February 21, 2010

Netflix Popular New Releases – Not So Much


UPDATE: Read Warner Brothers Deal Further Decreases Netflix Value, which help explains what “very long wait’” actually means, as well as why popular new releases aren’t.

We’ve been Netflix subscribers for a few years now and I’ve generally been happy with it, but over time, I’ve noticed something that has become a pet peeve.  Popular New Releases,  a page you can browse for potential DVDs to add to your queue, are anything but. 

I first noticed this back around the release of The Dark Knight, because I was anticipating the DVD release and looking forward to watching it again.  On netflix.com, I browsed to New Releases and to my surprise, The Dark Knight was not listed under Popular New Releases.  Since then, I’ve monitored it and found that true popular new releases almost never show up under the Netflix section of the same name.

Let’s do a little experiment right now and see what we find.  First, I’m going to bing search for “top new dvd rentals”.  I quickly find ROTTEN TOMATOES: Top Rentals and


Now, let’s go over to the Netflix New Releases and look at the popular new releases row.  Hmmm, there doesn’t seem to be any of the actual popular rentals on the list.  Maybe if we look at “See all”…


Now, we have the full first page of Popular New Releases and again, none of the actual popular ones that you might want to be prompted to rent are on there.


Clearly, Netflix’ definition of Popular New Release must be different than the reasonable definition that most people would think of – something like “DVDs that aren’t actually popular, but as we want you to rent them instead of actual popular DVDs.”

I have my own theory on why Netflix does it this way.  They don’t need to promote actual popular ones, because (a) people will seek them out anyway, and (b) they don’t have enough copies of the popular ones to meet the demand.  So, instead, when you use the tools that you think would help you browse good options for you and your family, they throw up other stuff that they want you to rent instead.  Bleh!

Netflix does list the videos, if you know about them and search them out.  Take a look at the top two in my queue for example, which have been there since the movies first released weeks ago.  Note that the expected availability is “Long wait”:


The is a Bad Business decision, in my opinion – and one of the reasons I am so open to new services being offered, like Red Box, when it is introduced into our local grocery store.  And even though I love streaming DVD TV series from Netflix to my XBox, I think it is time to investigate reducing my plan to the minimum and looking around for alternative options.  Netflix may still give the best value, but they’ve given me enough reason to at least look around.

Jeff Jones writes about a wide range of topics, but has a particular interest in computers, technology, science fiction, poker and chai tea lattes. He moved to Snoqualmie in 2006, he works for a little company in Redmond during the day and spends the rest of the time with family and friends.

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2 Responses to “Netflix Popular New Releases – Not So Much”

  1. […] subscribers?  Well, it partially explains my observation in my previous article – Netflix Popular New Releases – Not So Much!  Let’s get more specific than that […]

  2. […] Let’s do a little experiment right now and see what we find.  First, go to ROTTEN TOMATOES: Top Rentals and check out the top rentals.  Next go to Netflix Popular New Releases (all) page.  Notice anything? Read the full details, with screenshots for those of you without a Netflix login, at Netflix Popular New Releases – Not So Much!. […]

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