Why I love Netflix: The Watch Instantly Feature

Netflix, Inc.

Sarah and I haven't watched live television since we got a Tivo 4 or 5 years ago. But now, we're not really even tied to what gets broadcast on cable any more. For the last few weeks we've been working our way through Heroes first on iTunes, and then on Netflix.

We're not watching actual DVDs sent through the ubiquitous red Netflix envelopes, we're using the "Watch Instantly" feature of our Netflix subscription through a PC I hooked up to our TV, though we could do the same thing on a laptop. Turns out that a lot of modern televisions have a VGA input, or some other method for taking audio/video off a laptop and sending it to a TV.

With a 4-at-a-time plan (what we have), you can watch an unlimited quantity of Watch Instantly DVDs. It's really well suited to watching TV shows. Typically when you want to watch the 6 DVDs of a season of a tv show, you don't get them all at once. You have to plan in advance which tv series you want to watch, order it, and then wait for it to show up. And once you plow through all the discs you have, there's a delay while you wait for more.

There's a good selection there.  You're not going to find Quantum of Solace in there, but TV series youNetflix
may have missed, movies released earlier this year, lots of documentaries, and anything independent is probably here.  Just look for the blue "Play" logo next to the movie.  (See image at right)

"Watch Instantly" changes all that. Sarah and I sit there with a whim to watch a show, and we play it. The delay for buffering is usually not more than a minute or two and the quality is awesome. If we don't like what we're watching, we ditch it and watch something else. We don't have to invest in waiting for the disc to go back and another to arrive.

Between watching recently broadcast shows on hulu.com, goofing off on YouTube, and Netflix watch instantly, I can almost see us ditching our cable subscription.

Netflix, Inc.


  1. ampressman on December 20, 2008 at 8:29 am

    The other day our Tivo updated itself so that we can use the Netflix watch instantly service from our Tivo. Way cool if you’re Netflixing already.

  2. Shabbir on December 20, 2008 at 8:57 am

    That feature on your Tivo is a game changer for how you consume media. It’s also available on the Xbox and lots of other less ubiquitous devices.

    Though it’s a subset of the Netflix library, it’s still a lot and the ‘no planning required’ feature makes a big difference.

  3. Cynthia Samuels on December 21, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Since there are no comments invited on your anniversary post I decided to comment here. What a beautiful thing to tell your wife; you were always a true gentleman but clearly you are one among many, too. Happy anniversary. It would be so great to see you again – sooner or later we’ll be in the same place. Until then happy anniversary and happy New Year.