In 1997, when Netflix first came on the home-entertainment scene, we were living in the city and had quick access to places like Blockbuster with it's easy parking, inviting storefront, and mind-numbing array of selections.
Between that and still being a VCR household we didn't take much notice of the DVD offerings of Netflix and just continued Bustering it.
Come 2002 we were living on the edge of a small rural town and the nearest Blockbuster was about 40 miles away, but we still had Audio Video Plus within a couple miles of the house.
Think of a highly compressed mashup of Radio Shack, Best Buy, and Blockbuster. Oh, and they are also the local authorized cable, Hughes Net, Viasat, Dish, and DirectTV installers.
With the convenience of a nearby video rental outlet we carried on with our VCR pretty much as before, but, even though I was only home for movie-night a couple of nights a week now, with Audio Video Plus' four short aisles of choices limited to what was most popular at the time and then only a few copies of each, often all rented out, we finally broke down and bought a DVD player (Actually a combination VCR and DVD although nowadays I do not recommend buying combination appliances such as charger/inverters because one function or the other is bound to eventually break and it's less expensive to replace the one broken part rather than pay for a broken bit plus buy the unbroken bit all over again!)
and as of June 2005 became members of the Netflix crowd.
Those were still the heady days of quick and reliable USPS service.
We would put a disk in the mail prior to that day's pickup, Netflix would have it in their hands the following morning and - even though Netflix was processing disks by hand at the time with actual people slitting the envelopes open, pulling the disk out, scanning the code, and slotting it into the appropriate bin - ship us the next disk that afternoon. In time for it to hit our mailbox the following day.
Send a disk back and two days later have a new one in the box. With a three disk plan and a three day cycle period it was well worth the subscription cost especially since Netflix gave us access to stuff beyond the lowest-common-denominator drivel of the networks.
Yeah, well that, the three-day turnaround, doesn't happen anymore. In fact it's gotten to the point, between Netflix wanting to get rid of us DVD'ers and 'No Joy' DeJoy's service-gutted USPS, where it often takes a week and a half now from the time we put a batch of disks in the mailbox and when we get a fresh bunch back.
Those early days were also the days when, if the disk at the top of our queue had a 'short wait' advisory on it Netflix would often send us a 4th disk (on our 3 disk plan) to tide us over while we waited.
Nowadays a short-wait disk will hang up there on the top of the queue for months before we finally get our hands on it, with no extra disks forthcoming while we wait.
And it seems like Netflix DVD is stocking fewer and fewer copies of disks too. When Netflix DVD released the 6th season of Brokenwood Mysteries and the 7th season of Vera the first disks immediately went to short-wait and it was 4 months after the release before we had a chance to watch them. This has been pretty typical for the past couple of years.
Speaking of release dates, the 7th season of Lucifer is out there somewhere, (The Wife practically swoons when Tom Ellis sings so we will grind through the violence of an entire season in the hopes of him singing once in a while) but on Netflix DVD season 5 hasn't even been released yet. It's currently stuck in our saved queue, which is not the actual queue they send us disks from. The saved queue is what happens when Netflix teases us into clicking on something they say is in their catalog but it really isn't.
Notice that we currently have 44 items in our saved queue. Some of which have been in there for years with no signs of ever coming to our mailbox.
Speaking of Queues and how many disks are in them, in the early days we found so much stuff of interest in the Netflix DVD catalog that our queue, the real one, was often on the high side of 50 disks long. Lately we have been struggling to keep half a dozen disks in our queue, and often a healthy portion of those will be re-runs of stuff we watched a long time ago but would rather watch over again than sit through most of the new crap on offer today.
So, with service and choices declining why have we stuck with Netflix DVD for all this time?
First of all, out here in our remote location with the only available choice being pretty slow satellite internet with a limited amount of monthly data, streaming is not an option. A few movies, assuming we were willing to sit through all the buffering delays, and we're cut off until next month.
Secondly, for the past decade or so the new crap on offer through the hundreds of channels on cable or satellite TV service is - well - crap. It seems that the current American viewing taste leans towards fake reality or heavily CGG'ed stuff or shootem-ups or fantasies or over-the-top suspense and horror crap. (We watch TV in the evenings to be entertained while we wind the day down and relax, not to be subjected to the manufactured 'drama' of other people's 'private' lives or be kept on the edge of our chairs and awake all night by the increasingly lurid crap being spoon-fed to an evermore desensitized audience!)
Accordingly, through Netflix DVD we started watching stuff that appealed to our personal viewing tastes which mostly seemed to come from elsewhere in the world, the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Canada, that wasn't available to us from other sources.
In fact other than Mare of Easttown, which we just finished up last night, (We thought it was pretty darn good, if a little emotionally tense.) I had to go back through our Netflix DVD rental history to March of 2020 to find the last time we rented anything produced in the US. And frankly it was a bit of an emotional stretch for us but we'd watched the first two seasons and felt an obligation to give this one a try then ended up getting caught up in the plot.
At least that - Netflix DVD being our only option - was the case until a few months ago.
It all started to fall apart for Netflix DVD when The Wife's coveted and carefully horded flip-phone literally fell apart in her hand and she decided it was time to make the reluctant move to a proper smart-phone, and while we were at it, explore other service providers.
In researching this move we discovered that T-Mobil's expanding coverage let us ditch our expensive yet still limited-data Verizon 3G (supposedly 4G but we rarely had that level of service out here) plan for two lines of T-Mobile's unlimited data 5G service (and we actually get 5G here on the property about 70% of the time!) for about 2/3rds the cost of our one voice (The Wife's) and one limited data (Mine) Verizon lines.
Next, even though we weren't looking for it at the time, Amazon gave us a coupon that let us get a Firestick for free and because it was there we decided what the hell.
Of course we can't use the Firestick as intended because of the limited speed and data on our satellite internet connection, (In fact we try to remember to turn the satellite internet modem off when using the Firestick just to make sure there aren't any 'accidents'.) but what it would do is allow us to use the mirroring function to connect the video from our phones to our non-smart TV. (Even though we don't use the Firestick in the 'normal' way I've also shut down permissions and stuff based on this video to tighten up security and privacy.)
Along with our Amazon Prime membership (more than paid for in savings through Whole Foods) comes access to Prime Video.
A few experiments with that on my phone using both pre-downloaded as well as streamed (always over the cell service) shows worked out well and now, successfully combining that with the screen-mirroring function of the Firestick, we have an entirely new option here!
Some additional research showed us that adding subscriptions to Acorn, Britbox, and PBS Masterpiece to our Prime portfolio, all paid and managed through the single point of our Amazon Prime account, would give us instant and unlimited access to a huge untapped, source of new-to-us shows that match our tastes.
And the cost of all three of these subscriptions together would only be a few dollars more than our Netflix DVD membership! (We have decided to just stick with Acorn ($6.99) for the moment and will add the others in later.)