Thoughts on Netflix

On July 30, 2011, in Movies, Opinion, by jafo

Pricing Changes

I’m really not upset by the pricing changes. I was a bit surprised at
first, but I’ve remembered that I’ve been waiting for them to start
charging for streaming ever since we got a Roku. When we got the Roku, we
basically immediately started letting DVDs just sit around our house,
usually for months…

So while everyone else seems to be up in arms about NetFlix “doubling
the price” of the service, I have decreased our spending over the last
several years. First I went down from the 4 out plan ($30/month)
down to 2 out ($20/month), and with the announcement of the streaming-only
plan I reduced it to $8/month.

However, in all those cases I think the NetFlix service is a great
service at a great price.

However, now I’m looking at dropping the streaming plan as well…

Dropping Netflix Entirely

So this decision has nothing to do with the pricing increases. I’ve
been toying with the idea for much of the last year.

Mostly it’s because I’m tired of sucking at the teat of the media
industry. This industry has been, at best, unkind to their revenue source,
and I’d go so far as to say they’ve been rude or even criminal. By
“criminal” I am thinking of their sueing over what seems to be clearly
allowed by fair use and extensions of copyright.

File Sharing

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a “file-sharers advocate”… I lay a lot
of the blame for the current state of things squarely on the shoulders of
file sharing. I’ve even heard people who engage in file-sharing say they
don’t blame the media companies, but “I just want a digital download”.

I think the file-sharers are part of the problem because they trigger
the media companies to fight back. They have an attitude of “I want a
digital download, but the media companies won’t give them to me, so I’ll
find a way around it.” An alternative is saying “I can’t get what I
want so instead I’ll go elsewhere” (reading, playing games, having dinner
with friends)…

If the media companies saw, instead of an increasing demand for their
product via file-sharing, a decreasing demand I believe they would be much
more open to working with the file sharers rather than against

But, speaking of working with you rather than against you…

Unpaid Netflix Accounts

I’ve had Netflix for many, many years… I have a lot of
ratings, looks like around 2,250. This week we have been watching almost
nothing, so I brought up the idea of stopping streaming as well. But if I
decide to come back it would be nice if I still had my rating history…

Netflix has a nice option where you can put a plan on hold. However,
it’s got quite a lot of restrictions… You have to tell it how long to
put it on hold up front (it’s not clear you can disable the hold part-way
through). You are also limited to at most 90 days. While they don’t bill
you while you’re on hold, they also will consume the whatever you have paid
on the current month (which for me, started 3 days ago).

In other words, I can put my service on hold for 3 months, at the cost
of a third of a month’s service per month…

Why can’t I have a Netflix account that has no streaming movies, no
DVDs, and costs nothing, but preserves my queues and ratings?

I imagine someone thought that requiring you to pay for storing 2,250
movie ratings on their server, would make their service more “sticky”. And
I’ll admit that I felt some reluctance to cancel my account when I found
I’d lose those ratings.

On the other hand, if I lose my ratings and other account information,
there’s now more reluctance for me to return to Netflix if I later decide
to. Now I have to somehow import my ratings or re-rate 2,250 movies.

Exporting of Ratings

Aparently, there are ways of exporting the Netflix ratings
though… I haven’t tried any, it’s not clear that there are “no strings
attached” with any that I’ve looked at so far. I’ll probably look at this
a bit more, since I have nearly a month to either do this or decide that
it’s not really that important.

In Closing

Netflix is one of the few websites I visit that I have to pay to keep
a login on. They offer a great service, at a very fair price, but I want
to try something else. Not another service, but doing something completely
different. I want to be less of a consumer and more of a producer.


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