When I first subscribed to Netflix’s streaming service, it was a great way to watch movies and shows that I had missed through other sources. I started regularly visiting sites that tracked what’s been added to the service and adding items as a result. Then it changed.
It seems strange but the addition of competition in streaming service providers seems to have been a detriment for the consumer. Prior to this, the content owners had a choice of whether they wanted to get streaming royalties at a price that Netflix was wiling to pay or get none at all. Then when competing services started to arise, particularly Amazon, these content owners could play the services off of one another to get a higher royalty and offer exclusivity at a premium. With this change, the consumer must subscribe to multiple streaming services to get the equivalent content that used to be available on a single service.
This is only going to get worse as Disney is starting their own service and when they do they are likely to pull all of their content off of Netflix. This includes Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars which I’ve noticed tended to be the most popular movies on Netflix. In order to continue to receive this content, the consumer must subscribe to yet another service.
With the rise in royalties demanded by the content owners, streaming services turned to creating their own content. With their own content they don’t have to concern themselves with the negotiation of royalties or content disappearing from their service when the contract ends. This content is, by its nature, exclusive to that one service in perpetuity. This brings another reason to force the consumer to subscribe to multiple services.
The ratings and recommendation system that Netflix uses has always been problematic. This has become more so with anything that has “Netflix Original” attached. I’ve noticed these originals, whether they are actually owned by Netflix or whether Netflix is an exclusive distributor in that region, always have a high rating. Furthermore, there seems to be no connection whatsoever between the item’s rating and the actual quality of that media. I’ve seen several series/movies labeled with “Netflix Original” all with high ratings ranging from decent to poor to some of the worst things I have ever seen.
I came to the conclusion that the “Netflix Original” ratings were being gamed or artificially inflated. I did start to notice that the written user reviews on Netflix tended to be more accurate so I started using those to determine if the series/movie was worth my time. Now Netflix is removing these reviews so I no longer have a mechanism to determine whether something is worth watching. I had already wasted too many hours on something that’s not worth watching when I had some semblance of whether it would be good or not but now it’s walking blindly through a sea of mediocrity in search of something worth my time.
Quantity vs Quality
I started to notice a trend among the original content present on both Netflix and Amazon. Netflix has some series that I like to watch but Amazon has some series that I truly love. I cannot say that I love a series on Netflix. It seems as if Netflix is going for quantity in their series over quality. Since I set a high bar for what I’ll spend my time watching, this means there’s little content on Netflix worth the investment. This, combined with the ratings, means that watching something on Netflix has degraded to watching something that’s passable as opposed to watching something that’s good.
Value for Price
I look at what I get from Amazon Prime and it has remained worth the money. I originally got it just for the shipping and considered the other perks to be a bonus but I now use several of their Prime offerings. Its price is cheaper than Netflix and I get far more benefit from it. Meanwhile Netflix has a higher price and I go months without finding anything worth watching. With the elimination of the written reviews, Netflix has increased the risk of wasting time watching something poor. This risk vs the reward of enjoying a movie/series has crossed the threshold where it is no longer worth taking the gamble. I no longer have a means to determine whether the media’s rating is artificially inflated or genuine and my time is too valuable to waste it finding out.
As the competing streaming services increase in number, consumers would have to subscribe to more and more of them to continue to receive their desired content. Eventually many will tumble to the fact most services doesn’t provide enough content to warrant paying for the service year-long. One solution is to subscribe to a given service for only part of the year, watch everything they’ve added in the time since they last subscribed, cancel, wait for enough content to be added, repeat.
I’ve determined that it is time for me to start with this strategy and cancel my Netflix streaming account. I’ll likely renewed it several months from now, watch the little content that’s been added which catches my interest, and cancel it again. I’ll likely only have it 2-3 months out of the year because that corresponds with the amount of content that’s worthwhile on their service.