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Thursday, April 25, 2013

BREAKING NEWS! Rating Netflix: Act in Hastings, Repent at Leisure


Regular readers know of my strong preference for DVDs over streaming; one primary reason for this preference is that the Hulu Plus and Netflix, which are two big players in the streaming video industry, have incredibly annoying content issues.

The disclaimer regarding content issues is that the potentially awesome new Warner Archive Instant service is MUCH more upfront regarding the relatively limited range of its selection. This catalog contains a large portion of some of the greatest vintage television shows and movies out there. The menus allow for very EASY viewing regarding available content, and common sense indicates that that content does not include non-Warner titles.

Related pet peeves with Hulu Plus are that that service does not allow adding any content that is available on Hulu to your instant queue, only allows adding 100 hours of content to that queue, and is very user-unfriendly regarding notice related to exceeding that limit.

Hulu competitor Netflix has experienced much more well-publicized content issues and made headlines when it amended its policies related to providing both DVDs and streaming content.

I dropped Hulu Plus within a few hours of signing up for it for the reasons stated above, and because the programs that I selected both had logos at the bottom of the screen and included commercials that could not be fast-forwarded over.

Netflix's policy of allowing subscribers to link five devices to their accounts facilitated piggybacking on a friend's account. So far, I have watched one film.

Another friend mentioning a few weeks ago that he had recently bought the films "Frankenweenie," "Hitchcock," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "The Perks of Being A Wallflower," and "Skyfall" on DVD prompted searching Netflix for those titles. NONE of them were available for streaming.

The fact that these films came from several studios demonstrated that the problem was not simply that Netflix's contract with a particular studio had expired.

The anticipated demand for these "hot" titles also made me anticipate that I will be taking my inevitable eternal dirt nap before my friend receives all of them on DVD from Netflix if he places them in his queue.

I looked for older titles on Netflix this morning and came up as empty as I had regarding the newly released productions. This prompted several frustrating calls to Netflix's customer service department. That frustration led to a handful of equally dead-end calls to the corporate headquarters.

It seems unlikely that anyone with any authority at Netflix ever answers his or her telephone, and the receptionist is only authorized to send customer calls back to the customer service center.

I am advising my friend to cancel his membership and continue his practice of enjoying my large collection of television shows and movies.

I advise anyone who is considering signing up with Netflix to enjoy all the free content that is LEGALLY (no joke!) on the web and spend the $8 monthly fee that they would otherwise pay Netflix on one or two bargain DVDs each month. I regularly see "big" films from the past few years sell for $5 or less.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding streaming in general or Netflix is encouraged to email me. I promise Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his staff the same responsiveness that the company provides its customers.