How to Improve Netflix

Yes­ter­day I down­grad­ed our Net­flix account from three DVDs at a time to two. Have I got­ten so much as an email ask­ing me why? Nope! Net­flix may be the most suc­cess­ful com­pa­ny I use that does­n’t seem to care about cater­ing to their sub­scriber base. What makes me say that? Since I signed up, I can’t think of a sin­gle fea­ture they’ve man­aged to improve. You might say, “But they rolled out stream­ing for your pre­cious Xbox,” but even that came with its own set of prob­lems. Net­flix is absolute­ly nowhere when it comes to solv­ing the issues that would make their ser­vice bet­ter with­out the cost­ly expense of new content.

Here’s what I’d like them to fix:

  • Shared queues. This is a great fea­ture that was spared the chop­ping block in the past year. It’s the thing that ensures that Helen and I share our account and that every­one gets their picks. His­tor­i­cal­ly, Helen’s got­ten two discs and I got one; she’d burn through sea­sons of TV while I slogged through art house flicks. It’s pret­ty great, right? It’d be even bet­ter if Net­flix could tell us which titles were on stream­ing for both queues, instead of just select­ing my queue and leav­ing it at that.
  • New releas­es. I get it. This is an embar­rass­ment that Net­flix wants you to for­get by bring­ing you more stream­ing con­tent. I’m not con­vinced. Even if we can’t have new releas­es for 28 days plus how­ev­er long it takes to get them to us, could we at least see what new stuff is out there, even if it’s just to point­less­ly update our queue. Is that so much to ask?
  • Social fea­tures. These were hor­ri­ble when they had them, but they might’ve improved them rather than wip­ing them out out­right. I know social fea­tures aren’t easy to do. It’s hard to know what peo­ple want. But I can’t think of any oth­er online movie ser­vice that peo­ple love more than Net­flix. I’m guess­ing the com­mu­ni­ty could’ve made help­ful sug­ges­tions. It would­n’t have had to involve much work prob­a­bly. At this point they could prob­a­bly get away with some degree of Face­book inte­gra­tion and let that plat­form do the heavy lifting.

Now, I’m thrilled that they’re lever­ag­ing their stream­ing con­tent to the max. Putting that stuff on any screen is great. I’ve heard plen­ty of peo­ple say there’s noth­ing good in the stream­ing library, but that’s just because they’re not real­ly into the art house con­tent. I love it! I can’t wait until I can watch an episode of 30 Rock on my iPhone as I ride the train. I just think that these tweaks will go a long way to improv­ing the ser­vice for the long haul.

So, go ahead and sur­prise me, Netflix!

An Avalanche of Entertainment

It’s easy to under­stand why some peo­ple feel com­plete­ly over­whelmed by the enter­tain­ment options at their dis­pos­al. I do, too! When Net­flix and Xbox 360 paired up to stream Watch Instant­ly titles, I sud­den­ly found myself awash in on-demand options. Is it amaz­ing (and a much bet­ter expe­ri­ence than watch­ing on my com­put­er?) Absolute­ly. Do I feel like like I can’t pri­or­i­tize my enter­tain­ment options? Total­ly! All these options are a bless­ing and a curse to some­one who likes more than his fair share of movies. How do I know where to watch them?

Here’s what I’ve watched recent­ly and where:

  • For­get­ting Sarah Mar­shall (Com­cast On Demand)
  • Man on Wire (Net­flix Watch Instant­ly on Xbox 360)
  • The Horse’s Mouth (Com­cast DV‑R)
  • Gomor­rah (actu­al movie theater)
  • Sal­vador (Net­flix DVD)

I’m look­ing for some­one to pull togeth­er all of the enter­tain­ment options I have so I can man­age them from a cen­tral hub. I want to be able to pri­or­i­tize my Net­flix queue by know­ing if some­thing will be avail­able on Turn­er Clas­sic Movies or not. I want to be prompt­ed to record or rent when I search I know I’m not alone. Who does­n’t want to get the most out of their cable and Net­flix sub­scrip­tions? Isn’t stuff like this at the heart of the seman­tic web?

Criterion Delays Blu-ray Collection, Again

Engad­get dropped this lit­tle tid­bit last week about Cri­te­ri­on delay­ing their Blu-ray launch yet again. Do I sus­pect any­thing nefar­i­ous? Not real­ly, but I wish Cri­te­ri­on would recon­sid­er dump­ing mon­ey into a for­mat that will nev­er be adopt­ed in any mean­ing­ful way. I’m hope­ful that their flashy new web­site (pun intend­ed) is an indi­ca­tion that they may be rethink­ing Blu-ray and con­sid­er­ing some sort of HD dig­i­tal deliv­ery system.

With the HD Stream­ing Net­flix on New Xbox Expe­ri­ence blow­ing my mind, I’d hope that they’d find a way to get their con­tent uploaded there to spare the expense of author­ing Blu-ray discs. I have my fin­gers crossed.