Friday, December 10, 2010

The Inefficiencies of Netflix

I came across this comic yesterday, and even though it isn’t Sunday, I’m going to go ahead and post it and talk about something other than alternative energy today.

This is actually was one of my fundamental complaints about Netflix because you typically only rent a few DVDs a month, and it takes anywhere between 1-3 days for you to get a new DVD after returning the ones that you have checked out.

Aside from the obvious inefficiencies of this system, Netflix has a huge membership base with approximately 194 million visitors to their website in 2008 (Thanks, Wikipedia!). It is safe to assume that a large portion of these visitors had DVDs delivered to their home multiple times throughout the year. This is an incredibly high use of shipping resources, and though I do admit that shipping the DVDs is not too much work, but it does add up to a lot of resources being used to get the DVD to your home.

The use of shipping resources has only grown since 2008 and with the expansion of Netflix to Canada; it is not unforeseeable that Netflix will continue to grow in international markets, burning even more resources.

These growing resource consumption numbers can be mitigated if more people started to switch their DVD delivery plans to the online streaming plan, which is cheaper and faster than waiting for a DVD to arrive in your mailbox. While the selection isn’t as vast as the DVD selection, that will certainly change, especially if consumers make it clear to Netflix that they are more interested in the streaming service.

Granted, with the streaming service you are essentially shifting the resource allocation from fuel for shipping to electricity for running the servers, but I think you know me well enough to know how I would address the electricity issue.

I’ll give you a hint:  It rhymes with “fallbernative crynergy.”

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