Skip

“A film should be like a stone in your shoe.”
August 5, 2011 9:11 AM   Subscribe

The Convenience Trap: What the changes at Netflix reveal about an insidious trend.
posted by hermitosis (121 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
A bit misleading. When offered the new package, I simply said No Thanks. No streaming and I will take the mail DVD--and that comes at a lower price than was in place.
posted by Postroad at 9:14 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Over on Facebook, Box had some good comments on how this applies to libraries as content providers as opposed to archives, where the mode of convenient consumption leads to a devaluation of the idea of rich archives for patrons. Hopefully, he'll be along to expand on that.
posted by klangklangston at 9:17 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the original DVD-by-mail service from Netflix was already "we'll send you some movie from your list, maybe not the one you want".
posted by smackfu at 9:18 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this writer suggesting that critically acclaimed art is often secondary to business interests?

Say it ain't so!
posted by demiurge at 9:18 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't quite finished the article yet, but this guy doesn't seem to realize the vast majority of people do not care enough about film to put the effort in. It reads like a very "back in my day" cliche-fest from a shitty local paper.... but with the phrase "pioneering queer films of Kenneth Anger" in it.

It is just so easy to use Netflix on your xbox/ps3/pc/roku that the idea of waiting for a disc or (god help us!) driving someplace to pick it up seems almost barbaric.
posted by lattiboy at 9:20 AM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


This isn't a trap for consumers at all. It's a wake-up call to rights-holders that they will be leaving money on the table if they don't play ball, losing revenue to piracy or obscurity.

I'm OK with this.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:21 AM on August 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


Their streaming service does not offer close captioning (or the DVD extras), and there's no outrage by the disability community or anyone else. Am I missing something here?
posted by Melismata at 9:22 AM on August 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Netflix is quickly moving toward being passive-aggressively inconvenient toward users of their DVD business. I still can't believe they actually removed the ability to manage DVD queues from their smartphone app in March. That's right, the first version of the Netflix app had the ability, the current version does not.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:23 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What if Netflix wanted to kill off its DVD business, the way Apple killed off the floppy drive?

Crap. Since when did Apple kill off the floppy drive? I think you'll find that Zip drives dealt the first blow and affordable USB memory sticks dealt the coup de grace. That and the fact that even a single Word document probably wouldn't fit on one now.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:23 AM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


I got lost midway through because I really don't see his point. Is he pining for the old days when the only way to see a film was in a theater before it was gone for good? In comparison, that system was far worse than Netflix's spotty streaming catalog. At least there are movies to see.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:24 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


(The only thing zip drives dealt a blow to were credulity.)
posted by incessant at 9:25 AM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


"It’s common knowledge that Netflix’s streaming offerings are patchy and unpredictable, light on new releases and heavy on catalog obscurities, and that a movie or a TV series you’re in the middle of watching can disappear overnight.
...
It’s already trained its members to wait four weeks, during which new movies are available to buy but not to rent, in order to expand its selection of Instant titles. "
I first had Netflix in 2000 where catalog obscurities were the whole reason why I paid them my $20 for 3 DVDs at a time. (That's right - the same amount I pay now for 2 DVDs plus streaming. Price hike, what?) Why would I want to go to the local video store for the latest brain drain blockbuster film when I could get DVDs from Netflix to watch the weird, obscure, foreign, independent films that actually were interesting?

Do people actually wait four weeks for a new movie to be available on Netflix to go see it? Is it really all that important that you see it now? And if it was that important, why didn't you just pony up the extra money to see it in the theatre?

If there's a movie we really wanted to see but didn't get around to seeing it in the theatre, it is usually a few seconds of "Aw..." and then we forget about it for a year or two until we see it on Netflix and go "Hey, I think we wanted to see that!"
"...that the quality of streamed video is noticeably poorer than DVD, let alone Blu-ray."
What? I've been streaming a lot of gorgeous stuff on my HDTV and it is definitely better than a DVD through a DVD player (although the up-convert through the PS3 is comparable).
posted by jillithd at 9:26 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Their streaming service does not offer close captioning (or the DVD extras), and there's no outrage by the disability community or anyone else. Am I missing something here?

Caption support is theoretically possible with some players (I thinkPS3, and Wii all support it right now, and XBox support is supposedly coming), but relatively few titles have it as of now. However Netflix has said they're aiming to have at least 80% of the library captioned by the end of the year.

Ah, here we go, found a Netflix blog about it. I definitely remember some heated comments from the deaf community about the issue.
posted by kmz at 9:26 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there any way to manage a queue (or tag list?) of streaming movies/TV? Browsing for something to watch on a smartphone is painful at best. I've taken to starting a movie on the TV, then closing out so that I have the option of starting from where I left off on the smartphone. Pretty kludgy, but it works.
posted by ODiV at 9:27 AM on August 5, 2011


Another upcoming change is that Netflix will be removing all DVD/Blu-Ray data from their open API. Third party apps that interact or manage your DVD queue will be no longer useful or of limited use--sites like FeedFliks and DVDLater probably won't work with anything other than instant watch titles.
posted by sexymofo at 9:28 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Netflix is has quickly moving^H^H^Hed toward being passive-aggressively inconvenient toward users of their DVD business.

FTFY. And god help the Blu-Ray users.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:28 AM on August 5, 2011


Since when did Apple kill off the floppy drive?

it was the big-endian bytes - it chewed them right up
posted by pyramid termite at 9:28 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just cancelled Netflix. If I want convenience and shitty selection, I'll just use redbox.
posted by empath at 9:29 AM on August 5, 2011


Most of what the author's complaining about is intentional. It's price discrimination 101. You make a cheaper and less convenient series of the same good, which enables you to charge more from the people who want it more. It's very economically efficient.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:29 AM on August 5, 2011


I haven't quite finished the article yet, but this guy doesn't seem to realize the vast majority of people do not care enough about film to put the effort in.

He does, at the very end. I think for a lot of people, it's simply a means to an end. Netflix looks like it has a formula to keep everyone thinking it has everything for all time on streaming.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:30 AM on August 5, 2011


Most of what the author's complaining about is intentional. It's price discrimination 101. You make a cheaper and less convenient series of the same good, which enables you to charge more from the people who want it more. It's very economically efficient.

So Netflix isn't run by movie lovers. (Was it ever run by movie lovers?) Sounds like the bean counters and MBAs win again.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:31 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


After all, shouldn’t art be inconvenient, if not in the sense of being difficult to access, then because it forces us out of our comfort zones, requiring us to reckon with its way of understanding the world? It may be a stone in your shoe, but if you don’t get off the couch, you’ll never know it’s there.

That is one way of looking at it, though Matisse (that he dreamt of an art that would be like an easy-chair for the tired "brain-worker") may have had a different point of view.
posted by R. Mutt at 9:32 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you are missing something if you think the main reason that the entire library of Kurosawa or Chaplin isn't available is anything but aggressively stupid copyright extensions.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:32 AM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Milos Stehlik, who founded Facets Multi-Media, the DVD distributor of such vegetable-flavored works as Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Decalogue and Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó

Huh?
posted by nathancaswell at 9:33 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was nonsense- streaming/instant access has the potential to broaden horizons, and those "chunks" of film history that get lost with each new technology wouldn't be lost with digital... except for the problem of rights/IP which is not a technological one, but a legal one.

The long tail, the nature of the technology, means a Netflix could host the entire contents of the legendary Scarecrow Video store for everyone from the haughtiest auteur to the Paul Blartiest casual watcher to experience without impediment. How is this not a good thing?
posted by hincandenza at 9:33 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh and for the record I watch crappy TV shows on instant Netflix all the time and the last DVD I got was Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Tropical Malady. So there.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:34 AM on August 5, 2011


Here is what I would love: Netflix watch instantly, paired with reasonably priced digital rentals with a great catalog. So far that doesn't exist on this planet. I'm not married to physical discs, in fact I'd prefer not to deal with them. What I do like is the ability to watch a specific film because my curiosity in that moment has piqued. If I find myself in the mood to watch a lot of John Cassavetes one weekend, I wouldn't mind paying some money to be able to do that. There doesn't seem to be an online rental service that has a catalog as robust as Netflix's watch instantly lead alone their DVD catalog and I'd prefer not to go hunting across multiple services.
posted by I Foody at 9:34 AM on August 5, 2011


I just cancelled Netflix. If I want convenience and shitty selection, I'll just use redbox.

Based on how Netflix is systematically cutting down DVD services, they probably think everyone is using redbox. At the rate we're going, we'll probably end up with 100 movies that everyone rents all the time.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:35 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


After all, shouldn’t art be inconvenient, if not in the sense of being difficult to access, then because it forces us out of our comfort zones, requiring us to reckon with its way of understanding the world?

See DVD/Blu Ray users, Netflix is making it more inconvenient so that your experience is more authentic. And it isn't stopping there! Netflix is also trying to make the streaming service more convenient so that, by contrast, DVD fans will have even more artistic integrity!
posted by mullacc at 9:35 AM on August 5, 2011


In the mid-size city where I live, video stores are dying a slow death... except for Picaflic, which has an absolutely huge catalog of obscurities that you can't possibly find on Netflix (and most people will be able to find on torrent sites). The place is always packed, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Picaflic also servers a community need - it's located in a nice urban neighbourhood, and is surrounded by coffee shops and small independent restaurants and antique shops and that sort of thing. Many people walk there with their dogs, etc.

However, the big chains like Rogers that are located in isolated strip malls are slowly closing down their stores.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:36 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just cancelled Netflix. If I want convenience and shitty selection, I'll just use redbox.

I think it's about a toss-up. In general, I'll rent 4 DVDs a month, because we tend to watch them on the weekends. Redbox is cheaper if I actually return it on Saturday after renting it on Friday. But it also means we have to go to the grocery store twice on the weekend, which is not super convenient.
posted by smackfu at 9:37 AM on August 5, 2011


This is why I just changed my subscription to DVD-only. I want to watch what I want, not whatever Netflix happens to have on streaming at the moment. That's why I got Netflix in the first place. This feels like a very sad return to the days of "least objectionable programming" on network TV.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:38 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't stream all that many movies (because as everyone has already noted, their selection of streaming movies generally sucks). But since pretty much every show ever on TV is now available as a DVD box set, I use streaming to be my own TV channel for a hell of a lot less than what cable offers, and without commercials. (The TV selection isn't perfect either but it's a lot better IMO.)

But what really confuses me is how fluid the availability of individual episodes of a show can be. Right now I'm rewatching South Park from the beginning. When I started this, they had all of Season One and I watched them. Now there are a couple of Season One episodes in the queue, but most of the them have vanished. Season Three is represented by a couple of scattered episodes now. It's bizarre. If it was entire seasons, I could understand that, but it's not.

Between that and the crappy quality of the internet connection in my new apartment (thank you Comcast. Fuckers.) I'm seriously considering bailing on the whole thing and reading more.
posted by Naberius at 9:39 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the rate we're going, we'll probably end up with 100 movies that everyone rents all the time.

Well, they say all narratives are only variations on the same 100 stories. And as long as just one of those stories has sassy talking dogs with CGI-animated mouths, I think I'll be okay.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:39 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


That was nonsense- streaming/instant access has the potential to broaden horizons, and those "chunks" of film history that get lost with each new technology wouldn't be lost with digital... except for the problem of rights/IP which is not a technological one, but a legal one.

The long tail, the nature of the technology, means a Netflix could host the entire contents of the legendary Scarecrow Video store for everyone from the haughtiest auteur to the Paul Blartiest casual watcher to experience without impediment. How is this not a good thing?


For chunks of film history to get saved, there has to be economic incentives, and also a lack of economic disincentives. Every film has owners that need to be paid and appeased. Rights to transfer to new media that might have been cheap and easy to get when going to DVD might be harder and more expensive to get when going to streaming. There may be music rights involved; there may be preservation issues to consider if transferring from film.

There are no guarantees, and it looks clear that if anyone is going to preserve and extend film and TV online, it won't be Netflix.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:40 AM on August 5, 2011


If I still lived within walking distance of Movie Madness (may it somehow forever stay in business), I'd rent actual physical discs from them at least some of the time on general principle.

But in practice, their selection, as awesome and eclectic as it was to behold in all its indie video store cinephiliac wonder in the late 90s, doesn't compete, can't compete, with even the more anemic Instant offerings Netflix has going on at this point. I'm not sure there's a single lousy horror movies they had on the shelf that isn't on Instant, and I rented a lot of lousy horror movies from that place over the years.

I'm hopeful that we're looking at a short-term contraction in availability, that as Netflix commits to Instant it will start backfilling the streaming catalog to catch up with where they have been on disc. But there's already way too goddamned much to watch already, too much genuinely good stuff even setting aside the random bits of crap I like to watch.
posted by cortex at 9:40 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love articles and discussions like this. There is nothing more fatuous and indefensible than a statement like this: "Every time a new technology takes over, a chunk of film history gets left behind." Not that I'm a huge fan, but I do agree with Louis CK's point that Everything's Amazing & Nobody's Happy.
posted by twsf at 9:41 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, they say all narratives are only variations on the same 100 stories.

I thought it was only 36?
posted by pwnguin at 9:42 AM on August 5, 2011


We changed to DVD only. After about 9 months we expect to change to instant streaming for a couple months, then DVD only again. Repeat as they refresh the watch instantly catalog.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:42 AM on August 5, 2011


Milos Stehlik, who founded Facets Multi-Media, the DVD distributor of such vegetable-flavored works as Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Decalogue and Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó.

Huh?


Obscure and difficult films are the mainstay of Facet's library. The writer is making an analogy that watching obscure and difficult films takes more commitment and mental effort than is required for the latest explosion fest. Eating your vegetables as opposed to cheesy poofs.
posted by Babblesort at 9:42 AM on August 5, 2011


Another upcoming change is that Netflix will be removing all DVD/Blu-Ray data from their open API.

That makes Netflix a lot less useful for me. Silver lining (I guess): ditching the now-useless Netflix apps from my phone.
posted by immlass at 9:44 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the rate we're going, we'll probably end up with 100 movies that everyone rents all the time.

Or a system where people go out to designated film showing locations that only have 10 options, and that charge $10 a person. But the films will rotate pretty quickly, changing every weekend. It might work, who knows?
posted by smackfu at 9:45 AM on August 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Season Three is represented by a couple of scattered episodes now. It's bizarre. If it was entire seasons, I could understand that, but it's not.

I think this is a bug. Many series are entirely mislabled, for example "Ramses Kitches Nightmares" seems to have only 3 actual episodes repeating over and over labeled as different episodes. STTNG is missing all but 2 episodes from seasons 6 and 7. This is just one of the bugs with netflix. If I add something to my instant queue, halfthe time it gets added to the middle, not a big deal but it makes it hard to find on my network blueray player. I am kinda worried about the software engineering at Netflix.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:47 AM on August 5, 2011


If the price spike is too high, I'll just switch to stream only and rent dvds from Redbox our the Blockbuster kiosk. It's much cheaper and I don't have to wait six months for a new release.
posted by Malice at 9:48 AM on August 5, 2011


I am 100% guilty of everything that guy accuses me of. Because I like having a formulaic police procedural or Star Trek to keep my attention while I'm cooking or knitting (in fact, films I actually want to pay attention to, and anything with subtitles, get passed by until I can give them my full attention). But there's no reason that Netflix can't be both the "I'm bored; let's find a channel playing Law & Order" to replace cable TV, and the source of obscure finds for real film buffs. Netflix built its business capitalizing on the long tail. Why would they turn around and forget that?
posted by Jeanne at 9:49 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


or* damnable Swype.
posted by Malice at 9:49 AM on August 5, 2011


empath: "I just cancelled Netflix. If I want convenience and shitty selection, I'll just use redbox."

Yeah, I am about at the same point. I thought I would give the streaming a go for a month, but the lack of titles is annoying.
posted by lampshade at 9:49 AM on August 5, 2011


...Netflix unceremoniously shoved its customers toward a future in which hard copies are a thing of the past.

Yay!

The end of hard copies is inevitable. Netflix isn't starting this trend. They're following it and encouraging it, nothing more.
posted by gurple at 9:49 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the mid-size city where I live, video stores are dying a slow death... except for Picaflic, which has an absolutely huge catalog of obscurities that you can't possibly find on Netflix (and most people will be able to find on torrent sites). The place is always packed, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Give it a year. In my city, we've recently lost (are losing) our two best rental stores. It seems you simply can't make it work these days by just straight out renting/selling DVDs. Welcome to the future.
posted by philip-random at 9:50 AM on August 5, 2011


Looking over at Blockbuster's site, they're pushing their DVD rentals by mail pretty hard, and have a cheeky widget to send snarky tweets to Netflix. Too bad the base price is the same as Netflix'.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:50 AM on August 5, 2011


There is nothing more fatuous and indefensible than a statement like this: "Every time a new technology takes over, a chunk of film history gets left behind."

Are you arguing the fact that every film that has been available on VHS is now available on DVD? That every film that was available on DVD will be available on BluRay when it takes over?
posted by griphus at 9:51 AM on August 5, 2011


.... That every film that was available on DVD will be available on BluRay when it takes over?

BluRay isn't going to take over, the way DVD did. BluRay arrived at the last possible instant that a new physical standard could have arrived. It'll be out of a job soon.
posted by gurple at 9:53 AM on August 5, 2011


Seriously, who doesn't feel archaic just handling a DVD or CD anymore? It's been that way since mp3s came along. Netflix isn't pushing anything. They're following progress.

Is the instant selection perfect? No. Can I use it to watch episodes of He-Man at 230am while eating pizza? Yes I can.

Also, the price increase amounts to what, $72 a year? That's two dinners out with me and my wife, and you can throw in the tip. Stop whinging, people.
posted by Fister Roboto at 9:53 AM on August 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Can you even get a non-enhanced Star Wars trilogy these days? I seem to remember the only digital copies of that being on LaserDisc for awhile.
posted by ODiV at 9:53 AM on August 5, 2011


I bought a copy of the original trilogy on VHS a decade ago specifically because it was the movies they way they were supposed to be (non-enhanced). Of course now I have no way to view it. I'm sure the best versions of that are indeed on LaserDisc.
posted by meinvt at 9:55 AM on August 5, 2011


This is the unaltered trilogy. Out of print, sadly, but it exists.
posted by griphus at 9:57 AM on August 5, 2011


Seriously, who doesn't feel archaic just handling a DVD or CD anymore?

Well, swapping discs in my game consoles keeps it from becoming a wholly alien experience, but, yes, every once in a while I'll check the optical drive on one of my computers and realize that, oh, that's where that disc has been for the last six months.
posted by cortex at 9:57 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, who doesn't feel archaic just handling a DVD or CD anymore?

I watch DVDs constantly, because Netflix has like maybe two foreign-language films on streaming ever, and the image/sound quality is often pretty poor. YMMV, but these are things that matter a lot for my viewership. Things being what they are, I still pretty much consider DVDs the standard format, and Netflix streaming to be a nifty gee-golly toy thing that lets me watch all of Party Down on a rainy Saturday.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:57 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


What? I've been streaming a lot of gorgeous stuff on my HDTV and it is definitely better than a DVD through a DVD player

Not my experience. On the PS3, the highest-bitrate "HD" stuff is macroblocked, posterized, and/or fuzzy enough that it mostly looks marginally better than a DVD. And nowhere near as good as a BD.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:00 AM on August 5, 2011


Netflix had to break up streaming and DVD because it's costing the company a fucking fortune to renegotiate each contract as the subscriber numbers hit the ceilings specified in the previous ones. And the media companies have Netflix over a barrel because what are they going to do? Their customers blame Netflix for unavailability and then blame them again for raising the fucking prices to pay the robber barons demanding top dollar for their content.

Not to mention the streaming only and DVD only users have effectively been cross subsidising the streaming/DVD users since Watch Instantly was introduced and it's time to pay the piper.

But go ahead and bitch about your eight lousy dollars a month. When you show Netflix how you're not a consumer to be trifled with and they fold like Superman on laundry day we'll all be free to buy our content on a bunch of incompatible stores/devices/services like god^H^H^H the media companies intended! Time Warner content over Comcast cable? I don't think so unless Time Warner gives Comcast $$$! And Viacom pissed off Sony? No more Comedy Central on your Bravia!
posted by Talez at 10:01 AM on August 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


There is nothing more fatuous and indefensible than a statement like this: "Every time a new technology takes over, a chunk of film history gets left behind."

Wait, that's the statement that gets your goat? I don't understand how that's controversial. Some important films, including a number of interesting foreign films from the 1960s and 1970s, were released on VHS but never made it to DVD. Island of Lost Souls, one of the greatest horror films ever made, is only getting its DVD release in October 2011, and only then because Criterion chose to pluck it from the jaws of obscurity. Celine and Julie Go Boating and other key Rivette films are unavailable.

I still cart a working VHS deck and laserdisc player with me when I move from apartment to apartment because too many movies I own in those formats remain unavailable on DVD, Blu-ray, or streaming online. I would love it if my entire movie library were available for online streaming, but that's not happening in my lifetime.

I bought a copy of the original trilogy on VHS a decade ago specifically because it was the movies they way they were supposed to be (non-enhanced). Of course now I have no way to view it. I'm sure the best versions of that are indeed on LaserDisc.

Meinvt, the laserdisc masters of the Star Wars trilogy were actually included as bonus features on one of the many re-releases of the special editions. I think they're still available, but apparently the video quality left a lot to be desired — they were laserdisc masters, which meant they were nonanamorphic letterboxed copies. I'm happy enough with the laserdiscs, but it still bugs me: George Lucas has enough money to buy the planet, so surely he could release nice DVD or Blu-ray versions of the theatrical releases if he wanted to.
posted by Joey Bagels at 10:01 AM on August 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Netflix streaming selection is horrible. We always check there first, but more often than not it's not there and we instead "rent" a stream of whatever we want to watch on Amazon.

I can only hope that competition will sort this out before too much longer.
posted by gurple at 10:02 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like Netflix streaming a lot, but I can't give up on DVDs/Blurays for the stuff I really like. I love commentaries, behind the scenes stuff, blooper reels, etc, and you don't get any of that with streaming services. You usually don't even get that with Netflix on DVD these days from what I understand.

And people keep talking about purely digital-download game consoles or even streaming consoles like OnLive, but I can't see that taking off with bandwidth caps becoming the norm in North America.
posted by kmz at 10:03 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having a DVD collection is really important to me, especially as someone who "uses" movies in a lot of my work. It's all backed up in one place, just in case I need to get my hands on a clip and can't seem to find it elsewhere.

For example, I found out recently that the DVD for "Monster" (for which Charlize Theron won the Academy Award, and which is one of my favorite movies btw) has been allowed to go out of print. Why? For how long? I'll probably keep a couple copies on hand, in case one gets scratched up or something.
posted by hermitosis at 10:03 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]



I watch DVDs constantly, because Netflix has like maybe two foreign-language films on streaming ever, and the image/sound quality is often pretty poor.


Give or take 996, but who's counting.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 10:06 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh thank god, Alien vs. Ninja.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:07 AM on August 5, 2011


Yeah, doesn't Netflix Instant have the entire Criterion collection or something?

Look, I'm not a Netflix apologist, but when you compare what it offers via Instant or DVD vs. how much it costs each month, it's really hard to find a better deal.
posted by Fister Roboto at 10:10 AM on August 5, 2011


What's frustrating as a consumer is that as much as I might want to protest the 60% price increase by either cancelling or decreasing my Netflix service, doing so would hurt me more than it would hurt them since as far as I can tell, even at the $16 a month level, there is no comparable service that competes with the Netflix streaming/1-DVD at a time offering. I've thought about the option of going to streaming only and using Redbox to fill in the gaps for more recent films that aren't available on streaming, but that is more of a pain in the neck from a logistical standpoint and wouldn't help with more obscure DVD-only films or HBO TV series that aren't available on streaming but I'm assuming aren't available through Redbox either. As much as I hate to admit it, $16 a month is a pretty good deal for the service offered, it just seems like a rip-off because they priced it so incredibly low originally, and in the technology realm prices moving upward is not the usual trend.
posted by The Gooch at 10:15 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm confused. Does the author want it to still be hard to find obscure movies and music? Because, yes, it still is. Or should it be easier? It surely is easier than it was 30 years ago. Or does the author want the division between obscure and readily available to be fine tuned to his specifications? I'm lost (and, I admit, unconcerned).
posted by argybarg at 10:16 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, doesn't Netflix Instant have the entire Criterion collection or something?

Not hardly. I mean I'm not trying to mount an attack on Netflix or Netflix Instant or anything, but I just ran a search and found Cronos, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and nothing else.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:17 AM on August 5, 2011


Yeah, doesn't Netflix Instant have the entire Criterion collection or something?

They lost it to Hulu.
posted by argybarg at 10:17 AM on August 5, 2011


lol. You americans and your choices. Here in Canada we get to watch old episodes of the Backyardigans on netflix, and not much else.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:22 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait, that's the statement that gets your goat? I don't understand how that's controversial. Some important films, including a number of interesting foreign films from the 1960s and 1970s, were released on VHS but never made it to DVD. Island of Lost Souls, one of the greatest horror films ever made, is only getting its DVD release in October 2011, and only then because Criterion chose to pluck it from the jaws of obscurity. Celine and Julie Go Boating and other key Rivette films are unavailable.

"Island of the Lost Souls" and "Celine and Julie Go Boating" are not the best examples of "lost" films, both appear to be available on youtube. Same for the authors example of a lost film, "Land Without Bread". Being available on the internet certainly opens up these films to be seen by more, rather than less, people. Netflix is not and never should be the standard by which you judge a film to be available or accesible. People aren't skipping "Island of the Lost Souls" because it is difficult to find, it is that they aren't looking for it in the first place, whether it is on DVD, BluRay or streaming on Netflix makes no difference.
posted by roquetuen at 10:34 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found out recently that the DVD for "Monster" (for which Charlize Theron won the Academy Award, and which is one of my favorite movies btw) has been allowed to go out of print. Why? For how long? I'll probably keep a couple copies on hand, in case one gets scratched up or something.

Whereas movie watchers who have eschewed physical media are free to back up their digital copies as many times as needed.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:39 AM on August 5, 2011


cortex: Well, swapping discs in my game consoles keeps it from becoming a wholly alien experience, but, yes, every once in a while I'll check the optical drive on one of my computers and realize that, oh, that's where that disc has been for the last six months
Heh. On whim after reading that comment, I just hit the eject button on my Mac keyboard and sure enough, found the Windows 7 install disc in there. According to the vm file, it looks like I installed Windows 7 (as a VM on my Mac) in December, 2009...
posted by hincandenza at 10:41 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hate this 'markets in everything' approach to things.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:41 AM on August 5, 2011


Whereas movie watchers who have eschewed physical media are free to back up their digital copies as many times as needed.

Most of my friends who do this use... wait for it... DVDs.
posted by hermitosis at 10:57 AM on August 5, 2011


Their streaming service does not offer close captioning (or the DVD extras), and there's no outrage by the disability community or anyone else. Am I missing something here?

Deaf group sues Netflix

Trust me, there has been a lot of rage over this. The percentage of subtitles just sucks. Many times, only some episodes of a TV show will be subtitled, like the 5th and 11th shows in a series. WTF. What is particularly enraging is that some are marked as having subtitles that don't actually have subtitles (see many Doctor Who episodes). Note: to find streaming content that IS subtitled, I recommend phlixie and instant watcher.
posted by desjardins at 10:59 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Their streaming service does not offer close captioning (or the DVD extras), and there's no outrage by the disability community or anyone else. Am I missing something here?"

There is, you just can't hear it.
posted by Eideteker at 11:06 AM on August 5, 2011


I think I watch VHSes more often than I do discs these days. The stuff that's on discs is almost always available somewhere else streaming. But the entire (unedited) Maxx series taped off of MTV? With the 90s commercials? VHS only, baby. Still, it's nice to have entertainment to take with you when you're traveling (though I tend to use *cough*torrents*cough* and just download stuff to watch later in that case).

"Right now I'm rewatching South Park from the beginning. When I started this, they had all of Season One and I watched them. Now there are a couple of Season One episodes in the queue, but most of the them have vanished. Season Three is represented by a couple of scattered episodes now."

Southparkstudios.com has almost every episode (excluding the ones with legal issues, like the one that shows Mohammad) available online. I understand your criticism (I guess I'll only ever watch the first season of Californication), but I figured you should know. If you don't have a way to connect your TV to a computer, you should soon. I think most people who still have TVs will in the near future (and I mean a real device, not a crippled Roku or whatever).

Of course, I still have a CRT, so what do I know?
posted by Eideteker at 11:19 AM on August 5, 2011


*cough*The Maxx episodes on mtv.com*cough*
posted by jillithd at 11:46 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, who doesn't feel archaic just handling a DVD or CD anymore?

Me. I've spent an embarrassingly significant chunk of my lifetime income on large collections of both. I've also lost digital collections of both--from electrical disturbances, hardware damage, or bit rot--enough times to treasure the hard copies, and learn to never let them go.

I understand that mp3 players have now made digital music collections convenient, and I certainly maintain a modestly-sized one myself. But I have literally thousands of DVDs. It would be madness to invest in the amount of tech and the amount of work it would take to rip them all down with satisfactory image and sound quality when I can currently select one from my alphabetized collection and put it in the player and have perfect quality in literally seconds.

I also suspect that some people who feel the way you do must live in some magical land where your data streaming actually works as advertised, with no danger of being throttled by your provider. Sorry if that sounds bitter, but I've been through 5 different data and cable companies in the last 5 years, and none of them provide bandwidth that's significant enough to prevent me from seeing Netflix streaming as anything other than a way to check things out instead of blind-buying. Mine pauses to change quality every ten minutes (when it isn't busy disconnecting me from XBox Live or inexplicably returning to the menu and forgetting what film I was even watching). If it weren't for all the UK shows that are unavailable for purchase in my region, I would have gone to DVD only in a heartbeat.
posted by heatvision at 11:52 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was promised box.
posted by cashman at 11:59 AM on August 5, 2011


I use it to watch episodes of He-Man at 230am while eating pizza

Brilliant! Thanks! You've just filled my calendar for the next several months!
posted by sourwookie at 12:00 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


...I just hit the eject button on my Mac keyboard and sure enough...

I can't keep anything in my optical drives on Windows because the drive insists on spinning up every time I go into "My Computer" or "Computer" to find out what's there to correctly label the disc in the window and this brings the computer to a crawl while it waits for it.

"Hey Windows! It's been the same disc for THREE MONTHS. You don't have to spin it up to check."
posted by ODiV at 12:34 PM on August 5, 2011


Bah, all you technoweenies have it backwards. Just like how all true connoisseurs of music have migrated to the warmth, crackle and pop of vinyl, the future of home movies is in 35mm prints.

I even make copies from my collection to share with fellow enthusiasts, so I can still enjoy a personal stake in arguing about copyright and file sharing.

For private screenings in my apartment, I prefer the rich tonality you can only get with a nitrocellulose base. I keep prints of all my favorite films on nitro stock, not only for the viewing experience, but also as some leverage in case I get in a standoff with the Feds when they come for my Bell & Howell continuous printer.
posted by [citation needed] at 12:40 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Netflix had to break up streaming and DVD because it's costing the company a fucking fortune to renegotiate each contract as the subscriber numbers hit the ceilings specified in the previous ones.

THIS. This is a win-win for both Netflix and customers who want only one service. It doesn't really matter which wins, or if both persist.

If streaming takes off, Netflix can unload the expense of their DVD operation and lean on the content providers to offer more reasonable terms.

If more people like me prefer the DVD's both because of availability and my crappy internet connection, Netflix isn't paying for us in the streaming licensing.

I think they are betting that most people will pick one service or the other. I will certainly never go to streaming, and neither will a lot of people who live where internet service is unreliable or where all that's available is capped 3G (raises hand). I think there will be enough of us to keep the disc operation going for awhile.

This was great for me, as I am no longer annoyed by offers to stream it now that I don't dare accept (one movie is about 15% of my monthly bandwidth cap), and for just a couple of extra bucks I upgraded from one to two discs out at a time. And it's great for the people who want to move to streaming only, because they're not paying for my disc delivery infrastructure.
posted by localroger at 12:43 PM on August 5, 2011


*cough*The Maxx episodes on mtv.com*cough*

Oh sweet and hey how did all this protein powder get in my eye from that time I was weightlifting and the pillow is all wet because I was sweating so much stop judging me
posted by griphus at 12:49 PM on August 5, 2011


I also suspect that some people who feel the way you do must live in some magical land where your data streaming actually works as advertised, with no danger of being throttled by your provider.

+1 on that. I live in a city where the earliest we will be getting fiber optic or some other high-speed service will be sometime in the 23rd century. The cable and DSL options are just two sides of the same shitty coin.

Another upcoming change is that Netflix will be removing all DVD/Blu-Ray data from their open API.

This is just awesome. I just added at least 20 classic/foreign/art house movies to my DVD queue because they got yanked from the instant streaming. And now Netflix removes the tools to manage my DVD queue anywhere else but on their website. How is that "delighting customers" (Netflix words from their developer site)?

GreenCine keeps looking better and better...
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 12:53 PM on August 5, 2011


"Island of the Lost Souls" and "Celine and Julie Go Boating" are not the best examples of "lost" films, both appear to be available on youtube. Same for the authors example of a lost film, "Land Without Bread".

Who called them "lost" films? London After Midnight is a lost film. Island of Lost Souls, Celine and Julie Go Boating, and Land Without Bread are simply great films whose reputations have suffered because they're unavailable on DVD. That you can watch pirated versions of some of them on YouTube is great, if sub-VHS quality floats your boat. (Seriously, those versions of Island of Lost Souls look terrible. Celine and Julie looks a lot better, but still not as good as a DVD [it is probably a DVD rip], and, anyway, it's in the wrong aspect ratio. Land Without Bread is a really bad copy that someone failed to deinterlace before posting.)

Being available on the internet certainly opens up these films to be seen by more, rather than less, people. Netflix is not and never should be the standard by which you judge a film to be available or accesible.

Agreed, sure. And while I know places on the Internet where you can get copies of those films in much higher quality than what YouTube provides, I don't think online piracy really points the way forward for a thriving film culture. I was just trying to explain/defend the statement that "every time a new technology takes over, a chunk of film history gets left behind."

People aren't skipping "Island of the Lost Souls" because it is difficult to find, it is that they aren't looking for it in the first place, whether it is on DVD, BluRay or streaming on Netflix makes no difference.

I could just as easily respond that people aren't looking for Island of Lost Souls because they don't know it exists. But that will change. This movie is likely to enjoy a reputation uptick as Criterion releases it on DVD and Blu-ray in a couple of months and it becomes available for home viewing for the first time in 15 years. And that's the thing. Island of Lost Souls may well be available for viewing in crappy, artifacted-all-to-hell 15-minute chunks for viewing on YouTube (at least until someone from Universal notices it's their and files a DMCA claim). But if nobody knows it's there, nobody's going to watch it. That's kind of the point the linked article makes — popular awareness of films and film culture is increasingly driven by which movies are the most convenient to see.

Look at it this way. White Zombie and Island of Lost Souls are both well-regarded classic horror films. My feeling is that White Zombie is generally considered "very good" and Lost Souls is thought of as a masterpiece or close to it, and the IMDb pages for both films bear that out to some degree. White Zombie is rated 6.5 by IMDb users, while Lost Souls is rated a 7.7, which is pretty damn strong by IMDb standards.

Interestingly, however, White Zombie has close to twice as many votes as Island of Lost Souls (3096 to 1655), and it also has 100 user reviews compared to the latter film's 55. Assuming we can take the number of votes and user reviews as a rough measure of awareness of (and maybe enthusiasm for) a given film, this would puzzle me — if anything, I'd expect Lost Souls to be much more well-known than White Zombie, given its stronger reputation and the fact that its source material (The Island of Dr. Moreau) is considered so commercial that it's been remade twice in recent decades. But White Zombie is available streaming from Netflix and on a variety of DVD releases and Island of Lost Souls has never been released on (a non-bootleg) DVD, let alone for (legit) streaming.

If you hit up IMDb in January of next year, I'll bet the number of votes and user reviews for Island of Lost Souls shoots way up as a result of the new DVD and Blu-ray becoming available. And that's the effect that the linked article refers to — people are aware of and eager to discuss the films that are put in front of them, but they're not so interested in making an effort to get out of the walled garden. The author might seem a wee bit condescending about it, but I think it's interesting to consider the ways that the consumption of culture is being transformed at the whim of big corporations and their marketing departments.

After all, if I have a copy of the Criterion Island of Lost Souls on my DVD shelves, I can watch it whenever I want. I can pull it down to show friends, I can will it to my nephew, I can put it in my computer and edit scenes from it into the trailer for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and upload that to YouTube. But if I have White Zombie in my Netflix queue, that movie might not be viewable six months from now. It might not be there tomorrow. For a lousy eight bucks a month, or whatever Netflix streaming is these days, I might be OK with that. But it seems (to me) like a weird way to be a cinephile.
posted by Joey Bagels at 1:06 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to watch a lot of independent and foreign cinema.

Then I got Netflix streaming.

Now all I do is watch Billy the Exterminator and Pawn Stars.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:25 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


jillithd writes "I've been streaming a lot of gorgeous stuff on my HDTV and it is definitely better than a DVD through a DVD player (although the up-convert through the PS3 is comparable)."

How is this possible? Isn't the ultimate source for the streaming a DVD?
posted by Mitheral at 1:32 PM on August 5, 2011


Not for hd video, obviously.
posted by empath at 2:11 PM on August 5, 2011


Seriously, who doesn't feel archaic just handling a DVD or CD anymore?

We have a couple of boxes of VHS featuring old, passed-down Japanese-language versions of "Ultraman" and "Dai-Kaiju-Battle" from Japan. The late-80s, early-90s vibe is very comfy.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:18 PM on August 5, 2011


Netflix adjusts the resolution of streaming video to accommodate your internet connection. In my case I am very rarely able to watch 360p compressed streaming video without constant glitches and buffering. I can usually watch 240p but sometimes even that glitches. DVD's are uncompressed 480p and they always work, as long as (rant mode) UPS didn't smash the disc you ordered because Netflix doesn't carry it (/rant).
posted by localroger at 4:49 PM on August 5, 2011


After all, shouldn’t art be inconvenient, if not in the sense of being difficult to access, then because it forces us out of our comfort zones, requiring us to reckon with its way of understanding the world? It may be a stone in your shoe, but if you don’t get off the couch, you’ll never know it’s there.

A worthwhile piece of art can generate this feeling without making you get in the car and drive to the video store.
posted by escabeche at 6:43 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


entropicamericana, 2bucksplus : Netflix is [has] quickly moving[ed] toward being [passive-]aggressively inconvenient toward users of their DVD business.

Come again? I keep seeing all these "sky is falling" articles about the awful price hike by NetFlix and their treatment of long-faithful customers.

And as a DVD-only customer, I currently pay about 25% LESS than when I first signed up, and the same amount I did last year (with a brief but temporary increase when they started pushing streaming but before they de-bundled it from mailing) for the exact same service.

I still have a ginormous queue that allows me to put in WAY more than the 100 I could have a decade ago. I still get mailed whatever they have available in the top few slots of my queue, in a timely manner (I can get a realistic turnaround of three movies per two days). They've never batted an eyelash when I report movies that arrived damaged or never arrived. I get auto-recommendations that actually don't suck, and friends can recommend things for me.

So... Sorry, but can someone explain why I should suddenly hate this better and cheaper service than I signed up for a decade ago, just because the streaming service t(hat I don't use) has its weak points?


Weird, FireFox's autocorrect complains about plenty of "real" words I use (such as "FireFox" and "autocorrect", oddly enough), but doesn't complain about "ginormous".
posted by pla at 7:03 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want my DVD extras, darn it. I can't watch those on streaming.

I probably use streaming once in a great while. There are a couple live shows I watched when Netflix had 'em, once in a great while I have watched an old movie. But really, the streaming is not so great that I'd get it by itself.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:39 PM on August 5, 2011


I used to watch a lot of independent and foreign cinema.

I got a Roku box. A hunnerd bux, or under two month's cable TV bill. The wife pays for Netflix, but I also pay for Hulu Plus, 7 bux a month.

With that, I get a hundred or so Criterion Collection films in HD. I am watching more Kurosawa and Tati than I ever dreamed I could. Silent films! The Seventh Seal in HD! '60s Japanese gangster films!

Also, the Roku Vimeo channel is a relevation. It's not YouTube's sorry sister also-ran like it is on the web, it's where I go for avant-garde animation and music videos that have legit artistic ambition on my TV.

For Reals, the Roku changed everything for me. It let me explore cinema more deeply than cable or the local rental place ever could.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:15 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I want my DVD extras, darn it. I can't watch those on streaming.

With new movies, some studios aren't putting extras on the rental discs any more. We watched The Adjustment Bureau this week and it had all the menus for featurettes and deleted scenes, but they weren't there. Instead we got an ad telling us to "complete our experience by buying the movie on Blu Ray or DVD!". The disc didn't allow us to forward through the previews either.
posted by immlass at 9:36 PM on August 5, 2011


Every time a new technology takes over, a chunk of film history gets left behind.

"found by me on an unlabled Beta tape at a flea market"

Maybe some things better left behind? But it's true, some things do just disappear (like, much of the content from the 80s BBS scene).
posted by stbalbach at 9:43 PM on August 5, 2011


immlass writes "some studios aren't putting extras on the rental discs any more."

Way to go studios, I'm sure that won't encourage piracy.
posted by Mitheral at 10:58 PM on August 5, 2011


I wish I had this problem. I can't get Netflix in Australia.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:45 PM on August 5, 2011


Yes, you said the same thing on the AV club comments as well. Moving along.
posted by mrzarquon at 12:01 AM on August 6, 2011


I dunno - I freaking love Netflix streaming. I have no cable and only watch Netflix streaming and a digital antenna for free broadcasts (there's around 30 or 40 channels here.) It's super cheap, has an enormous catalog for $8/month. That's half of what it would cost to purchase a single DVD. Last time I was in a Blockbuster (which was years ago), it was $5/rental - that $8/month is a DVD rental and a half, and I probably watch over 100 things a month.

I have a toddler, and being able to pull up something like 6 entire seasons of Sesame Street at any time, not to mention Yo Gabba Gabba, Barney, Thomas the Tank Engine, etc. is an incredible deal. I see kids DVDs for sale in the stores for $5-$15, and we'll watch 2 or 3 a day some days. If I'm watching 100 kids videos a month, which would retail for (at the cheapest) $5/video, then I'm getting $500 worth of value, for only $8! How is this not an amazing deal?

I hear all this bitching and moaning and I just don't get it. I think Netflix is amazing, and the idea that it's preferable to actually put a physical disc in a drive, vs. just flipping through the Wiimote is nuts to me.

Do they have every single title ever? No, of course not, but they are constantly expanding what they do have. And, to be honest, there are an awful lot of films and TV shows to see in the world, and if I'm wanting a film experience, sometimes one thing is as good as another. I say this as a filmmaker myself.

I'd love a bigger selection, and it bugs me when things wander off the service, but that's just licensing issues. I wish they would publicize better when a title is going (something like "just 4 more days left to watch Season 3 of South Park!" would be helpful.) But that's something that I imagine will be fixed in the future.
posted by MythMaker at 4:18 AM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


What about this? They seem to have a fair collection of "free" older films. ("Free" because I don't know how long they will stay that way or why yt can distribute them with no apparent restrictions.)
posted by sneebler at 7:59 AM on August 6, 2011


DVD's are uncompressed 480p

DVD video is compressed; it's MPEG2. Usually at a good enough bitrate for decent video quality, though.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:47 PM on August 6, 2011


I canceled Netflix originally, because I wasn't watching the movies, just copying them and sending them back. I know, I'm bad. It wasn't until Netflix streaming became available on my phone that I signed up again for streaming only. I don't miss discs. I don't want discs. My price and service is the same as it was when I signed up for the service the second time. And now I can watch old episodes of MST3K on the bus every day if I feel like it. For $10 a month. I really don't understand what anyone (except the deaf people) are complaining about.
posted by runcibleshaw at 3:20 AM on August 7, 2011


Seems to me that the bottom line is that people are going apeshit over a $6/month price increase for a service that I still can't grok the economic feasibility of.

You're getting 10 or 15 new DVD's per month delivered to your house for less than the price of what 3 rentals at Blockbuster cost 10 years ago, which you had to pick up & return yourself.

I've got no sympathy for the DVD hoarders, either, as I've gone through too many format wars myself. I recently dumpstered a collection of 450 SuperBetaMax tapes, 900 VHS tapes, and 300 Laserdiscs (plus assorted random formats like Hi8 and SuperVHS) To say nothing of the hundreds of LP's, cassettes, CD's, etc. that haven't been unpacked since Clinton was in office.

All forms of (content delivery) media eventually die. In another month I'll purchase the Star Wars trilogy for the 8th time, but I won't kid myself thinking it will be the last.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:12 AM on August 7, 2011


All video is compressed unless you're storing and rebroadcasting all the original photons.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:45 PM on August 7, 2011


My bad on DVD compression, but it looks very good on my spiffy new 32 inch TV. By contrast I've never seen streaming look like anything but crap on my 21 inch monitor.
posted by localroger at 4:50 PM on August 7, 2011


Do they have every single title ever? No, of course not, but they are constantly expanding what they do have.

Their streaming selection is crap. Here's what they have of the IMDB top 250 (in bold).

And for new movies, it's even worse. I had it for 6 months, and watched maybe 4 movies on there, and every time I did, it was like my 5th choice of what movie I wanted to watch, because all the others were DVD only.
posted by empath at 7:05 PM on August 7, 2011


(And yes, I realize that the fact that netflix exists at all is a technological miracle for which we should all be grateful, but for me, netflix is competing against bittorrent. All things considered I'd rather pay for netflix and get the convenience, but for no cost and hardly any more inconvenience, I can get a much, much better selection of films via bittorrent.
posted by empath at 7:08 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Here's what they have of the IMDB top 250." That's a list that has "The Shawshank Redemption" at #1 and "Inception" and "The Dark Knight" in the top 10, so it's not exactly a badge of shame that Netflix misses a lot of it.

Let me put it another way. Lots of people don't use bittorrent. Most people have cable TV. We just canceled ours. Instead of paying $70 a month to watch what the cable channels decide to put on, I'm paying Netflix $8 a month to watch anything I want from their streaming collection. Does it have every single movie I'd like to watch? Heck no, but neither did cable. Netflix streaming has more things I want to see than I'd ever have time to watch.
posted by escabeche at 7:34 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Select the top 250 movies using any metric you like, netflix is going to have less than 10% available for streaming, and it's even worse for new movies.
posted by empath at 7:59 PM on August 7, 2011


Select the top 250 movies using any metric you like, netflix is going to have less than 10% available for streaming

OK, I'll use the metric of "the list you posted." I counted 63 titles available for streaming. 63/250 is 0.252, which is more than 10%.
posted by escabeche at 9:10 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


But look, I'm not trying to be a jerk about this -- it's totally clear that Netflix doesn't suit your needs and I don't think you're wrong about that. E.G. other people above have said that Netflix looks bad on their TV, which means there are people much more videophile than me, and that's going to kill Netflix for them -- there are also people who can hear the difference between .mp3 and CD and that affects what music services they can tolerate.

I'm just trying to make the point that what Netflix has to offer, for lots of people, is vast selection at a very low price. I signed up for the service and in about a half hour had put 25 things on my instant queue that I was excited to see. That's what Netflix offers me. Netflix offers you only four movies you want to see every six months -- OK, that's cool, don't use it.
posted by escabeche at 9:16 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It really surprises me when Netflix doesn't have back catalog stuff that you can get for under $10 on DVD. Pretty Woman? No. Any of the Planet of the Apes movies? No. Any Harry Potter? No. The streaming is just terrible for movies, and you really do have to "settle for what they have".
posted by smackfu at 6:08 AM on August 8, 2011


a service that I still can't grok the economic feasibility of.

If you think Netflix looks infeasible in 2011, you should have heard a guy my husband and I knew 10-12 years ago when DSL was just getting off the ground talking about how Blockbuster was going to partner with his company to do something that was basically on-demand streaming of movies the way we have with Netflix now. This was before DSL was everywhere and/or lost to cable, depending on how you count things.

The guy worked for Enron's broadband division.

At least we have the tech infrastructure to do Netflix now. The problem is licensing fees for content and how much content-holders think their movies and TV are worth. To the extent that on-demand movies and TV are freely available, like music, the cost consumers are willing to pay for them is going to go down. That's my sense of the Netflix problem: we're all so used to 57 channels and nothing's on that we're not particularly willing to pay for movies and TV any more than we're willing to pay for music. I'm not enough of a prognosticator to know what's going to give, but something is going to have to. Netflix fee increases and split services are part of that.
posted by immlass at 6:40 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seems to me that the bottom line is that people are going apeshit over a $6/month price increase for a service that I still can't grok the economic feasibility of.

You're getting 10 or 15 new DVD's per month delivered to your house for less than the price of what 3 rentals at Blockbuster cost 10 years ago, which you had to pick up & return yourself.


They key to the economic feasibility is how many new rentals the average customer has per month. It certainly isn't 10-15. It is probably 1-2, with some accounts at 0. The ability to rent constantly is very different from the reailty of it.

Honestly Blockbuster was the one that had the economic issues. They were founded in an era where the VHS prices were artificially inflated to $80-100 so that people were forced to rent. At sub $20 DVD prices, $5 rentals seem pretty crazy.
posted by smackfu at 6:57 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


At sub $20 DVD prices, $5 rentals seem pretty crazy.
posted by smackfu


Yeah, if you're in the biz part of the film biz, apparently there's a famous keynote speech that some major player made a few years back in which he describes the the cheap, mass-produced DVD as the dumbest thing they ever did as an industry. They essentially gave all (most) of their most precious content away forever for peanuts ... not that the culture's really complaining, and not that I've seen many of those high-end Hollywood types in food line-ups.
posted by philip-random at 8:14 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older Life Before the Dinosaurs   |   The Earth Is Flat (to a certain approximation) Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post