Why Netflix Streaming is Disappointing
I’ve been a fan of Netflix for quite some time now. I started my first subscription a few years ago and I’ve watched a lot of movies since. I get a lot of junk mail, so I still enjoy seeing that red Netflix envelope when it arrives. I’ve even started streaming movies and TV shows at home since I recently won an iPad at a conference, and to be frank, I’m not that impressed.
First and foremost, the video quality just isn’t very good. I’m sure there are some very technical explanations about streaming high definition content, bandwidth restrictions, and the like – but the bottom line is that the picture quality is lacking. When I pop a DVD in the machine, it works great most of the time. Why can’t I get that on my iPad?
Second, the streaming movie selection is still severely lacking. The Netflix blog says, “The fact is that Netflix members are already watching more TV episodes and movies streamed instantly over the Internet than on DVDs, and we expect that trend to continue.” Really? I find that hard to believe. Only 6 (yes, six) out of the Netlfix Top 100 movies are available for watching instantly (as of Dec 9, 2010). A quick scan of the popular new releases (titles such as The Karate Kid (the new version), Iron Man 2, and Avatar) shows that none of these can be watched on my iPad. Even movies that were previously available for streaming (e.g. Step Brothers) are no longer available.
Finally, and this may be related somewhat to my first point, I’ve experienced a lot of freezing or pauses in the playback while streaming. This might have something to do with the strength of the wireless signal in my house – but it’s still worth mentioning.
All this and a rate hike too? Yup, Netflix announced recently that they’ll be raising my monthly plan by $1. Will that money go toward solving some of the technical issues? We’ll see.
As an aside, I’ve gotten a kick out of the famous Netflix recommendation engine. This might need a little tweaking too. Here’s an example: Netflix recommends the 1966 surf classic The Endless Summer for me, based on my interest in SNL: The Best of Chris Farley. Huh? Yeah, because nothing says summer, surfing and traveling around the world more than Farley trying to keep his pants pulled up and not giggle at David Spade during SNL sketches.
The real question is, why hasn’t Netflix gone social? When I’m on Pandora and logged into Facebook, I can see all my friends who like the same weird songs I do. Why doesn’t Netflix adopt a similar model? Personally, I think they’re missing a huge opportunity.
Netflix, you still have a ways to go. You can start by bringing Step Brothers back to the streaming catalog – along with most other good movies that are still DVD-only options. At the same time, get some engineers to figure out how to stream a better quality product.
So what do you think, dear reader? Am I way off base here?