Netflix Confirms Blu-ray Renters Wait Longer

The company knows that it doesn't have enough Blu-ray discs to distribute as quickly as possible to requests.

Netflix, the movie disc rental firm with about 8 million monthly subscribers, has acknowledged that some of its Blu-ray subs will have to wait longer for titles listed in their queues than otherwise may be the case because it has limited itself to having only a certain number of available Blu-ray discs available for mailing.

Some tech Web sites, such as TV Predictions, took issue with remarks made earlier this month online when Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey seemed to admit that the firm knows some of its customers are waiting longer than they’re used to (compared to standard DVD rentals) and that subscribers who rent fewer discs per month will usually get priority over heavier renters. Netflix charges escalating monthly fees based on plans providing one, two, three or more-disc rentals at any one time. Netflix also charges its estimated 500,000 Blu-ray subs an extra $1 for each disc rental.

Swasey said the company knows that it doesn't have enough Blu-ray discs to distribute as quickly as possible to requests, but purchasing more copies of Blu-ray titles would not be an “efficient” thing to do (similar to when Blockbuster only buys a certain number of copies of even the biggest titles, knowing that high demand for any one title never lasts very long).

“What we're doing is giving new releases to the person who hasn't rented as much," he told "We've been doing this for a couple of years and fully disclose this in our terms of agreement.”

After his remarks were first published in mid-December, Swasey told HD Notebook, this week, “A vast majority of folks understand that no company has unlimited resources. If we have 10 discs and 12 people want it, someone has to wait. We made the decision and have been very up front about it that we’ll send the disc to the member who has rented less in that time period.”

The moral of this story appears to be: The more you rent from Netflix (and thus, pay a higher monthly fee), the lower you are on its priority list.

Read all HD Notebook items here.