Netflix: No more renting DVDs from streaming devices

Ben Patterson

For months now, the head honchos at Netflix have been calling the video rental giant a "streaming company" that "also offers DVDs." Now Netflix appears to be making good on its new mantra, announcing that it's phasing out the "Add to DVD queue" feature from any and all Netflix streaming devices, including smartphones and game consoles.

Netflix announced the decision on its official blog Monday and sparked an immediate outcry, drawing more than 300 mostly angry comments.

"You're just killing off DVD subscriptions one step at a time," commenter Jason wrote. "First the price hike, Blu-Ray surcharge, and now this. When optical media goes, so do I."

On the company blog, director of product management Jamie Odell explained that removing the "add to DVD queue" option from streaming devices would allow Netflix to "concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly," and that keeping the feature "complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality."

Subscribers will still be able to add DVD to their queues from the Netflix website, Odell wrote. He said that's where most users manage their disc queues.

While some devices with Netflix-streaming capabilities, like the iPad and the iPhone, still have the "Add to DVD queue" feature, others such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 no longer have the option (or at least not on my consoles).

While a few users stuck up for Netflix's decision ("I appreciate less clutter," daiverson commented), most of the feedback was harsh. Many users scoffed at the explanation that ditching the "Add to DVD queue" option would somehow free up manpower for more streaming services.

"Right. Any how many 'resources' do these transactions tie up? At least an order of magnitude less than actual streaming," groused an unnamed dissenter.

The move comes as Netflix pours more and more resources — not to mention hundreds of millions of dollars — into its video streaming service.

Back in November, Netflix launched a streaming-only subscription plan in the U.S. for $8 a month — but at the same time, it hiked fees for its DVD-by-mail users by anywhere from $3 to $8 a month.

While Netflix has a steadily growing selection of movies available for instant streaming — more than 20,000 — its streaming catalog is still dwarfed by the 100,000 or so DVDs and Blu-rays in its rental collection.

"I'd have no problem with [the decision] if it weren't for the fact that most of your movies and TV shows are only available on DVD," complained The Cathoholic. "Or they are there for streaming, and then you change it, totally messing up the instant watching queue."

Still, other Netflix users said they couldn't care less about adding DVDs to their queues from their phones and game consoles. "I hate adding things to the queue from my streaming device," wrote Jude, who would prefer to see Netflix concentrate on adding closed captions and audio commentaries to streaming video titles. "I do *not* view this as a step backwards. It's easier to manage the queue from the Netflix Web site."

It's worth noting that Netflix has reversed course on decisions to phase out features after negative feedback. A few years back, Netflix announced it would nix the ability of subscribers to set up sub-queues for family members and housemates under a single account, but changed its mind about that "profiles" feature after an avalanche of complaints.

— Ben Patterson is a technology writer for Yahoo! News.

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