An Open Letter to Netflix, AKA Netflix I Still Love You
So my most recent pointless obsession is trolling Netflix’s Facebook page. I read a million comments about how much Netflix sucks, it costs too much, there’s nothing good on streaming, stuff buffers too long, etc. etc. etc. I reply constantly to strangers to explain to people how distribution contracts work, that Netflix is not responsible for the quality of your internet service, etc. etc. etc. There are other people doing this, too, many of whom cut and paste a stock answer like “Netflix can’t stream everything because the studios won’t allow it” on almost every post. We think we are doing God’s work.
Anyway, I want to take this opportunity, on my own blog, to make the following statements.
- I have the maximum plan, 2 discs at a time and unlimited streaming. This is less than 20 bucks a month and incredibly affordable at that. Yes, it was really cool when it was only $14. It was also really cool when I was in high school and gasoline was 78 cents a gallon. The fact that these products are more expensive now doesn’t make them any less necessary to my daily life. The service is either worth it to you or it isn’t, in which case you find an alternative. Like RedBox, or walking. Nor does it serve anybody if the company keeps costs down to the point of running themselves out of business. (Hey Michiganders, remember the Michigan Festival? and how awesome it was until they totally bankrupted themselves?)
- A note about that “60% increase” you keep hearing about: it was not an across-the-board 60% increase; it was only raised 60% for people who had the cheapest DVD+streaming plan at $8.99. My plan, always slightly more expensive with 2 discs out at a time, increased by like 18%. Also, for people who only ever used one of the two types of service, it’s actually cheaper now, because they’re not paying for service they don’t use.
- I watch something on Netflix Instant almost every day, easily 5 times a week. Today I watched maybe 6 episodes of Parks & Rec, 2 episodes of SNL, 4 episodes of The X-Files, and two movies (hey, I’m on vacation). I watched two movies last night. I wish more stuff streamed. Yes, I do. But I understand why not everything can stream, and why some titles stream only for limited times. And because I have a wide and varied interest in movies, I can always, always find something I want to watch. I have about a hundred movies in my queue that are currently available to stream.
- I watch the discs, too. I returned one disc on Wednesday and my queue is already updated; they will be sending out my next disc tomorrow, probably. Mail service in my area is good and I’ll probably get it before the New Year. If I don’t, I certainly don’t intend to throw a hissy fit about it, because the world moves more slowly over holidays.
- I have never had a disc come to me cracked or broken. I have received some smudgy discs that a quick swipe with a napkin rendered playable. In seven years of Netflix service, I have had to return three discs that were for whatever reason not watchable. That’s an exact number because my entire rental history is on the Netflix site. Additionally, two different discs got lost on their way back to the warehouse, once in 2005 and once in 2006. I know this because of the “we have received” emails they send with every disc; if I don’t see that email within a couple of days of sending one out, I report it. In each of those two cases, I was sent my next disc immediately. (I don’t know if that still happens; something tells me Netflix was more trusting back in ’06.)
- I mentioned RedBox up top. Most people who complain about Netflix threaten to decamp to RedBox or Blockbuster Online or Hulu Plus or whatever. And they are free to do so. But I can tell you this: I have Hulu Plus in addition to Netflix. It’s awesome for TV, and extremely limited for movies. They do stream the entire Criterion Collection, which is cool (so does Netflix), but those are not the movies the people who make these complaints are generally looking for. I don’t know anything about Blockbuster Online either, but I did have a friend who had it in ’06 and it was definitely inferior to Netflix then. Almost every disc had Long Wait appended to it all the time. Again, don’t know anything about it today.
- As for RedBox, well, those are cool for people who want to go out on Friday night, pick from a small selection of movies that came out in the last 6 months and go home and watch it. That does not describe my viewing habits AT ALL. I want to watch movies from all time periods. A RedBox is not helpful if you are in the mood for a Tracy-Hepburn picture. Unfortunately the only one streaming right now is Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. But I am a person who can easily move the disc for Adam’s Rib or Without Love or Woman of the Year to the top of my queue and wait a couple of days to get it. I also am not usually clamoring to see the newest releases as soon as possible, although it’s worth noting that when I am, I don’t have any trouble getting them from Netflix, either. I have a bunch in my queue right now (I’m watching Oscar likelies), and none of them have any wait time listed, including The Help. To compare, my local library system reports 500 copies of that movie with 2180 requested holds on them.
- People who use the Roku or the Xbox or smart phone apps complain about coding problems and screwy interfaces. That doesn’t affect me because I watch discs on a DVD player and I stream to my laptop computer. Sometimes I just watch on the computer, which is more than large enough to accommodate a 30 Rock rerun; sometimes I hook the computer to my television with an adapter cord I purchased for less than $20 online.
- My streaming service is never down. [knocks on wood] The buffering time is almost never prohibitive to my viewing enjoyment. When it is it’s because my computer’s been running nonstop for hours and is overheating. That’s totally my fault, not Netflix’s.