Boiling Point: The Failures of Netflix

Boiling PointThe other day I reached what one could consider the pinnacle of anger – Dr. Cole Abaius (retired) approached me about writing a Boiling Point about Netflix. Apparently the streaming and disc rental service got the good doctor angry and he did what any logical person would do – approached me to get even angrier on his behalf.

At first I was somewhat reluctant to aim the anger rifle at Netflix. After all, I’ve been a subscriber for about six years and my experience has been mostly positive. For most of that six years, for a reasonable price you could get a lot of movies shipped to the comfort of your own home and later, even stream them right to your computer.

But then, while using the official Netflix app, I became aware of many of its shortcomings and started getting angry. The floodgates opened – not only was I angry at the app, but I was angry at all of Netflix.

Before we get too far into this, let me just say that I still think Netflix is a great service. I still have it. I get 2 Blu-rays a month and unlimited streaming. I’m not sure what the fuck the cost is anymore, because I’m rolling in money and don’t pay attention to shit like that. Haven’t you heard? There is money to be had easily all over the internet! Despite my enjoyment of the service, there is plenty to be mad about these days, such as….

12,000 Titles and Not a Thing to Watch

Streaming may be the future of Netflix, and they boast heavily of the ability to watch movies on your TV, Video Game Consoles, and computers. There are various numbers floating around out there for the actual amount of titles you can watch, but it seems the official Netflix stance is right around 12,000, though this includes both movies and television. It sounds impressive, of course, until you break it down. I mean, what exactly can we watch? Plenty of movies over 7 years old, Comedy Central TV specials, and kids shows.

How many times have you looked for a streaming movie and failed to find it? While it can be cool to stream Tango & Cash or Cobra, there are dozens of times you want a Tremors or a Clue and you’re shit out of luck. But never fear, Veggie Tales is there.

The Disappearance of Sony aka Even Fewer Titles Worth Watching

While this isn’t something that can totally be blamed on Netflix, a contract with the Starz Network and some sort of cap agreement basically resulted in all the recent Sony movies being pulled from Streaming. This summer, some 250 Sony films were pulled from the service. Sure, you may want to blame Starz for this, but then again, they took an early chance on Netflix, negotiated a deal for themselves, and are now poised to make some cash in renegotiation. Dick move? Maybe, but the end result is that your money doesn’t get you any Sony films.

The Waiting Game

Blockbuster liked to point out that you had to wait a day or two to get the movie you wanted, and that’s true, but it never really bothered me. I live in Los Angeles and service is fast, I get my DVDs in a timely manner. The real waiting game is the period of time it takes for a movie to even become available. Video rental stores get movies 30 days before Netflix. Redbox gets movies earlier too. Hey, I don’t even have to leave my house to see Season of the Witch, which was on Video On Demand before it was on Netflix or in Redbox.

If you think things can only improve, you’d be wrong – Starz and Showtime have both announced they’re delaying the release of their popular shows to Netflix. So if you want to catch up on Dexter, Spartacus, or Camelot, you should take your time – or maybe check out Amazon’s streaming service, which is silent threat to the Netflix empire, growing larger every month.

Double Down on the Price

There was a lot of internet grumbling when the price change was announced, and with good reason. Discs and Streaming services were separated, effectively doubling the price for users who want unlimited streaming and a few discs here and there. The more you were already paying, the less of a hike it seemed, moving from maybe $19 to $22 or somewhere in that range, but still – the price went up. This happens from time to time, but separating Streaming from the Disc service helped no one, it only hurt users. Not enough to make people leave Netflix, but the sting was felt.

The Official Netflix App Kind of Blows

We live in an amazing technological era. I can stream movies to my iPhone while driving through the deserts of California. That’s pretty fucking cool. But you know what’s not cool? The official Netflix app is only oriented towards streaming – it doesn’t let me modify my disc queue. If a movie isn’t available for streaming, a search doesn’t even turn it up. It doesn’t exist. Why can’t I just see that it is a disc only title and then put it in my queue? Why can’t I then use the same app to modify and manage my queue?

What is called a Netflix app is really just a Netflix Instant Streaming App, which has little else to do with the functioning of the site in terms of account or disc management. If I can deposit checks, put money into a 401(k) (if I had one), and manage my finances, my car, and the air conditioning in my home, why can’t I organize my disc queue in the official Netflix app?

On the same subject, the built-in browser for the Playstation 3 has the same shortcomings, and I won’t even go into it’s obvious design flaws, which make browsing more complicated and slower than it has to be.

I’m a fan of Netflix, as I mentioned. I like having the movies sent to my house and I enjoy that I can stream the entire series of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit to my laptop while I’m laying in bed. That is awesome. But let’s be honest – as cool as it is, there is a lot of bullshit that needs to changed if Netflix wants to remain the top dog in rental services. As it stands, every one of the above mentioned hiccups pushes me past my boiling point – instantly to your computer or TV.

Put more Boiling Point into your queue

Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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