Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Netflix Throttling

I love Netflix. We've been signed up for a few months now, and it's great. I'm getting much more out of this than I ever did from cable/satellite, and at only 1/3 the price.

So I went looking for more info on how they operate, and found a couple of things of interest.

First is an article on the Fast Company website. It seems that their warehouses have no shelves, and that they scan their entire inventory daily, finding it to be faster than going and finding the DVDs that they want. Fascinating article.

Second is just how many people complain about "throttling".

The accusations are that Netflix plays shady games with when they admit receiving your discs, and when and what they send out to you. My experience with when they receive discs into their system is this: apart from weekends, they've always received movies the day after I put it into the mail, except in the week or two before Christmas. (Now who, pray tell, expects anything to flow through the postal service in the two weeks before Christmas?) The weekend thing seems to be that if you put it into Friday's mail, they get it on Monday. If you put it into Saturday's mail, they may get it Monday, or they may get it Tuesday. This makes sense, if you realize that they're trying to receive two days' mail in one day. They may not get through it all.

Now what about juggling what/when they send to you? Do they play favorites? Turns out, when you read their terms of service, under the allocation section, they tell you that they do exactly that. A guy named Michael did some experimenting, and wrote up just what goes on and just how you can be effected. My experience pretty much mirrors Michael's; I'm guessing we're not quite rock bottom, but we do get more delays than when we first signed up.

But despite my being at a little lower priority than others, I'm still loving the service, and am happy to suggest it to others.

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