The Return of "What's Your Setup?"
By Bert Ehrmann
November 4, 2011
A few years back I wrote a column on how some friends of mine and I consume movies and TV series and I thought it would be interesting to revisit that idea for me and see how things have changed since then.
Back when I wrote that original column in early 2009,I tended to watch movies from my DVD collection on my my Apple TV and would rent a few movies a year from Apple iTunes. I also watched many movies via Netflix and was considering the purchase of a Blu-ray player sometime in the future.
Since then, things have changed a bit.
As of today, I rent almost all the movies I see outside the theater via iTunes, own a Blu-ray player, can't remember the last time I've watched one of my DVDs or anything on my AppleTV and have had my Netflix account on hold for the last few months.
After I purchased a Blu-ray player the summer of '09, I started renting Blu-ray discs from Netflix. Which was nice, except this started getting a bit expensive as I was paying something close to $20 a month for of four rentals. I came to realize that I was renting movies not because I wanted to see them, but because I felt I had to rent something each week to get my money's worth from Netflix. However, last fall Netflix debuted a new plan where users didn't have to rent discs and could instead stream movies and TV series direct to their computers/ Netflix capable devices for just $8 a month and I switched to that.
I soon realized, though, since I really wasn't interested in watching old shows or older movies at DVD quality the Netflix streaming-only plan really wasn't the best option for me. I kept the plan throughout last summer but probably only watched an hour of two of content over that time.
And that's not for lack of trying. Some nights when I was looking for something to watch I'd try to find a movie to stream only to be disappointed that there wasn't really anything I had a desire to see.
So, when the fall TV season started a few weeks back I put my Netflix account on hold. And, unless things change with the streaming service with it having new(ish) movie releases or some sort of other interesting content, like the Netflix produced David Fincher series that's supposed to start sometime next year, I'm probably going to be done with Netflix for a while.
I found that instead of renting Blu-ray discs from Netflix I could instead rent high-def films from iTunes and watch them instead on my media center connected to my TV. With this option, I'm only paying to watch the movies I want instead of feeling like I need to be renting something to get my money's worth.
So far, I'm very happy with this decision. I can rent a movie today, and until I start watching it that movie will sit out on my media center for up to 30 days. Once I start watching it, I have up to 24 hours to finish it which, so far at least, hasn't been an issue.
I also sometimes buy Blu-ray discs. However, I rarely pay a premium price for the discs. Almost always, I'll wait for the discs to go on sale or the overall price point of the disc to be lowered. In fact, I'd say that I generally pay around $10 per Blu-ray and sometimes less. When I shop for discs, I literally walk down the electronics isles looking at the price tags. When I see something that's a low price, I check to see if it's a disc I'd like to own. So far, this tactic has paid off as I have acquired a library of around 50 titles this cost-conscious way.
I did try renting a movie once through my DirecTV system but found that decision to be a terrible one. With that service, one only has a maximum of 24 hours to view that movie, otherwise it's removed from the DirecTV device and deleted.
I do, however, watch many older movies on channels like MGMHD, HDNet Movies and Sony Movie Channel HD via DirecTV. I really enjoy the eclectic films that air on these channels. One night the classic The Wild Bunch might air and another the trippy 1980s jaw-dropper Band of the Hand could be shown.
Almost anything's possible, and I dig that.