Thursday, September 15, 2011

Breaking up with Netflix

My love affair with Netflix started about 5 years ago, when a friend of mine gifted me a four month membership to the service. There was a Frank Sinatra movie I had been dying to watch and couldn’t find anywhere. My friend was sure it would be available on Netflix, and behold, there it was. As disappointing as the movie had been (I had previously seen it when I was 8 or 9), Netflix was more than impressive.

Even though I was on somewhat of a tight budget, I continued to support one of my favorite dot coms. Netflix didn’t disappoint, continually improving their service and adding instant movies to their arsenal. Like many of their customers in the bay area, I was asked if I could come in for a focus group at their headquarters in Los Gatos. They asked me about my experiences and how I would improve certain aspects of the site. The one thing I pressed on was bringing Instant Play to the XBox.

Six months later, Netflix announced that they were bringing Instant Play for the Xbox 360. Other consoles followed over the years. The movies available increased and the cost of the subscription fell. However, the selection of movies has always been limited. The newer Batman movies never made it to Instant Play, and neither have any of the HBO productions.

So, why did our relationship get sour?

  • Even though I own a copy of the Dark Knight, I’m too lazy to walk over to the DVD rack and look through our collection for it. When I’m sitting at the computer, watching it on Netflix would be the prime choice. But as I mentioned earlier, it never made it to Instant Play.
  • Movies I had watched half way, like Zombieland, disappeared a couple of weeks later when I sat down to watch them with my wife. This is very annoying.
  • Netflix made a deal with the production companies that they wouldn’t have the movies available on Instant Play for at least 28 days after the DVD was released. All of a sudden, Red Box, down at your nearest grocery store sounds more appealing.
  • They decided that you had to pay extra if you wanted DVDs delivered at your door. I only used that option once in a blue moon, but it was something nice to have. This is also the reason why their stock plunged today (along with the one below.)
  • Starz Play decided to break up with Netflix as well. Why is that such a big downer? Because Starz supplied Netflix with a lot of their content.

And thus, I’ve decided to break up with Netflix as well. Even though I’m a big fan of the cooperate culture at Netflix, it’s quickly sliding down from the pedestal it was once on.

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