Netflix has broken molds once thought unbreakable. For TV studios Netflix represents both a hopeful and dark future. One where the old monetary models die a slow death but also one where control could be more in the viewers control rather than a faceless studio's. We've seen the company go from DVD's in the mail to high definition into our homes, on almost every device we own. The luxury is now the main alternative for those looking to lose cable but still have a wealth of entertainment options. Is Netflix still the right choice for cable cutters? Probably. But years of business, a stock price to manage, and an ever growing customer base means Netflix can't hit all the right buttons all the time.
What is Netflix doing right and what is Netflix doing wrong?
Wrong: Lack of Choice
At one point you could see exactly which titles had just joined the streaming family. One category always listed new arrivals and updated titles that maybe added a new season or two. Now the categories don't seem chronologically ordered or include every title added. Instead it's only a snapshot of what the service has to offer. A problem that isn't limited to their new additions either.
If you get into the Netflix habit, no matter on what device, you'll notice the litany of categories and genres they provide or even suggest for you. From thrillers, to foreign films, to action adventure you'll always have a handful of choices ready to go. Yet with over 75,000 titles streaming (that's estimated, some estimates have it less, some have it at over 100,000) you almost always seem to see the same movies and shows. It's like viewing the Grand Canyon only through powerful binoculars, you only see a very specific spot of the canyon and not the entire splendor. Sharing 75,000+ titles all at once may not be the solution but they have some answers already.
On some devices, PS3s and PS4s, they've added a 'Max' feature, a voice over that guides you through a few questions to introduce you to a new film you might be in the mood for. Based somewhat off of movies you've already seen, and rated, and off of what genre of film you're interested in, Max will eventually have a few films you might like. It's sort of like a 'your radio mix' on a music streaming site. You might not always enjoy what it plays but you can at least see they came to the conclusion.
Right: Original Programming
If all you provide are streaming movies it doesn't take a stretch of the imagination, or a quick Google search, to find an alternative "copycat" service. Amazon Prime, for instance, has a lot of the titles you often find on Netflix but offer it in a bigger more comprehensive package with their Prime service. Netflix had to make sure their product was a unique one and in that desire Netflix began producing their own content.
The first up to bat may still arguably be their best, House of Cards. A political thriller with great directing and acting released all at once, supporting our ever worsening binge watching habits, the show was the first only available online to get nominated and win both Emmys and a Golden Globe. With season two only weeks away it alone looks to set Netflix apart from the competition. Since then Arrested Development had their fourth season released only on Netflix and Orange is the New Black garnered plenty of attention despite only available on streaming.
Throw is one off originals like stand up comedy specials and documentaries like Mitt and The Square and it isn't hard to imagine a world where Netflix is a better version of HBO. Uncensored original programming, serious and eye-opening documentaries, and movies on at any time you'd like them to be all without the need of a cable provider. Not bad at all.
Wrong: Lack of Information
This may be more of my own personal pet peeve than a true black eye on the service. Once upon a time Netflix silently released information on every title on their service. Once a movie or TV show arrived their API foretold of eventual expiration dates which allowed users of the service somewhat of a warning when movies were about to go. So when that film you had been putting off for months was finally prepared to leave, you would finally get around to it.
Now thought it's all gone. If you didn't add that film you were curious about, and don't frequently check up on it, then you won't ever know when it expires. So a service already at odds with some consumers for a lack of choices is now removing films with little to no notice. Netflix is putting the work on the consumer to keep abreast of the Netflix content. Maybe they'll make a new price point, for just an extra dollar a month Netflix will tell you all about their content you want to know.
Netflix is a changing service with a constant eye towards the future. Month after month however we see them ignore the ever growing complaints and focus on the wrong issues. What matters more, another new original TV show or expiration dates and content information along with the same titles we've all watched before?