Viewing, really, is the secondary criterion here. Unless you do not own a DVD player, then you are at least able to view movies on DVD, even if you prefer to stream. Since there probably aren't all that many Netflix customers out there who actually don't own a DVD player, let's assume that the vast majority of customers would be more sensitive to the depth of each option's movie library.
And on that point, there really is no comparison: Netflix's DVD library is far, far more robust than its streaming library. And yet, Netflix is charging the same base fee for either services: $7.99 per month. While you can watch more streaming movies than you can get by mail in a month for this price, you've got far, far better options with the DVD-by-mail option. If you only have bad movies to choose from, then quantity shouldn't seem so attractive to most customers.
The Business Strategy
Some analysts have begun speculating that Netflix intends to sell off its DVD-by-mail business. That's the only logical reason for why they might have bothered fencing it off from its streaming business. But I have to wonder: who the heck would buy it?
The very reason why Netflix is moving towards streaming is because the company understands that streaming is the future. Meanwhile, its DVD-by-mail business faces relatively high ongoing costs due to the need to acquire physical discs and pay for postage. So you've got a business that is becoming obsolete that has very high operational costs. Gee, who wouldn't want to buy that? If this part of its company has any value, then its value is pretty small.
So instead it will focus on its streaming business. But here's the problem: right now, it stinks. Of the 10 movies nominated for the "Best Picture" Oscar earlier this year, just three -- The Fighter, Winter's Bone, and Toy Story 3 are available through streaming. Doing a quick survey of my favorite 10 movies, just one (Good Will Hunting) is available through streaming. Of the top-10 movies in my Netflix queue, zero are available via stream. All thirty of these titles can be obtained by mail, most on Blu-ray.
And here's something even more worrying. Imagine that you're a prospective streaming customer and you go to the Netflix website to browse streaming titles. First, you click on "New Arrivals" to find Futurama, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Harper's Island, Thomas & Friends: High Speed Adventure, Barney's Top 20 Countdown, and The Messenger. Meh. What about Comedy? There you find: You Again, Cherry, Still Waiting, Dazed and Confused, The Hustle, and Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. Still not impressed? How about Drama: Last Night, Lifted, The Fighter, Knockout, Middle Men, and Mooz-Lum. If these are the titles meant to entice prospective customers, you can imagine how weak the rest of its streaming library must be.