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Streamageddon? Flixapocalypse?
May 1, 2013 7:49 AM   Subscribe

As has been widely reported, today, May 1, Netflix is letting thousands of titles expire (link down due to heavy traffic) mostly licensed from Warner Bros, Universal, and MGM. Some will possibly to move to the new streaming service offered by Warner Bros itself. (Warner Archive denies that they are "taking" content from Netflix.) Less widely reported is the fact that Netflix has also let their deal with Viacom expire this month, removing large swaths of children's favorites (including Dora, Thomas, Bob the Builder, and Backyardigans) from the service. Despite forecasts that this could be the end for Netflix (again) The company maintains that they are headed in the direction they want to go.
posted by anastasiav (151 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
The loss of Backyardigans is going to be a serious problem in my household.
posted by diogenes at 7:54 AM on May 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


If this is what it takes to destroy Dora, so be it.
posted by swift at 7:57 AM on May 1, 2013 [26 favorites]


The bittorrent community is currently drafting its own reply, which can be summarized as "don't worry, we're still here for you."
posted by filthy light thief at 7:57 AM on May 1, 2013 [37 favorites]


It's a bummer to think that so many things (most of which I was previously unaware) are going away. But I always seem to be able to find things to watch so it's worth it to me and waaaay cheaper (money- and otherwise) than cable.
posted by Infinity_8 at 7:58 AM on May 1, 2013


Joris Evers, director of global corporate communications at Netflix, told Mashable:
"Netflix is a dynamic service, we constantly update the TV shows and movies that are available to our members. We will add more than 500 titles May 1, but we also have titles expiring, this ebb and flow happens all the time."

"We are selective about what’s available to watch on Netflix. We often license TV shows and movies on an exclusive basis, so we can provide a unique experience. We’ll forego, or choose not renew, titles that aren’t watched enough. We always use our knowledge about what our members love to watch to decide what’s available on Netflix. Our goal is to be an expert programmer, offering a mix that delights our members, rather than trying to be a broad distributor.”
Too bad they didn't offer that list of 500 new titles to actually provide any comfort to their concerned customers.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:00 AM on May 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


The company maintains that they are headed in the direction they want to go.

In air disaster lingo, this looks like a potential Controlled Flight Into Terrain.
posted by eriko at 8:00 AM on May 1, 2013 [21 favorites]


It seems strange to frame this as "Netflix is letting thousands of titles expire"; I feel certain Netflix would renew the deals if they could afford to. The Netflix streaming library got its start when it was still a DVD mailing company and there was no Internet video streaming market. Netflix cleverly negotiated streaming rights at very low prices along with their DVD purchase contracts. Those deals are now expiring and the content owners think they can make more money with their own distribution. Hulu is proving them right.
posted by Nelson at 8:00 AM on May 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


How am I going to finish my home renovations without Bob The Builder? Unfair.
posted by orme at 8:01 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly I wish Netflix would just die already so I didn't have to subscribe to it AND Hulu. Or if Amazon could kill both of them, that would be fine as well.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:02 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


In good streaming service news, the National Film Board of Canada is going to be launching their own service focusing on documentaries next year. Source.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:02 AM on May 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


Or if Amazon could kill both of them, that would be fine as well.

Unfortunately, if their original content is any indication of their abilities/intentions with streaming content, they're miserable. At least, the Zombieland pilot was pretty awful.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:05 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


My son cried last night when I explained that Dora and Blue might not be available in the "list of things to watch" (although they're not set to expire until sometime later this month, and the Viacom people seem to hold out some hope that "some titles" might be licensed.

Although we do have grownup titles in our queue, it is the fact that the service is so damn easy for my son to use (via Roku) that makes the difference for us. It lets him choose what he wants and be independent. Not to mention that having all these titles available at our fingertips has saved us hundreds of dollars.

The families I feel the most for, though, are the families I come in contact through my work, families with pre-schoolers who have Autism. For some reason, many autistic kids identify strongly with Thomas (particularly the older titles, without the CGI animation) and having an endless supply was a sanity saver for many of these families.

I'm guessing that for my family we'll cancel Netflix and move over to Amazon streaming, but it's harder for my kid to use independently, and harder for us to pay in a lump-sum vs. the monthly charge. I have to wonder, though, how many families like us they're going to lose vs. the number of new folks that the original content will bring in.
posted by anastasiav at 8:06 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's the cache of the expiring page
posted by Think_Long at 8:06 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Letting thousands of titles expire while replacing them with "over 500" new titles. Eriko's assessment above sounds about right. I find myself using Netflix less and less simply because they rarely have whatever I am looking for. If they drop Classic Albums I may go ahead and cancel them.
posted by TedW at 8:06 AM on May 1, 2013


The bittorrent community is currently drafting its own reply, which can be summarized as "don't worry, we're still here for you."

Seriously. Wise up, Hollywood. I would gladly pay, say, $10 month for a good search service that returned known-working torrents in a timely manner. I don't want streaming. Services suck for a million reasons. I want product.
posted by DU at 8:07 AM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


removing large swaths of children's favorites

Netflix notes in that Viacom article that they're negotiating over streaming specific titles:

“We are in discussions with them about licensing particular shows but have yet to conclude a deal,” the execs say. The change reflects Netflix’s effort to “focus on exclusive and curated content” which lessens its willingness to pay for “non-exclusive, bulk content deals.”

I'm not much of a Netflix cheerleader, but the streamageddon framing does seem a bit overblown in this case. Nelson may be right that this is more fallout from early favorable deals expiring, but it also seems possible it's Netflix doing at least some of the pushing here, trying to avoid renewing deals in which they're paying for stuff not many customers are watching.
posted by mediareport at 8:07 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


They did just add a lot of Cartoon Network stuff, but only one season of most of it, and they lost a lot more than they added. I knew this day was coming, but it's pretty bleak.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:08 AM on May 1, 2013


I live in Canada, and, well, welcome to my world. Netflix is starved for content, but there's still enough there that it's well worth what I pay for it, which IIRC is a dollar more than it is in the States (while the loonie is trading roughly at par). We have so little that after all these dropped contracts, as far as I can tell, nothing is missing.

Yeah, it's sad that y'all don't get every movie in existence for eight bucks a month or whatever. Real sad. I'm in tears here.

(Less than a month till Arrested Development. Maybe they're banking on that?)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:08 AM on May 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


PS I love instantwatcher. It's a very well-done site. I miss their "upcoming titles" link which seems to have disappeared a few weeks ago. Anybody have a URL/hack that fits that bill?
posted by Infinity_8 at 8:09 AM on May 1, 2013


This is where Amazon Prime comes in - say what you will - the free streaming videos are a huge plus. (The Kindle Lending Library, not so much). I got mad at Netflix when they pulled most of the seasons of Thirtysomething down. Hulu drives me crazy because half of their stuff is "clips" or "interviews" or something I'm not looking for. I got a one-week free trial of Hulu Plus for the 2nd season of Downton Abbey and then I immediately cancelled it before the week was out. I would prefer Amazon seize the opportunity present here and bolster their own streaming video library - they've certainly got the money to pull it off.
posted by PuppyCat at 8:09 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's funny - I hadn't heard about this, and last night I was thinking, "Rather than watch West Wing episodes until I pass out I'll look for something I haven't seen", so I fired up InstantWatcher, or tried to, but when it was down I knew that either there was a bunch of stuff set to expire, or a bunch of stuff coming on. A quick Google confirmed the latter. Ah, well.

So, I watched Election Night and Process Stories, and fell asleep during Swiss Diplomacy.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:09 AM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Our goal is to be an expert programmer

This is not what I wanted from you, Netflix.

See, the thing of it is: I, the customer, am the expert programmer who chooses what I want to watch. Not some well-paid suit-wearing nitwit.

I go to whomever has the widest selection, from which I can make my expert programming choices.
posted by aramaic at 8:10 AM on May 1, 2013 [43 favorites]


"Netflix notes in that Viacom article that they're negotiating over streaming specific titles"

I hold out some hope, but not much. Almost the entire Thomas the Tank Engine catalog (probably 50 titles) vanished last night.
posted by anastasiav at 8:10 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I miss their "upcoming titles" link which seems to have disappeared a few weeks ago.

Netflix removed 'upcoming' from their API.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:10 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can we stream it?

No, we can't!
posted by mediated self at 8:10 AM on May 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


We've had a discussion here before about Netflix's hiring policies...

All this "adequate performance is rewarded with a generous severance package" is quite evidently bullshit. The company seems to be ruled by morons.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:12 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


So instead of a la carte cable tv we're going to end up with 20+ streaming services to choose from.
posted by JanetLand at 8:13 AM on May 1, 2013 [25 favorites]


As long as the same six Pingu shows are available, my 3-year-old will be happy.
posted by Mister_A at 8:14 AM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Netflix's utility, to me, has already seriously decreased ever since it lost its STARZ line. It then appeared to become more of a TV series delivery vector, not a movie delivery vector. And frankly, if I want a TV series, I've probably already binged on it either from a friend's DVDs or mp4s, and I've bought an iTunes or Amazon season pass for the current season. If I make it over to Netflix, it's because it's Friday night and I want a movie... and they barely seem to have palatable movies anymore. I'm tired of logging on and seeing nothing but TV series recommended for me. I want a movie, dammit!

Even though Netflix UK (where I actually reside -- I use Netflix US through some IP address magic) is "starved for content" a la Netflix Canada, it at least seems to be more movie-heavy than Netflix US. So I'd say when I actually get around to watching anything on Netflix, it's more often from the UK site than it is from the US site.

Disappointing. So if the US site is further losing its titles from Warner Bros, Universal, etc, I think this is definitely going to hit them where it hurts.
posted by olinerd at 8:14 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


As long as netflix still plays host to a myriad of terrible horror movies I will continue to be a subscriber.
posted by smackwich at 8:14 AM on May 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


Let this be a lesson in the important differences between a free market and an unregulated market.
posted by srboisvert at 8:15 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


They also shut down their RSS feeds mid-April, so now I no longer have a list of newly added movies to easily add to my queue. On top of this they're testing UI changes that will no longer show the soon-to-be-expiring dates in the queue.

If there's no easy way to add new content to my queue, and old content expires without notice before I watch it, there's really no compelling reason for me to Netflix any longer.
posted by FreezBoy at 8:15 AM on May 1, 2013


Yeah, my daughter is going to be bereft when Bob the Builder goes away. I guess we'll be buying some titles. Sigh.
posted by gaspode at 8:17 AM on May 1, 2013


I agree, FreezBoy, and can't think of a (good) reason why they would remove Upcoming from their API (unless they are getting ready to roll out something new). Why break one of the main ways people find out about your new content/value?
posted by jmccw at 8:17 AM on May 1, 2013


This is definitely a problem. Although Netflix isn't the end-all / be-all of streaming services, it's been a great cable replacement in our house for the last year or so (3 kids under the age of 10). The option to have the kids curate their own viewing is pretty great and we haven't gotten very many complaints that there isn't anything to watch. This is likely to cause some problems.

It's all well and good if everyone is making their content available for streaming. However, if I have to go to four or five or increasingly more places to find something to watch, then it just makes it less likely for me to watch. It's also less likely that my family will watch because I don't want to spend ten minutes helping them find something to watch.

Maybe this will be good in that we'll just watch less TV.
posted by Gronk at 8:17 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Netflix streaming library got its start when it was still a DVD mailing company

Indeed, and since achieving success streaming Netflix has paid less attention to maintaining its DVD library. As somebody who still uses Netflix's DVD service, I wonder whether they'll pay more attention to that now or if it's a lost cause. If they really view HBO as their primary competitor, then I suspect the latter.

Personally I think there's a gold-rush element at play. Companies saw how well Netflix did with streaming archived content, and everybody wanted a piece so now there's a stampede. But there isn't that much money to go around. Households are perfectly willing to pay $20 to Netflix to access a decent library of content, but nobody is going to pay $10 to Sony, $10 to Time Warner, $10 to Disney, $10 to Paramount, etc for separate subscriptions. The market is going to have to sort itself out.
posted by cribcage at 8:18 AM on May 1, 2013 [25 favorites]


I'm really torn, because netflix seems pretty okay with the plan to become a content provider, and a really good one from the early indications. We just finished House of Cards and absolutely loved it. Arrested development coming out soon has me in a "do I call in sick to work" conundrum. All of this is awesome...but that isn't what I want exclusively. I just want someone to take my goddamn money so I can watch everything in one, or two places. I'll watch ads, I'll pay a reasonable subscription, but goddamnit, I'm not going to sign up for 8 services.

*sigh* Looks like I'll be looking at VPN services when I get home today and fire up the ol' bittorrent machine again.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:18 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is why we dumped Netflix in favor of Amazon Prime. We'd be halfway through a season, and with the flip of the calendar page, poof! show's gone. Amazon Prime has a similar selection, is cheaper, and comes with so many extra perks. Oh, and Prime works fine on my Linux box.
posted by xedrik at 8:18 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


On a related note, it just occurred to me that all of the Hellraiser movies may not be available on Netflix now. What am I going to do about watching them before each of the "We Have Such Films to Show You" podcast?
posted by Gronk at 8:19 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I purchased a PS3 so I can play Blu-Ray discs and, secondarily, enjoy Netflix streaming. I like streaming. Netflix has this thing I call "the firehose of mediocrity." Much of the content available for Netflix streaming is, to be gentle, not of the good. I am mostly a fan of horror and science fiction, so most of my needs are filled by mediocrity.

At some point, I will probably add the disk service, since the streaming side is missing quite a bit. The search function on their website is interesting in sort of a terrible way: if it doesn't have a movie, it won't put the title at the top and say "We don't carry this at all" or "We do have this, but only for disk." Instead, it offers suggestions about movies they do have where the titles are vaguely similar. This doesn't really cut it, my darlings.

I feel a bit betrayed. I avoided Netflix for many years simply because I didn't want to reward bad behavior, namely their pop-up ads freaking everywhere, on every webpage, at every click, for years. Now, well, I go to kick the football Lucy's holding and ...
posted by adipocere at 8:22 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


For $9/month, the streaming service is still worth it for our family, though I wish there were a little more competition out there. Amazon Prime's streaming has never struck me as anything more than comparable, and with media empires starting to offer their own services for their own titles, I worry that the golden days of services like Netflix and Amazon might be behind us. We cut the cable cord a long time ago, and we might drop Netflix eventually. Currently we're slowly building our collection of used DVDs for children's TV for our son. Less convenient than streaming, for sure, but better quality of content that won't up and vanish one day.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:23 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Our goal is to be an expert programmer, offering a mix that delights our members, rather than trying to be a broad distributor.”


Yuck. So, you'll be fine for a subset of people with very mainstream tastes, and useless to me, huh?

But, hey, I'm still onboard, so long as you don't actually crack down on families sharing one account. Do that, and then I'll be off the ship for sure.
posted by tyllwin at 8:24 AM on May 1, 2013


I'm coming across lots of entitlement on the web this morning. (What is it about Netflix that draws this out of people?) Part of the deal when you signed up with Netflix Instant is that titles and contracts come and go. It's perfectly natural and has been happening since the beginning. My gentle advice is to quit yr complaining and take this opportunity to discover the obscure gems available on the service. There's tons and there are plenty of sites that exist to draw your attention to them.
posted by naju at 8:26 AM on May 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


The search function on their website is interesting in sort of a terrible way [...] it offers suggestions about movies they do have where the titles are vaguely similar.

And that includes phonetic matching! The Netflix search function is the engineered version of a corporate psyche in deep denial — a search term they don't have doesn't exist, down the memory hole, as if the world had been purged to conform to the company's doctrines, while the "helpful" results you see instead include anything that has roughly the same consonants in roughly the same order.
posted by RogerB at 8:27 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


For parents with kids who are losing access to kids TV shows, I'd suggest going to your local library and renting DVDs of the different seasons of content. You can rip them with MakeMKV and have them available to your kids at will.

This also works for adult shows, obviously, for people who are too cheap for Netflix and to scared or not nerdy enough to torrent.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:29 AM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm coming across lots of entitlement on the web this morning. (What is it about Netflix that draws this out of people?)

It's not Netflix, particularly. Any business unilaterally changing the status quo to their customer's disadvantage can expect unhappy customers. Such customers are under no obligation to stick with the company. Some companies, like cartels (the airlines) or monopolies (your local ISP, maybe) the customers can't do much about it. Netflix is not so positioned.
posted by tyllwin at 8:30 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


> As long as netflix still plays host to a myriad of terrible horror movies I will continue to be a subscriber

Huh. The horror movies are one of the things that makes me not like Netflix as much as I could. I hate the posters (or whatever they're called, the picture they show for each title) and don't want to see them when I'm poking around looking for new shows to watch, and I don't want my kids stumbling across them when they're browsing.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:33 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Boy, now would be a really great time for Demonoid to make a triumphant return. Just sayin'.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:34 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


PLEASE for the love of...something, can we stop with the "letting" garbage? Seriously, it's like these social media posts are being written by the studios or something. Netflix doesn't want this to happen any more than you do.

Why are people so quick with this? When a store says "nope, not letting you mail order this any more you have to come to our store" do you get mad at the post office? This is not some "decision" being made by Netflix because they are big bad meanies who don't love you enough.
posted by trackofalljades at 8:34 AM on May 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


Naju - I have no problem with titles coming and going, but they are starting to remove the ways they notify the users about these changes. And that just seems dumb.
posted by FreezBoy at 8:34 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Won't somebody please think of the children?
posted by Nelson at 8:35 AM on May 1, 2013


> For parents with kids who are losing access to kids TV shows, I'd suggest going to your local library and renting DVDs of the different seasons of content

The children's DVDs at my library are always so scratched and beat up that they're unplayable. I don't think we've ever brought one home that could be watched all the way through.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:35 AM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


The horror movies are one of the things that makes me not like Netflix as much as I could. I hate the posters ....

posted by The corpse in the library

Haaaaaaaa ha ha ha haaaaaa whew.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:35 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a corpse from a more genteel time, thank you very much.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:37 AM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


The notification and API removal stuff is dumb and disturbing, but in terms of dropping titles it's not like Viacom and Warner were going to just let Netflix renew the rights for free and Netflix refused them.
posted by kmz at 8:37 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Two words: copyright reform.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:41 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


PLEASE for the love of...something, can we stop with the "letting" garbage?

it's not like Viacom and Warner were going to just let Netflix renew the rights for free and Netflix refused them.

At least in terms of the Viacom deal, this is the language that Netflix themselves are using. From the April 22, 2013 letter to investors: "At the end of May we’ll be allowing our broad Viacom Networks deal for Nickelodeon, BET, and MTV content to expire."
posted by anastasiav at 8:42 AM on May 1, 2013


Also, the title of this thread clearly should have been "Netflix 2: The Kwikkening".
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:42 AM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


The move by media companies to balkanize access to their content seems so incredibly stupid, even for them. Did they try the same thing when VHS rental stores were taking off? Like, "Hey, you know what customers would really like? If we pulled all of our movies from Blockbuster's shelves and opened up our own video store instead, so people will have to have to carry multiple memberships, and drive to multiple stores depending on what movie they want to rent. It'll be great!"
posted by usonian at 8:46 AM on May 1, 2013 [20 favorites]


posted by trackofalljades:
This is not some "decision" being made by Netflix because they are big bad meanies who don't love you enough.

posted by kmz:
in terms of dropping titles it's not like Viacom and Warner were going to just let Netflix renew the rights for free and Netflix refused them

I don't know. Do you two? Did Warner/Viacom just outright refuse? Or set a price where Netflix couldn't profit? Or was it a reasonable offer which Netflix weighed and rejected because it wasn't profitable enough to justify tying up the money? Or is Netflix a penny-pinching bad guy? I'd really like to know.

The studios (or whatever we're calling them now) must think they can make more elsewhere. Why do they think that? Is Hulu paying more? Do they think they'll make more money with their own walled gardens?
posted by tyllwin at 8:50 AM on May 1, 2013


So we're already paying for Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime. How many more services do they think that we'll shell out for? One for each studio?
posted by octothorpe at 8:52 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


As cribcage indicated, the market is going to have to sort itself out. People are not going to subscribe to 20 subscription services at $10 a pop per month. I already subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime and...that's it. That's my limit. I suspect the same is true for most people. I don't think this particular culling of Netflix's content is that big a deal (I can't access the list of expiring titles, but everything I've read seems to indicate that it's mostly rarely watched movies from before 1986. *yawn*), and I'm also trying to imagine the people who are going to pay $10 a month to Warner for a streaming archive of pre 1986 B-movies. So I'll predict now that in a couple of years we'll probably see content start to return to Netflix or Amazon once all the individual studios realize that people are not going to pay $200 a month to 10 streaming services. By fracturing the market, they're just shrinking the amount of profit they can possibly make.
posted by katyggls at 8:53 AM on May 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


As long as "Busytown Mysteries" are still available, Netflix won't have to worry about my children revolting.
posted by drezdn at 8:56 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


How many more services do they think that we'll shell out for?

Over the last 20 years the industry has eased most of the public into accepting $100-$150 monthly cable bills as a matter of course, so if that's any example I would guess they'll just keep pressing as long as people keep paying.

As far as Netflix goes, I would think with the success of House of Cards and the hubbub over Arrested Development, they're trimming their licensing costs to shift resources toward making more original series.
posted by aught at 8:57 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Knowing about United States vs Paramount is the gift that keeps on giving.

The kind of vertical monopolies being created in the world of streamed viewing are a bad thing, and the quicker people figure this out then the better. I've said this a million times, but distribution needs to be completely unhooked from production.
posted by zoo at 8:59 AM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


People are not going to subscribe to 20 subscription services at $10 a pop per month. I already subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime and...that's it. That's my limit...So I'll predict now that in a couple of years we'll probably see content start to return to Netflix or Amazon once all the individual studios realize that people are not going to pay $200 a month to 10 streaming services.

Don't discount the very real probability of a monster like Comcast/Xfinity transferring their cable business plan over to the web, with a bundling of these services (or similar) into a package for home consumption. They're already making steps in that direction today.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:01 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


How many more services do they think that we'll shell out for? One for each studio?

Yep, that's what some of them are clearly thinking. For a good laugh, be sure to read the "streaming service" link. Warner is asking $10 a month for a service that now has 122 titles and only works on the web (not in HD, sorry) and with Roku. That's so insulting it passes beyond hilarity into absurdity, but there it is, on the table, their current offer. Reminds me of their DVD-burning archive "service," in which they tried to charge $30 and sometimes more for a cheap burned copy of mostly forgotten films from their vaults.

They're completely insane.
posted by mediareport at 9:02 AM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Over the last 20 years the industry has eased most of the public into accepting $100-$150 monthly cable bills as a matter of course, so if that's any example I would guess they'll just keep pressing as long as people keep paying.

I think this is starting to change... Our family dropped cable for a Roku last year, a bunch of friends did the same in the past year. Considering how companies are unwilling to pay people anything, people are looking for things to cut, and cable is becoming increasingly easier to cut.
posted by drezdn at 9:02 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


aught: "Over the last 20 years the industry has eased most of the public into accepting $100-$150 monthly cable bills as a matter of course, so if that's any example I would guess they'll just keep pressing as long as people keep paying."

That's just the point though. People are not paying.
posted by katyggls at 9:03 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I still loves me some Netflix, but then I watch a whole lot of DVDs, and their selection there is still fantastic (although, as someone noted upthread, it's less comprehensive than it was once). I suspect, though, that we're in for a lean time in legal streaming media for a few years as the various rights holders explore competing ways to maximize their returns. My guess is that ultimately we'll end up in something more like the Amazon Prime model: a small selection of stuff that is available at will to subscribers, and a much larger pool that is pay-to-play. It's conceivable, of course, that this will ultimately be the model that Netflix settles on.

In the meantime, one just has to find the best mix of services one can. I don't understand why everyone always gets so angry with Netflix for the fact that they can't force the various rights holders to cough up their content for an economically viable sum. I also don't understand why more people don't subscribe to their DVD service, which really is very convenient and offers you an amazing selection of stuff.
posted by yoink at 9:05 AM on May 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Meh. Removing mediocre titles from a mediocre list is a wash, from my point of view. Is anybody crying tears that "Attack of the Puppet People" (1958) has been given the ax? No? What about "Alfie," the crappy one with Jude Law instead of Michael Caine? Still not convinced? And that's just from the "A" section.

Netflix's streaming service never seems to have arisen above mediocrity. Yes, there are A-1 titles, but they're few and far between, and they have a habit of disappearing from time to time.

As for the B-titles--horror movies, and the like--you can get your fill of these on Youtube, which is now a home for a legion of crappy, don't-give-a-damn-what-I-watch movies. (It's also a place to find recent movies as well--at least until they're removed by the legal watchdogs.)

And the game killer is blu-ray. Netflix Instant will never, ever support blu-ray, at least in this decade. (Or century?). For that, you need to rent the disc. Yes, it's pointless to watch a crappy film in blu-ray, but as this technology advances, it's harder and harder to justify streaming one of your favorite movies, even in high def, when you know you'll be more satisfied with the blu-ray version.

There just aren't enough reasons to justify Netflix Instant.
posted by Gordion Knott at 9:05 AM on May 1, 2013


It then appeared to become more of a TV series delivery vector, not a movie delivery vector.

Which I love. I hate watching ads, and I hate having to watch a show at a particular time. I stream all my TV. I could joke that I do it just so that I can claim to "not own a tv" and still get to watch tv, but really it's because I'm too lazy and cheap to buy yet another device with a screen when my laptop works perfectly.
posted by jb at 9:09 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also: even with the limited Canadian catalogue, I've found more interesting things to watch than cable tv.
posted by jb at 9:10 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


when you know you'll be more satisfied with the blu-ray version.

I tried watching a movie in Blu-Ray and was not impressed -- it's possible my eyes aren't good enough to care about the differences. As long as the aspect ratio's correct and I can have subtitles I'm not really difficult to please, and I don't think I'm alone there.
posted by asperity at 9:11 AM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


As another satisfied linux-based customer, I'll repeat: Amazon Prime is awesome.
The free shipping alone is worth the cost.
posted by eclectist at 9:17 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seconding asperity. I have a Blu-Ray player, and honestly I don't care that much. I mean, I will buy movies in Blu-Ray if the are cheap (as in $15 or less), but we mostly watch Netflix Instant, which we're pretty happy with, my earlier complaining notwithstanding. I'm mostly worried what my daughter will do the next time she wants to watch Dora and we can't put it on.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:18 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The loss of Backyardigans is going to be a serious problem in my household.

I literally gasped when I read that Backyardigans was going to be gone.
posted by not that girl at 9:23 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh and I haven't even finished that Ken Burns National Parks series and it's going away. that's not exactly marathon-friendly.

someone mentioned entitlement.. but really, I'm allowed to expect something I want or don't want from a service I've been paying for. or I will not continue to pay for it.

most of the stuff on Netflix IS mediocre at best. hundreds and hundreds of "wtf is this" titles. the new releases with recognizable actors are few and far between. the original TV series are also mediocre at best. House of Cards started well enough, but I stopped after ep 3 cause it was just so.. bleh. and this Hemlock Grove is yet another Vampires and Werewolves thing, which clearly there isn't enough of. most of netflix is like the $.99 DVD bin at WalMart.

so, thank you netflix for Friday Night Lights, Parks and Rec, and 30 Rock. i can't say any of the rest has been worth it. oh, and the navigation on any platform (i watch on Wii and my Mac, the navigation is slightly different between the two) is really not great. a max of 75 titles in any category when there are many many many more? so i have to search by title that I may not even know is there to begin with? wtf is that. and i just recently found instantwatcher.com but even that site is not that easy to move through. netflix bears the responsibility for making their content easy to use, not some 3rd party site trying to help.
posted by ninjew at 9:25 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Christ you people love to hate on Netflix.
posted by item at 9:34 AM on May 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


Warner is asking $10 a month for a service that now has 122 titles and only works on the web (not in HD, sorry) and with Roku. That's so insulting it passes beyond hilarity into absurdity, but there it is, on the table, their current offer. Reminds me of their DVD-burning archive "service," in which they tried to charge $30 and sometimes more for a cheap burned copy of mostly forgotten films from their vaults.

They're completely insane.


The HD-on-Roku-only thing is trés annoying but otherwise I find WB Archive Instant pretty intriguing. I count 222 titles, not 122, including some of my very favorite movies. Cat People, the amazing Gun Crazy, Tod Browning's Freaks, Horror of Dracula, McCabe & Mrs. Miller all in high definition? Karl Freund's Mad Love? The otherwise unavailable Until the End of the World? And that's just a sampling of the stuff I know I like. There's plenty of interesting material in there that I've never seen. (Five pre-code films in high-def!)

I'd rather have all this stuff on Blu-ray (at $20-$30 a pop, no doubt), but if they'd let me stream HD to the Mac Mini I have connected to my TV I would definitely consider a membership. It would probably take me a few months to exhaust my viewing options -- there's not a lot of content yet, but on a movie-by-movie basis I'm more intrigued by the WB selections than by the Netflix catalog.
posted by Mothlight at 9:38 AM on May 1, 2013


But for $9/month I want to see all the movies!
posted by MoonOrb at 9:42 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I sorta feel like that Louis CK bit "Everything is Amazing and Nobody Is Happy" is going to replace the Bill Hicks video where he rants about Marketing as things people get sick of people "I'll just leave this here"ing into threads, but holy shit people, I'm really just going to leave this here.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:42 AM on May 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


I've read the Netflix hiring policies link, despite its soul-destroying interface. Basically, the message is "We cull (their word) innovators. If you're not an innovator, you're fucking canned (with a severance deal)."

In spite of the rubric about innovation, it's interesting that Netflix's innovative moves have all crashed and burned. Segmenting the company into a streaming division and non-streaming division is seen as a textbook case of horrifically misguided management--in fact, it will probably be used in management textbooks to illustrate this very point.

Their core business, processing and mailing DVDs and blu-rays with lightning speed, keeps getting better. Gone are the days of throttling, a bizarre, bullying system in which heavy users with expensive accounts were punished for their heavy usage by having DVDs held back for a few days. Somebody didn't get the memo that punishing your best customers isn't an ideal way to run a business.

The problem is, mailing DVDs is pretty boring, when you think about it. It isn't innovative. It's something that those guys who were canned could do. In fact, mailing shit quickly is pretty much what any online retailer does. It's the Internet equivalent of garbage collection; everybody takes it for granted. Hence, the burning need at Netflix to innovate, to try new strategies and businesses.

Netflix Instant seemed good, even innovative, when it was a free add-on to the mailing service. People complained about the lack of titles, but not too hard--it was free, after all. Then, it became a paid service. Then it lost Starz. Now, it's losing even more titles.

Right now, there's probably fewer good movies to watch on Instant than there was when it was free. The system costs eight bucks a month, but it's shrunk, rather than expanded, during its era as a full-on business, rather than an afterthought.
posted by Gordion Knott at 9:45 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, for people complaining about the Netflix Instant UI, you should go buy a PS3, which has the best interface between it, Apple TV, Xbox 360, Roku and PC as far as we can tell. The only problem is that to really search a category you need to use a PC, but if my wife looks for a movie on PC while I look on the PS3, we usually find something we want. Of course, we mostly want cartoons, horror movies and documentaries, so your mileage may vary.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:46 AM on May 1, 2013


Netflix could cull 50% of their content and still be an absurd bargain for the price. I don't like every decision they make, but man am I out of sync with most of the people here. I have my quibbles, but I rarely use products I'm as happy with as Netflix.

Then again, Arrested Development has earned them my infinite good will forever.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:51 AM on May 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


I literally gasped when I read that Backyardigans was going to be gone.

Ugh, me too. The loss of the streaming children's programming through Nickelodeon/Viacom would be big in our house. It's probably our main use of Netflix, though the adults like to see documentaries now and again. I don't care much for the general Netflix interface, but our preschooler navigates the Just for Kids version with ease (and it's good for bleary-eyed parents on weekend mornings, too).
posted by percolatrix at 9:52 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That said, they need a way to disable autoplay on the PS3, and their recently added tab is missing so much recently added content that I think people don't realize how much content they do add regularly.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:52 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Warner Archive proves how absurd the whole situation is. Who in their right mind has ever sat down and said, "I know, I think I'll watch a Warner film tonight?" Organizing movies by distributor is utterly useless to any actual human being. Nobody runs a drug store where the products are sorted by manufacturer: "oh the Johnson&Johnson bandages are in aisle 2, but store brand is in aisle 5." I can only imagine the conversations at the pharmacy: "Sir, your health insurance only covers drugs made by Pfizer. You'll need to sign up with a Novartis subscription for that cancer drug. Or should I just give you Viagra instead?"

When Warner set up this service, did they find a single focus group participant who showed any interest in subscribing (at a price higher than Netflix)?

Of course, Warner Archive is now all on the defensive and is insisting they have nothing to do with this.
posted by zachlipton at 10:00 AM on May 1, 2013 [18 favorites]


I really like Netflix. I worry about them though. Obviously they are going in the offensive producing their own content. Maybe they should try to bring in Mark Cuban in some capacity. They could turn his HD canle channels into essentially advertising for streaming if they can nail the licensing deals and also get all his 2929 content.

I think they should stream Let's Plays or Machinima content, but me and 5 other guys are probably the only ones who would watch.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:00 AM on May 1, 2013


That Netflix/Amazon streaming/iTunes is going to win out over Blu-Ray is the exact same reason that CD's won out over vinyl, and MP3/AAC won out over CDs.

Most people clearly prioritize convenience over quality, within reason. For most people, streaming now hits that "within reason" threshold, and so there's much less of a reason to trek to a store to purchase or rent a disc when you can start watching immediately.

There will always be "audiophiles" who swear they won't listen to anything except on a reference-grade system, and I assume that there likewise will be "cinemaphiles" who view streaming as the opiate of the great unwashed masses. But it seems pretty clear they will increasingly be a minority as the technology advances and internet speeds increase and become widely available, presuming broadband caps don't cut the whole industry off at the knees.
posted by modernnomad at 10:01 AM on May 1, 2013


the game killer is blu-ray

Physical media is the way of the future!
posted by asnider at 10:05 AM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't think i've ever read an atricle about Netflix on the internet where someone isn't calling them stupid. I can remember 3 different times reading about how their latest stupid decision is the reason they are finally going to fall apart. And yet they are still here. I'm no shill for the company but this is my personal experiance with Netflix:

After paying 40-45 dollars per season of Buffy the Vampire and Alias I learned that Netflix existed and I signed up in like 2004 while still in college. I cancelled my overpriced Blockbuster account and felt awesome doing it after years of Blockbuster gouging me for late fees. I can still remember once when my mom paid Blockbuster nearly a $100 dollars in late fees for Wayne's World 2 that I had lost the VHS of in my room. I used Netflix for a few months set up a whole list of things to watch and when the disks came always had a reason not to watch it. Eventually I cancelled my service.

After I got out of college which was something like 3 years later and got a job I signed up again. I found that Netflix had kept my entire queue which I realize was probably easy for them to do but felt cool nonetheless. This time I worked hard at watching stuff and returning the disks and realized that through Netflix I didn't need to go out and buy unnessisary DVDs of TV shows. I also stopped going to movies that I was interested in but had heard sucked and soon I stopped overpaying for bad movies in theaters.

Then in 2008 completly out of the blue the company gave me their streaming service. I hadn't asked for it, I hadn't really wanted it and in fact I thought it was stupid, but slowly over time I realized how it worked and slowly started to use it inbetween disks. I soon cancelled my cable because there was more stuff than I could watch in a lifetime on their instant streaming. Then in 2011 they started charging for their streaming and end their disk service/ switch it to a new company. I thought initially this sucked read a bunch of stuff on the internet about how they were going to go under and were morons and then I realized that I had gotten rid of my cable bill which was close to $200 a month for a service that was at the time was less than $10.

That's 3 specific times that I can point to where Netflix has actually saved me money/ helped change my spending habits. Helping end my Blockbuster account and their endless late fees system, preventing me from buying lots of tv shows and movies on DVD and going to less stupid movies in theaters, and ending my cable bill. Also in part because of netflix I watch less trash/reality TV like I did before when I had cable. I see things because I want to see them not just because they are on. I used to watch every season of crap like the Real World and who knows what I would be seeing if I still had cable. Instead I've replaced that with making my way through most of the Criterion Collection that is for the most part availble on Instant.

I understand that Netflix is a corporation and probably dont care about me other than taking my money but I'm having a hard time thinking of a company that has saved me more money over this last decade. For that I'm honestly grateful and hope that they stick around for a long time doing what they are doing.
posted by trojanhorse at 10:08 AM on May 1, 2013 [28 favorites]


I sorta feel like that Louis CK bit "Everything is Amazing and Nobody Is Happy" is going to replace the Bill Hicks video where he rants about Marketing as things people get sick of people "I'll just leave this here"ing into threads, but holy shit people, I'm really just going to leave this here.

^^^This 100%
posted by naju at 10:10 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


There will always be "audiophiles" who swear they won't listen to anything except on a reference-grade system, and I assume that there likewise will be "cinemaphiles" who view streaming as the opiate of the great unwashed masses. But it seems pretty clear they will increasingly be a minority as the technology advances and internet speeds increase and become widely available, presuming broadband caps don't cut the whole industry off at the knees.

Yeah, there's a theatre near me that shows old films in 35mm prints on the weekends (which I usually hear about from my hip cinemaphile friends). They do a nice little business for themselves! A couple of showings, maybe 50 people per showing, each Saturday and Sunday. It's a cool little niche, but has nothing at all to do with instant delivery of "good-enough"-quality TV and movies to one's living room.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:13 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had gotten rid of my cable bill which was close to $200 a month for a service that was at the time was less than $10.

I think cable is often forgotten in these discussions. Many people compare Netflix/Amazon/Hulu as if they're different from Comcast/Verizon/DirecTV. They aren't, and increasingly they won't be.

Their core business, processing and mailing DVDs and blu-rays with lightning speed, keeps getting better.

Not in my experience. Compared to a few years ago, Netflix seems less interested in maintaining its DVD library. I've seen new titles that aren't purchased and damaged/stolen discs that aren't replaced. You might be right that Netflix has discontinued "throttling," but if so I suspect it's only because enough users reduced their DVD viewing that throttling became unnecessary. And in its place Netflix has introduced artificial delays, which (theoretically) affect all users: Many new titles now aren't available for home delivery until weeks after they are released on DVD or iTunes. Netflix didn't used to do this.

In my view, the DVD service has gotten markedly worse.
posted by cribcage at 10:22 AM on May 1, 2013


My daughter (8) watches almost no TV at all. And we have a wide range of channels in our package. She watches bbc iplayer on her tablet about 30% of the time and the rest is minecraft videos on youtube.

From talking to other parents I think minecraft on youtube is actually ahead of commercial tv for most of these kids.
posted by samworm at 10:29 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just ran to the TV to check: whew!

Mighty Machines survived. The loss of Thomas will be a buzzkill, but I won't cry any tears so long as two little boys can still watch their favorite 20 year old Canadian mini-documentary/heavy equipment porn for little kids.
posted by ambrosia at 10:33 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


As long as Netflix keeps providing us with a steady diet of imported action movies, we'll be happy enough. Though I'm thinking about joining Crunchyroll any month now, because subbed anime is something Netflix does really really badly. So that'd be what $15 a month for all the content we even remotely desire to watch. Not too bad.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:40 AM on May 1, 2013


I love blu-rays and subscribe to netflix-by-mail for them, but I must admit Netflix's superhd looks great, sound difference is more noticeable than video.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:42 AM on May 1, 2013


Christ you people love to hate on Netflix.

It's like they're Amanda Palmer of streaming movie/TV services!
posted by Kitteh at 10:45 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Obviously, I'm not privy to the negotiations, but I suspect "Letting the deals expire" is Netflix putting a brave face on the fact that big content creators are beginning to cut off their air supply. They're seeing that Netflix has been successful and they want that pie for themselves. You can be certain that concerns about whether that will be customer-friendly don't enter the minds of oligopolists. I think Netflix recognizes that their only way forward is to create their own content, and perhaps aggregate some indie things that want another outlet.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:47 AM on May 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Posted this morning: Viacom CEO: 'We're Still in Discussions with Netflix'
posted by anastasiav at 10:48 AM on May 1, 2013


I tried to browse the InstantWatcher site yesterday, but it was mostly too slow. Only thing I saw of interest was that the RuPaul's Drag Race seasons will expire May 22, so WATCH NOW, this is your warning.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:56 AM on May 1, 2013


The problem for some folks is that some cable companies are still the only access to broadband so you cannot fully extricate yourself from that awful coil (from the gates of Hell, I spit thee Comcast!) and are paying a chunk o' change anyway.

I agree that the balkanization is going to cause some temporary problems. Heck, I am thinking that Apple iTunes would make even more money selling me the shows. But the media companies, hopefully, will get the clue; otherwise, the torrents will flow fast and furious for KIDS shows. Think about it, you are making people pirates for kids shows.

Also, the library thing, well if your library's system's been cut bad then no access to DVDs and what is left, as mentioned above, can be in poor condition.
posted by jadepearl at 10:56 AM on May 1, 2013


but I must admit Netflix's superhd looks great

You think? I only tried it the once, and it did that thing where everything looks like a soap opera and the movements are all weird, like when you first get your HDTV and haven't yet found that magical setting for "not shitty."

So, while my TV can do "superHD" Netflix right out of the box, I actually find it much more satisfactory to watch lower-res stuff extruded through my Wii. Save on bandwidth, too.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:00 AM on May 1, 2013


Man, this sucks!
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:03 AM on May 1, 2013


Sys rq- I'm using it on a PS3 and it doesn't have that soap opera feel. Maybe your tv is processing it weirdly for some reason? If you have any kind of smoothing or anything on your hdtv that could be it, though I'm not sure if it would process Wii content differently. I know Netflix looks better on PS3 for me than Xbox, though I haven't pinpointed why.

Some hidef content looks bad like that in general though (but will look that way on bluray as well).
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:15 AM on May 1, 2013


Gordion Knott: "As for the B-titles--horror movies, and the like--you can get your fill of these on Youtube, which is now a home for a legion of crappy, don't-give-a-damn-what-I-watch movies."

I was personally disappointed to find over 100 movies from my instant queue gone. These were mostly the B-movie titles you mention. However, if I simply didn't give a damn what I watched, I never would have signed up for Netflix in the first place nor paid their monthly fee, nor would I have bothered to add movies to my queue. Just because someone likes these old B-movies doesn't mean they don't care about quality and availability. My primary reliable streaming B-movie source is gone now, and that's kind of a big deal to me. While many of these titles may be available on YouTube at one time or another, the quality is very hit-and-miss, and relying on YouTube for anything is using it the wrong way.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:34 AM on May 1, 2013


The best quote I heard about Netflix was that they are trying to become HBO before HBO can become Netflix.
posted by Justinian at 11:39 AM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


- Over the last 20 years the industry has eased most of the public into accepting $100-$150 monthly cable bills as a matter of course, so if that's any example I would guess they'll just keep pressing as long as people keep paying.

- That's just the point though. People are not paying.


So cable companies get smart, cap bandwidth, and simply charge you for the overages. Cable One has a 100gb cap if you have cable TV and internet, or 50 gb for internet + phone or internet only, and it's $0.50 per GB over. They hype their internet speeds, but don't tell you you can only go so far. It's like renting a Ferrari after getting the sales pitch for how it can go from zero to 60 mph in nothing flat, but being told you can only go 50 miles, and it's $0.50 per every extra mile.

This isn't likely to get any better, if Obama really picks cable industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler as FCC head.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:40 AM on May 1, 2013


I'm another person who loves the netflix that was a source for essentially all the DVDs that are commercially available in the US; Their apparent new goal “to be an expert programmer, offering a mix that delights [their] members, rather than trying to be a broad distributor” is pretty much 180 degrees from what I always thought Netflix was to me. (of course, I believe my tastes make me a unique snowflake, unable to be amused by whatever “delights” the average american).

And of course there's the underlying fact that this is the brave face they have to put on when they can't negotiate favorable terms for titles that lots of people watched or intended to watch…

(and as a disc-only holdout I don't know what to make of the fact that netflix-the-streaming-media-producer won't let netflix-the-disc-mailing-service send me DVDs of these new shows that they're making)
posted by jepler at 11:41 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some friends-of-friends had a plan that I thought was crazy, but in retrospect, is pretty smart. They put every Netflix DVD that they would ever want to watch in their queue, and once they received their DVDs, they'd rip them to a media server, and pop the discs back in the mail. That way, they have a mighty local collection of movies and shows, no wait time for what they want, and no worry for discontinued titles. This was all before Netflix went to streaming media.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:45 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


FWIW, it is not Netflix choice. I have a friend who has some first hand knowledge, and yeah, it's the content owners who drive this - they are asking for way too much money. Netflix cannot pay it, because their customers can't pay it. Plus the content owners are idiots who overvalue how much they can extract on their own. One day they'll find out it was a big mistake, but by then, as usual, the person(s) who made that decision will be long gone, or not held responsible... welcome to Hollywood.

Dear friends, this is why I have for years and years warned about taking streaming content for granted. Unless you indisputably control your purchase, it can be taken away. You have been warned, music lovers: Pandora, Spotify, X-stream-whatever, enjoy today, but take steps.

Streaming services are great for discovering content, but you cannot rely on them forever, instead, if you find something you like and may want to revisit in the future, go ahead and buy or torrent it. Salt it away on discs or hard drives - nobody can take that away.

Furthermore, do it NOW, don't wait, because who knows if those who control the choke points might not decide - at some point in the future - to exploit that great opportunity and only allow metered access to the internet. What are you gonna do then? We know well-enough that regulatory agencies won't help you, since consumer protection has become a joke. How you gonna stream then, or even bittorrent?

There are many dangers: metered net access, copyright infringement sites going black (Demonoid), stuff just plain no longer available. So do the only thing you can: obtain the stuff and salt it away, do it while you still can and it is still available. In the worst case, it's cheap(ish) insurance.

Ultimately, there is always sneakernet, and that is unkillable, but clearly much less convenient.

Meanwhile, Netflix will continue to get less and less from big content providers; there will be more indies, but Netflix is moving in the only direction which provides some security - developing their own content and hooking you on it - that way they can control their own libraries and big libraries means downstream money forever. Netflix in due time wants to become HBO+.
posted by VikingSword at 11:56 AM on May 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


interesting that the credit card I'm using for my Netflix payments expires this month. Methinks I'll just monitor this evolution-in-business-model for a while before I make any rash decisions to recommit.
posted by philip-random at 12:00 PM on May 1, 2013


... and does this all mean I'm going to lose Fantasy Island?
posted by philip-random at 12:03 PM on May 1, 2013


relying on YouTube for anything is using it the wrong way.

I'd add that most people, I think, are never going to turn to YouTube for television. If YouTube introduces a Netflix-type service, so be it. But I don't want to watch TV in a little box on my laptop. I may not be investing in a 3D set but you sure won't catch me throwing my television out. I think that's how most people feel. Sure, give me a device to plug into my television—cable box, Xbox, satellite dish—but somehow, you'd better engineer a way to get the programs onto that screen in my living room or I'm taking my business elsewhere.

Honestly, I think the whole thing is bizarre. As I said above, it's the market shaking itself out. You have studios looking at Netflix's profits and saying, "We own that content. Let's sell it ourselves!" Meanwhile you have Netflix struggling to maintain licenses and saying, "Screw this, let's just create our own content and we can control it." I'm not an economist but it doesn't seem like a sign of market stability when everybody in the chain is trying to steal each other's jobs.
posted by cribcage at 12:10 PM on May 1, 2013


Dora and Diego will be lost?

Sweet merciful shit, my three year old will find who is responsible and make them burn.

Fuuuuuuuuuuck.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 12:11 PM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Does Amazon have widely available subtitles yet? If they don't, that's a dealbreaker for me. Netflix only has them because they were sued by the National Association of the Deaf. I hope Amazon either sees the light or faces the same threat.
posted by desjardins at 12:18 PM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Our goal is to be an expert programmer, offering a mix that delights our members, rather than trying to be a broad distributor.”

Way to fill my gay/lesbian/Bollywood/Anime/ultimate fighting/reality TV jones, Netflix!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:22 PM on May 1, 2013


Favorited a million times, desjardins. I couldn't believe Netflix and others think it's ok to leave out this necessity.
posted by Melismata at 12:23 PM on May 1, 2013


My memory is fuzzy right now, but they did pass a law in the last year that required subtitles on certain media (iirc, things that have been shown on TV with closed captions must also be captioned online). I don't know when or at what rate this will take place, but Amazon/Hulu would do well to get in front of that.

(Related: the Netflix series Hemlock Grove has subtitles AND AUDIO in Spanish. I've never seen that on Netflix before and I'm glad they're making overtures to that market. A huge influx of Latino customers would mean more content that isn't personally relevant, but it also introduces more money overall, which seems like a good thing.)
posted by desjardins at 12:48 PM on May 1, 2013


(Related: the Netflix series Hemlock Grove has subtitles AND AUDIO in Spanish. I've never seen that on Netflix before and I'm glad they're making overtures to that market. A huge influx of Latino customers would mean more content that isn't personally relevant, but it also introduces more money overall, which seems like a good thing.)


Yes, but they'd still have to watch Hemlock Grove.
posted by Kitteh at 12:54 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also don't understand why more people don't subscribe to their DVD service, which really is very convenient and offers you an amazing selection of stuff.

Agreed. It may not be as good as it used to be, but they still have a lot of stuff, many times what is available streaming. I have only watched 3 or 4 things streaming since the service became available. Every time I look something up maybe 1 out of 30 times it’s available streaming, but 25 or more I can get on DVD.

We also have this crazy plan where we buy the movies we want to see and keep them on their own storage media with cases and covers describing the contents. They’re always on sale, and we can trade them for something else if we don’t want to keep them.

Streaming is a mess right now. It’s great for "browsers", people who are just looking for something to watch. For people like myself who want to watch specific things only it’s practically useless in all configurations. Someone has to be the middleman, the cable company of streaming. I’m not sure why the studios don’t just let Netflix do that job. They’re like people hoarding Beanie Babies because they think they can get more for them than the going Ebay price.
posted by bongo_x at 12:57 PM on May 1, 2013


Here's some more information about the captioning requirement.

/off-topic
posted by desjardins at 12:57 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The change in DVD experience has been mixed. After the Qwikster debacle when they realized that people still wanted DVD service, they did go out and finally buy a fair amount of obscure stuff that had been sitting in my saved queue forever. On the other hand, they seem to be keeping fewer copies of disks, since I ran into the problem of my next disk being unavailable 3 times last month.

Streaming, at least for me, has never been very good. It used to be about 10-20% of my DVD queue was available to stream, but right now I have 299 in my DVD queue and 20 in my instant, only 4 of those are actually movies, and 4 are TV shows where I'm waiting for new episodes. Right now I'm planning on dropping streaming once I get through the new Arrested Development episodes.

On the upside, Street Fighter just got added to streaming.
posted by ckape at 1:15 PM on May 1, 2013


I'm just amused by the fact that, between Netflix and Hulu, the range of streaming films available out there is now limited to b-movie flotsam/sassy dog movies or the entire catalogue of the Criterion collection. Now anytime I want to watch something, I either need to be in the mood for "Hearty Paws 2" or a 4-hour Czech cinéma-vérité about agricultural cooperatives. Seriously, the last 2 movies I watched were "The Ballad of Narayama" and "Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann". So with their efforts combined, Hulu and Netflix have successfully captured the apparent market of 1 (me) who is halfheartedly okay with this situation.
posted by geneva uswazi at 1:23 PM on May 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


Bob the Builder.
Can we watch it?
Bob the Builder.
No, we can't.
posted by Grangousier at 1:28 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh god, we use Netflix streaming almost entirely for kid viewing in our house. I admit *I* won't be sad about the loss of Thomas, but my two sons will. And I am sad that Backyardigans, Dora, Diego et al are going away. I'm happy to buy them on iTunes, but the netflix interface is easy enough for my little ones to use. I don't know that they can navigate iTunes by themselves. Yes, this is how I get to sleep beyond 6:30am on weekends.
posted by Joh at 1:59 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looks like Amazon Prime has all the kid stuff that Netflix lost. *phew*
posted by zsazsa at 2:04 PM on May 1, 2013


I figure that netflix will buy a Nick bundle from Viacom instead of being stuck with a crapton of bad MTV content despite Viacom's desire to bundle.

Netflix realizes that some people use netflix almost exclusively for children's programming (no commercials, ease of use) and I'm sure they'll buy Dora and Diego as long as Viacom is willing to offer them a Nick only package deal.

Granted I could use Prime as well (I have Hulu in addition to netflix and prime but commercials during kid's tv are a dealbreaker for me).

Oh well, still have Disney and MLP.
posted by vuron at 2:07 PM on May 1, 2013


Oh my god, Thomas AND Diego? We are fucked. If Postman Pat is gone, my two year old will start rioting in the streets.
posted by chiababe at 2:58 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. This is the first thing that caused my jaw to drop in this conversation: PS3. . . has the best interface between it, Apple TV, Xbox 360, Roku and PC as far as we can tell.

We stream Netflix on the PS3, which is pretty much the only way I've ever used the streaming (except on weekend at my sister's on her Roku, where I could not figure out their stereo equipment) and I hate it. I just hate it. It's fine for displaying the queue which I have to set up on the computer (in Internet Explorer, by the way; I can't get Netflix to load on Firefox--probably some add-on I run?) but for everything else, it's totally useless. If that's the best Netflix can do, I am really curious why there isn't a better way.

Netflix streaming is fine for TV shows but not really great for anything else. Occasionally, usually by searching on an actor's name, I find a direct-to-video played-only-for-one-week-in-Bosnia-and-a-Welsh-island-few-have-heard-of movie, but mostly, it's only delivering me TV I have already seen. The content owners are not making it easy, that's for sure.
posted by crush-onastick at 3:09 PM on May 1, 2013


I keep telling my friend who loves the streaming why I only do the physical discs. 1. They have a lot of older stuff 2. I can pause and get back to it a day later or a week later. Even when I explain that for a TV show I'm not watching all of season 1 in one sitting he doesn't get why the stream being pulled is a bad thing.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 5:45 PM on May 1, 2013


I'd add that most people, I think, are never going to turn to YouTube for television. If YouTube introduces a Netflix-type service, so be it. But I don't want to watch TV in a little box on my laptop.

Just about any new DVD/Bluray player you buy nowadays allows you to throw YouTube up on your TV screen. There are myriad cheapo ways to watch any streaming service on your biggest screen.
posted by yoink at 5:57 PM on May 1, 2013


I just checked my Instant queue and I'm a bit bummed; Netflix Instant had quite a lot of obscure but fun British movies from the 1930s, 40s and 50s which have all gone and which aren't available on DVD. Ah well, somehow I'll have to let the 357 DVDs in my queue console me.
posted by yoink at 6:05 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


To view youtube videos using a Roku. Get the plex channel, doing a search there will also bring up youtube videos and let you play youtube through the Roku.
posted by drezdn at 6:10 PM on May 1, 2013


2. I can pause and get back to it a day later or a week later.

Actually, Netflix Instant kinda wins there; you can just shut it off, and then whenever you come back, it remembers where you were up to and takes you right there. Unless you leave the same DVD in the same DVD player and leave it powered on the whole time, you have to go through the whole FBI warning, skipping past ads for coming attractions, looking through the "scene selections" and hoping you can recognize the right bit etc.
posted by yoink at 6:11 PM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


>: "We’ll forego, or choose not renew, titles that aren’t watched enough. "

This is stupid. I'd love to be able to subscribe to a net flix like service that hosted nothing newer than 5 years old but had essentially everything older than that.

For smegs sake content owners, you've managed to completely lock down your stuff under copyright till the heat death of the universe so one would think you could get your collective shit together and start harvesting that long tail that you convinced legislators you were going to go broke without.
posted by Mitheral at 6:47 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


yoink, it depends on the DVD player. Mine will resume play as long as you're actually in the video and not on the menus.

So it works out that both Netflix on my Xbox and discs in my DVD player will not remember properly if you stop watching between TV episodes.
posted by ckape at 6:55 PM on May 1, 2013


Oh sure yoink that's awesome. except 4 times in a row I had paused a streaming movie only to come back to 'sorry the content owner blah blah blah' so when they split them I dumped the streaming. Yes, I have to maybe remember and go thru the FBI warning, but it's still there, not gone for 3 weeks and then back again for a limited run before it's gone again.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:56 PM on May 1, 2013


Guys don't worry they're still carrying Strippers vs. Werewolves.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:11 PM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I also don't understand why more people don't subscribe to their DVD service, which really is very convenient and offers you an amazing selection of stuff.

We get mailed DVDs only, no streaming. Their streaming catalog is so minimal it just seemed pointless to pay for it when they split it up. As far as I can tell, we are the only household in America still getting the red envelopes.

(Fun fact: we also power our DVD player with a steam locomotive.)
posted by gerstle at 9:06 PM on May 1, 2013


A red envelope came today with what I gather is a charming Swedish teen lesbian movie inside. I like the red envelopes.

Also, related from CartoonBrew a few days back, Amazon’s Animated Pilots Are A Big Disappointment:

...the animated series are half-baked concepts that are a few notches below any of the successful shows on children’s cable...there is little excuse for the unpolished, amateur feel of these animation pilots...One could conjecture about why Amazon botched their pilots so badly...Price and his Amazon colleagues have little vision or strategy for what they’re trying to accomplish with Amazon Studios beyond creating poorly conceived knock-offs of popular TV shows.
posted by mediareport at 9:43 PM on May 1, 2013


I agree, FreezBoy, and can't think of a (good) reason why they would remove Upcoming from their API (unless they are getting ready to roll out something new). Why break one of the main ways people find out about your new content/value?

They are probably going with a Costco-like theme: make it an "adventure" to find the stuff you want.

The bittorrent community is currently drafting its own reply, which can be summarized as "don't worry, we're still here for you."

They failed to mention "update your virus checker".
posted by gjc at 6:42 AM on May 2, 2013


Are movie container formats like avi, mp4, and mkv actually vectors for infection? (honestly, no surprise if they are, because both gif and jpg have been and a proper mpeg4 decoder is a good bit more complex than jpeg)
posted by jepler at 7:38 AM on May 2, 2013


If you're downloading cracked .exes I might worry. I've torrented videos every day for years and years and haven't heard of an infected video. Find a decent private site and I'd say your risk is absurdly low of anything except being annoyed that the free option is still far better than the paid ones.
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:52 AM on May 2, 2013


how do you find a decent private site?
posted by desjardins at 8:05 AM on May 2, 2013


Something that also puzzles me about these discussions about Computer interface vs. Xbox/PS3/Roku/etc, is that virtually every non-tube TV / projector made in the last 10 years or so has a VGA input on it.

My living room media machine is an old HP dc5800 my work was getting rid of. I put some extra RAM in it, hooked it up to the network, plugged it into the projector and blammo, PC convenience on the big screen!

(the picture quality is much crisper than my blurry cameraphone indicates)
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:19 AM on May 2, 2013


Just about any new DVD/Bluray player you buy nowadays allows you to throw YouTube up on your TV screen.

Are these actually full implementations of Youtube? My impression of the YouTube channel on the PS3 was that it was limited (rights-holder sanctioned?) content, but I couldn't get far enough into the shitty interface to do much exploring.

Something that also puzzles me about these discussions about Computer interface vs. Xbox/PS3/Roku/etc, is that virtually every non-tube TV / projector made in the last 10 years or so has a VGA input on it.

And most laptops have HDMI out these days too, which is even simpler to use.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:08 AM on May 2, 2013


The day I commented here, I checked a Thomas, and it errored out. This morning, my sons are watching Thomas on Netflix. Did this get reversed or were only some of them removed?
posted by Joh at 7:20 AM on May 5, 2013


"Netflix made some changes to its public API Monday night that make it harder to figure out which movies are going to be taken off the service. The company will no longer provide the expiration date of movies through its API, which will mean that third-party tools like Instantwatcher.com’s Expiring Soon on Instant list will stop working."

- PaidContent: Netflix makes changes to public API after “Streamageddon” backlash
posted by KatlaDragon at 5:53 AM on May 14, 2013


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