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Monday, September 19, 2011

For the Love of Moneyball: The Failure of Sabermetrics In the Absence of Necessary Resources

Or as Chris Welsh said during the Reds broadcast yesterday…“That’s just more Bill James hogwash…there’s no way Ben Zobrist is better than Brandon Phillips!”

So here we are.  Friday, the movie drops its snapshot of perhaps the greatest single achievement of our beloved Athletics franchise.  World Series come and go; the hotter team usually can beat the better team and there’s a champion every season unless it’s 1994 and you’re Bud Selig.  So thank your lucky stars you aren’t him—or, despite his best efforts, the Montreal Expos—and instead revel in the idea that what happened in late August and early September of 2002 will in all likelihood never happen again.  I say The Streak is the A’s single greatest accomplishment as a franchise chiefly due to its irreproducibility… too much can go wrong night to night for a team to be able to reel off 20 wins in a row in almost any sport.  I’d not be at all surprised if no one does it again, ever.  The only downside of it I can see is that the ‘02 club peaked too soon and lost steam before the overarching task of winning it all was achieved.

Repoz Posted: September 19, 2011 at 04:58 PM | 142 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, history, media, projections, sabermetrics

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   1. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: September 19, 2011 at 05:30 PM (#3929581)
I keep getting a Netflix ad with a picture of the cleavage of the red-haired Man Men women. It's making me think I should spend more time watching Mad Men.
   2. Shrike Posted: September 19, 2011 at 05:44 PM (#3929626)
#1 is, in fact, correct in his surmise that Mad Men is worth watching.
   3. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: September 19, 2011 at 05:53 PM (#3929657)
The Rubenesque figure of Christina Hendricks has become even more ubiquitous on the Internet than Barack Obama is on television.
   4. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 19, 2011 at 05:55 PM (#3929658)
It's either Christina Hendricks or those Zwinky things. Hopefully there won't be a crossover.
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 19, 2011 at 05:58 PM (#3929664)
All I get is a Netflix ad. I think it just charged me $3 to look at their ad.
   6. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: September 19, 2011 at 05:59 PM (#3929668)
Man Men women


Thank you, god, for ensuring that I don't have cable.
   7. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: September 19, 2011 at 05:59 PM (#3929669)
I do plan on getting the first season or two of Mad Men when I go to Amoeba next time, assuming they're on DVD and somebody has traded them in.
   8. RJ in TO Posted: September 19, 2011 at 06:03 PM (#3929682)
The Rubenesque figure of Christina Hendricks has become even more ubiquitous on the Internet than Barack Obama is on television.

You say this like it's a bad thing.
   9. Randy Jones Posted: September 19, 2011 at 06:04 PM (#3929690)
Best Buy has all 4 seasons on DVD for $10 a piece. Can't post a link to it because best buy's search page includes the word "script" in the url and BBTF's software is a flaming pile of ####.
   10. OsunaSakata Posted: September 19, 2011 at 06:10 PM (#3929704)
You could honestly make the case -- especially during the last 40 years -- that whether it be the length of their hair or the syringes in their travel cases or their complete Futureworld transformation of the statistical side of MLB, this franchise has had perhaps more real-world impact on the trajectory of the sport than even the Yankees have had in that same time frame.


You can make the argument that the entire history of the Athletics - from Philadelphia to Kansas City to Oakland - is the most interesting of any franchise.
   11. Greg Pope Posted: September 19, 2011 at 06:33 PM (#3929741)
All I get is a Netflix ad. I think it just charged me $3 to look at their ad.

I cancelled my streaming when they increased the price 60%. I'm catching up on old TV and they don't have too much of that on streaming. I like the convenience and all but they have very, very few new releases on streaming and they don't seem to have the TV shows that I'm interested in.
   12. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 19, 2011 at 06:51 PM (#3929778)
I cancelled my streaming when they increased the price 60%. I'm catching up on old TV and they don't have too much of that on streaming. I like the convenience and all but they have very, very few new releases on streaming and they don't seem to have the TV shows that I'm interested in.


I cancelled awhile ago but I've been thinking of rejoining. The problem is that trying to do a search without being a member is just not very convenient.

Are there places other than iTunes to purchase downloads?
   13. Tin Angel Posted: September 19, 2011 at 06:59 PM (#3929782)
My problem with Netflix is that, while I would prefer to stream everything, only about 30% of what's in my queue can be streamed.

I only watched one episode of Mad Men before deciding it wasn't for me. Felt like I was watching a soap opera.
   14. phredbird Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:00 PM (#3929784)
#1 is, in fact, correct in his surmise that Mad Men is worth watching.


i have roku and netflix and so i have all four seasons of mad men any time i want. i watch the show obsessively.
   15. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:02 PM (#3929786)
The Rubenesque figure of Christina Hendricks has become even more ubiquitous on the Internet than Barack Obama is on television.

She appears, to unfortunately little effect, in the new movie Drive.
I'd hoped the flick would be good, and I was with its various style points (sort of "Miami Vice" as directed by Sofia Coppola) up to the elevator scene. Ah, well.
Still: nice to see Russ Tamblyn getting work.
   16. phredbird Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:03 PM (#3929790)
I only watched one episode of Mad Men before deciding it wasn't for me. Felt like I was watching a soap opera.


oh well, to each his own. you should give it another shot. some of the goings on are much like a soap opera, but that's mostly the stuff outside the agency. i think the workings of the agency itself and how they interact with clients is great tv. and the show is art directed perfectly, so i appreciate that.
   17. BDC Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:09 PM (#3929797)
I keep thinking I'll stream things like the entire run of the X-Files, but never do. I should cancel my streaming, because all the Estonian films and such are on DVD only. Oddly enough, I got this abject letter from Netflix today explaining how aggrieved they were for raising their prices and saying they were fixing to change the name of their DVD service to Qwixter. It was either spammish fraud or one of the weirder pieces of mail I've ever gotten from a company. OK, so you raised your ####ing prices. What else in the history of business is new? I think I can cope with the price hike without feeling sorry for the company for its "hurts me more than it hurts you" sorrowfulness.
   18. BDC Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:10 PM (#3929800)
Oh, and Mad Men is awesome. Another thing I never stream when I think I'm going to.
   19. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:19 PM (#3929813)
Yeah, evidently their new pricing structure pissed off a LOT of people. They truly are changing their DVD division to "Qwixter" though.
   20. Greg K Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:23 PM (#3929818)
Luckily my internet isn't really fast enough to stream movies, and Netflix isn't available where I live. So I've managed to avoid all these problems!

I've got a DVD service that comes with a fairly limited online package. I kind of like the hard copy DVDs anyway. Gives me an excuse to not watch movies 14 hours a day.
   21. Shock Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:23 PM (#3929819)
Mad Men is worth watching, although Joan doesn't really do anything for me.
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:26 PM (#3929823)
My wife watches Mad Men to point out where I am similar to the Don Draper character and not in a flattering way.

She has family over and presents it as some kind of History Channel to see what 'Grandpa was like' 40 years ago.

It's pretty irritating given that I have never strayed on my wife and that guy is quite the skirtchaser.

While my wife has granted that claim. Big of her.
   23. Kiko Sakata Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:35 PM (#3929829)
Yeah, evidently their new pricing structure pissed off a LOT of people.


Their CEO's reaction to this strikes me as very weird (we cancelled Netflix when they raised the price because we never ended up watching the DVDs and their streaming selection kind of sucked). Between the blog post that he apparently posted and his e-mail today (which we didn't get because we had canceled - unless my wife got it and didn't mention it to me), it's like he thinks that the problem is that people didn't like the WAY they raised their prices moreso than the actual prices going up. No, people don't like their prices going up: sometimes people will suck it up and pay the higher prices anyway and sometimes they won't, but this is how business works. I fear that this guy is too sensitive to survive in business.
   24. Avoid Running At All Times- S. Paige Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:39 PM (#3929835)
In fact, if you're being compared to Don Draper and you have never cheated, that pretty much means you're thought of as very handsome, you're bright, have a way with words and can drink a lot.
   25. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:42 PM (#3929841)
Zuvella

Nah. The looks are NOT part of the equation.

Not Wilford Brimley but sure as h*ll not Donny boy.
   26. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:43 PM (#3929843)

Their CEO's reaction to this strikes me as very weird (we cancelled Netflix when they raised the price because we never ended up watching the DVDs and their streaming selection kind of sucked). Between the blog post that he apparently posted and his e-mail today (which we didn't get because we had canceled - unless my wife got it and didn't mention it to me), it's like he thinks that the problem is that people didn't like the WAY they raised their prices moreso than the actual prices going up. No, people don't like their prices going up: sometimes people will suck it up and pay the higher prices anyway and sometimes they won't, but this is how business works. I fear that this guy is too sensitive to survive in business


And what will make customers happy is getting two separate bills from two separate companies for two services they used to get together under one bill from one company.
   27. Random Transaction Generator Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:48 PM (#3929848)
As sexy as Christina Hendricks looks in Mad Men (or at the Emmys), most nerds remember her well as "Saffron", during her two episode appearance on "Firefly". It takes a lot for a woman to upstage every other female in the Firefly cast, but she did just that.

Good bible, indeed.
   28. phredbird Posted: September 19, 2011 at 07:57 PM (#3929867)
My wife watches Mad Men to point out where I am similar to the Don Draper character and not in a flattering way.

She has family over and presents it as some kind of History Channel to see what 'Grandpa was like' 40 years ago.


well when you take away the skirt chasing draper is a pretty impressive dude.
but is your wife suggesting you have assumed someone else's identity?
   29. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 19, 2011 at 08:00 PM (#3929880)
phred

She focuses on his dismissive diffidence (I believe that's the phrase she uses)
   30. phredbird Posted: September 19, 2011 at 08:10 PM (#3929905)
She focuses on his dismissive diffidence (I believe that's the phrase she uses)


thats funny because his dismissive diffidence masks a strong sense of insecurity and incipient panic grounded in the realization that he could be revealed as a fraud and an impostor at any time.
   31. Dale Sams Posted: September 19, 2011 at 08:13 PM (#3929912)
I can't look at Hendricks. I got no problem with her breasts enhancements, but she ###### up her face too. Maybe it's worn of, but for a while there I couldn't even look at her.
   32. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: September 19, 2011 at 08:16 PM (#3929916)
There was a scene, maybe season 2, when Draper is on an elevator with a couple young guys and an older woman. The guys are talking a touch too openly about their sexual adventures, or plans. Rather than verbally dressing down the youngsters for their caddish behavior, Draper takes the hat off one of their heads and pushes it into his hands.

I could see Harveys keeping behavior in line in a similarly shorthand way.
   33. BDC Posted: September 19, 2011 at 08:33 PM (#3929958)
My partner constantly compares me to Roger Sterling. And I have never vomited after walking up several flights of stairs.
   34. Shock Posted: September 19, 2011 at 08:40 PM (#3929969)
I was amused by the fact that the guy who plays Roger Sterling had the same wardrobe in The Adjustment Bureau (a terrible movie, btw.)
   35. aleskel Posted: September 19, 2011 at 08:52 PM (#3929986)
I don't really understand why people were so pissed at Netflix's pricing changes. I was getting 3 DVDs at a time, with free streaming, for about $18 a month. When the prices changed, I switched to 2 DVDs with streaming, and now I'm paying $20. It sure is annoying to have to pay more for less, but sometimes that's how things go, especially on the internet.

I'm not sure how I think about the Qwixter thing, but it will probably be a nuisance for a few weeks before everyone gets used to it.
   36. phredbird Posted: September 19, 2011 at 09:18 PM (#3930021)
the guy who plays Roger Sterling had the same wardrobe in The Adjustment Bureau


well slattery does look like a million bucks in a three piece.
   37. phredbird Posted: September 19, 2011 at 09:21 PM (#3930023)
The guys are talking a touch too openly about their sexual adventures, or plans. Rather than verbally dressing down the youngsters for their caddish behavior, Draper takes the hat off one of their heads and pushes it into his hands.

I could see Harveys keeping behavior in line in a similarly shorthand way.


he also sucker punched billy barrett in a subsequent episode. i guess if harveys ran into a guy who accused him of sleeping with his wife he'd do something similar -- although in this case it was true, don did screw barrett's wife.
   38. Shock Posted: September 19, 2011 at 09:29 PM (#3930031)
If Don Draper only screws your wife once you should count yourself fortunate.
   39. phredbird Posted: September 19, 2011 at 09:35 PM (#3930038)
If Don Draper only screws your wife once you should count yourself fortunate.


oh, it was definitely more than once. with bobby barrett i mean.
   40. Swedish Chef Posted: September 19, 2011 at 09:35 PM (#3930039)
The Netflix split is clever. Don't allow the execs in the declining cash cow any influence over the growing parts of the company, and keep a clear partition so they will be easier to cut loose when they become a drag. And remove the brand so it isn't associated with what will become AOL in a few years (and yeah, dial-up is still making money).
   41. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 19, 2011 at 09:40 PM (#3930043)
Have I ever truly sucker punched someone?

I have hit folks in response to an incredibly vulgar remark directed at my wife. I don't think that constitutes sucker punching as I know it.

Nope. I am pretty sure everyone who has been in a tangle with me had the chance to duck.

I have BEEN sucker punched. Including with a pool cue. Long story.

But lesson learned on hanging around Navy fellas who apparently kill a lot of time on the carrier by playing pool because every third one is some kind of hustler and when the fella hustled doesn't LIKE being hustled, well, you get the brunt of the unhappiness TOO.
   42. Shock Posted: September 19, 2011 at 09:42 PM (#3930047)
Tell us more about your encounters with Andy...8-)
   43. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 19, 2011 at 09:58 PM (#3930066)
Shock

Andy was in the Navy?

Figures.
   44. phredbird Posted: September 19, 2011 at 10:14 PM (#3930077)
Have I ever truly sucker punched someone?

I have hit folks in response to an incredibly vulgar remark directed at my wife. I don't think that constitutes sucker punching as I know it.


not much of a brawler, so i don't know if what don did was a sucker punch per se. he saw the guy in a bar, and the guy saw him, and greeted don. don walked up to him and punched him in the face without saying anything, so its not like he sneaked up on him.
   45. markj111 Posted: September 19, 2011 at 10:16 PM (#3930080)
I must be the only person who kept both DVDs and streaming with Netflix. I love the convenience, and the extra $6 (or whatever it is) will not break the bank.
   46. Greg Pope Posted: September 19, 2011 at 10:20 PM (#3930084)
I don't really understand why people were so pissed at Netflix's pricing changes. I was getting 3 DVDs at a time, with free streaming, for about $18 a month. When the prices changed, I switched to 2 DVDs with streaming, and now I'm paying $20. It sure is annoying to have to pay more for less, but sometimes that's how things go, especially on the internet.

I'm not sure how I think about the Qwixter thing, but it will probably be a nuisance for a few weeks before everyone gets used to it.


I signed up for Netflix just over a year ago. I only have the 1 DVD a month plan. It was $9 per month. I use the DVD plan to catch up on older TV shows and the streaming to watch things when I have nothing to do. A month after I signed up they raised the price $1. So an 11% increase. Then less than 1 year later, they raise the price to $16. Another 60% increase. That's a huge increase. I don't think being pissed is inappropriate. Now, you can say that you should never get pissed at a company for raising prices (free economy and all), and just vote with your wallet. Which is true. But I'm not happy about it. I used to have an option to get X for price Y and now I don't.

I looked at what I actually used and it's really that streaming is just a nice side benefit for me. I didn't use it on my iPhone like I thought I would. My kids used it more for streaming Phineas and Ferb than I did for watching movies. And when I wanted to watch something I found that the selection was quite poor. So I cancelled my streaming account. I was at the lowest plan anyway, so reducing my DVD's wasn't an option.

Now, my opinion is that Netflix is making a mistake thinking that streaming is their primary business. They don't have much in the way of new releases. And the ones that they do have only seem to stick around for a short while. They don't have too many old classics either. It seems like their selection is what you'd find on the local Fox station during non-prime time hours. It's newer movies that bombed and older movies that nobody's ever heard of. And a smattering of TV shows.

Is streaming the future? Probably. And maybe there's no way to get there other than what Netflix is doing. But it doesn't meet my needs right now. And with so many players, I'd have to spend a fortune to get what I really want (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.) because my desired content isn't all produced by one studio.
   47. Greg Pope Posted: September 19, 2011 at 10:21 PM (#3930085)
I must be the only person who kept both DVDs and streaming with Netflix. I love the convenience, and the extra $6 (or whatever it is) will not break the bank.

They lost 600,000 subscribers this quarter. I wonder how many more people didn't quit, but reduced their plans, like I did.
   48. Bhaakon Posted: September 19, 2011 at 10:36 PM (#3930097)
I signed up for Netflix just over a year ago. I only have the 1 DVD a month plan. It was $9 per month. I use the DVD plan to catch up on older TV shows and the streaming to watch things when I have nothing to do. A month after I signed up they raised the price $1. So an 11% increase. Then less than 1 year later, they raise the price to $16. Another 60% increase. That's a huge increase. I don't think being pissed is inappropriate. Now, you can say that you should never get pissed at a company for raising prices (free economy and all), and just vote with your wallet. Which is true. But I'm not happy about it. I used to have an option to get X for price Y and now I don't.


I'm pissed (though not particularly surprised) about it because it came just as the last actual video store in my area shut its doors. So basically they undercut Blockbuster until that company shrank to nothing and now they're reaping the benefits of a near monopoly on DVD rentals (Redbox is an option, but their selection is hugely limited compared to Netflix or a proper video store).
   49. BDC Posted: September 19, 2011 at 10:38 PM (#3930099)
I kept streaming but went from 3 DVDs to one. And, as I said, I am not sure if I use the streaming enough to make it worth keeping. I manage my dad's account; I dropped him from 3 to 1 and dropped his streaming; he wouldn't stream a video if it were free.

My primary interest in Netflix is obscure movies: only a third of my DVD queue is streamable; the ones only on disc tend to be foreign or old or both. (Though for the old ones I should simply subscribe to Andyflix.)

There has to be money in a service that rents hard-to-find non-porn DVDs by mail; of course, it isn't the slaughter-your-competitors and sow-their-fields-with-salt kind of megalobusiness so dear to the hearts of financial analysts.
   50. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: September 19, 2011 at 10:40 PM (#3930103)
My TV gave out the same day articles started appearing about how outraged everybody was about Netflix's price increase. If they'd announced the change a day or two later, I would have subscribed and probably never have thought about it again.
   51. tshipman Posted: September 19, 2011 at 10:55 PM (#3930120)
Netflix got screwed a little bit. They had their rates raised drastically by the content providers because their streaming subscriber base grew so fast. They looked at their books and found that lots of people who had the DVD service never used the streaming service, so they disconnected the two, because otherwise they had to pay for content that people weren't using.

Unsurprisingly, people got pissed off. Netflix was screwed either way. Streaming is both the present and the future. They made the right decision, but timed and implemented it poorly. They never should have bundled streaming and DVD without a surcharge. That really was the poor move.
   52. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 19, 2011 at 10:58 PM (#3930121)
They lost 600,000 subscribers this quarter. I wonder how many more people didn't quit, but reduced their plans, like I did.

Yeah I just dumped streaming - since they don't actually have any content - and actually pay less. I doubt that was what they were hoping for.

It will be tough to ditch Netflix - oops, I mean Quikster - completely since I watch mostly foreign and independent movies. I suspect they will dump me first since they seem to have no interest in doing DVD anymore.
   53. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 19, 2011 at 11:28 PM (#3930148)
I have BEEN sucker punched. Including with a pool cue. Long story.


Generally speaking, if you're going to go rounds in a fight that involves pool cues, you shouldn't worry too much about being polite to start it off. If I were going to hit you with a pool cue, you'd probably think it was a sucker punch too.
   54. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: September 19, 2011 at 11:33 PM (#3930154)
I signed up for Netflix just over a year ago. I only have the 1 DVD a month plan. It was $9 per month. I use the DVD plan to catch up on older TV shows and the streaming to watch things when I have nothing to do. A month after I signed up they raised the price $1. So an 11% increase. Then less than 1 year later, they raise the price to $16. Another 60% increase. That's a huge increase. I don't think being pissed is inappropriate.
Sure, but you have to concede that you're timing was especially poor. I've been a Netflix customer for ten years. Over that time, they improved the catalog and sped up the turnaround times, which are minor improvements. Then they added streaming for free (first a limited number of hours, then unlimited); they did that without raising prices. Only recently have they raised prices, though the product is significantly better than it was years ago.

I'm really amazed by the anger I'm seeing from customers. I guess the lesson is that Netflix shouldn't have kept their prices so low all along.
   55. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: September 19, 2011 at 11:34 PM (#3930156)
Yes, tshipman nails it in #51.
   56. Shock Posted: September 19, 2011 at 11:37 PM (#3930159)
Then less than 1 year later, they raise the price to $16. Another 60% increase. That's a huge increase


No it isn't, it's 7 dollars. Do you pay your bills in percentage points or in dollars?
   57. Bhaakon Posted: September 19, 2011 at 11:44 PM (#3930176)
Sure, but you have to concede that you're timing was especially poor. I've been a Netflix customer for ten years. Over that time, they improved the catalog and sped up the turnaround times, which are minor improvements. Then they added streaming for free (first a limited number of hours, then unlimited); they did that without raising prices. Only recently have they raised prices, though the product is significantly better than it was years ago.

I'm really amazed by the anger I'm seeing from customers. I guess the lesson is that Netflix shouldn't have kept their prices so low all along.


Anyone with a broadband connection and a moderate lack of principles can stream pretty much whatever the want gratis, it's getting DVD-quality releases (with DVD extras, though those are increasingly missing from rental discs) that's worth paying for. Streaming isn't the future, it's the now, and it's already free.
   58. tshipman Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:01 AM (#3930213)
Anyone with a broadband connection and a moderate lack of principles can stream pretty much whatever the want gratis, it's getting DVD-quality releases (with DVD extras, thought those are increasingly missing from rental discs) that's worth paying for. Streaming isn't the future, it's the now, and it's already free.


What you pay for when you order Netflix isn't the right to stream the movies--as you note, anyone who can use Google already has that (although Netflix does have older movies that are difficult to find). What NetFlix offers is the interface.

When I pay my $9.99 or whatever it is, I get uninterrupted and high-quality connections, no ads interrupting my movie and no spyware being installed on my computer. I think that's worth paying for.
   59. Twoey Guillen Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:04 AM (#3930217)
There has to be money in a service that rents hard-to-find non-porn DVDs by mail; of course, it isn't the slaughter-your-competitors and sow-their-fields-with-salt kind of megalobusiness so dear to the hearts of financial analysts.


Facets Cinema might be something to consider for your hard-to-find DVDs by mail, if 8.99/mo. is worth it to you.
   60. Bhaakon Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:07 AM (#3930227)
When I pay my $9.99 or whatever it is, I get uninterrupted and high-quality connections, no ads interrupting my movie and no spyware being installed on my computer. I think that's worth paying for.


It would be worth paying for if they had a better selection. What good is a snazzy interface* and safer service if they're only offering a small fraction of what you actually want to watch?

*YMMV, I liked their old interface better. Their recent facelift traded functionality for a dubious aesthetic upgrade IMO.
   61. UCCF Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:18 AM (#3930247)
It would be worth paying for if they had a better selection. What good is a snazzy interface* and safer service if they're only offering a small fraction of what you actually want to watch?

Yep. I've streamed some episodes of The Office when I was bored at work, and a handful of movies when I was visiting friends last Thanksgiving (I saw King of Kong which was fun, and All The President's Men for about the 40th time), but it seemed like there was about a 5% overlap between the movies in my queue and the movies that were available to stream. There's no point in paying for streaming if 95% of the movies I want to see aren't available.

I think people would happily have paid (or at least less unhappily have paid) the 60% price hike, even if just for streaming alone without DVDs, if it had come with some promise of expanding the streaming library to be equal to (or almost equal to) the DVD library.

This new rebranding of the DVD program is a disaster of an idea. Whoever thought it up should be looking for new work by the end of the week.
   62. tshipman Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:38 AM (#3930282)
Yep. I've streamed some episodes of The Office when I was bored at work, and a handful of movies when I was visiting friends last Thanksgiving (I saw King of Kong which was fun, and All The President's Men for about the 40th time), but it seemed like there was about a 5% overlap between the movies in my queue and the movies that were available to stream. There's no point in paying for streaming if 95% of the movies I want to see aren't available.

I think people would happily have paid (or at least less unhappily have paid) the 60% price hike, even if just for streaming alone without DVDs, if it had come with some promise of expanding the streaming library to be equal to (or almost equal to) the DVD library.


I guess I just watch drastically different movies than the two of you guys. I've found that for the most part, if I want to watch a movie, NetFlix streaming has something worth watching. I don't particularly care which movie I watch, and I tend to watch more documentaries/older movies.

As far as expanding the streaming library: they want to do nothing more than that. But do you know how large the Netflix DVD library is? It's enormous. And the main reason why they aren't expanding it? They're being blocked by content providers who don't want people to get their movies from a source that the content providers cannot control. Big content providers do not want Netflix to be the only fish in the sea. If that happens, then they lose out on a huge money making opportunity.
   63. Greg Pope Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:43 AM (#3930290)
I also agree with #51 that it was probably a mistake to bundle the streaming without surcharge in the first place. I get that they've probably analyzed their business and think this is the way to go. But I wonder if they considered that people like me only streamed because it was "there".

Again, streaming is nice, but Netflix doesn't have the library that they seem to think they have. You can stream 30 Rock but not How I Met Your Mother. How many new releases did they have? I saw a hundred ads for The Expendables but I couldn't stream The Green Hornet. I'm not going to pay for Netflix and Amazon Prime and Hulu in order to stream all the shows that I like. It starts to rival my cable bill. And maybe that's the way to go, drop cable and subscribe to 5 streaming services. But what about sports, Academy Awards, etc.?
   64. Greg Pope Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:47 AM (#3930292)
I've found that for the most part, if I want to watch a movie, NetFlix streaming has something worth watching. I don't particularly care which movie I watch, and I tend to watch more documentaries/older movies.

Makes sense. I find that I want to watch more new releases though, and they just don't have too many of those. Like I can put Thor in my queue today and have it in the mail tomorrow. Until they get that level of movie, I can't imagine paying another $8 per month for streaming. And maybe they dump the DVD line and I have to go back to Blockbuster or Pay Per View. Then I'll have a different decision to make.
   65. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:52 AM (#3930298)
In case anybody really wants to talk about the original article: I fixed the link in the header.

-- MWE
   66. Greg Pope Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:53 AM (#3930300)
This new rebranding of the DVD program is a disaster of an idea. Whoever thought it up should be looking for new work by the end of the week.

Yeah, it won't affect me because I'm already a subscriber. But for people considering signing up, I don't think it's a very good idea. Will they find it? I got the letter and I still don't understand the need to split them. But if you're going to, why not "Netflix DVD" or something like that? Or at least "DVDflix" to leverage your existing name. "Quikster"? Sounds like a Napster ripoff.
   67. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: September 20, 2011 at 01:03 AM (#3930310)
In case anybody really wants to talk about the original article: I fixed the link in the header.

-- MWE


I kind of caused all this, but I was thinking more about breasts than Netflix with the first post.
   68. something like a train wreck Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:24 AM (#3930478)
what kind of sicko thinks of breasts instead of baseball?
   69. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:36 AM (#3930504)
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY thinks of breasts instead of baseball. It's always-
1. Baseball
2. Breast
3. Other Breast
4. Netflix
5. Mike Crudale
   70. Mark Edward Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:54 AM (#3930527)
They lost 600,000 subscribers this quarter. I wonder how many more people didn't quit, but reduced their plans, like I did.


This is me. Previously, I had the 1-DVD-per-month + streaming option. I switched to only-streaming. Yesterday I went through their classics section and added about 40 films to my streaming queue. And that's only going through the classics section. I only watch about 1 movie a week, if that, so I think I'll be OK for a while.

At some point I'll probably switch to DVDs though. For the new releases.
   71. GGIAS (aka Poster Nutbag) Posted: September 20, 2011 at 04:30 AM (#3930578)
Is streaming the future? Probably. And maybe there's no way to get there other than what Netflix is doing. But it doesn't meet my needs right now. And with so many players, I'd have to spend a fortune to get what I really want (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.) because my desired content isn't all produced by one studio.


I don't think you've done the research there. I have Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crackle, an Xbox360 (for Netflix and Hulu), a Wii for the Netflix, an iPod that runs the netflix, my phone that runs the netflix (all one account, you can use something like 8 or more seperate devices on one account!!!!). I use Roku boxes, which also have TONS of great stuff.

Let's see: I paid $50 (a piece, I have 3) for the Roku device, which is HD. I pay, what $9 a month for Netflix and another $9 for Hulu. That's $18 a month. Crackle is free. In fact, a lot of what you find on Roku is free and it is NOT a subsrciption service. Prime accounts are free/cheap if you know what you're doing and do a little leg-work. Yes, the "free" prime accounts don't get the free streaming, but the discounted ones do. $40 a year for Amazon Prime, which including the free 2-day shipping and free streaming, pays for itself easily.

Think about it....that's less per month then a cell phone bill, let alone a cable bill......


P.S. Streaming prices for Netflix are fine....the DVD's by mail are a much more expensive operation to run, hence the raise in prices.....it's fairly obvious, really.

P.P.S. To save the math, that's $41 a month for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. After an intial, one time $50 Roku device investment. Cheap options are abound! ;-)
   72. asdf1234 Posted: September 20, 2011 at 04:51 AM (#3930584)
And maybe that's the way to go, drop cable and subscribe to 5 streaming services. But what about sports, Academy Awards, etc.?


I have long since rejected cable hegemony in favor of the Internet; I've made do with Hulu & Netflix for my streaming needs, though 71 has provided additional options that I hadn't considered. The only thing I miss about cable is immediate access to television shows, lack of quality options for postseason MLB games, and lack of true HD sports broadcasts, though MLBtv tries to make up for the last with its many options.
   73. Bhaakon Posted: September 20, 2011 at 05:39 AM (#3930592)
P.P.S. To save the math, that's $41 a month for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. After an initial, one time $50 Roku device investment. Cheap options are abound! ;-)


That's too close to the cost of normal cable TV considering the gap in content (most notably sports). Particularly since most of us (I imagine) are saving some money by bundling our cable and internet connection.
   74. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: September 20, 2011 at 06:08 AM (#3930597)
Think about it....that's less per month then a cell phone bill, let alone a cable bill......


Wait, what? My cell phone bill is significantly more than my cable bill, I have a standard data/text plan and standard cable, and that's not even considering that I split the cable w/ roommates. Is your cable bill a lot more than your phone bill?

Also, 71 is presumably a typo, the costs enumerated come out to $21 a month, not $41.
   75. Shock Posted: September 20, 2011 at 07:39 AM (#3930604)
.
   76. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: September 20, 2011 at 11:13 AM (#3930625)
She appears, to unfortunately little effect, in the new movie Drive.
I'd hoped the flick would be good, and I was with its various style points (sort of "Miami Vice" as directed by Sofia Coppola) up to the elevator scene. Ah, well.


Drive is not only good, it's possibly the best movie I've seen all year, and I say that as a dyed-in-the-wool Terrence Malick fanboy. It's as airtight as anything I've seen in theaters since, I dunno, No Country for Old Men? Where'd it lose you?
   77. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: September 20, 2011 at 11:28 AM (#3930629)
Anyone with a broadband connection and a moderate lack of principles can stream pretty much whatever the want gratis, it's getting DVD-quality releases (with DVD extras, though those are increasingly missing from rental discs) that's worth paying for. Streaming isn't the future, it's the now, and it's already free.


Anyone with a broadband connection and a moderate lack of principles can also get DVD rips gratis.
   78. Lassus Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:06 PM (#3930638)
I'll admit it - the nostalgia that drives the love of Mad Men strikes me as rather tiresome.
   79. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:09 PM (#3930641)
Yeah, it won't affect me because I'm already a subscriber.


I think this is wrong, and this is my biggest single complaint. Prices went up? I'll downgrade my service to make the budget, as many people are. I know their cost of doing business is rising and I half-expected this.

But the Quickster thing really pisses me off. If I go back to streaming (which I just cancelled), I'll have to deal with two different Queues, which won't talk to each other. In order to do an operation on both (like moving a movie from streaming to DVD or vice-versa), I'll need to have two windows open simultaneously. When my credit card changes, I'll have to update the information twice.

Finally, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I could see a lot of factors - postal rate/availability changes, Netflix labor changes, others - which may lead to the DVD program getting pricey or discontinued entirely in the near future. Why should Netflix (or whomever) maintain the distribution centers and have costly mail delivery, with attendant physical problems (damage, loss in both transport and at the user site), when streaming is essentially free to them? They just encode the movie once and then everyone can watch it - it scales a lot better.
   80. Greg K Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:15 PM (#3930642)
I'll admit it - the nostalgia that drives the love of Mad Men strikes me as rather sad.

I say this as someone who's seen a couple episodes and wasn't particularly drawn to it - I'm not sure nostalgia is the driving force. The biggest Mad Men booster I know is my friend who is about the last person in the world who would be nostalgic for that world (he'd be either be eaten for breakfast by those guys, or dismissively ridiculed out the door). But then again he's a filmmaker, so he probably likes it for weird camera-work or something like that...so maybe he's not all that representative.
   81. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:22 PM (#3930645)
Let me provide an example. The "Benjamin Button" movie came out on DVD and streaming simultaneously a few years ago. If you're Netflix, how would you like your customers to view it?

On the DVD side, they bought probably thousands of discs to serve customers in many parts of the country. Some of these discs break and need replacement from heavy use; maybe they only get ten rentals out of each one, average. The pay the rights fee, one time. They have to pay postage to ship the discs to your house, and postage for the return trip (that's every time someone rents a release - on a popular one, multiply the cost by thousands). They have to staff "distribution centers" (which are often just PO boxes) in a sufficient number around the nation so the discs arrive at one's home promptly. They have to pay the IT staff to maintain the website, the Queue, and so on.

On the streaming side, they pay a guy to encode it. He can be drunk (those programs are really easy to use; you just need to stop the encode if something disasterous happens). They pay the rights fee, one time. They pay the IT staff to maintain the website, the Queue, and so on.

Besides all of the fixed costs (HR, employee benefits and perks, office costs) which the company has to pay anyway, streaming is a much more sustainable business model. Most of the costs are one-time, as opposed to per-unit. Honestly, I could see them dropping the price of streaming and raising the price of physical DVDs to drive people to streaming.
   82. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:28 PM (#3930646)
I've got friends in the "encode TV shows to server" business, and you can comfortably pay a guy $40,000 a year and get him to encode three or four movies a workday. Lock him in a basement somewhere with a playback device and a server and that's all you need.
   83. Greg K Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:31 PM (#3930648)
Asking out of complete ignornace.

Why don't they stream more movies? (That seems to be a complaint here)
Does it just take time to encode (and if it's only going to get viewed by 3 people why bother?) and over the next few years the streaming library is going to match the DVD?

EDIT: I see 82 implies an answer to my question.
   84. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:36 PM (#3930650)
It's about rights and fees. The physical problems with encoding a huge back catalog can be surpassed with a temporary outlay. You can hire "Project" employees, who work for only as long as your "project" goes.

There's some truth to your parenthetical in #83, Greg. To a large extent, they're encoding the more-likely-to-be-watched-by-thousands movies before the other ones. But that's not what keeps the catalog relatively small.

If you're a content provider and you have a hot new movie that everyone wants to see, there are four or five streaming companies to sell it to in the US market. You sell it to the highest bidder, who wants it exclusive so they can trumpet it (Only on Amazon streaming - Saw VIII!). So that movie is not available to Netflix streaming customers.
   85. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: September 20, 2011 at 12:46 PM (#3930655)
If you're a content provider and you have a hot new movie that everyone wants to see, there are four or five streaming companies to sell it to in the US market. You sell it to the highest bidder, who wants it exclusive so they can trumpet it (Only on Amazon streaming - Saw VIII!). So that movie is not available to Netflix streaming customers.


Which seems fairly short-sighted by the rights owners. You have to imagine that making it a hassle for viewers to watch your movie, is only going to push people towards a distribution model where they don't pay at all. There is very little incentive to play by the rules, if the illegal version is both free and much more convenient to obtain than the legal one.
   86. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 20, 2011 at 01:00 PM (#3930660)
Which seems fairly short-sighted by the rights owners. You have to imagine that making it a hassle for viewers to watch your movie, is only going to push people towards a distribution model where they don't pay at all. There is very little incentive to play by the rules, if the illegal version is both free and much more convenient to obtain than the legal one.


Agreed. But if you own Benjamin Button and there's immense pressure to monetize it, you need to choose a streaming partner. Do you take the long view and say "Netflix is the big fish, and we'll take whatever they want to pay" or do you decide to act in your own self-interest and take the longer green from Amazon or iTunes? And what if you're wrong about Netflix, and iTunes is the big winner in the end? Your movie is in a backwater that no one belongs to anymore; not only did you not get every dollar in the rights agreement, but now no one can see it.
   87. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 20, 2011 at 01:21 PM (#3930679)
Also (I'm all fired up about this today), the DVD is a superior product! You run it through your DVD player, which is likely minimally compressed and run through impressive audio components. Streaming is compressed to hell for IP transport purposes. DVDs look better and sound better. Also, they have extra features like commentaries and deleted scenes, where streaming does not. And DVDs have closed-captioning, where it's hit-or-miss for that feature on streaming (sometimes I turn on the English subtitles if characters have accents that I can't understand or if the audio is mixed poorly.

If convenience is the only factor for you, streaming is better. While I had it, I primarily watched documentaries and TV shows, which generally aren't really impressively engineered technically - if I miss the surround effects on the latest Al Gore environment movie, I'll live through it. I watched extremely few theatrical releases Instantly.
   88. BDC Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:09 PM (#3930719)
postal rate/availability changes

There's a lot of talk lately about the USPS ceasing Saturday pickup and delivery. That doesn't seem like a huge cut till you think of the model that Netflix uses. In a movie-heavy week we'll watch the disc that arrives Tuesday on Tuesday night, mail it Wednesday morning, get a new one Friday morning, watch it Friday night and mail it Saturday morning, and get the next disc Tuesday morning.

(I know, we need to get a life.)

But if the Friday disc now gets mailed Monday morning, the return disc comes Wednesday, the Thursday return produces a Monday disc that yields a Friday disc ... it cuts the service from two movies a week to three movies every two weeks. If the postage and thus the rental fee goes up too, that's more customers deciding the heck with it.

Another small example of how a guaranteed universal postal service facilitates entrepreneurial business models in America.

Edit: Oh, and thanks to Twoey! – I am checking out Facets Cinema.
   89. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:18 PM (#3930730)
I'd rather lose Wednesday delivery than Saturday delivery. You're right - if I miss mailing my letter/DVD by Friday's deadline with the "no Saturday" system, it sits in my mailbox until the following Monday afternoon.
   90. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:23 PM (#3930736)
*deleted*

Wrong thread.
   91. Greg Pope Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:29 PM (#3930742)
Why should Netflix (or whomever) maintain the distribution centers and have costly mail delivery, with attendant physical problems (damage, loss in both transport and at the user site), when streaming is essentially free to them? They just encode the movie once and then everyone can watch it - it scales a lot better.

Yes, streaming is clearly much easier for Netflix than the DVD's. But it has to be something that people will pay for. If their service meets peoples' needs, then they'll be successful. They're claiming that they're investing in their streaming library, and if they do, that's great. Maybe I'll go back to streaming if their selection improves. But if people value the library that the DVD part brings, then their customers will stay there.

If DVD by mail isn't a process that can make money, then they'll close shop and I'll have to go back to renting.

I just wonder if they have any way of knowing how many people will pay for streaming. I guess they've had a streaming-only service for a little while now, so maybe they do know.
   92. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:35 PM (#3930750)
The U.S. does have a significant rural population where DVD players are far more prevalent than streaming capability
   93. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:39 PM (#3930757)
I guess they've had a streaming-only service for a little while now, so maybe they do know.


Less than a month, I believe. Streaming was an added feature for DVD plans prior to this; I don't think Netflix had any streaming-only customers prior to this month.
   94. Greg K Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:40 PM (#3930759)
I had a friend who had DVD service delivered to Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories. He said it had surprisingly prompt deliveries. In some ways the postal service is ridiculously impressive.

EDIT: I clearly have no idea how to link to google maps. Google it yourself you lazy bastards!
   95. Greg Pope Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:42 PM (#3930762)
it cuts the service from two movies a week to three movies every two weeks.

This is an issue for me as well. I shift one day earlier than you. Most weeks I'll get a disc on Saturday, then have either Saturday or Sunday to watch it, mail it on Monday, get a new one on Wednesday, mail that one Thursday, and have my next one Saturday. What I usually do is make the Saturday one a TV show where I know I'll have time to watch the four to six full episodes over 2 days, and the Wednesday one is a movie that I know I'll be able to get through.

The U.S. does have a significant rural population where DVD players are far more prevalent than streaming capability

Good point. Even where I live I can only get really high speed with cable. I had DSL for a while but the speeds were not conducive to high quality streaming. Actually, one of the reasons that I went to cable earlier this year was for streaming. I'll have to revisit that now that I've cancelled my streaming service.
   96. Greg Pope Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:45 PM (#3930767)
Less than a month, I believe. Streaming was an added feature for DVD plans prior to this; I don't think Netflix had any streaming-only customers prior to this month.

I got this e-mail in November of 2010. Emphasis was in the original.


Dear Greg,

We want to let you know about two important changes to the Netflix service.

1. The price of your current plan is changing from $8.99 a month to $9.99 a month. This new price will be effective with your next billing statement on or after January 2, 2011, and will be referenced in your Membership Details. With your current plan you can both instantly watch unlimited TV episodes and movies on your computer or TV and receive unlimited DVDs by mail.

2. We now also offer a new $7.99 a month plan which lets you instantly watch unlimited TV episodes and movies on your computer or TV. This plan does not include any DVDs. All the titles you can watch instantly on your current plan are also available on this new plan, and as a reminder, not all titles on DVD are available to watch instantly. This new plan is available immediately – if you'd like to switch to this new plan at any time, simply visit Your Account.
   97. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:49 PM (#3930776)
Ah. Thanks.
   98. tshipman Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:49 PM (#3930777)
So, once again, Netflix wants all of its movies to be streaming. Netflix had a deal in place with content providers to move towards this. That was when they bundled streaming with DVD. That deal came up for renewal and content providers said, hey, about that deal we had. Now Netflix gets charged not based on how many people *watch* the movie. They get charged based on how many people have *access* to the movie.

That is why Netflix had to split off DVD. They were getting raped by content providers. Content providers don't want there to be an alternative to DVDs because there are huge profit margins on DVDs--especially with most video rental stores out of business.
   99. Greg Pope Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:59 PM (#3930793)
Content providers don't want there to be an alternative to DVDs because there are huge profit margins on DVDs--especially with most video rental stores out of business.

This is the other thing that needs to be mentioned. Sure, it's easier for Netflix to pay someone to rip the content one time. But how in the world do you figure out how much that is worth? If Netflix buys 10,000 copies of Benjamin Button, that's (assume 50% discount off retail) $100,000 of revenue for the studios. If it's available on streaming, how much should Netflix pay? And that's one movie.

Does Netflix have to pay the studios anything other than just buying the DVD? I always assumed that the only cost to Blockbuster was buying all those copies. I don't think that they have to pay an additional license to rent. But I don't know.
   100. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: September 20, 2011 at 02:59 PM (#3930794)
Agreed. But if you own Benjamin Button and there's immense pressure to monetize it, you need to choose a streaming partner. Do you take the long view and say "Netflix is the big fish, and we'll take whatever they want to pay" or do you decide to act in your own self-interest and take the longer green from Amazon or iTunes? And what if you're wrong about Netflix, and iTunes is the big winner in the end? Your movie is in a backwater that no one belongs to anymore; not only did you not get every dollar in the rights agreement, but now no one can see it.


I think my point was to not offer exclusive rights to any distributor, thus providing your viewers with access via their preferred method. If a viewer can get comprehensive access through a single portal, I think they are much more likely to stick with it. If they have to ### about with 5 different distributors to get all the they want to watch, I think they are going to be much more inclined to say '##### it' and just go illegal.

There's a point about maximizing your profits on a product, and if all you own is the rights to Benjamin Button, then take the cash and run. But for the most part the rights holders are big studios, who have a whole catalogue of movies, and are only going to add to it. Mortgaging the future for a quick buck now makes zero sense for them, imho.


Also (I'm all fired up about this today), the DVD is a superior product! You run it through your DVD player, which is likely minimally compressed and run through impressive audio components. Streaming is compressed to hell for IP transport purposes. DVDs look better and sound better.


And you can get DVD quality movies and shows via torrent with little hassle.
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