Why I’m Not Giving Up Netflix

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“Why are you defending them?” my wife asked me when I told her about this article. “They’re going to make it harder to jump between the two sites….I only hope that our ques carry over!”

There has been a lot of nonsense that has been brought on by Netflix since their announcement this summer that they were going to be raising their rates to up to 60% and that charges would be split individually between the DVD side and the streaming side. This was followed a few weeks ago by the announcement that the DVD site would be changed from Netflix.com to Quikster.com (it hasn’t gone unnoticed that they couldn’t even go with the common spelling of the word “quick”) and that both ques would need to be managed separately, creating a level of inconvenience and confusion not seen since people were asked if they honestly liked Michael Bay’s “Transformers.”

As a customer of Netflix since 2001, I have shaken my head enough to try to figure out what the hell they were thinking. But never once did I consider dropping them and going to another outlet such as Blockbuster, Red Box, Wal-Mart Online, or Comcast On-Demand. The closest thing I have thought about was to drop from my 3 discs (with Blu-Ray) and streaming down to two discs (Blu-Ray and streaming) to save a couple of bucks.

I can’t defend the stupidity of their actions. Personally, I think that the splitting of the brand is unbelievably dumb! My rate increase was not as drastic as the subscribers who only do the 1 disc and streaming (mine only went up under 20%, and I am not alone in subscribing with the multiple discs). I also have an issue with, what seems to be, the dwindling selection of their vaunted streaming library. Ill-advised strong arming during negotiations has cost Netflix the abilty to steam Starz Play (where the Disney animated features are coming from), as well as other studios work. Also, certain titles seem to come and go with no real reason given. As it stands right now, I’m still pissed that the series of “Word World” has vanished from the library, causing my wife to broach the subject with our 3 year-old as if we had to describe that the cat was now “sleeping” in heaven. I can’t justify any of this, but what I can defend is the inherent value of the service that I have been partaking of for the last 10 years.

When I first started with Netflix, I had done it solely to start up with back episodes of “The Sopranos.” This was also back when the only shipping depot was across the country in California. Once I had finished the first 3 seasons of “The Sopranos,” I began to look very deep into the selection of DVDs that were available. It was like going back to the family owned video store that I worked at during college. The selection gave me the most obscure comedies, the hardest to find classics, and more than just the current Oscar nominated documentaries. Thanks to Netflix, I have significantly increased my movie viewing experience and have been able to watch the types of films that I wouldn’t normally have access to. Since those early days, I have seen my rates go up at first, and then down to lower than when I started. I have seen the delivery time dwindle from having to wait 5 days in between deliveries to 2 days. Then Netflix Streaming was introduced, and I could watch more during the in between days that I waited for another disc to arrive. All in all, this is a better value per an entire month than a single night out at the movies (and don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the movie going experience, but I’ve got a kid and a mortgage!).

Changing to another movie provider would incur a number of changes that I just don’t think anybody should have to settle for. Let’s start with selection. Going through Redbox means that I can only get the latest new releases, all of which are feature films. So that means no documentaries, no “need to catch up on” classics, and no diversity. I’d probably enjoy Redbox if I was thirteen years old and was into the latest PG-13 horror movies, but I’ve been to the other side of the mountain.

Going through Blockbuster or Wal-Mart Streaming means that I get the best movies completely whitewashed of controversy and director’s integrity. It is the policy of both providers that any movie they carry requires a rating, meaning that if an unrated director’s cut of a movie is available, you’ll have to pound sand and deal with the PG-13 version of it (I don’t lend the show “Family Guy” much credence, but there was a pretty spot-on bit about Blockbuster where they said that it was their policy to remove anything that might upset certain viewers. They then cut to a scene from “The Prince of Tides” where Streisand’s nose had a black bar in front of it.). These two carriers have had a hand for the past decade in dumbing down the movie viewing experience such as putting an emphasis on Full Screen movies over Widescreen, not going beyond the big studios, and limiting access to smaller movies that could use the audience.

Finally, cost and the overall value play a huge part in it. I could go through my Comcast On-Demand, but I’m paying about $5 for a hi-def movie that I can watch as many times as I want within a 24 hour period. Have you ever tried to watch “Kung Fu Panda” more than once in a row???? Now multiply those $5 per movie by 30 days in a month…see what I mean? Plus, we get back to selection. Sure, On-Demand gets movies faster than Netflix (and Redbox), but that’s again only if you’re interested in new releases.

Look, no company is perfect. You just need to turn on the news to realize that. However, I think that once the furor of the price hikes and web changes are in the past, we’ll go on to enjoying what Netflix does best; deliver the most impressive selection of movies and tv anywhere. Think about that the next time you’re going through Redbox and somebody asks you if you want to watch “The Manchurian Candidate” (the Laurence Harvey version, not that Denzel Washington shit!). Or if you’re so inclined…feel free to bootleg….more power to you!!!!

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