My wife and I use Netflix‘s streaming service as one of the pillars that holds up our cable-free entertainment setup. It was also the main reason I started subscribing to a XBox Live Gold membership, though that comes with some other benefits which I always forget about until the moment I notice them.
The XBox isn’t the only device that lets you stream Netflix movies, of course, but it’s the one we use, and it’s the only one I’ve tested. The picture quality is as good as anything else that comes through the 720p projector.
We got the 1-DVD-at-a-time plan, figuring we’d mostly be using the streaming service. What we didn’t expect was that the first physical DVD they sent us would sit untouched on the counter for months before we finally sent it back, unwatched. The selection is great, provided you want more than just the latest hit movie, and at first glance, $8.99 per month seems like a good deal.
But I love data, so I started to wonder: is it actually a good deal? Fortunately, Netflix is forthcoming with data about your viewing habits. You find data on all of the videos you’ve streamed to your devices, including dates and how much of each one you watched. In the first 90 days of the year, we watched something through Netflix on 42 of those days, spending almost 13 hours enjoying (or just barely enjoying) some movie or TV show.
If you add up $8.99 for those three months, plus three months’ worth of the XBox Live Gold membership, that’s $40.47. Over thirteen hours, it works out to $3.11 a hour. It’s cheaper than going out to a movie, certainly, especially considering there are two of us in the house.
I will admit that it’s more expensive than using the Redbox, but we’ve tried using the Redbox, and when it’s not broken, it’s empty, or there’s a long line, and regardless, you have to drive to it. I think Netflix wins, hands down.
Updated June 23, 2016 and originally published April 20, 2010.