Netflix: Cancelled

I cancelled our Netflix subscription today.

In answering their “why terminate service?” survey, it really came down to several reasons.

The Apple TV has spoiled us. Even with its currently limited (though growing) selection, we can make a decision about what we want to watch less than 5 minutes before we want to start watching it.

Too often, we would look at the three Netflix envelopes and say “No… Nah… Uh uh…” and then either watch some stupid TV (back when we still had Direct TV) or grab something via Apple TV.

Given the 50,000 movies delivered per day to Apple TV and iTunes users, it is clear that we aren’t the only ones seeking immediate gratification.

Sadly, the once nimble Netflix doesn’t seem to really get it.

Their “primary reasons for canceling” selections do not include Apple TV, Amazon’s Unboxed, or any other “the market has evolved beyond physical media” selections. And their “what will be your new primary source?” question has “I will download movies over the internet” as the only appropriate answer. Hopefully, Netflix won’t dump that list on the MPAA as I’m sure they would interpret it as evidence of further supposed infringement!

I was really hoping that Netflix’s online delivery play with Roku would be compelling.

Not to be. The diskless set-top box does not have the space to fully download any given piece of content. Thus, the box requires that the internet connection provide a stable, consistently high bandwidth, connection. In the face of lower bandwidth connections, it compensates by dropping back to fairly low quality bit rates.

My experience with all of the broadband internet connections I have ever had is that they tend to get very bursty in the evening hours as the whole neighborhood takes to their internet connections.

The last thing I want is to deal with an angry family when the quality of some movie drops to crap or drops out completely in the middle of playback.

With the Apple TV, we frequently had playback of an HD movie catch up to the download because available bandwidth dropped off during playback. Of course, the Apple TV has built in storage capable of storing the full movie and, thus, fixing this is as simple as starting the download of the movie before taking the ten minutes to make a bowl of popcorn!

None of this is to say that Netflix is a failure. It isn’t. If you are really into movies are like to watch lots of TV Shows, Netflix’s selection is unparalleled and the price can’t be beat.

I’ll revisit their service if they release a device that offers reliable playback compatible with realities of US broadband service. We do watch enough movies that Netflix’s monthly rates combined with such a device would be fiscally attractive.

In any case, farewell for now, Netflix, it was sometimes fun, but mostly disappointing.

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4 Responses to “Netflix: Cancelled”

  1. julian says:

    And they’re killing Profiles, the one thing that made their movie recommendation engine useful when several people were using it. 🙁

  2. k says:

    I was going to drop netflix at the same time I dropped cable for the same reasons; I use AppleTV and Amazon Unbox and my HD antenna. Instead, I have a one movie at a time subscription to Netflix and I use the Internet services to fill the time between shipments. A little bit of everything. Especially since the online selections are still so limited.

  3. Colin Barrett says:

    I would love to drop Netflix, but the selection just isn’t there. I just took a survey of the top 10 items in my Netflix queue. I searched for each one on iTunes: only two were available (both were available to rent, though).

    Even if the selections were the same, having to spend $3 to rent a movie is a big deterrent. “Do I want to pay $3 to rent this?” is a much different decision than paying $17 (or $9) every month and being able to instantly decide to watch a movie without worrying about how much it’s costing me.

    I wish there were a service that offered Netflix-level selection, a per month pricing scheme (I’d be fine with limiting the number of movies per month) but was purely digital. Sigh.

  4. Houman says:

    “we can make a decision about what we want to watch less than 5 minutes before we want to start watching it.”

    Who is your internet provider – I would love to be able to start watching an HD flic within 5 minutes of the download;-)

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