Starflix inventory claims
Updated March 2006
I am firmly convinced, and on evidence I feel should be persuasive to others, that the inventory claims made by Starflix (currently 30,000 titles) are hugely overstated. I have tried to discuss this with Starflix on two separate occasions, but in both cases they have refused to address the substance of the issue.
As well as the details on their inventory situation below, I have the notes from my original trial in late 2004, and the email correspondence with Starflix that resulted. In February 2006 they removed a sponsored thread on the redflagdeals.com forums after I posted a message. This resulted in my talking with a pleasant Starflix marketing employee, and I again asked for any clarification they might wish to provide, but eventually the word came back that she was instructed not to discuss these issues!
Here is a simple step-by-step outline of the Starflix inventory situation as I saw it in March, 2006:
1) Starflix has numeric inventory numbers which range (as of early March 2006) to 33741. However, all numbers below 16000 are unused (they return "Product Not Found"), leaving 17741, which in itself is a long way from 30,000.
2) Furthermore, many of these (over 9000) are not returned by the search engine, or accessible in any other way I can determine (although they can be called up directly by ID#). They seem to be duplicates, items from their original data sources that they have not yet decided to carry, and other detritus (I have the title info on these and can provide examples).
3) The remainder that are accessible comes to around 8360 - this number may not be exact, but it should be substantially correct.
4) the 8360+ number would be somewhat less than the actual number of rentable items available, since their system appears not to give each disc in a set a separate inventory ID#. There is no way for non-members to tell how many discs are in a set, but I have this info on a fair portion (from my trial in late 2004). This brings the count to 9744, and making an informed estimate on the number of multi-disc sets in the remainder since my trial almost certainly has the number still under 11,000.
The Starflix FAQ says "We have virtually every DVD available for rental in Canada, more than 30,000 titles..." - this is demonstrably false. The are missing around half of the almost 700 titles I use in creating my inventory chart, for instance. Anyone can take items from the missing list and check for themselves on the Starflix site, or come up with any number of DVDs "available for rental in Canada" that are not available through Starflix.
The Starflix "About Us" page says "StarFlix is Canada's largest online DVD movie rental service... Since launching our online movie rental service in 2004, Starflix has become the Canada's largest online DVD rental service." I suspect this would come as news to ZIP.ca, which has over 30,000 members - I'd be surprised if Starflix has even 10% of that number.