Is Netflix A Cost Efficient Entertainment Option For You?

My wife and I have been using Netflix for almost 3 years now, and for the most part we love it.  When we started subscribing to Netflix we weren’t paying for any premium TV packages, but we still wanted to have plenty of entertainment options available to us.  Netflix was a part of our reduced cost TV watching plan.

We’re both movie lovers, and if we have some down time, we love to just pop in a movie and watch.  On average we will usually watch 1-2 movies a week.  Or at least I think we do.

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Within the past couple of weeks I’ve discovered a site (that apparently has been around for a while) that allows you to see if you’ve been getting the most out of your Netflix account.  It tells you how much Netflix costs per movie – and will tell you just how many movies you’ve been watching. But before we get to that, let’s look at how Netflix is priced.

How Much Does Netflix Cost?

At our house we have found Netflix to be a great value, with all of it’s movie and TV watching options that it has available.  They have a variety of packages that you can sign up for.  Depending upon which one you sign up for, you can get anything from limited 1-2 DVD/month deal or a streaming only movie watching package, to one that allows up to 3 DVDs at a time. DVD and streaming plans as of 3/2014.

  • Limited 1 DVD at a time, 2 per month: $4.99
  • Streaming video only – 2 screens at a time: $7.99
  • Streaming video only – 4 screens at a time: $11.99
  • 1 DVD at a time: $7.99
  • 2 DVD at a time: $11.99
  • 3 DVD at a time: $15.99

For us we found the best value to be the 1 DVD at a time plan + streaming video package that cost $15.98.   While we wouldn’t mind doing the streaming only package for only $7.99, it currently is a bit limited in it’s selection of new releases and bigger films – although some of the original shows are great.

Something else to keep in mind – you can now get a 1 month free trial and try the service out for free!

Figuring Out Per Movie Cost For Netflix?

If you want to figure out if you’re getting the most out of your Netflix account, how can you figure out what kind of cost you’re paying for the rentals?   As mentioned above I discovered a cool site called FeedFliks that will give you all kinds of statistics about your account – and help you to figure out if you’ve maximized your return on your monthly fee (or maybe if you’re watching too many movies and TV shows!).

To figure out what kind of a return you’re getting you just go to FeedFliks and link your Netflix account with their site.  Once you’ve logged in they’ll pull all of your DVD and streaming video watching habits, and give you some numbers that you can use to calculate your return.  Above are some of the graphs that we were shown once we signed in.  Among the things we found based on our last  6 months of viewing behavior:

  • We watch on average 7.6 movies per month.
  • Our cost based on the DVDs we’ve watched is $3.17 per DVD.
  • When instant watch streaming is taken into account, we’re paying $1.17 per movie.
  • We’re still paying more per movie than 81% of people who use FeedFliks – so there’s room for improvement.
  • We’re keeping each Netflix movie for quite a long time – 9 days.  We may want to try and watch those DVDs faster.

Based upon your viewing behavior, FeedFliks will also give you recommendations on how to improve your return on your entertainment dollars – and tell you where you’re doing well already.

  • It will tell you if you’re holding onto your movies longer than other users.
  • Tell you if movies in your DVD queue are available for instant watching.
  • Tell you if movies in your instant watch queue are expiring.
  • You can sign up for alerts to remind you to watch or return DVD movies.

FeedFliks also has a premium service for $8.99/year that will allow you to do more with your account including sync with your Netflix account more often, manage your queues, get email and twitter alerts and more.  For me I’m not going to sign up right now as I think I get enough information just by using the service every once in a while for free.

Put Your Netflix Membership On Hold

If you’ve found that maybe you’re not currently getting the  most out of your Netflix account (perhaps you’re busy – or going on vacation), you can suspend your Netflix account for 7 to 90 days at a time.  Just go to [Main Page->Your Account -> Put membership on hold].

There are no charges for the time your membership is on hold. You have to return the movies you have and you can’t watch online/streaming, but everything else is the same – and you can save some money if you know you wont’ be watching much.  Something to consider.

Other Video Streaming Sites To Think About

There are several other streaming video services to consider – and possibly get a better value with.

  • Amazon Video On Demand:  Amazon just launched a video streaming service, and the best part is it’s free for all Amazon Prime members.  So if you’re already a member of Amazon Prime’s unlimited free or reduced price shipping on the site, you’ll get the video streaming service for free. The cost?  $79/year for Amazon Prime, and the video streaming service is free.  Caveat: Amazon’s service offers only a quarter of the number of movies and shows available on Netflix, with a lot of overlap according to some sources.  Consider pairing their streaming service with the Playon setup I’ve written about before.  (Note: Free student and Amazon Mom Prime accounts do not get free streaming)
  • BlockBuster On Demand:  Blockbuster also has streaming video plans available.  Similar plans for 1 DVD and streaming cost $11.99/month, or 2 DVD for $14.99/month, so not much cost savings here.
  • Redbox Kiosks & Streaming: Redbox offers kiosks in various retail locations where you can rent movies for only $1 a night.  We love Redbox, and when we want to get a movie right away, we usually head to the Redbox at the corner gas station.  Now there are reports that Redbox will be taking on Netflix soon with their own streaming video service. Rumored plans would charge $4/month and would include 4 free kiosk rentals and unlimited streaming.  While it hasn’t launched yet, we’ll be excited to see this if and when it comes to fruition as it sounds to be competitively priced. You’re essentially getting the streaming for free after the 4 kiosk rentals.

Are You Getting Your Best Value?

So the question now is, are you getting your money’s worth when using Netflix?  At what point and at what cost do you consider it a good value?  For us I think having anywhere from a $1-2 per movie cost for Netflix means we’re getting a good value.

While our cost per movie is pretty high if you only figure in DVDs at $3.17 per movie, when you also take into account instant watch movies we are paying a paltry $1.17 per movie cost.   That’s not half bad, and about what we would pay even for a movie at the local Redbox.

What is your cost for your Netflix account, and are you getting your money’s worth?  Are you considering subscribing to Netflix or another video streaming service?   At what cost would you consider the service worthwhile?  Tell us about it in the comments.

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Last Edited: 10th March 2014

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  1. says

    My wife and I had netflix, and we liked it, didn’t love it though. The streaming content didn’t appeal to us much because of the lack of new movies, and many of the movies we already had in our collection. We ended up dropping our subscription because we don’t consistently watch enough movies to make our price per movie cost optimal. We now use Redbox because we have 3 kiosks within a mile and it fits our lifestyle better than Netflix did.

    • says

      We use Redbox as well and use it to supplement Netflix – when we “just need to see a certain movie today” without waiting. I agree that some of the streaming content could be improved and more new releases offered – and hopefully that’ll be improving some this year.

  2. says

    My wife and I love Netflix. If has saved us so much money with our kids and not having to buy kid movies but just finding them on Netflix. We just get basic cable so Netflix has been a great filler for those times when nothing good has been on cable.

    • says

      We hear that from friends as well – that there are plenty of kid friendly options on Netflix. that will come in handy as our little one gets old enough to enjoy that type of thing this year. :)

  3. says

    For me the answer is no because I have a hi-def 1080p flat screen and a blue ray player (can’t stand watching 720p these days). Netflix has hardly any bluray or 1080p movies for streaming. Plus my favorite films like Star Wars is not available for streaming. So for now, buying a blueray once and watching it for a lifetime or storing it in a movie server is more cost effectively in the long run IMO. Their streaming movies are mostly B-grade type movies (once again IMO).

    • says

      For us we have a 50″ 720p plasma that we watch, but we sit pretty far from the screen (10-15 ft.) so it’s pretty hard to tell the difference between 1080p and 720p. Because of that it really doesn’t make much difference to us. I admit that the streaming lacks some options, but I still can’t see how it could be more cost effective to buy blu-ray movies? Buying one would equal to 1-2 months of netflix wouldn’t it? (sorry, i don’t have a blu-ray, so i don’t know how much they cost).

  4. says

    They aren’t too expensive these days. But it is the classic movies that are missing – star wars, indiana jones, harry potter (I believe) and many others that I would love to watch that are not available.

  5. says

    Thanks for sharing this information! I definitely loved seeing all my stats. Need to quicken my turn over rate for DVDs too. I’m on the same plan as you. Streaming is pretty nice.

  6. says


    Over a year ago, my family and I took cable/satelite out of our house and begin streaming Netflix. We were immediately impressed with the quailty of the instant streaming. I took the funds we were saving and plcaed them in an ING Savings Account so I coudl watch the money we were saving. I have three children (ages: 10, 7, 4) and they enjoy Netflix more than my wife and I. Recently we began streaming Hulu Plus to our TVs and enjoy many shows as well.

    Here is our current setup:
    – Netflix (1 DVD out at a time, unlimited streaming at $9.99/month)
    – Hulu Plus ($7.99/month)
    – 3 Roku boxes
    – Wii with Netflix streaming

    Savings = $55/month over satelite = Beautiful!

    I almost forgot to mention, our children are reading more books and we are enjoying the outdoors much more!

    Just my thoughts,
    Chris Gallagher
    Speaker/Personal Development Coach

  7. says

    I don’t have a DVD player. To watch DVDs, I do a quick rip/encode and watch on the TiVo. So I’m good for 10 round trips per month on DVDs.
    The second choice would be Red Box, but the time and gas for a round trip to the box puts the cost too high. Streamed Netflix to an iPad is pretty sweet.

    • says

      We have a redbox literally less than a mile from our house at the gas station we always stop at, so that’s pretty convenient for us. If you don’t have a DVD player, how do you rip the DVDs? Do you mean you rip them on the computer, and then watch via TIVO – as in you don’t have a standalone player?

      • says

        Our store w/box is 5 miles away. RT gas is $2. So even if we grab a DVD at the box when we’re here, it’s probably a special trip to return it.

        Yes, I rip on the Mac, encode for TiVo, then just view from any TiVo in the house. No burning the rips or copying to give away.

  8. says

    Re-reading after the refresh (for updated Netflix pricing) and wondering – When the account is on hold and turned back on, does your queue remain in tact?
    When regular TV is in high gear, I go week without watching a NF movie, Can probably have the account on hold 4 months out of the year. But would not want to lose the queue.

  9. says

    According to FeedFliks me and Betsy are currently spending $0.66/movie, not bad. To better spend my time and money I should cancel it altogether – we’re on the unlimited streaming for $7.99/month plan. Cheap for what it gives me I suppose, that’s why I haven’t canceled yet. We were unimpressed with their recent plan/price changes.

  10. Orville says

    I find Netflix of no value, who has time to watch that many movies? The best value to me is the use of my time. No time wasted in searching for movies, no time wasted in managing queues, and no time wasted in watching movies because I have a subscription.

    The best value is freedom to watch a movie when I feel like I really want to watch a movie. Whether that is a redbox rental or one at the theater. Although you may pay less per movie with a subscription, you are still spending more per month with a subscription if one appreciates the freedom and is a casual movie watcher.

    • says

      That certainly is a consideration, if you know you’re not a big movie buff and you don’t watch movies that often, it may be the right decision to consider dropping Netflix altogether.

  11. says

    Thanks for sharing FeedFliks. I love Netflix and am probably getting my money’s worth, but I’ll definitely check out this link figure out how much I’m spending per movie.

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