I used to love Netflix. $9/mo for any movie ever released to DVD (some restrictions apply). We upgraded to the unlimited one a time plan and enjoyed Netflix for quite a few years. Netflix for a time was on top of the world, but ever since “the split” between DVD and streaming, with Mr. Bumbling CEO’s continual bumbles (sorry Mr. Bumbling CEO), Netflix is losing its very essence.
Our movie queue is currently 400 movies long (well, 399 with 6 whose availability is “unknown”), almost all of them over 3.5-3.9 stars, which in Netflix speak means we’re probably going to like it. At one movie a week, that means Netflix should keep us busy for ~10 years assuming we don’t add any more movies in that time frame (and critically, that they keep us happy as customers).
When “The Split” came, I zigged while everyone else zagged. We kept the DVD plan and dropped streaming (for a variety of reasons), primarily because at the time they didn’t have good subtitle support for streaming and even at that time they didn’t have the same amount of selection of movies available for streaming as they did for DVD.
Everyone else seems to have stuck with streaming because to them the DVD was just a red envelope that sat by the TV for months on end.
I recently had a chance to visit a friends house and we started talking movies that (I felt) she needed to see. She’s on streaming with Netflix and primarily watches streaming TV shows. So we looked them up on her Google TV (don’t laugh). When I used to have the Netflix streaming we used the Wii and the process was pretty much the same. I started punching in names of movies and it came back: “no results found, no results found, no results found”
- The Sound of Music? No Results Found.
- Fail-Safe? No Results Found.
- Nosotros Los Pobres? No Results Found.
- The Avengers? No Results Found.
Netflix streaming is effectively useless, and Netflix itself is in serious trouble.
I’m a techie, and my hearts go out to everyone working at Netflix. Y’all are doing awesome work. Advancing the state of the art in UI, recommendation engines, huge leaps and bounds in automated scaling, deployment, true “cloud” in a way that no other significant player can even dream of now.
It has become clear to me that the people calling the shots at Netflix are now the accountants and Excel Spreadsheet Optimizers, and not the movie lovers. When you don’t love your product, and aren’t passionate about what you’re selling, your business is in TROUBLE.
If Netflix were run by Movie Lovers, when I search for “The Avengers” it should… well… let me back up a second. If I’m an Amazon Prime subscriber and try to search for The Avengers, I highly doubt it would be available for instant streaming. But I could buy the $#!& out of it, that’s for sure.
If Netflix were run by movie lovers when you searched for “The Avengers” you would at least be able to see the movie metadata. It would show you the actors, or directors, or SOMETHING that would let you watch a movie kinda sorta like The Avengers. Or you would be able to “Alert Me When I Can Watch This Danged Movie”. Or “Hey, Cable Companies Have Figured Out How To Charge $9.99 To Rent A Movie From The Convenience Of Your Couch Maybe We Can Too.”
But no. “No Results Found”. The Avengers doesn’t exist. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
I totally understand that Netflix has had to struggle since its success. Negotiating with hostile suppliers and toppling an “American Institution” like Blockbuster takes its toll. But in the hustle and bustle of focusing on streaming, they’ve lost their love of movies.
They are in the unfortunate situation where the more people use and love their service, the less money they make, which is a terrible situation for a business to be in. The bean counters see subscription $$$’s in, data transfer gigabytes out. That’s not what made Netflix great. Maybe Netflix should just get into the white-label streaming technology business and let people who love movies build a compelling product on top of it.
Who am I to talk? I don’t understand the complexities and stresses of managing their infrastructure, brokering deals, holding contracts hostage, shipping products, and dodging the “outage” bullet time and time again.
But I do understand that I used to be able to manage my DVD queue from the Netflix iPhone app and now I can’t (must be paying for streaming in order to log in). I used to be able to look up a movie someone mentioned while I was on the go and add it to my queue (same issue). I used to have my movie queue in an RSS feed but that broke somehow. I used to be able to use a different app on my phone to browse movies but that access was shut off. Just because I am not a streaming subscriber doesn’t mean I’m not a valuable customer.
In summary, the more people love your product, the more successful you will be. Netflix is making it very hard to love their flagship product now. Streaming can’t stream anything of value, DVD’s can’t be managed on anything other than the full website. In a nutshell, nowadays you can’t watch movies with Netflix. Either put yourselves out of your misery or shape up and get people to love your product again.