly and modified the analysis page to compare potential savings with other account types.

After requesting my entire rental history, I plugged in all four years and faced the fact that Netflix has been about convenience for me and not about saving money.

I used a retail rental cost of $3.75 because apparently that's what the place up the street charges (according to Pepper). MA sales tax is only 5% so that doesn't bloat the Netflix fee too much. My "days per disc" and "cost per rental" are so high because there have been a few occasions where we kept a movie for an insanely long time. Why? Because we're *lame*.

Two movies were kept for over 230 days. And one we never did watch...we just sent back. Four more movies were kept for about 3-4 months each. And twenty-three movies were kept between 1 and 2 months. These thirty discs, and our inability to just watch them or send them back have totally skewed the money saving potential of Netflix for me. Ouch.

The new plan is this:
  1. If a disc sits for 30 days without being watched, it goes back unwatched
  2. Decide on a cheaper netflix plan that still allows unlimited rentals

Related Links:
Listology's Netflix Tracker
Manuel's Price-Per-Rental Calculator


  1. Wow, you are quite a movie delinquent! I was interested to see this analysis as i keep considering Netflix myself, but can't get past the fact that my movie-viewing habits would have to drastically change for it to make financial sense. But I might rent more movies at my local shop if they had a better selection of films, so who knows. I think Netflix has a really basic plan that is only $9.99 a month, and since you're just using the movies as drink coasters anyway, maybe you should try that one! :)

  2. Well...30 out of 175 over 4 years isn't *totally* delinquent :) I have over 70 discs that I only kept a week or less. And the rest are kept between 1-4 weeks. Still not great, but I will definitely be choosing a new, cheaper plan asap.

  3. Awesome tool! Thanks for the link. My longest "delinquency" was only 41 days. And I've definitely slowed my watching since the end of summer. Now that all my television shows are out of reruns again, I dropped down to the 2-at-a-time plan. It saves only $3, but every little bit counts!

  4. You may want to take a look at peerflix, using your data, you would only be paying $4.21 per month if you used peerflix

  5. Hello,
    I managed to screw up my blogspot address in the process of setting up a new domain. Can you update your link to ELYM? My new site is at:


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