Holes found in Net
April 21, 2022 12:28 PM   Subscribe

The Bottom is Dropping Out of Netflix. "Netflix reported that it has lost 200,000 subscribers in the last quarter, which was bad enough. Even worse, it expects to lose another 2 million subscribers. The stock plummeted 35 percent yesterday, losing $50 billion — or more than Elon Musk offered for Twitter — in market capitalization. What the hell is going on?"
posted by storybored (186 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
As the article points out, Netflix's "binge" model actively disincentives long term subscriptions as well as cultural cachet. There is a reason nobody else uses it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:38 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


You know what I would love? Actual channels, like old TV.

Set up a small number of old school TV-guide esque schannels where sometimes movies or TV shows might even be in the middle of playing. Would give people agency of choice like the 90’s / 00’s cable days and stop what is also killing enjoyment (for me and many others) on streaming platforms: The exhausting number of choices that exist for every genre of movie and tv show
posted by glaucon at 12:39 PM on April 21 [18 favorites]


It's not just that they lost 200,000 subscribers. They predicted gaining 2.5 million, so the actual underperformance is 2.7 million, not merely 200k.
posted by riotnrrd at 12:40 PM on April 21 [17 favorites]


glaucon, you might be interested in Pluto TV, a streaming service that does offer some on-demand titles but is in the main about old-school TV-style channels. Highlights include channels that just show MST3K and Rifftrax!
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:43 PM on April 21 [30 favorites]


Netflix’s Bad Habits Have Caught Up With It.
One exec at rival streamer I talked with yesterday believes this is a huge mistake, if only because it makes it harder for Netflix to build those reliable franchises it so desperately needs more of. “Everyone loves bingeing, but the downside is because you and I don’t experience shows at the same time, I don’t get to bond with friends over, say, episode four of Squid Game in the way you do with a weekly show,” he said. “You maybe talk about the show once for 15 minutes, but that’s it.”

Netflix is further eroding its connection to audiences through its unwritten mandate to end the vast majority of its new shows after no more than three seasons, with only the very biggest (or most cost-efficient) scripted hits lasting longer. Execs seem to have decided that churning out more new shows in a bid to find massive hits is a better use of money than producing more seasons of shows people love but perhaps aren’t as globally popular as the streamer wants. “They’re commoditizing entertainment when they end shows so soon,” the competing exec told me. “They’re making it disposable. They’re telling people it doesn’t matter.”
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:43 PM on April 21 [55 favorites]


They never should have cancelled MST3k.
posted by SansPoint at 12:44 PM on April 21 [37 favorites]


Could it just be that they have a ton more competition and people are watching less and getting out more? They have 220 million subscribers. Could it really just grow forever?

With that said, I did realize recently that no one in my house is watching much Netflix anymore. It's pretty much all Hulu, HBO Max, with a little Apple TV+. Netflix churns out so much junk TV. Like, is "Is it Cake?" the best you can do?
posted by gwint at 12:48 PM on April 21 [44 favorites]


Set up a small number of old school TV-guide esque schannels where sometimes movies or TV shows might even be in the middle of playing. Would give people agency of choice like the 90’s / 00’s cable days and stop what is also killing enjoyment (for me and many others) on streaming platforms: The exhausting number of choices that exist for every genre of movie and tv show

Netflix has kind of gone for this by introducing the ability to play something at random, but it’s obviously not the same. Constraints are nice.

This feels like it’s been predicted for a long time, and the bulk of new show & new movie creation has always been intended to combat this inevitable reckoning and build up some resistance to it.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:48 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Netflix's answer: to fire executives and cancel a bunch of animated shows (including Bone).

I imagine one of the things driving people away from the service is the news that they will be cutting down on password sharing.
posted by fight or flight at 12:49 PM on April 21 [12 favorites]


Like, is "Is it Cake?" the best you can do?

I watched an episode of “Is It Cake?”! It wasn’t good, but it was a bit interesting to see Netflix trying to spin up a food show cinematic universe.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:49 PM on April 21


You exhaust the easily findable and good content, and then except for new additions or originals it's mostly either re-watching or filler. To the extent there are hidden gems they're hard to find because the discovery and search is bad.

And if they're cracking down on password sharing, they may have underestimated the extent to which people stay subscribed because of the other family or friends using the login, or overestimated the rate at which those people would convert if cut off.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:49 PM on April 21 [24 favorites]


- Year over year price increases.
- Talking about eliminating password sharing.
- Cancelling series after two seasons - or even within a month of a season starting.
- Distinct decline of quality - many "TV" type shows are cheap, re-churn of very similar content.
- Rare actual quality of original movies - many of them "feel" like they have been scripted by committee or a poorly written AI.
- Horrible user-interface for content discovery - same 10 shows displayed in many similar categories - focussing on only the latest releases/aquisitions. (If you want to find something different, I typically go to "Search", then type a single letter of the alphabet and scroll through the listings)
- Absolute garbage recomendations after removing the "5-star" ratings system - and in general.
- Reduction in overall catalog size - Amazon Prime Video has about twice as many movies as Netflix. (Although it's user interface and discovery is even worse...)

And they are finally losing subscribers when there are other options available?

Insert surprised Pikachu face here...
posted by rozcakj at 12:50 PM on April 21 [78 favorites]


The original appeal of Netflix, in the DVD by mail days, was having a huge and comprehensive catalog- I could enjoy rare foreign films that I would never have found otherwise. Now they're just another channel, with just another funnel of TV programs.

Somewhere, an old retired Blockbuster executive is chuckling.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 12:50 PM on April 21 [126 favorites]


Quitting Netflix is amazingly easy - 2 clicks and you are done, AND they promise to keep your playlist data for 10 months! I must give them kudos for this, it's kind of an anti-dark-pattern in UI/UX.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 12:51 PM on April 21 [33 favorites]


The typically short lifespans of shows in general makes me less likely to bother investing in a subscription - 2 seasons w/unresolved story lines is starting to feel like a norm. Why bother getting invested?

Yes, I am bitter about "Lodge 49" and "Gentefied" getting the axe.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:51 PM on April 21 [16 favorites]


I read elsewhere the suspicion that this is part of someone's exit strategy and/or golden parachute pull. That might be the only explanation for the completely self-destructive way the company has operated for the last several years.

As a consumer, I completely lost interest in the service as soon as I realized it was trying to become a UHF-tier TV station rather than a place where I could watch movies. It's sad that a top tier movie rental service became the top tier movie streaming service and then completely faceplanted into a product I have zero interest in whatsoever.

I dusted off the tricorn shortly thereafter (somewhere around the end of 2018). Fully automated contanerized piracy platforms are easy to set up and use, offer a huge selection of content, and are just as end-user friendly as the commercial services.
posted by majick at 12:51 PM on April 21 [28 favorites]


On the one hand, the recommendations in the article make sense (although I'd disagree that they don't produce content that people are talking about?!)

On the other hand, so many articles about the lost subscribers and lost market value. But is their revenue okay? How profitable are they? Those things don't get mentioned. If the stock market won't do it, then I wish at least news coverage would stop playing along with the narrative that it's always the end of the world if growth slows or ceases or even reverses. Especially when it's not weird for the lockdown-inspired boom to even out.

Netflix could capture every human eyeball on the planet and you'd still see "Stock value plunges as population growth slows". It's insane.
posted by trig at 12:52 PM on April 21 [68 favorites]


I'm trusting the first few google results to tell me Netflix has like 220 million subscribers worldwide, Disney 130 million, Apple 25 million, etc. If that's right, Disney's gains are amazing, but it also seems like Netflix could lose 2 million subscribers per quarter for a long time and in theory have a lot of time and budget to course-correct? It's not like they're alone--I haven't updated my spreadsheet comparing original content between different services in a while, but when I last checked, Prime seemed to have spent a lot of money on mostly mediocre content too.
posted by Wobbuffet at 12:53 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


Netflix is great. I let my Hulu subscription lapse and I would certainly drop Amazon Prime Video if it didn't come bundled with Prime. Netflix and HBO Max are the two streaming platforms that really offer something, with Disney Plus a good option for specific interests.

That said, I already subscribe to Netflix, and have for years, so I'm not a potential new subscriber. Maybe the number of people with viewing habits and tastes like mine is only about a quarter-billion. That seems like it ought to be enough to sustain a company.
posted by escabeche at 12:54 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


In retrospect maybe they should have bought a studio with a huge catalogue of old movies? Like Amazon did recently: Amazon has closed its $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM, the companies said Thursday. (includes 4,000 film titles, 17,000 TV episodes, 180 Academy Awards, and 100 Emmy Awards) $8.5B is less than a quarter of what they lost yesterday. Owch.
posted by gwint at 12:55 PM on April 21 [15 favorites]


discovery and search is bad

Discovery and search is terrible. I sometimes go to other sites to find the hidden great shows and movies on Netflix that I can never find when searching within Netflix.

And the way Netflix keeps trying to push the shows that they want you to watch is annoying. To get a clear idea of what these shows are, do a search for the letter 'a'. That's it, just the letter 'a'. Of course a lot of shows and movies with the letter 'a' in the name will show up. But a number of movies and shows without the letter 'a' in the name will show up. Those are the shows they want you to watch. They force these into the search results no matter what you are searching for. If you search for the letter 'b', these same shows pop up. Netflix, stop being so annoying!
posted by eye of newt at 12:56 PM on April 21 [55 favorites]


Netflix funded Dave Chappelle for four more specials which are almost guaranteed to have anti LGBTQIA+ content. Burn them to the ground.
posted by Jacen at 12:56 PM on April 21 [76 favorites]


I quit Netflix a long time ago when their ability to find anything in my interest range became so abhorrent. I prefer lists to scrolling thru page after page of oversized cover pics; they keep offering the same 14 titles that I didn’t want yesterday or the two weeks before that; there was no way to tell it that no, I don’t want to keep watching that movie I only made it 5 minutes into before noping out; and how their algorithm determines ‘things I would like’ is almost always wrong. No idea if their content is better, because I realized that it still takes 20 minutes to get past all of that to finally get to something I might like and that is a lot of wasted, frustrating time.

I do agree with the critique of dumping a series all at once. I did enjoy the anticipation and week-long cogitation of the two Apple+ series I watched this past year.
posted by Silvery Fish at 12:56 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


In retrospect maybe they should have bought a studio with a huge catalogue of old movies?

I dunno, on the one hand I'd like Netflix to have more content, but on the other hand I'd really rather see fewer huge multinational corporations picking up movie studios just to pad out their streaming service. Amazon -- or any single corporation -- ultimately owning as much content as possible isn't actually win for anyone.
posted by fight or flight at 12:58 PM on April 21 [17 favorites]


Netflix lost me when they crossed $10/month. At $9.99 it was worth it to have a library that I might dip into a few times a month. At $15/month it's not.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:59 PM on April 21 [15 favorites]


Amazon Prime Video has about twice as many movies as Netflix.

To be fair, though, a goodly number of Prime’s movies are increasingly being put behind the rental door.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:00 PM on April 21 [22 favorites]


I watched an episode of “Is It Cake?”! It wasn’t good, but it was a bit interesting to see Netflix trying to spin up a food show cinematic universe.

"Is it Cake" the show is terrible, but the cakes are seriously amazing. It's like a lot of recipes online or shows: 75% too long.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:01 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


I did enjoy the anticipation and week-long cogitation of the two Apple+ series I watched this past year.

Not our household - we might try the first one - then, if we like it, we wait for the entire season to drop and then watch it "on our terms", binging 2-3 episodes per viewing session.
posted by rozcakj at 1:04 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Prime Video is a shambolic mess, but you have Prime anyway so they can keep incrementally improving it. And keep acquiring and locking up back catalog content in it without too much complaint, for the same reason.

Unlike when Disney content disappeared from other services, which hurt Netflix too:

February 11th, 2022 – Disney has bought out most of their remaining deals and most titles are leaving February 28th, in some cases 2 years early.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:04 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


- Cancelling series after two seasons - or even within a month of a season starting

Most shows on network tv are cancelled after 1-2 seasons, so Netflix is really no different. Except you can see it coming on network tv because Neilsen scans for individual show viewership, whereas Netflix's model is just viewed minutes reported to Neilsen and keeps total viewer count mostly private.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:04 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


I like how they perfectly reproduce the feeling of walking into a Blockbuster and somehow not being able to find a single thing you want to watch. It’s uncanny.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:09 PM on April 21 [173 favorites]


The original appeal of Netflix, in the DVD by mail days, was having a huge and comprehensive catalog- I could enjoy rare foreign films that I would never have found otherwise. Now they're just another channel, with just another funnel of TV programs.

They still have the DVDs by mail, and honestly THAT is the only reason I have an account with them. I've watched a couple of their original things, but I have watched way more of the DVDs by mail.

And I'm always darkly amused whenever we get around to the annual "hey, did you know there are still some weirdos using Netflix for the DVDs? Let's find out why" puff pieces.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:10 PM on April 21 [21 favorites]


...cancelled after 1-2 seasons, so Netflix is really no different

Agree to disagree - Netflix has cancelled many popular/buzz-heavy shows after the 2nd season, it is somewhat about viewership data - but it is mostly about contract lock-in - after 2-years, it is time for contract renewal, and typically that means higher costs to Netflix.
posted by rozcakj at 1:10 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


Gentefied was cancelled? Fuuuuuuuuuuuuu.....

It was apparently cancelled because it never broke in Netflix's Top Ten (i.e. low ratings). I mean Netflix was surprised that a show about a Mexican-American family dealing with gentrification and daily life in which characters switch between English and Spanish fluently and frequently was not a broad hit?

Their lack of tolerance for shows that aren't mega hits, but that are good and have a loyal audience, is super aggravating.
posted by oddman at 1:11 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]


The original appeal of Netflix, in the DVD by mail days, was having a huge and comprehensive catalog- I could enjoy rare foreign films that I would never have found otherwise

My library provides access to Kanopy, which has an amazing selection of foreign films and classic movies. For us, we have a credit system: up to 8 movies a month for one library card, but the kids programming and Great Courses series are both unlimited.
posted by jb at 1:13 PM on April 21 [37 favorites]


I dropped my Netflix subscription this fall.

For at least a year prior to cancellation, the most effective way for me to find content I wanted to watch was to look up blog articles on "What's disappearing from Netflix this month?" and watch some of it before it left the platform. Possibly there was also good stuff staying on the platform, but with their terrible search I was never going to know.

Even though I didn't watch much, I had been holding on to the subscription because of a friend who shared my account (and for whom I had elected to pay Netflix their upcharge for more authorized viewers) but when I realized the friend wasn't watching, either, it was a no-brainer to eliminate the monthly expense.

I can only think that "people are dropping Netflix" becoming a news item, plus their threats to crack down on password sharing, will motivate a substantial exodus of borderline subscribers such as myself who were holding on to their subscription for someone else's benefit.. Maybe they've crunched the numbers and have concluded they'll come out ahead, but I think they're crazy to poke that sleeping bear.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:14 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


netflix? somewhat serious what is it ? I never used it
posted by robbyrobs at 1:16 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


I think the pandemic artificially inflated a lot of "stay-home" services. Many of those companies seem to have interpreted that growth to be wholly due to their quality, and therefore bound to continue accelerating... rather than interpreting it as a short-term boom due to the temporary circumstance of people being stuck at home bored, and therefore bound to eventually plateau or decrease when the lockdowns ceased.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 1:17 PM on April 21 [22 favorites]


When I heard they were launching an ad-based tier, I died a little inside. What better way to piss away respect for your brand?

(My son watches a lot of stuff on Netflix. For the record, he quite enjoys "Is It Cake?")
posted by caution live frogs at 1:18 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Netflix’s content quality absolutely tanked in the past few years. There just wasn’t anything I wanted to watch, and everything seemed aimed at older teenagers.

Also god help you if you watched the opening two minutes of an anime series because Netflix would, from that point on, only recommend anime to you. And personally I only watched those two minutes because I couldn’t find anything better than Warrior Nun, which was distinctly not good.
posted by The River Ivel at 1:18 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


This whole convo is weird. Losing 200k subscribers when you have 220m to begin with, that's a rounding error. I also don't get the hate over cancelling shows, when ten years ago the complaint was that the same fucking shows go on year after year, crowding out new shows and new voices, etc. As big as they are, Netflix is going to have a limited budget. I would MUCH rather get 1-2 solid seasons of entertainment and end on a high note than fifty-seven seasons of seinfeld or friends etc.

All of that said, I DO lament what netflix used to be, which was a place where I could get damn near any film as long as I was willing to wait like 2 days to get it. There is no place to do that now. I can get some things on every service, but Netflix used to be The Place. Their catalog is terrible now, and I dont' know why anyone would bother subscribing for more than a month at a go, so you can binge a show and then leave.
posted by nushustu at 1:19 PM on April 21 [17 favorites]


Periodic reminder of the existence of justwatch.com: the actually-functional version of a streaming search feature that no streaming service bothers to provide.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:20 PM on April 21 [69 favorites]


Seconding Kanopy as a great place to browse for movies I actually might want to watch, especially old ones. They have a decent international and Criterion Collection selection as well. And it's free with my library card as well.
posted by Gelatin at 1:20 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


I've never thought about how the binge model could hurt them, but over the last 6 months I got into two mystery box shows that released episodes weekly - Yellowjackets and Severance - and realized how much I missed that experience of watching a great show like that, and then talking about it with people who were watching it too. I gotta imagine that shows like that get less buzz because you can't really have those conversations, either IRL or online, until all the participants have watched the show, and then, yeah, it's going to be a short conversation.

Unlike when Disney content disappeared from other services, which hurt Netflix too:

Has anyone looked at how losing The Office affected Netflix? A lot of people said they had Netflix just to rewatch The Office (which is now on Peacock). I'm sure it's not Disney numbers but I imagine it made some sort of ding.
posted by lunasol at 1:21 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Netflix does seem to have leaned in hard to a quantity over quality approach in the last few years.

That said, I watch a lot of content in Spanish on Netflix and I don't think any other service has so much, often reasonably good, non-English content. Do any of the other streaming services offer much non-English content (in Canada, in my case)?
posted by ssg at 1:21 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


back in the day i had a membership at all the major VHS rental stores: Sony GO!, Paramount @T Home, Fox FrontRow. it really was a pain to make all those stops if, for example, i wanted to see an Indiana Jones for date night but my girlfriend was dead set on a Star Wars. also, even if the rentals were free, all those monthly membership fees did kinda add up.

i thought once or twice about trying to track down a place my friends told me about that ran out of the back of a porno store; apparently this place rented videos from all the major distributors, and even some indie operations like Miramax that couldn't afford their own storefront. and get this: you only paid for videos you actually rented instead of a membership fee you got charged even if you didn't borrow any videos that month.

but i never did it because that would have been basically the same as stealing from the people who made the movie to begin with. like how does the director get paid if they don't know you've rented their movie? even if every distributor having their rental outlet meant some problems for me, it was worth it so all those people could keep making great art like Star Trek 5.

anyway, things are much better these days since now i don't have to drive to a bunch of different places, i just need a bunch of different apps that conveniently store my credit card info and a personal profile of which movies i like and dislike. it's more secure to have multiple companies tracking this because in case my data ever gets erased from one of them, i'll still know what kind of consumer i am. and i bet having everything under their own complete and total control makes it real easy for them to figure out how much Harrison Ford gets every time I watch 'Last Crusade'.
posted by logicpunk at 1:23 PM on April 21 [16 favorites]


I will put in a word for good old broadcast over the air TV. The antennas these days are tiny and as long as you've got one it's free. Also, there are so many channels now (even out here in the rural Midwest).

We're primarily PBS viewers but the selection is generally pretty great.

Also, if you donate to PBS you get access to "PBS Passport" which is their streaming catalog of just about every PBS show ever and that is plenty of content, movies, etc. And helps them make more shows with a lot of great content that reaches a lot of people without reliable internet access (a big part of the rural US).

And the fact that they now have 4 sub-channels including Create TV which gives me cooking/knitting/gardening/etc. shows 24/7 certainly helps!
posted by scififan at 1:24 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


Speaking of anime, another way Netflix's asinine "binge" policy hurts them is that it prevents simulcasts, which help get support for a series by letting the Japanese and Western fandoms feed into each other. "Netflix Jail" is a term used in the anime fandom, and it can chill reception in the West for a series.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:26 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


To the extent there are hidden gems they're hard to find because the discovery and search is bad.

They did have a "Hidden Gems" category where I actually saw Indiana Jones listed once.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:27 PM on April 21 [12 favorites]


We're watching netflix less and less; our kid uses it more, and the kids programing is fairly good, so we will keep it for the near term at least. We got HBO when Dune dropped. They're releasing enough good, steady stuff to keep us at least into it.

Standing offer to any streaming service willing to pick up The Expanse for a couple more seasons, or execute some sort of belter anthology spinoff, you can name your price.

I'm really surprised that HBO beat netflix to the punch in obtaining the streaming right for the great british pottery throwdown; it's as lovely as GBBO, and I felt like they saw so much success with that, why wouldn't they chase that vibe further?

I'd much rather tune into Gardener's World on netflix than streaming it on some sketchy third party site through reddit. But alas.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:28 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Amazon Prime Video has about twice as many movies as Netflix.

To be fair, though, a goodly number of Prime’s movies are increasingly being put behind the rental door.


And on the opposite end of the spectrum, the dregs of Prime Video make the worst of Netflix look Criterion-tier.

And complicating things even further, Amazon’s also gotten into the Pluto/Tubi-style ad-supported video market with IMDB TV (soon to be “Freevee”)
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:28 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


I've subscribed to Netflix for years and I have no plans to drop it. My partner and I never binge, because that's such a (IMO) stupid way of enjoying something you really enjoy. I want to savour the good stuff. We watch 3-5 series interleaved, and watch movies occasionally. It's good value for money for us. We do have Apple TV+ but that's mostly because of the bundle with a few other Apple services, we've watched a few things there (Ted Lasso most notably) but don't seek it out. We haven't run out of things in our list that we want to see. I can't see paying for any other service.

The one thing Netflix doesn't have is major IP by the other studios, which is no big deal to me. Honestly the major IP these days is all incredibly formulaic and extremely boring. I like the niche shows, the edge cases, the weird ideas. Give someone 100K and a small crew and say "go make something" and sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn't.

Also, if you think Netflix doesn't have much stuff to watch, please broaden your horizons to movies and shows produced in other languages. Netflix makes or produces things in almost every country their service is in. Their subtitling is top-notch and they have really good dubbing crews if you bend that way.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:29 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Netflix is like standing in front of the open refrigerator door with the fridge full and saying, "There's nothing to eat."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:33 PM on April 21 [21 favorites]


Netflix's dwindling subscriber base can be directly attributed to the egregious failures of Altered Carbon's second season. In this essay, I will
posted by Dokterrock at 1:35 PM on April 21 [30 favorites]


It doesn't help that it seems like they don't know how to promote or hype things.

Russian Doll Season 2 came out yesterday to what appears to be zero fanfare.
posted by explosion at 1:36 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


I subscribed to Netflix just this year. It's been a godsend. Sometimes I'm up in the middle of the night, want to watch something, but am too tired to dig through my DVD collection. Netflix helps me put my brain in neutral for a couple of hours. Hooray for Netflix!
posted by SPrintF at 1:37 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Russian Doll Season 2 came out yesterday to what appears to be zero fanfare.

There was definitely an article in NY Mag/NYT Style/something about how Natasha Lyonne's west side apartment above a synagogue (!) was decorated effortlessly hip, which you knew because her bed was not made (!) and that she still smokes (!). She also dated the guy from Portlandia.
posted by geoff. at 1:39 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


I work in television and one fascinating thing about streamed content is that it gives broadcasters EXQUISITELY detailed information about what viewers do and don't like. They know EXACTLY when you stop watching, and can tie those trends to things as specific as "people don't like this segment" or "people don't like this storyline" or "people don't like this actor's face."

You may notice that you always get an ad on YouTube JUST as the video hits a mini-cliffhanger - it's because the click data has quickly shown that people are glued to the screen at that exact moment, and will endure an ad, because they want to know what happens next.

These days, the kinds of notes we get in TV development are now weirdly detailed to try to "solve" these attrition points - especially for shows that are going into a second season or a reboot, so there's lots of data on what worked in the previous season.

"Viewers didn't like that" used to be sort of almost embarrassing to report in a writer's room, because it meant you had been lurking on message boards to read fan chatter. Plus it wasn't accurate because negative opinions tend to be louder than positive opinions, and a few especially-vocal fans could over-represent their niche opinions and even game the conversation with fake profiles or whatever, to really push their fanservice desires.

Now the network itself has that data, 100% accurate, timed to the SECOND you click away, and averaged over hundreds of thousands of viewers, so it's really really specific and can't be argued.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 1:44 PM on April 21 [57 favorites]


Now the network itself has that data, averaged over thousands of viewers, so it's really accurate and really specific.

This.. actually explains a lot about what's been happening in the genre shows I enjoy lately.
posted by fight or flight at 1:47 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


On the cancellation of Bone, which I was looking forward to *sigh*
posted by indexy at 1:51 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


my wife and I set a budget for ourselves of $50/month for all of our online subscriptions. That's Spotify, Prime Video, Netflix, HBO Max, etc. So as a result, we pretty much sign up for then cancel Netflix at least once, if not twice, a year. We plot out what we plan on watching together as well as on our own before a month starts and then decide what our streaming options for the month will be. Currently, the plan is to drop Netflix at the end of this month when we finish the "Witcher" and then sign back up to HBO Max for "Our Flag Means Death" and "Julia". Maybe we'll stick around for another month if there's other stuff in the HBO Max catalog that's interesting, but we also tend to spend less time watching TV in the summer and might drop it. Then maybe by the winter, there'll be enough new things on Netflix that will warrant us coming back to consume that.

I wonder if this sort of opt-in, opt-out pattern is the next form of cord-cutting for a media ecosystem that's so fragmented. Viewers just migrate from service to service once they've overgrazed one place and drop the subscription until content grows back for us to consume.

It's either that or more bundling like the HBO/Discovery partnership or the Disney+/Hulu/ESPN triumvirate.
posted by bl1nk at 1:52 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


Netflix is like standing in front of the open refrigerator door with the fridge full and saying, "There's nothing to eat."

....But the only problem is that the bulk of what's in the fridge is Pop-Tarts.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:58 PM on April 21 [31 favorites]


Now the network itself has that data, 100% accurate

I question this conclusion when one of the criteria is that clicking away somehow says something about whether the audience likes an actor's face. The attributions are completely self-defined. They pressed stop because they don't like the show, or because it's time for work, or a nap, or something else? Absolutely arbitrary, even if focus groups are involved.

If anything YouTube putting an ad at a plot point is probably just the interval during which they count the fewest watcher-initiated interruptions (pause, stop, skip), i.e. where people are letting the show run. The exact spot where people are watching uninterruptedly is where the ad engineers say, "let's fix that!"
posted by rhizome at 1:59 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


Do any of the other streaming services offer much non-English content (in Canada, in my case)?

The Criterion Channel is available in Canada now. It has more titles in French or Japanese than in Spanish, but maybe there's enough in Spanish to be worth subscribing for a while. They also do well at assembling and highlighting festival-like collections of movies available for a limited time, and if Netflix has the "Blockbuster" experience covered, Criterion does a fantastic job of filling that "old movie, just good enough to watch on a Sunday afternoon," niche.
posted by Wobbuffet at 1:59 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


At the last Netflix price increase a few months ago, I clicked on the link to look at their other price points and saw that there's a non-HD level that's still under $10/mo, so I switched to that. SD content is perfectly acceptable for non-professoinal watchers like me, not to mention it's going to be friendler to my internet connection.
posted by rhizome at 2:00 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Everyone loves bingeing, but the downside is because you and I don’t experience shows at the same time, I don’t get to bond with friends over, say, episode four of Squid Game in the way you do with a weekly show,” he said. “You maybe talk about the show once for 15 minutes, but that’s it.”

This person clearly doesn't know about FanFare.

Seriously, though, having an online forum to go to where you can discuss a show you're into if you want to can greatly enhance one's viewing experience. I value FanFare as much as I value access to the programs/movies themselves.
posted by orange swan at 2:07 PM on April 21 [12 favorites]


Netflix animation is firing executives and staff

I might get rid of Netflix anyway--I'm yet another person who just doesn't use it that often any more--but if they ditch Big Mouth, I'm gone like a cool breeze.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:10 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Discovery and search is terrible. I sometimes go to other sites to find the hidden great shows and movies on Netflix that I can never find when searching within Netflix.

Having good discovery and search is expensive, especially when the input device is as limited as a standard remote control. The people who can make this good are few and far between, are creative types (difficult for profit-brain execs to deal with), and require a lot of time and resources. Even JustWatch is kind of crappy in its information display, I assume because commercial considerations demand they attempt to fuzz you away from what you came there for (i.e. affiliate revenue).
posted by rhizome at 2:11 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


some other news today in the streaming sector: CNN+ announced it is shutting down 3 weeks after CNN+ launched.

from a distance the zig-zag is baffling but the reason is due to the merger of WarnerMedia & Discovery that just completed
The prior management team's vision for CNN+ runs counter to Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav's plan to house all of the company's brands under one streaming service.
also
Hundreds of CNN+ staffers may lose their jobs.
posted by glonous keming at 2:14 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Discovery and search is terrible.

The first time I got a free month of Netflix, I tried searching for a late-1980s Canadian miniseries called Chasing Rainbows on the off-chance that Netflix would have it. The first search result was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is... not even close. I take it they haven't fixed their search functionality issues since then... and that was over ten years ago.
posted by orange swan at 2:16 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Russian Doll Season 2 came out yesterday to what appears to be zero fanfare.

I very recently rewatched Season 1 to get ready for Season 2, and the only way I found out the new season was out was through a meme I saw on FB. I was on the app yesterday and didn't even get a promotion. What on earth.
posted by lunasol at 2:19 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


So I decided to take @Eye Of Newt up on their experiment, and typed in "A"
8 out of the top 12 suggestions, had no prominent A in their title
Trying out Part 2 and typing in "B" produced almost entirely different results, and ones that you would expect for just typing in a single letter. Lots of kids shows, Barbie obviously, but there were still 5 out of the 12 without a significant B. Shrek and The Cuphead Show were the only outliers that showed up in both results.
posted by WeX Majors at 2:19 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


A Netflix evening is sitting down to 2 fun-filled hours of trying to find something to watch that everybody agrees on, hasn't seen, wants to see & is willing to see.
posted by chavenet at 2:20 PM on April 21 [18 favorites]


... as Netflix’s slate of originals went from “every few months” to “every week,” the truth is that unless you’re a Squid Game, you’re a Hemlock Grove: left to grasp at the limited data Netflix releases internally and externally to interpret your liminal place within their ever-changing algorithm. In an environment where competing priorities—U.S. vs. global, growth vs. retention—are in flux with every quarterly financial report, nothing you can do as a creator can anticipate the expectations that your Netflix show will face.
Miles McNutt, in his post- AV Club substack.
posted by rewil at 2:24 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


Obligatory link to The Onion’s prescient 2014 video: Netflix Introduces New ‘Browse Endlessly’ Plan
posted by Monochrome at 2:25 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Netflix search and discovery may be bad (and it is) but Prime’s search is aggressively hostile. The background is a medium gray, the small letters white, and the highlighted letter is a yellow that is barely distinguishable from the white. I suppose if you have some 80” 4k tv and young eyes, this isn’t a problem, but for folks like myself, my old eyes have to really struggle.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:27 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]


I hope they don't crater before I get to watch Sandman.
posted by bleary at 2:30 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


On the other hand, so many articles about the lost subscribers and lost market value. But is their revenue okay? How profitable are they?

Since you ask, Netflix is well over ten billion dollars in debt.
posted by qntm at 2:31 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Do any of the other streaming services offer much non-English content (in Canada, in my case)?

Mubi has a very excellently curated international selection.
posted by remembrancer at 2:31 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Netflix's answer: to fire executives and cancel a bunch of animated shows

The studio I'm at is doing a bunch of Netflix animated shows. I don't see any of our shows mentioned in the article, but I won't be surprised if some of them get the axe. I have heard from production people that Netflix doesn't seem very organized as a client in terms of production stuff, but I'm not sure if it's out of the ordinary or just the usual griping about clients.
posted by clawsoon at 2:43 PM on April 21


I don’t understand the hate for bingeing: I really loathe having to wait weeks for a show to drop. Before Netflix started streaming I would often wait for a series to make it to DVD so that I could just watch it all in one go at my own timing.

The price hikes wouldn’t bother me so much except that they have canceled several series that I really enjoyed and did so on a cliffhanger. At the very least if Netflix is going to wrap things up after a couple of seasons it needs to resolve the damn show because I’m not paying for no closure. It also irks me knowing that Netflix has made stupid decisions like paying ridiculous amounts of money for shows like friends instead of original programming.

The UI as a lot of people have noted is awful. They have to know it’s awful it’s a freaking trope at this point. It used to be much better, and the selection of entertainment on Netflix keeps getting worse. Part of this is competitors starting their own streaming services and denying Netflix the content.

Anyway, we’ve gone full circle from crappy choices via cable providers costing an arm and a leg to having to pay for streaming services that end up costing as much if not more if you want to watch shows across three or four different services. I hope that Netflix gets new leadership soon and does a turnaround.
posted by jzb at 2:45 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


Do any of the other streaming services offer much non-English content (in Canada, in my case)?

MHz Choice
posted by BWA at 2:55 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


glaucon, you might be interested in Pluto TV, a streaming service that does offer some on-demand titles but is in the main about old-school TV-style channels. Highlights include channels that just show MST3K and Rifftrax!

I don't know if they still do, but they had a channel purely for old gameshows for a while and it was perfect for vegging out
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:56 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


I don’t understand the hate for bingeing:

One, it eliminates any cultural long tail a show might have. Netflix series are like stones dropped in a lake - makes a big splash, but soon the water stills. In comparison, episodic release is more like the tip of a branch dipping in - not as much at any one time, but there is a sustained presence.

Two, it precludes certain models like simulcasting that can further harm a show's reach. I've seen fans looking forward to a new anime series have their enthusiasm deflate upon hearing that it's a Netflix acquisition in the West, and thus won't air until the Japanese run finishes.

Again, I get that many people find the binging model to better suit their needs. But at the same time, there's a reason nobody else is using that model.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:57 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


I don't watch a whole lot of TV, but occasionally we'll go out searching for a specific something, subscribe to that streaming service for a month to watch it, and during that month if we end up with another "okay, I don't want to do anything tonight" evening, we'll try to find something else on that same streaming service to watch.

The few times we've subscribed to Netflix, we've invariably been disappointed by the other stuff available. And as others have mentioned, Netflix's discovery for casual watchers suuuucks. I've found a number of things that I thought might be promising based on YouTube previews, but I grabbed the tablet and showed my wife the in-app Netflix preview and we were like "oh. well. okay. not that."

I'm under the impression that Netflix's internal structures mirror what happens when private equity firms get ahold of a company. A lot of dog-eat-dog extraction of local short-term value. I think we're seeing those attitudes play out.

Next service to get a month from us is Hulu, so we can watch the new season of Woke, although they also host some Kardashian show, so I'm gonna have to seriously hold my nose for that.
posted by straw at 3:06 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, so many articles about the lost subscribers and lost market value. But is their revenue okay? How profitable are they?

Netflix is profitable (and as far as I know, it is actually profitable, not "profitable" like Uber sometimes is through creative accounting while they actually lose reams of money). But as with many tech companies, the share price is much higher than the profits would support, meaning people are betting that Netflix will become more profitable in the future. The stock price drop is basically people realizing that maybe Netflix doesn't have infinite potential to expand (which is somehow a shock to the market).
posted by ssg at 3:10 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


Year over year price increases.

Every time they increase prices I go look at what I've been watching to see if I still feel like it's worth it. I watch a lot of standup and I've appreciated getting to see underrepresented comics get airtime (at the same time as I am furious about their continued platforming of Dave C.). It really does seem like they feel that they'll be able to grow forever at the same time as they make very few actual improvements. So now there's a double thumbs up but still no "Never show me this piece of shit again" button? And it took them... years? to get rid of those auto-playing previews. And yes, search is still kind of bad even for the low-hanging fruit that a basic Plex server can do (show me other things with this actor, show me other things in this category) and I used Upflix for a long time just trying to find specific-enough categories that would have content I wanted. I definitely don't expect my streaming services to pander to me but I'm always a little surprised that Netflix is less customizable than My FanFare for example. There are so few users settings I've just concluded that they're not really that interested in UX stuff beyond the basic framework that they've gotten.

Right now I share an account with my sister. If they crack down on sharing logins or raise prices again (maybe we'll drop down to the SD level) I may just go all-Plex instead.
posted by jessamyn at 3:17 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


I was under the impression that some of this is tied to their stance on Russia - losing a significant audience there by pulling out (to the tune of ~700K subscribers)...

In addition to that, we have a whole generation who learned, after Napster, to enjoy free content - so the cost may also be a factor...

The olds (myself included) really enjoyed being able to access nearly every DVD known to man, and the streaming model is getting too saturated by other services (Hulu, Amazon Prime, Paramount+, Disney+, YouTube, CNN+ [lol, j/k], blahblahblah, the list goes on) - what was once a near monopoly that put Blockbuster out of business has become just another service, with a lot fewer options...

I ran out of new things to watch on Netflix about a year ago, and some of the shows (Mindhunter, anyone?) that were just starting to get interesting were axed by their stupid policy/inability to keep a good thing going....

I am frequently disappointed that, whenever I search for anything, it's not on Netflix - most of the time, I can find what I want and just buy it on Prime (at the same cost as a monthly subscription, but what's money?)...

Chapelle did them no favors - pissing off and then further marginalizing a pretty big community of marginalized people can't have helped...

But again, I think it's the content. Once you've reached the end of the Internet, and can't watch Llamageddon or The Velocipastor on Netflix, what else is there? My guess is, plenty of folks are saving that extra coin for other services...

An example of a show that I think Netflix is going to ruin is The Lincoln Lawyer. Netflix outbid Prime, I guess, for Michael Connelly's crossover series, so now we have to watch a show that will not connect Titus Welliver's Bosch to whoever is playing Mickey Haller, his half brother. That would be like them securing the rights to Picard or Discovery, and not be able to keep the canon intact due to litigation and copyright.

Content is king, they say. Netflix has spent the last two decades diluting theirs, despite the occasional, absolute gems which seem fewer and farther between these days...

Oh, one last thing, their "what we think you'll like" is bad. It's either straight-up pigeonholing based on me watching a bunch of action movies in the last few weeks or wildly out of sorts based on my kids watching a show on my profile by accident or laziness (we think you'll like these 15 Bruce Willis movies or Barney the Dinosaur)...

I think all streaming services will go down the same path. HBO, for instance, isn't going to enjoy many more seasons of Succession (I could be wrong, but I think it'll peter out next season) and I can't watch Bill Maher any more, he is following the Dennis Miller path. Some good stuff still, but the array of available movies is sparse and just not as engaging, I have to search out content and miss out on shows based on whatever subscription I keep alive....
posted by Chuffy at 3:31 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Fucking Is It Cake? is so unbelievably bad. The antithesis of GBBO. They barely even eat the cake and how it eats is like a tertiary concern behind does it look insanely hard to do? and did it fool anybody? And the money shot is like thirty seconds long! The people and the camera are fifty feet from the goddamn cakes and they won't let you look at any of them more than a millisecond! It's enraging. It could be so fun if they would just do the very basic thing of Showing Me the God Damn Cakes instead of trying to get me to take an interest in the poisonously boring competition.

On the other hand, in addition to Russian Doll, Derry Girls is coming back soon and I think the chess one, too. And Better Call Saul.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:39 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


Right now I share an account with my sister. If they crack down on sharing logins or raise prices again (maybe we'll drop down to the SD level) I may just go all-Plex instead.

I share with my neighbor. If the password crackdown affects that I will absolutely leave them. Expecting single people to pay the same price as a family of 4 is ludicrous. They should have a base $10 price for one person and $3 each for each extra person or something like that.

Right now the only streaming services I never really consider cancelling are Criterion Channel and Mubi. They far and away are worth the $90 a year they cost.
posted by dobbs at 3:45 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


No wonder Netflix is bleeding subscribers – it’s become the new cable

I don't disagree... But there is Russian Doll Season 2 and the last part of Ozark drops next week... so there is also that.
posted by piyushnz at 3:49 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Since this thread is a litany of petty complaints about Netflix, let me add one more. The windows app auto-refreshes about 30 seconds after you pull it up. Which means the whole list of titles resets and shuffles right in the middle of your browsing. Just… why would you do this? It’s astoundingly bad UI.

I’d say their library is roughly on par with Prime in terms of content of interest to me, which is to say not great but acceptable. I’d rather both services focus on quality rather than quantity. Most of the originals are hot garbage. What keeps me subscribed are the unexpected gems: Maniac, Russian Doll, Squid Game, etc. Plus the occasional 90’s comfort movie. But if they crack down on password sharing, all bets are off. I’ll cancel just out of principal.
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:54 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Fucking Is It Cake? is so unbelievably bad.

The basic problem with this show in my mind was that they have highly skilled contestents spending 8 hours painstakingly crafting each edible creation to look like other objects, using their experience and skills developed over many years, sometimes decades - and then the result is completely determined by the process of extremely unqualified judges squinting at the cake for thirty seconds and then randomly guessing anyway.
posted by piyushnz at 3:56 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: the very basic thing of Showing Me the God Damn Cakes
posted by clawsoon at 4:04 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


What the hell is going on?

You raise your prices when people are in an inflationary environment but most people who are not changing jobs have had decades of stagnating wages plus you have more competition and people are coming out their houses for the first time in two years. Of course you lose subscribers when they see that price increase dialog button!

It ain't rocket surgery here people.

Also have to laugh at everyone here threatening them with cancelation over a password sharing crackdown. Do you think they care about the loss of people who don't pay (or technically pay half or less)?

If I was hurting for cash I'd just rotate through the services. A month or two here and month or two there. I imagine a lot of folk are already doing this.
posted by srboisvert at 4:13 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


This is how capitalism is broken. They made 1.6 Billion dollars profit last quarter. But that’s not enough growth for investors. So something that fucking works will get defunded until it doesn’t work anymore.

This is why companies like Google can’t just stop at making a good search engine. It has to always be growing growing growing, and guess what? Shit doesn’t always grow. Sometime things are just good enough. And that should be fine.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:30 PM on April 21 [53 favorites]


I'm a mail subscriber since I live in a rural area. I have no problem finding things to watch. However, when I stay with a friend who has streaming Netflix, we end up watching crap because the search feature is so terrible.

Tonight I'm watching "Andrei Rublev"; that's why I keep Netflix.
posted by acrasis at 4:34 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: scripted by committee or a poorly written AI
posted by kirkaracha at 4:40 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


We're not quitting the Netflix show, it still has enough thingys to keep us somewhat amused.

But wow that search function is clunky. It's a terrible design, even their online internet searcher. They have plenty of interesting vintage and foreign series and films to choose from, but we often need those wonky 3rd party online sites to find those suggestions.

But yeah the main thing is that since Netflix first emerged, all of the other streamers are eating up all the rest of the available content, of course.

(Personally I'd like to see more old TCM-ish vintage cinema to choose from, but that's just me. We don't have TCM because technical reasons.)
posted by ovvl at 4:44 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


I happened to see a huge thread of people complaining about Netflix on Reddit yesterday. The main objections seemed to be 1.) Netflix cancelled some obscure show that I liked--they suck! and 2.) Netflix wants a bunch of freeloaders who are using the service without paying for it to ante up--they suck!

As if there's no connection between the amount of money Netflix brings in, and the number of not-wildly-successful shows that they can continue to spend vast amounts of money to produce.

My conclusion from skimming the hundreds upon hundreds of similar, terribly-aggrieved-sounding comments was that a lot of people are not burdened with an overly detailed grasp of how stuff works.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:57 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


Came to bag on the interface. It’s trash. The iconicization of everything into little thumbnails is a garbage approach and I’m tired of being stuck in a carousel JavaScript Web 2.0 fest and I’m sort of amazed that HBO somehow does this better.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:03 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Netflix wants a bunch of freeloaders who are using the service without paying for it to ante up--they suck!

As recently as 5 years ago, Netflix was cheekily advertising about sharing passwords. Something about "love is sharing your Netflix password." Yeah, they never wanted 20 people sharing an account, but sharing an account with your partner or sibling or parent was condoned.

For many people, $15/month is too much for them, but not too much for them and mom & dad. If Netflix cracks down, they may lose more users who decide it costs too much, rather than picking up extra.
posted by explosion at 5:05 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


If I was hurting for cash I'd just rotate through the services.

I do this. There's no grandfathering loyalty pricing, so why not? I'm currently using Crave (a Canadian HBO / Hulu / other-service amalgamator) and a friend got me a Shudder subscription for the holidays, but once I've caught up on everything I want to see there, it's off to Netflix for a while, then I can see all the Mandalorian and Boba Fett stuff on Disney+ -- I figure I'm in for about CAD$120-140 a year to literally have more content than I can ever dream of watching, I just need to fire them up and cancel them periodically. Beats the hell out of cable even at ~1999 rates, which was the last time I had cable.
posted by Shepherd at 5:06 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


They wouldn't be having this trouble if you bastards hadn't undermined Qwikster.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:11 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


But as with many tech companies, the share price is much higher than the profits would support, meaning people are betting that Netflix will become more profitable in the future. The stock price drop is basically people realizing that maybe Netflix doesn't have infinite potential to expand (which is somehow a shock to the market).

To give laypeople an idea, here's the last 5 quarters of the NFLX price:earnings ratio. This ratio basically says how much investors are paying for dollar of current profit:

             Q1.22 Q4.21 Q3.21 Q2.21 Q1.21
Trailing P/E 33.33 54.32 63.25 63.95 85.80
 Forward P/E 34.25 46.51 47.17 51.55 53.48


In Q1 2021 shares traded at 85x the previous year's profits. This is quite high. Buying a share of that company is a gamble, not just that they will make the same amount of money as they did last year, but betting they make substantially more. It's not enough to just have a 20 percent profit margin, when P/E is that high, to keep the price up you have to make good on that promise of more, either increase the margin or the total revenue (subscribers). Preferably both. Changing subscription prices is trading some of one for some of the other, and would have to start off far off optimal to make a meaningful move in share price. If you didn't think that gamble was likely, NFLX was overpriced.

That gamble did not pay off, and the P/E ratio fell over the past year, down to 33, as the share price fell 60 percent. This puts it on par with the rest of SP500. Which is itself also absurdly high at the moment. One measure of PE applied to S&P500 shows higher than 1929 Black Tuesday and well into 2008 territory. You might argue that this is a mechanical result of 7 percent inflation forecasts -- a decade of inflation might mean companies earning 2x the dollars they do today, as those buy half as much. So P/E also bakes in some degree of inflation assumptions.

So it's not in danger of going under, and doesn't need growth to survive, but a number of people may have lost some money on that bet, especially executives whose pay is often tied to not losing 60 percent of market cap in a year.

This is how capitalism is broken. They made 1.6 Billion dollars profit last quarter. But that’s not enough growth for investors. So something that fucking works will get defunded until it doesn’t work anymore.

Alternatively, this is how capitalism works. They made 1.6 billion dollars, and that is good enough to justify their current 150 billion dollar market cap. That market cap just happens to be way less than last year, when everyone apparently bought into a delusion that Hulu, Disney and HBO would suck and Netflix would grow. But in no case can you just publish a fairy tale about the future, and then demand the market owes you a decent return when it doesn't pan out!

And maybe, its also why capitalism works. Management made investments and executed strategies, and investors bought (or didn't). Those strategies didn't work, and the people who literally bought into management's plan are now less able to influence publicly traded companies in the future. Maybe they change management, maybe management changes strategy before that can happen. That's what the blog post in the OP is speculating on: why the strategy failed and how it might change going forward. With more competitors, it's easy to binge Netflix shows in a month or two, then cancel and rotate to the competition's backlog, so maybe they make it harder to binge, maybe they make it cheaper to sub for multiple months. Maybe they give up trying to compete with Disney+ for your kid's attention.

Sometime things are just good enough. And that should be fine.

These are stocks & companies where good enough is fine. If you find yourself holding high PE stocks but want a 'good enough is fine' world, sell them and into an index fund. If you find yourself running Netflix but would rather just rest and vest, maybe don't publish fanciful best case "we project 2 million additional subscribers" that you have to make good on, and live on salaries the rest of us peons subside on. If you find yourself working in a startup with a grow or die business plan, well I hear lots of places can't hire fast enough.
posted by pwnguin at 5:12 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]


Also have to laugh at everyone here threatening them with cancelation over a password sharing crackdown. Do you think they care about the loss of people who don't pay (or technically pay half or less)?

If they’re like me, they watch basically nothing every month but keep the account going to share the password with someone else who might or might not watch something every month. I am baked in, money-in-the-bank for them that costs them roughly nothing to obtain and keeps their subscriber numbers above Disney plus. I imagine Netflix actually cares a bit about maintaining a high subscriber count in general (witness today), and if we don’t use the service much that only increases the bottom line.

But also, I very definitely do not understand anything about how Netflix balances their books so this could all be garbage.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:12 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


I'm not big on baking shows, but I would watch Show Me the God Damn Cakes.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:16 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Expecting single people to pay the same price as a family of 4 is ludicrous.

They also add the cost to stream multiple streams to the same tier that dictates SD/HD/4KHDR. So if i want to watch better than potato cam, I'm also required to pay to be able to use it on 2 or 4 screens simultaneously. We have 1 TV in the house, so we watch on that; usually my wife and I (the girls prefer youtube). And now they're looking into charging extra if a family member using a stream *I already pay for* happens to live a few miles away? Despite the fact that it makes absolutely no fricking difference to their actual cost which house that 2nd stream goes to. They literally want me to pay for something on the expectation we won't use it. That vague guilt about not taking it away from family is about the only thing really keeping me subbed!

Plus the plan now for ads - how long before they start including them in the paid tiers, it can't be long if they continue to try and squeeze ever more revenue. Plus the awful, awful search and discovery.

Last month due to the 14% UK price hike, I've downgraded to HD, because the HDR price was already a bad joke for an absolute huge pile of unwatchable drek smothering the tiny pile of vaguely watchable stuff that's not been cancelled already. The amount of shows we've watched half of one episode of... That we're actually watching more things on Prime Video than Netflix is just insulting as the only reason I have that is because it's bundled in for free with Prime.

I think we might hang on until Stranger Things, and then we've decided we're just gonna cancel, hold my nose and pay the House of Mouse instead. Half the price of netflix HDR, and a *ton* more stuff my kids actually want to watch. Several friends have already cancelled for similar reasons. I'm pretty sure my other family member doesn't care enough to get their own netflix sub either.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 5:19 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Again, I get that many people find the binging model to better suit their needs. But at the same time, there's a reason nobody else is using that model.

Indeed. That is why I'm not presently watching:
Moon Knight (Disney+)
Slow Horses (Apple+)
Pachinko (Apple+)

Because I'm waiting for them to finish dribbling out episodes. I just finished Severance on Apple+, a few months behind everyone else. I'm not really looking for a social experience when I engage with a story. I don't mind being behind everyone else.

(That's my secret. I'm always behind everyone else.)
posted by Naberius at 5:30 PM on April 21 [16 favorites]


So much Is It Cake hate! I loved it! It’s something I wish Netflix would do more of - silly, creative shows I can watch with my kids and we all have fun. The Floor is Lava was another popular one at my house.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:40 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


For many people, $15/month is too much for them, but not too much for them and mom & dad. If Netflix cracks down, they may lose more users who decide it costs too much, rather than picking up extra.

Seconding this. I would also add one more consideration. If Netflix institutes this change without pushback from customers, all the other streaming platforms will follow suit. They’re all itching to do so. I don’t want that to happen. Therefore it would make sense for me to cancel my Netflix account even if I like the service and think it’s priced fairly—which I do, currently. The risk of a broader shift in market practices would change the value proposition for me. I’d cancel to send a message, and I hope others would do the same.
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:01 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


as long as Netflix carries Deep Space 9 you'll have to pry my subscription from my cold, dead hands
posted by Anonymous at 6:09 PM on April 21


I question this conclusion when one of the criteria is that clicking away somehow says something about whether the audience likes an actor's face. The attributions are completely self-defined. They pressed stop because they don't like the show, or because it's time for work, or a nap, or something else? Absolutely arbitrary, even if focus groups are involved.

It's the aggregation of the massive amount of data that gives insight, because the data itself would be pretty noisy. Also you could compare against the same user habits to decide if a even seem significant or not. I'm not sure how you can end up with data about the actor's face but maybe it's tied to the different cover pictures they'll show you for the shows/movies and how much they're clicked.

There are limits to what you can get with that and you can certainly invent/justify a lot of bullshit theories by misinterpreting data but I have no doubts there's real insight in there.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 6:17 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


If they’re like me, they watch basically nothing every month but keep the account going to share the password with someone else who might or might not watch something every month.

That's a really interesting slant on this that I hadn't thought about: How current user behavior is telling Netflix that the monthly subscription cost is just barely enough to justify as long as you allow sharing. And now Netflix is talking about not allowing sharing. Uh oh.
posted by gwint at 6:18 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


>Horrible user-interface for content discovery

>Discovery and search is terrible.

> Possibly there was also good stuff staying on the platform, but with their terrible search I was never going to know.

>The UI as a lot of people have noted is awful.

Oof, you all are really not going to like what product managers at Netflix are paid.
posted by jeremias at 6:35 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


The timing is complete coincidence, but I am about to put my Netflix account to sleep for the rest of this year.

Partly coz waaaaaay too much critical life stuff to do this year, with unavoidable deadlines. So various distractions are being ditched.

But also it is becoming increasingly irrelevant to me. I have seen a bajillion movies and TV series over the decades, and on the whole the themes, stories, and scenes are becoming repetitive and predictable, and I find myself losing interest more and more often, long before the end credits roll. New faces and better CGI only gets you so far. One of the many prices of getting old, I guess.

So I will probably let the subscription completely lapse at the end of the year.

No regrets about my several years with them and several hundred viewed titles. It has been good value. But it is time for a change.

*********

Another vote for justwatch.com. Very good search engine.

Netflix specific newonnetflix.info too, which has the added benefit of listing stuff about to expire.
posted by Pouteria at 6:36 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


I would MUCH rather get 1-2 solid seasons of entertainment and end on a high note than fifty-seven seasons of seinfeld or friends etc.

[Jerry Seinfeld navigates his walk - slowly - to the middle of the stage.]
"eh, ya evah notice how the mush in the dining hall tastes like... nothing? nothing at all? what's with that? a meal about nothing?"
[bass-riff, cymbal ride]
posted by kaibutsu at 6:41 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


>current user behavior is telling Netflix that the monthly subscription cost is just barely enough to justify as long as you allow sharing.

That's kind of an axe-grinding interpretation. The monthly subscription cost is pretty low. The cost of producing shows is quite large. Of course some people are only interested if they don't have to pay, that's always the case, but those people aren't real customers.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:45 PM on April 21


Of course some people are only interested if they don't have to pay, that's always the case, but those people aren't real customers.

That's the second time you've made that assertion in this thread. It's not actually true. Or more accurately, it's technically true, but irrelevant.

There's plenty of parents who share Netflix with their kids. If the kids (non-paying) lose interest, the parents may cancel.

There's plenty of adult children who share with their parents. If the parents (non-paying) lose interest, the children may cancel.

There's plenty of non-cohabitating adults who share with their partners. If the partner (non-paying) loses interest, the other may cancel.

Et cetera.
posted by explosion at 7:04 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


I need to watch Russian Doll Season 2 and I'm still holding out for The Umbrella Academy Season 3 & The Sandman. After that, I don't know.

I do agree that Netflix makes it frustratingly hard to find things to watch. The back catalogue isn't what it used to be but it's still decent enough. There are also a lot of good non-American programs and movies. Even a lot of their "original" movies are great. Even Mixtape, which did absolutely feel like a movie an algorithm spit out, was pretty charming and cute & I like that Netflix is leading the rom-com renaissance.

It is easy to find any of this? Nope! Do they promote any of it! No, they don't! Everyone complains that Netflix just recommends the same 20 things over and over again in different categories but they do. It's like they don't want people to actually watch anything.

I subscribe to basically all the streaming services and I will check in on Netflix every now and then (I still haven't watched Power of the Dog because I don't have 2.5 hours to be voluntarily depressed) and I will often find good things (I liked the Abercrombie & Fitch doc -- not a masterpiece but well-made & Inventing Anna was fun) but they make it so much of a challenge. Unless I know to look for it, I wouldn't find it on the app. (I do use justwatch & other services to keep track of what's new so it's really not for a lack of trying.)

I watch about 3-4 movies a week, usually, and I do watch a lot of TV series. Netflix makes me work way too hard for that, sadly.
posted by edencosmic at 7:09 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


If they start ip locking the service we will drop them. Not because we're sharing it around but because i spend 2/3rds of the year away from home at work and im not paying for two subs because of it.

Re the interface: for cripes sakes only show me each show once when I'm browsing. I dont need to see it listed a dozen different times.
posted by Mitheral at 7:15 PM on April 21


Also god help you if you watched the opening two minutes of an anime series because Netflix would, from that point on, only recommend anime to you.

Every so often a friend will bring their kid over, and sometimes that kid will want to be parked in front of a screen to watch something on Netflix. Once or twice a year of a kid watching shows on your account means months and months of being recommended kids programming.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:16 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


If they start ip locking the service we will drop them. Not because we're sharing it around but because i spend 2/3rds of the year away from home at work and im not paying for two subs because of it.

I have been wondering about this. Because of work I have been living in two places, and I'm definitely not interested in paying more because I am away from my spouse for part of the time.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:18 PM on April 21


I question this conclusion when one of the criteria is that clicking away somehow says something about whether the audience likes an actor's face. The attributions are completely self-defined. They pressed stop because they don't like the show, or because it's time for work, or a nap, or something else? Absolutely arbitrary, even if focus groups are involved.

These streamers have hundreds of thousands of viewers and the click-away moment is recorded, to the exact time code: to the FRAME. They can absolutely see if people tend to click away, for instance, when Specific Actor is in a monologue scene with their face in a close-up. If one person clicks away it could be for any reason. If thousands of viewers, all watching asynchronously, all click away when a specific storyline or actor arrives onscreen, that data can be interpreted quite accurately as “this actor/story/segment is not being enjoyed by our audience.”

The data comes out as a graph showing the user-initiated stops. The stop points are not random- they reflect people’s decisions. When there are spikes in click-outs, the broadcaster ABSOLUTELY checks to see what’s happening at that moment in the show and if that same type of content has caused other click-out spikes in multiple episodes. And that data absolutely makes its way into the directives and notes given to the creative team for future seasons.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 7:19 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]


I generally agree with a whole bunch of the criticisms of Netflix upthread, not to mention the perils of its business model (and I love me my Kanopy subscription via my public library) but there's one thing that Netflix has beat all of its competitors on.

A very important thing.

Netflix has done a good job of responding to demand for more audio-described content. Orders of magnitude better than any traditional network or any streaming provider that I'm aware of, full stop.

Basically, if it's a Netflix original now, it is described:

Netflix Audio Described Titles (US)

USA Netflix Shows Audio Described in Languages Other Than English
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:25 PM on April 21 [17 favorites]


IP locking might be tricky to administer in the era of dynamic IP addresses.
posted by Pouteria at 7:37 PM on April 21


Once or twice a year of a kid watching shows on your account means months and months of being recommended kids programming.

There is support for different profiles (I used to keep different ones for myself; one for movies, one for TV & documentaries, one for anime and etc, and one for my then-GF's kids). You have to remember to use it though.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:44 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Came to bag on the interface. It’s trash. The iconicization of everything into little thumbnails is a garbage approach and I’m tired of being stuck in a carousel JavaScript Web 2.0 fest

I've found the Mubi interface to be a refreshing break from this horseshit. Along with a clear view of what's leaving soon. Also, anything that will be leaving is flagged in my watchlist as such.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:55 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


(Personally I'd like to see more old TCM-ish vintage cinema to choose from, but that's just me. We don't have TCM because technical reasons.)

HBOMax adds some cool classic movies every month, it’s something I really appreciate about the service. Between the original programming and the film selection, I get way more value out of HBOMax than Netflix. (I work for a streaming service, but neither of those ones).
posted by cakelite at 8:03 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


The monthly subscription cost is pretty low. The cost of producing shows is quite large.

Well, Netflix makes a 20% profit. So for every dollar they take in on subscriptions, they only spend $0.80. So the cost of producing and buying content is actually not that large, per subscriber.

Maybe they could make more money if they crack down on password sharing or maybe they wouldn't because they'd lose more subscribers, but they're obviously covering costs just fine right now. They're making billions in profits every year.

Realistically, they know that if their subscriber numbers go down significantly, their stock price will tank (look at what happened when they lost a negligible number of subscribers). So they are probably less likely to crack down on password sharing than a private company that was more focused on profitability rather than share price.
posted by ssg at 8:04 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


FWIW, Netflix's recent experiments in Costa Rica and Chile set the extra charge to share your account with up to 2 other profiles at around 3 USD per month. So not quite a total crackdown.
posted by mediareport at 8:54 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Netflix has apparently been leaning in hard to the Kdrama area, so our household will remain subscribed for the foreseeable future.

That said, the search does absolutely suck and returns titles that (as mentioned above) don't even include the letters you've typed. And the "continue watching" function forgets which episodes I've already watched and presents them again. And then the flipping auto play and the way it starts playing even when I've deliberately hit pause (if I'm syncing up for an online watch party with friends, for example) is infuriating.

Speaking of other streaming services, if you like Korean, Japanese, or Chinese dramas and shows, you might want to check out Viki. The subtitles are (as I understand it) basically fansubs and tend to be much better than on Netflix, IME. An example from a couple of shows I've watched recently: the Viki subs on one show translated 형님 as "hyungnim"; the Netflix subs on a different show translated it as the character's name. But "hyungnim" carries meaning(s) that were important in the scenes. Also Viki subs often include cultural notes in [square brackets], which I don't think I've ever seen on Netflix.
posted by Lexica at 9:10 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


my wife and I set a budget for ourselves of $50/month for all of our online subscriptions.

Yep, I shoot for under $40/month, though last month Sling TV got $35 out of me for March Madness games, which threw things off.

Viewers just migrate from service to service once they've overgrazed one place and drop the subscription until content grows back for us to consume.

I keep a small notebook on the coffee table where I write down which streamers are hosting which shows I want to watch. Right now, the page for Apple+ is looking full so it's on deck soon for Severance and Coda and Macbeth and Swan Song (the Mahershala Ali dying clone one, not the cute Udo Kier aging hairdresser one), which will be a pretty great deal for $5 and will exhaust Apple+ for a while so I'll quit before they charge me for a second month.

I dropped HBO after the disappointing Dune; this month I re-joined Hulu for 10 weeks of Atlanta and will catch Titane, Spencer, Mass, I'm Your Man and a few other flicks, then I'll quit again. I joined AMC+ for the first time for Better Call Saul's 6-week half-season. AMC+ includes the full Shudder library (except for the live stuff, which I never watch) but that won't be enough to get me to pay for June, so I'll quit for a month and then re-join when BCS comes back in mid-July. Criterion gets $100/year in a lump sum ($9/month), so my streaming is looking like $35 this month.

Eventually HBO will reel me back in for a month or three with a good series, Disney will get my money again when it has more than 1 Marvel thing that I hear good things about, and I'll occasionally cycle through a month of Showtime, check out Paramount+ for a month (yawn), or try something like Mubi or another smaller streamer. I make sure to put the renewal dates on my calendar so I cancel on time (or just cancel the day after subscribing, which works equally well) and then move on to whatever group of streamers catches my attention next.

I left Netflix after Chappelle and haven't looked back; it's surprising how little I've missed it. I'll see Power of the Dog eventually. My Prime membership stays deactivated for months at a time, a year the last time, and my pal Bezos, out of the goodness of his heart, often offers me a free month, which is when I catch up on the few originals Amazon has that are interesting.

It works out well. Keeping a paper trail of the stuff I hear about that I want to see, and where it's available (another shoutout to Justwatch), and then planning which services I'm going to subscribe to each month, works a lot better for me than ongoing payments to way more services than I'll ever need in one month. I know streamers are thinking up ways to stop folks like me from churning through them so much, but if they ever do something about it, I'll find a way to adjust. There's so much good shit out there, in so many places.
posted by mediareport at 10:43 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


Netflix is like standing in front of the open refrigerator door with the fridge full and saying, "There's nothing to eat."

Upthread someone likened it to recreating the experience of standing in a Blockbuster and finding nothing. For me it’s more the video store experience of “do I rewatch this thing I kind of enjoyed twelve years ago when I saw it or maybe I’ll give this indifferent-seeming new thing a try.” Then I leave with neither.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:01 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


@ricochet biscuit Perfect analogies.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:44 AM on April 22


Hi, evilDoug, official bad person here with your official bad person view on Netflix. I gave my password to family & friends because I could and because I was trying to wean them from cable. It worked, well, I guess the whole world going cord cutter didn't hurt either.
I kept netflix for a bunch of years, found lots I liked. Inevitably they started sucking, bad. Then they started talking about disallowing password sharing, and raised their prices. So, as an official bad person, I went back to my original first love, pirate streaming services. I don't pay anything, I get to watch most things, and as an extra added bonus corporate types get aggita thinking about it, there's no downside!
There probably is a downside, but so far, so good.
posted by evilDoug at 12:48 AM on April 22 [12 favorites]


gwint: people are watching less and getting out more

srboisvert: You raise your prices when people are in an inflationary environment but most people who are not changing jobs have had decades of stagnating wages plus you have more competition and people are coming out their houses for the first time in two years.

Netflix is like Peloton for assuming the exceptional state of people being at home for lockdown would continue. Peloton also fell out of line-goes-up territory.
posted by k3ninho at 1:21 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


How does this compare to subscriber data for all the other services? It won't be a direct comparison (Disney+, for example, is way behind Netflix on the growth curve), but it would be interesting to see whether it's a reflection of general trends. As far as I'm concerned, I don't really need that much stuff, but would like at least a couple at a time that I find compelling.

The best thing about Netflix for me is that the content is global - not just The Queen's Gambit, but also Dark, Money Heist, Squid Game, Call My Agent!, and lots of other things that I haven't watched (and while I'm not really in the audience for some of the things I mentioned I appreciate they're there).

To be mischievous, it's interesting to me the way that in a market of broadly similar services, the one that is outside the tight scrum of U.S. megacorporations gets set apart and demonised for the practices and foibles of the industry in general. Same thing with Spotify. Wonder why that is?

(If something's in the news, someone put it there. News doesn't just happen.)
posted by Grangousier at 1:23 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


oh man, Netflix search.

One thing that I find kind of interesting about Netflix search is, well. I use an Apple TV (arguably vastly overpriced, but also arguably the least-bad set-top box to actually use), and one of the nicest features on there is that the various streaming service apps can hook into the system-level search functionality, so if I want to watch a movie, I can just say it into the remote, and it'll show what services it's available on. However, Netflix does not play ball with this, presumably because they want to train users to always visit the Netflix app and search there, rather than reducing it to Just One of Many. The effect of this, in practice, is instead that I usually just skip even considering Netflix when I'm looking for a movie or whatever.

Once in a while I do think about how the guy in charge of Netflix said, years ago, that their goal was to become HBO faster than HBO could become Netflix. Well, HBO has become HBO Max ("It's not HBO. It's just TV."), and Netflix has become… basic cable, really. So in a sense they've both met in the middle, though HBO Max seems to have better original stuff (A Black Lady Sketch Show is SO GOOD, you guys! Best hit-to-miss ratio of pretty much any sketch comedy show I've ever watched! And I am basically the opposite of the target demographic, so I lavish all this praise on it even though many of the jokes go over my head!).

I do think that the all-at-once release structure is not beneficial to Netflix when it comes to The Discourse. I still remember the three weeks when people were talking about the first season of Stranger Things, the one week when people talked about the second season, and the 48 hours when people talked about the third season. I am occasionally caught by surprise with the news that they made a fourth season.
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:42 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Another way this might backfire that I haven't seen--

I currently pay for the $19.99 plan so my mom and my cousin can watch. I added my cousin in the height of the pandemic, it was just a nice thing to do when she was trapped in a tiny apartment with two toddlers. Since I added them, I've had to get a better plan so that we can all watch together when very occasionally needed.

If they can't watch anymore, it's not the end of the world for anyone but I doubt they'd pay for their own subscription, and I'd drop back down to the cheapest tier, which is a net loss for Netflix (unless they pay for content per view?).

I probably won't ever cancel Netflix altogether because I like to practice Spanish by watching Spanish content, which they have a lot of, along with most things having Spanish subtitles and Spanish dubbing.
posted by geegollygosh at 4:22 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


If Netflix would get ALL the Law & Order episodes from Day 1 and never let them go I'd be their for life
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:17 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Whomever mentioned MHz Choice above, yay! I've gotten WAY more interesting content out of MHz as well as Britbox and Acorn. There's so much great stuff being done overseas if you don't mind the subtitles. We're into cozy crime mysteries and there are a lot of shows out of France, Germany, and Italy you just don't see anywhere else.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:33 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Netflix Back in the Day: Every show we have was made by top shelf talent and has a banger concept behind it. We rarely miss. Try anything here. You will probably love it.
Netflix Five Years Ago: We noticed the stuff you guys like with our algorithm, and though our overall quality might waver now, we know what your guilty pleasures are. Go crazy, weirdos.
Netflix Today: Our algorithm says that if we put Actor X and Actress Y in a show with concept Z, it doesn't make a rat's ass difference if it's any good or not, your dumb ass will click.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:46 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


I mostly watch Shudder or HBO Max these days, the former because it's expertly curated by smart humans who know the genre, the latter because they pay the cash for the good stuff. I no longer have the patience to sift through a thousand rows of shit on Netflix trying to separate the dreck from the gems. I only watch Netflix to see specific shows I have heard good buzz on. I literally never go there to browse.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:48 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


MHz Choice

I have not heard of this service before but it looks interesting. Can anyone recommend specific shows to check out for my trial period?
posted by dobbs at 5:52 AM on April 22


Much of our home viewing now is directed by Letterboxd. I keep lists of what I want to see and what my family wants to see on a Pro account there, which is $19 a year. I have a JustWatch Pro account ($2.49 a month) linked to that and I have all of my streaming services on there. When we want to watch something, I can filter the lists (comedy, this year, highest rated first, streaming options I have only) and pick from there, seeing immediately which service/app has what I want. I can mark for certain movies and shows to trigger notifications when they become available.

Clicking through rows of garbage and just picking random stuff and hoping for the best is a sucker's game anymore.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:04 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


I scrolled through Netflix yesterday thinking "can I live without this". It still has Stargate SG-1. So yeah, it stays. Hammond of Texas!
posted by Ber at 6:11 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Can anyone recommend specific (MHz Choice) shows to check out for my trial period?

My personal favorites: Crime Scene Cleaner (German, not gory, quite touching), Murders at Bar Lume (Italian, and they're all nuts), Bastards of Pizzofalcone (Italian), Murders In... (French, beautiful scenery), Allmen, and Agatha Christie's Little Murders.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:12 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


speaking of streaming services, it occurred to me recently that Disney+ has a UI flow designed around a top screen that just has a list of famous franchise logos, because the premise of the service is “hey, remember your favorite brands? We own them,” while every single thing I have seen on Ted Lasso+ Apple TV+ that’s meant for grown-ups is completely new or, at most, adapted from a book. It’s remarkable just how polar opposite the two approaches are.

(Though the children’s programming on the latter seems to apparently be very “Gen X and millennials have kids, so they’re going to be into nostalgia,” with stuff like Fraggle Rock and Yo Gabba Gabba and a revival of the old PBS series Ghost Writer???)
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:16 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


Apple TV+ pisses me off because of the poor delineation between stuff included as part of the service and stuff I can watch if I use them as a hub and buy other services/stuff via their interface. Somehow, Amazon does exactly the same thing and it's never unclear.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:20 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


I think the binge viewing model is probably better for things that are mediocre or a movie worth of ideas stretched into 8 half-hour episodes. Like, the kind of thing you would forget about or not bother to go back to if you only watched one episode. I feel like Netflix and Amazon have a lot of stuff like his.

For shows that are really good or popular enough to generate discussion, I think a weekly approach is much more effective. I think there is also some element of constructing a series as television. Some shows really seem to do this, others feel more like something cut into set intervals of time.

Like, in FanFare, what is the point of a full-season post? You probably don’t want to go in until you’ve seen the season and by then, many of the things that you might have posted at some point are moot because they have already been resolved. I guess the point is that not everything warrants discussion, so it’s not a complaint about full-season posts, but I suppose garbage gets dumped and treats are doled out.

I think with apple, Disney, hbo, etc putting out some great or at least popular stuff, Netflix should be really worried and they will need more than just quantity to compete in the coming years.
posted by snofoam at 6:46 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Like, in FanFare, what is the point of a full-season post?

Well, as a person who likes a lot of marginally noticed stuff, sometimes the point of a full season FF post is it's a better vibe having 10 comments on a season of 13 episodes than 10 comments across 13 posts.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:59 AM on April 22 [12 favorites]


I scrolled through Netflix yesterday thinking "can I live without this". It still has Stargate SG-1. So yeah, it stays. Hammond of Texas!
just a thought exercise: You can also buy the complete boxed set of Stargate DVDs for the same cost of 6 months of a Netflix subscription (potentially less if you're willing to try your luck on Ebay). Then you don't have to worry about whether Netflix will drop it from their catalog or not, but you have to watch it from something that plays DVDs. You can also stream all seasons from Pluto.TV for free if you're willing to watch ads and live with the possibility that Pluto will drop it in three months.

This isn't to advocate for one option over the other. Everyone has a different calculus. The value of not having to think about it or being able to watch it from wherever without the annoyance of ads may be worth the extra $120/year.

I mentioned upthread that our household is very dynamic about subbing and unsubbing from streamers and we rotate what we subscribe to on an almost monthly basis. What makes it easy for us to do that is having physical copies of titles that we know we'll rewatch often or being ok with waiting a few days to pick it up from the library. Then we don't feel obligated to maintain a subscription just for rewatches. The news of Netflix being in trouble is also prompting my wife to consider if we should also just plan to buy hard copies of Stranger Things or The Queen's Gambit in case the worst were to happen.

But, yeah, it's fascinating to consider what one's options are, and how one might go beyond being dependent on a handful of streaming services that may die in five or ten years.
posted by bl1nk at 7:07 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Password swapping and VPN are the secret weapons in my cord-cutting arsenal. I let my family use my Netflix and Starz, they let me use their cable login (for various apps) and their Disney+. VPN lets me circumvent baseball blackouts and watch UK tv without waiting for 12-18 months of bidding war dust to settle.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:15 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


If they start ip locking the service we will drop them.
Dear Netflix, I pay for your top tier because it allows multiple people to stream at once.
Do you honestly think we all live in the same house and watch things separately like a commercial for fucking broadband?

Why the fuck would I pay for multiple streams if I can't use them?
posted by fullerine at 7:27 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


I don't have much to add to the already long conversation here, other than the title of this post gave me a nice long chuckle.

Still laughing now.
posted by shenkerism at 7:44 AM on April 22


i used to have the highest-tier netflix account--$20/mo, for myself and family.

then it started to lose a lot of the comfort noise shows i'd put in the background, basically older sitcoms and dramas i'd already seen over and over again. i still stayed, because four concurrent streams was nice, and kdramas. even though they tried to kill tuca & bertie.

then the whole chappelle thing happened, and i realized while i liked the kdramas, i'd only watch them on saturdays when my partner was off doing her thing, and even then it wasn't every saturday... so it cut it in half to the $10/mo.

these days it's really just mom who uses it, for kdramas, and seeing the activity patterns it's not that frequent either, so if they end account sharing i'll just cut it loose. there are other streamers i use far more anyway, and there's always plex.

it's not like they'll miss me. they've already said as much when they decided to give millions more to transphobic assholes gervais and chappelle. let them find a way grow their audience to profitability elsewhere.
posted by i used to be someone else at 8:29 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Our algorithm says that if we put Actor X and Actress Y in a show with concept Z, it doesn't make a rat's ass difference if it's any good or not, your dumb ass will click.

I liked Red Notice and watched it twice.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:29 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


everyone apparently bought into a delusion that Hulu, Disney and HBO would suck and Netflix would grow

Apart from streaming being the stupidest way ever devised to deliver video over a point-to-point packet switched network, Hulu, Disney and HBO sucking has certainly made something grow. Just not Netflix.

And if Netflix reacts to this dip as industry rumblings suggest it might, and cracks down on Netflix account password sharing, something will probably grow a little more.
posted by flabdablet at 8:36 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Like, in FanFare, what is the point of a full-season post? You probably don’t want to go in until you’ve seen the season and by then, many of the things that you might have posted at some point are moot because they have already been resolved. I guess the point is that not everything warrants discussion, so it’s not a complaint about full-season posts, but I suppose garbage gets dumped and treats are doled out.

This is exactly why I hate full season posts, but I have been long since overruled on that topic and surrender to the wants of the hivemind on that. I really am not that into "binge new popular entire season in 2 days" as a concept and would rather it be stretched out weekly. Like I enjoyed Bridgerton but after 2 days, you're done for the next year and you can't have a weekly discussion with anyone for weeks about it in the same way. In a full season post, you can't discuss, oh, someone's turn to the dark side in the middle of the season because by the time you finished, they changed their mind and did something heroic. Or whatever.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:02 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


We're tilting into MeTa territory, but I see where you're coming from, jenfullmoon. It really depends on the property. With binge-watched big audience stuff, a single season post probably is a mess at best. I always kind of see those as a copout for people who want to chime in about the show without having to remember which episode is which.

But let's say I decide to post, oh... Etheria a not-especially well-known anthology horror show on Shudder. It's probably better--given how niche that is--that there be four full season posts, rather than 40 individual episode posts. It avoids a single obscure show taking over FF for a while. (Though sorry not sorry if that happens with me posting weird movies. Weirdos gotta weirdo.) And by condensing the chatter into fewer places, it makes it more likely that people wanting to talk about the show will run into each other and be able to get a conversation going.

Tying back into the overall post, I think really what you're recoiling against is something Netflix is getting a lot of blowback on: binge-watching complicates/ruins the communal "water cooler" aspect of watching tv. I think that problem will pervade, no matter what FF format people post in. It's just messy.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:37 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Our algorithm says that if we put Actor X and Actress Y in a show with concept Z, it doesn't make a rat's ass difference if it's any good or not, your dumb ass will click.

Is this what The Bubble was about? This post has gotten me to chat with the other people on my Netflix account and we all kind of agree we don't need HD and really mostly we don't watch it anymore (I can also get a lot of stand-up on YouTube posted by the content creators if I don't mind watching stuff that is a few years old). It's also gotten me to think more about what Netflix would look like if it were just designed by me, for me, and I think it would be

- stuff on my List, front and center
- big search box, front and center with the ability to be like "I just want to know if you have THIS MOVIE, stop showing me other stuff you think is like it if you don't have it"
- no huge preview image of some stupid thing that Netflix thinks everyone should watch (Tiger King, Chapelle) that doesn't match any of my interests
- little scrollable images of stuff that matches either stuff on my List or categories of stuff on my List (and granular, so not just "Stand Up" but "Stand Up from Comedians Not in the US")
- more granular category discovery and way to subscribe to a category at a granular level. If Netflix can add "short ass movies" in a weekend, they can do this.
- a button that says "Never show me this category/person/film"
- a button that more clearly allows me to learn about a thing before accidentally starting to play it. Clickable links to categories and actors
- a button that says "I noped out of this, stop suggesting that I finish it"
- more settings so I can customize stuff generally, and I wouldn't say no to Rotten Tomatoes reviews and etc, or a Does the Dog Die rating

And yeah I think Fanfare would be better if there was more activity there because some people really like the all-in-one posts and some like episodic posts but because there's not a ton of activity there, there's maybe not enough action in per-episode threads. Maybe? It's a worthwhile MeTa post for an "I'd like to make this better" discussion (and not a "this sucks" discussion)
posted by jessamyn at 10:01 AM on April 22 [9 favorites]


If this is true, about per-episode cost of Stranger Things S4 being $30m, that's... a bit eyewatering.

Everything Everywhere All At Once had a budget of $25m.
Good Bye Lenin!, which also did the 80's nostalgia (and had to re-do some of the old Berlin that had faded by the time it was being made in the early 00s had a budget of US$6.5m.
posted by i used to be someone else at 10:04 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Those are great feature recs, jessamyn.

The wild thing is that Netflix has an awesome recommendation engine, it just gets pushed aside by their attempts to push everything on you. Netflix will blow my mind suggesting I follow up an idiosyncratic Indonesian horror movie with another equally idiosyncratic Indonesian horror movie, whereas Amazon will suggest I follow up an Italian giallo with something starring Catherine Deneuve because I like [Foreign Films.] And Netflix really does have things sorted that granularly. If you go to the desktop app, you can get autocomplete suggestions on amazingly specific stuff.

But as you suggested, Netflix cannot resist the urge to push: their new big thing, even if you obviously won't like it; whatever is popular in general, even if you literally never click on anything on their top 10; whatever is new, etc. They know what you like but they won't stop trying to take the wheel.

There actually is a way to get it to stop suggesting you finish something you abandoned, but it involves going to the desktop site and removing it from your viewing history, which is excessive.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:10 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


And yeah I think Fanfare would be better if there was more activity there because some people really like the all-in-one posts and some like episodic posts but because there's not a ton of activity there, there's maybe not enough action in per-episode threads. Maybe? It's a worthwhile MeTa post for an "I'd like to make this better" discussion (and not a "this sucks" discussion)

Eh...I think it's been argued over the years and things are going to come out the way that others want them to come out. There's no overall consensus as to how to handle each individual property/situation, the site probably shouldn't mandate how people initiate season vs. one per episode, and if one person posts it one way, others immediately want it in the other way anyway.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:16 AM on April 22


I think I kinda misspoke. I don’t think single episode posts on FanFare would generate more discussion for very obscure shows, or for most shows that are released all at once. I think the dumping of a whole season at once short-circuits most of the conversation around a show, and the degree to which I find full season fanfare posts unsatisfying is just a reflection of how dumping a season harms discussion of it in general.
posted by snofoam at 11:17 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


If this is true, about per-episode cost of Stranger Things S4 being $30m, that's... a bit eyewatering.

I assume most of that is cast salaries. The kids are expensive by this time.
posted by octothorpe at 12:08 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


I haven't read every comment, but besides agreeing that the search/discovery option on Netflix is abysmal, my main problem with it is that there is just way too much low-quality TV on there. Which makes the recent direction of HBO Max equally annoying - what made HBO worth it, to me, was not their old slogan of “It's not TV, it's HBO" but "It's not and endless catalog, it's curated." Sure, not every show was for me, but anytime a new HBO show was announced, I could at least be bothered to watch the trailer or a review.

Related, Hulu buying rights to FX was smart - again, not every FX show is for me, but it does regularly produce shows I love. I don't think the problem is the binge-model v. one episode per week - it's more that most people don't have endless time to watch TV, and prefer to pay for a service that ensures that most of their shows will be worth one's time.
posted by coffeecat at 12:08 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


I gave up on Netflix with the latest price increase, but it's been a while coming. If Netflix was the producer of a show I liked it was almost a given that it would be canceled after a season, or that the second season would have all the interesting parts smoothed down in the name of removing friction to the point where it was just another genre show. I guess that's part of having far too many metrics, optimizing the hell out of what you produce just creates... content. And there's already far too much of that, thank you very much.

That leaves a few interesting foreign shows that Netflix bought permanent streaming rights to, but even those have felt more carefully curated to be as generic as possible recently. Sure there's an occasional surprise that makes it through, but that's true of every streaming service and I don't have the desire to watch so much crap in the name of finding something interesting. And for non-netflix branded stuff, well movies seem to filter in and out of different services and my local library has a pretty amazing dvd selection and if all else fails paying 5 dollars to rent once a month or so is easier and cheaper.
posted by aspo at 12:21 PM on April 22


I dropped netflix when the chappelle thing happened, but probably that was just the proverbial straw. If you told me in 1999 that eventually it would be possible to stream HD shows on demand, but the way the market would organize that capability would be to silo various IPs off into different subscriptions, and that at least some of those services would actively cancel most anything that wasn't a blockbuster because they don't want to pay for the contract bump to renew them, I would probably be a little agog and then just say "but piracy is still a thing right?"

The current landscape is insane. I am not paying for more than maybe 2 services. I am not paying to put up with management ass-hats who both can't see the value of functional search and also will mix their 5 good things in with a torrent of crap, then wonder why people give up without watching. If the CEOs of the media world hate piracy, it's pretty fucking funny that they've collectively organized a system that incentivizes it.
posted by axiom at 12:50 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Boy, it sure would be nice if content rights owners were legally prohibited from distributing and exhibiting their own stuff and also if exclusivity agreements were made illegal, so there would be a financial incentive to license things to as many streaming services as would take them, thus creating an actual streaming marketplace where they would compete on things other than catalog.

But that'll never happen, so I will sit here, cheering on the collapse of the streaming industry and the collapse of the Chinese film market, so that perhaps talented storytellers will once again be able to get money to make movies instead of chasing the streaming money and blowing up their probably-great 2 hour movie into a flaccid 10 hour TV show.
posted by rhymedirective at 1:02 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Boy, it sure would be nice if content rights owners were legally prohibited from distributing and exhibiting their own stuff...

You know, this used to be a thing in the analog world to prevent this exact scenario of vertical integration across production and distribution. It went away (and probably was never updated to deal with digital distribution).
posted by majick at 3:55 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


If Netflix was the producer of a show I liked it was almost a given that it would be canceled after a season

Pour one out for It's Bruno!. I was moderately pleased that Special which was my other Netflix Original that I really liked got two full seasons and wrapped up in a good wrap up place.

Looking at this page I think I also watched some of House of Cards, some of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, All of Dear White People (which also wrapped up nice after what felt like a good run), #blackAF, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (for a bit), Giri/Haji (just started), Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (some) and Arrested Development (some). I feel like I wouldn't mind some suggestions based on that kind of thing but the ones I get are just "You like to laugh so are you sure you don't want to reconsider Dave Chappelle?"

it involves going to the desktop site and removing it from your viewing history, which is excessive.

I've done that. Then it just wants me to watch it again!
posted by jessamyn at 4:14 PM on April 22


You know, this used to be a thing in the analog world to prevent this exact scenario of vertical integration across production and distribution. It went away (and probably was never updated to deal with digital distribution).

Oh trust, I know. The Paramount consent decrees should have codified into federal law regardless of distribution method, but that would require a legislature not completely captured by special interests and the hell of party polarization.
posted by rhymedirective at 5:39 PM on April 22


I've been a Netflix subscriber since the early DVD days (which I loved; I was disciplined about returning the movies--and single--so I watched about 40 movies a month).

Back in the day my buddy and I had a competition to see how many Netflix movies we could rate, and we reached reached at least a couple of thousand. With two decades of my ratings and what I've watched, the recommendations still suck.

Which reminds me of when I ordered The Wizard of Oz as a gift for my sister from Amazon, and based on their suggestions, they thought I was gay for years. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
posted by kirkaracha at 6:18 PM on April 22


There are blogposts going back over a decade if you search "netflix thinks I'm gay." Many of them include "not that there's anything wrong with that," too!
posted by rhizome at 7:14 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Do any of the other streaming services offer much non-English content (in Canada, in my case)?

MHz Choice


Wow, that does look interesting. And they're currently offering a "50% off your first 3 months" promo code, "SPRING22", at the top of the site, so it's just $3.99/month to check it out. Tempting, if just for A French Village, which at first browse for reviews looks fantastic - a Wire-like ensemble cast exploring the complex reactions to the German occupation of a town during WWII. Lasted 7 seasons.

Thanks, BWA and JoeZydeco, for the tip. I should hate you for giving me another streaming option but I don't. I love you.
posted by mediareport at 7:29 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]




Amazon seems to occasionally feel me out to see if I might be Indian or Pakistani. I watch a fair amount of Bollywood/Tollywood/Kollywood films on Prime and not long after any given watch, it will
briefly recommend things to me like prayer mats, dashiki shirts, knee length tunics, etc.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:15 AM on April 23


Netflix’s Big Wake-Up Call: The Power Clash Behind the Crash As rivals toggle between schadenfreude and fear, top creators and insiders are increasingly becoming vocal about what’s gone wrong with the streaming giant’s culture.
posted by riruro at 1:09 PM on April 27 [5 favorites]


As I mentioned, I share my password with a neighbor who is also on my internet. I pay the same price as family of 4.

Netflix now says it doesn't matter that we're on the same internet because we're not on the same screen. They want another $6.50 a month. Instead, after 6 years of being a subscriber, I cancelled. I doubt I'll miss it.

So sick of these companies and their bullshit policies. If they charged all base accounts the same for one user and additional charges for each additional, fine. But I'm tied of paying a tax for being single.
posted by dobbs at 6:35 PM on May 14


Netflix has decided to respond by engaging in hippy-punching, announcing a new "Artistic Expression" clause in their corporate culture memo:
Artistic Expression
Entertaining the world is an amazing opportunity and also a challenge because viewers have very different tastes and points of view. So we offer a wide variety of TV shows and movies, some of which can be provocative. To help members make informed choices about what to watch, we offer ratings, content warnings and easy to use parental controls.

Not everyone will like—or agree with—everything on our service. While every title is different, we approach them based on the same set of principles: we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with; we program for a diversity of audiences and tastes; and we let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.

As employees we support the principle that Netflix offers a diversity of stories, even if we find some titles counter to our own personal values. Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful. If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.
This is quite clearly both a "fuck you" and "expect to be first up against the layoff wall" to the Netflix employees who objected to Chappelle's transphobia.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:51 AM on May 16


Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful. If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.

I wonder if people imagine their future deposition when they hit 'send' on stuff like this.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:17 AM on May 16


Also these people are employees not slaves. Netflix might find a impactful percentage of staff may choose to work at their best places (ie: not Netflix)
posted by Mitheral at 1:21 PM on May 16


For those looking for an alternative, Mubi.com is right now having a sale. Ends this weekend. $4 for 4 months of streaming. It's a great service and this is an incredible deal.

If you do sign up, watch Border, which has been discussed on MeFi before. Worth the $4 alone just for that one.
posted by dobbs at 5:36 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


(Note, Border's also on Hulu)
posted by Pronoiac at 7:53 PM on May 20


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