Netflix Movie Rentals

June 30, 2012

Our family has finally signed up for Netflix! You would think that a home with a technical software developer would have done this a long time ago?

Quite frankly, we don’t have time to watch a lot of movies. By the time the day is over, we have 30 – 60 minutes of TV watching time before it’s off to bed. By setting our DVR to record our favorite TV series, we usually have just enough recordings for us to watch in that last hour of the day. Some weeks though, there is not enough to record…

Like most people, I’m aware of what’s been going on with Netflix in the news. The company is trying to go all “Digital” using video streaming services, but that did not happen. They increased their prices in the process, changed their product offering around, and almost killed the company in the process.

Despite all this, I really hate wandering mindlessly through our local video store for new releases. If we had a couple of hours to watch a movie, it just did not make sense to spend an hour of that time at the video store.

With Netflix now, I can queue up the movies we want to see and they automatically send one to us each time we return the previous one.

Netflix Video Streaming

We signed up for both the DVD service and the video streaming. Although our whole house entertainment system is not state-of-the-art yet, it will be. However, we do have a Blu-ray player with Netflix capability that we can use for the Netflix video streaming service. I just need to connect the player using a 50 foot Ethernet patch cable from our family room big-screen, to the Ethernet switch in my office. This is not a permanent solution, but effective.

Like many people have said, the selection of streaming Netflix movies is not as great as the DVD service. So far, that is what we’re using mostly.

Netflix DVD Service

Now, with me being a technical, I’ve often wondered how Netflix processes all of these physical DVD and Blu-ray disks, and gets them delivered to your home in a days’ time. I had mental images of a room with computers and DVD/Blu-Ray burning devices. A customer orders one online, the computer burns the DVD/Blu-Ray disk and drops it into a mailer envelope, prints the customers address and drops it in a bin for the post office.

I did some online research, and it turns out that Netflix does inventory the actual DVD’s and Blu-Ray disks in a warehouse and they do return and resend them to the next customer, much the same way as your local video store.

Christopher Borrelli, from the Chicago TRIBUNE, wrote a great article on exactly what happens inside the Netflix warehouse. It can be found at: How Netflix gets your movies to your mailbox so fast.

Basically, he narrows it down to this:

How Netflix works

You returned “Confessions of a Shopaholic” on Monday. Your next DVD, “Revolutionary Road,” arrives Wednesday. Here’s a look at what took place in between within a 28,500-square-foot Chicago-area Netflix warehouse.

  1. ARRIVAL: Trucks deliver returned DVDs to the Netflix warehouse in Carol Stream at 3 a.m. This is the only delivery to the facility that day. These DVDs await opening and inspection.
  2. INSPECTION: Returned DVDs are removed from their envelopes and inspected. Workers file the discs in one of two bins, one for acceptable discs and one for damaged or mislabeled discs.
  3. INVENTORY: A Postal Service first-class mail sorter takes inventory of the DVDs. You receive an e-mail informing you that your DVD has been returned and what you will receive next.
  4. SORTING: DVDs are rescanned to see if anyone has ordered them online. Ordered disks are sorted by ZIP code, in preparation for shipment. Others are shelved for later use.
  5. STUFFING: Outgoing DVDs are stuffed into new envelopes and sent through a label machine that scans their bar codes and prints their shipping addresses.

CALISTHENICS: The 42 Netflix staff members take organized stretch breaks every 65 minutes.

For anyone with a curiosity or interest in how Netflix processes their DVD/Blu-Ray service so efficiently, it’s an article well worth reading.

Also, make sure to check out: See more photos from inside the Netflix facility.