Saturday, May 7, 2011

Complain Complain

I don't spend a lot of time in this blog talking about Netflix as a service. The last time was to complain about cracked Blu-ray disks. They got that under control, by the way.

It seems that Netflix is changing, though. They clearly want to get out of the disk shipping business and become a streaming company. I can understand their point of view but:
  1. Lower quality. We have a wired connection to a cable internet, and get barely DVD quality. Maybe ok for a laptop or for watching old TV shows, but nothing close to Blu-ray.
  2. Lower functionality. Rewind is very clunky, at least on our cheap player. There's no commentary track, or chapter menu. At least it remembers where you left off watching, which our cheap DVD player doesn't do.
  3. Smaller selection. Here's the rub. Netflix for me is what Napster was to many - a way to get anything you could think of. Classic musicals, obscure art films, Hong Kong chop-socky? If it was released on DVD, you could probably get it from Netflix. But not on streaming. 
I don't know what the ratio of DVDs available to streaming films - 10:1? But it does seem to be shifting - partly because more things are available on streaming, but it also seems that they are making more and more DVDs unavailable. My queue almost never listed a wait for any movie - maybe because I don't go for a lot of recent releases. Now, 15% of my queue has short or long waits. And many movies are dropping down to the Saved queue as they become unavailable.

Maybe they are just economizing, or growing too fast. But I suspect they are starving the disk side to grow streaming. And that's fine, if I can find the movies that I want. And in general, I can't go elsewhere, because, for all these problems, Netflix still has the biggest selection.

I guess in some way I'm complaining about the free ice cream - Netflix is an amazing service and I get a lot out of it. But I nag because I care! Netflix, you are better than this.

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