As Netflix users know, the company only ships Monday through Friday, so I was quite surprised to receive notification this morning that the disc we mailed back yesterday had been received and that our next disc would be sent on its way to us today.
Some quick Googling turned up the news that Netflix is now testing Saturday shipping. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: "Our growing scale gives us many operational advantages. We’re now up to nearly 60 distribution centers across America and can provide delivery to over 97% of our subscribers in about one business day. This quarter we’ll be testing weekend shipping in parts of the country which will provide even faster service both for those new subscribers who signed up over the weekend and for those subscribers returning movies at the end of the week."
My husband and kids will be happy to receive their next disc of CONNECTIONS, a 30-year-old science history series, that much sooner. (Last weekend the boys in the family watched a different kind of "science," the Harryhausen classic EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS.)
The success of Netflix may be bad news for the DVD business overall, unfortunately; DVD shipments were down 32% in the last quarter of 2008. Hopefully the popularity of mail rentals and online streaming -- services our family uses -- isn't going to simultaneously lead to studios cutting back on their DVD releases. When it comes to the classics, I want a copy I can physically hold in my hand, put on a shelf, and pull out at no additional cost anytime I feel like it.
The possibility of incredible shrinking mail delivery joining incredible shrinking groceries, Girl Scout Cookies, and newspapers would be bad news for Netflix and its subscribers.
Incidentally, I find claims that mail delivery isn't very necessary in the "modern" world annoying. I receive a great deal of mail every week, whether it's real letters (yes, some people still write them!), checks from my clients, magazines, catalogues I enjoy, Netflix, mail from our daughter in England, and Priority flat rate boxes filled with movies on loan from my Dad. I'd be very sorry to lose a day of mail delivery and would find it quite inconvenient.
If the Post Office refuses to provide service one day a week -- Tuesday has been suggested as an alternative to dropping Saturday -- could that eventually lead to the breakdown in the USPS monopoly on regular first class mail delivery? Hmmmm.