Dumping Netflix After 10 Years?

27 Jan

We’ve been with Netflix since 2000, so long, in fact, that we get four DVDs for the basic monthly subscription fee instead of the three that most subscribers receive. Still, Cathie and I are considering dropping the DVDs and moving to the eight dollar a month streaming-only service. Or quitting Netflix completely.

It’s clear that Netflix wants its customers to shift to streaming and stop using DVDs. Despite the lower monthly fees, the costs of streaming for the company are 5% of what it costs them to handle DVDs. Labor is involved in processing DVDs; only machines are needed for streaming. Like any capitalist operation, Netflix hates its workers. No, not in a personal sense, but as line items that require salaries and benefits as well as people to manage them.

The problem for me in making the switch to just the streaming service is that the company offers so few choices. And what it does offer is, for the most part, frankly, crap.

Go to the Watch Instantly tab and click on New Arrivals and then, say, Drama. I got 11 pages of choices recently with 30 movies on a page. Sounds promising. And the first page looks fair: Precious, Brooklyn’s Finest, Casino, Apocalypse Now, and The Client stand out. After that things start getting iffy. Old made-for-TV Perry Mason flicks show up a lot. As you get deeper into the list the movies get more obscure and silly: The Boy With Green Hair, Those Secrets, The Rocking Horse Winner, Sand, as well as 50-plus-year-old losers like So Evil, So Young and So Young, So Bad.

Yes, so very bad.

Unless you’re studying film, there’s no earthly reason to see the vast majority of movies available to stream on Netflix.

But there’s always TV shows to stream, right? I admit to having watched 30 Rock not on television but via Netflix. But that show is only available through the 2009 season. According to one study, Netflix has a pathetic list of TV show options compared with Hulu, Amazon, and Apple services. If you missed the latest House you’ll need to visit Hulu. Or if you think The Good Wife is hot, you need to be a member of Apple’s iTunes service. Netflix doesn’t have them. If you want to watch the complete series of a TV show, Netflix has a mere two: Lost and something called Mercy. Hulu has 12, Amazon 28, and iTunes offers 39.

Company CEO Reed Hastings has argued that investors who bet against Netflix might lose their shirt. He may be right. I’m not saying Netflix isn’t a good investment. I’m just saying it doesn’t offer enough compelling choices to long-time subscribers. We’ve seen most everything and the New Arrivals they throw up on their site are time wasters. And we don’t want to waste that time or our money on mediocrity.

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3 Responses to “Dumping Netflix After 10 Years?”

  1. Abe Bass January 28, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Netflix raising prices was the most non-news news event since the company said it was going to raise prices in its conference call and it even lowered the cost of other items.

  2. dbl January 28, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Life is heck.

    Long ago, when VCRs were new, a friend marvelled he’d awakened in one of his childhood dreams. “I always thought the best thing about being royal or rich would be the ability to watch any movie, any time you wanted, in your own home. Now I can!”

    The thrill is gone, to borrow from Mr. King. And, perhaps only slightly apropos, a 50+year-old quote from Norbert Wiener: the difference between a fatal and a therapeutic dose of strychnine is “only a matter of degree.”

  3. Monex February 2, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    the fact that more than two-thirds of subscribers have dabbled in Netflixs Watch Instantly catalog. Even more startling is Netflixs prediction that in the coming quarter the majority of subscribers will stream more video online than they got delivered on DVD..

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