The Slow Death of Netflix

 By Shamus Jun 18, 2012 348 comments

So I’m watching the latest Errant Signal, which is about Max Payne 3. During the vid, Chris mentions Man On Fire. I’ve never seen that movie, but I do remember wanting to check it out at some point.

I hop over to Netflix and do a search…

Not available for streaming.

Hmph. Lame. The movie came out eight years ago. What are you guys waiting for?

But this movie reminds me of another one I’d wanted to see, Book of Eli. I’ve heard it’s not very good, but I’m willing to give it a go just to see Denzel do his thing.

Not available for streaming.

Fine. Whatever. Miami Vice is also cited as an obvious influence for Max Payne 3. I should give that a look. I was a teen in the 80′s, and some retro-kitsch might be fun.

Not available for streaming.

The last movie Chris cites is Domino. That’s seven years old so…

Not available for streaming.

Come on. Well, I’ve got the Netflix window open. Let’s see if I can find something. I really wanted to see Inglourious Basterds when it came out. It’s only three years old but it might-

Not available for streaming.

X-Men First Class?

Not available for streaming.

Okay. That one was only a year old and I admit it was a bit of a longshot. Inception?

Not available for streaming.

I need to go back further. At least 2 or 3 years. How about Repo Men? Clash of the Titans?

Not available for streaming.

Strangely enough, Netflix has Iron Man 2. It’s a really good movie, but I’ve already seen it three or four times, mostly due to the fact that it’s one of the few titles on Netflix that I want to see. I really am in the mood for something new right now.

Heck, I’ll even watch something purportedly crappy, like The Losers. Or maybe something only partly interesting to me, like Splice.

Not available for streaming.

This is ridiculous.

Speaking of 80′s kitsch, how about The A-Team? Might be fun to see Liam Neeson try to carry ninety minutes of dumb action schlock all by himself.

Not available for streaming.

I’m going to hate myself for asking but… Ghost Rider?

Whew.

Oh! But that makes me think of Nick Cage’s Bad Lieutenant. I know I saw that on Netflix at one point. MovieBob even said it was worth a look.

Not available for streaming.

So I guess they REMOVED that one?

I want to stress that I’m not cherry-picking here. I really am looking for a movie and I really am getting bupkis for every single attempt. There are good movies here, but not many, and I’ve pretty much seen them all by this point.

I’ll go for a couple of weeks without checking Netflix. Then when I come back I’ll check out the “what’s new” lineup and find it almost unchanged. As far as I can tell, their library of streaming content is shrinking. They are pulling movies faster than they’re adding them. (At least if we’re talking real movies. They have a double helping of crappy B-movie schlock and abominable title-knockoffs like “Transmorphers“. Ugh. Maybe the total supply of long-tail crud is expanding, but the supply of recognizable movies with recognizable stars seems to be dwindling.)

As someone pointed out on Twitter, Netflix does have a good supply of oddball indie flicks and experimental stuff. Most of those are about dysfunctional urban twenty-somethings struggling against utterly banal and infantile problems, most of which are their own doing. I didn’t even like that stuff when I was a twenty-something myself. What I really dig is Sci-fi, and there is very little “indie sci-fi” in the world, and I’ve already picked over what little exists on Netflix. Protip: Moon is a darn good movie if you like your sci-fi slow and thinky. I watched it last year on Netflix, although I see it’s gone now.

I know, I know. Broaden my horizons and all that. I’m sure there are good movies in other genres. The problems with finding them is this:

netflix_dumb.jpg

“Heather” in this case is the name Netflix has for my entire family. My son is really into Mythbusters. My daughters are into laugh-track faux-comedy like Wizards of Waverly Place, iCarly, and Ned’s Declassified Not-funny Show. They also watch a lot of Inspector Poirot, Mrs. Marple, and Dr. Who with their mother. When she’s watching without the kids, my wife is into Korean dramas. (She likes how Korean shows have a fixed arc, like Anime, and don’t just introduce a premise and beat it into the ground like American shows do.) All of them watch varying genres of Anime.

And then once every couple of weeks I show up and try to watch something with superheros, space aliens, kung-fu, or people shooting each other. Because I’m all about the peace and love.

The upshot is that Netflix insists on treating the five of us as a single person, which is a stupid and impossible task.

(And before you tell me about sub-accounts: I don’t think sub-accounts work with streaming content, only discs. More importantly, logging in and out of sub-accounts is very inconvenient and tedious, particularly on the Wii. For a lot of reasons, sub-accounts aren’t really useful to us, and the only benefit they would offer is that they would make Netflix less stupid about suggesting and rating things for us. I don’t want Netflix to suggest or rate things for me. I can do my own thinking, thank you, as long as I can get to the information.)

Netflix provides a rating based on what Netflix THINKS our gestalt viewer would THINK of the movie. This is a computer making a guess about the subjective preferences of someone who doesn’t exist. That might as well be a random number. The more interesting and useful number – the one that describes what everyone else in the world thought of the movie – is only available if I click through. This slows down my search, which is already slow enough because of how little information Netflix packs on screen.

netflix_browse.jpg

That’s a good browsing system for on the Wii, but when I’m browsing on my PC that’s a ridiculous waste of screen space.

The point is, two years ago I could enter the name of a two-year-old movie and have a better than even chance of finding it available for instant view. Now the library feels empty and it’s a pain in the ass to dig around to find something worthwhile that I might have overlooked. I usually get bored after ten minutes of this and go back to playing videogames.

I know most of this problem is caused by the fact that movie studios are pulling their stuff from Netflix because they don’t want to share all those sweet-sweet royalties with Netflix. So instead of making a small percent of my monthly subscription fee, they are now making 100% of… nothing.

I know there’s Amazon movie-watch service thing. But that doesn’t work on the XBox 360 or the Wii. Hulu works, but that’s mostly TV shows and I never want to watch TV shows. Also, I don’t like paying for individual titles unless I’m almost sure I’m going to like it. With Netflix, I paid a flat fee and was able to sample things until I found something I liked. Is a movie slow? Boring? Preachy? Stupid? No problem. I can just hit the back button and try again. This is less attractive if every movie costs me $4 and I have to watch it in a fixed timeframe. Also, we already have Hulu and Netflix. I’m not interested in making a bunch more accounts and paying a bunch more monthly fees just to chase down all this scattered content. This would be like if, when television was rising to replace the radio as the dominant form of entertainment, TV stations suddenly pulled the plug and announced their shows were all going to be on their own proprietary brand of television.

This is much less about price than it is about convenience. Scrupulous people like me are just going without. Everyone else is routing around this stupidity with torrents. I’m looking forward to the point where some of the mummified old-media relics retire and movie studios are run by people who have used the internet. I have money to spend and movies I want to see, but there’s only so much hassle I’m willing to endure to make this transaction happen.

I really thought Netflix was going to be the Wal-Mart of digital movies. But then the studios pulled their wares from the shelves so they could sell stuff out of their garage. I’m sure they’re sitting in the front yard now, scowling at the lack of customers and cursing those danged pirates for ruining everything.

Have fun, morons. In the meantime, I’ll be playing videogames.

A Hundred!A Hundred!A Hundred!20208348 comments. Sure. Just keeping adding more. It's not like my server has finite HD space.


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  1. Infinitron says:

    Iron Man 2 sucked, easily the worst Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.

    • Shamus says:

      Daredevil? The first Hulk movie? The Fantastic Four? Spider-Man 3? Ghost Rider? The Punisher?

      I dunno. “Worst” seems a bit hasty.

      EDIT: I see. We’re talking about the movies made by Marvel, not the ones outsourced to other studios. Which means so far we’re mostly talking about the ones that feed into The Avengers.

      I can see calling that one the worst. Although, I think it’s pretty cool that the worst Marvel movie is better than a majority of the outsourced movies. One lame one and five good ones? That’s a lot better than one or two good ones for every five lame ones.

      Really glad Marvel is doing these themselves now. I’d even argue they’re better at making movies than at making comic books.

      • Raynooo says:

        Ugh don’t even remind me of the first Hulk…
        Daredevil was on french TV a couple days ago, it looked like a cheap straight to DVD movie.

        Iron Man 2 was at least really entertaining (though they seem to have gone mad with tan spray in this one, or was that a joke I didn’t get ?).

      • krellen says:

        I would argue that Iron Man II was an entirely average movie. It only looks bad when compared to the rest of the MCU; compared to the rest of cinema, it holds up pretty respectfully.

      • Some days, I’m sure if I’m crazy or I just have really different tastes but I like the first Hulk movie, love the Director’s Cut of Daredevil, and I adore The Punisher, even despite the core of the film nearly forming an antithesis to what the comic book Punisher was.

        However, on the upside, I do agree that Ghost Rider, Spiderman 3, and Fantastic Four are all pretty bad. Fantastic Four, particularly, was atrocious. And I even really like Iron Man 2, more so than Captain America.

        • I really liked the bit of Daredevil when he was still a kid.

          When he became Ben Affleck it got really ordinary (I like Michael Clark Duncan as well, actually – but he couldn’t carry the film by himself, except in a literal “he is massive so he probably could actually carry it” way)

    • Joshua says:

      I had seen Iron Man, and my wife and I had both seen Thor, and then we watched the Avengers together. She loved it enough to want to go see it a second time(something that almost never happens). But first, we had to go back and watch all of the other movies leading into it.

      I’d have to say, Iron Man 2 was definitely not the best of them. I was reminded of Mission Impossible 2, where they storyboarded all of the action scenes first, and then wrote the plot around those action scenes.

      That’s the only reason I can think of for stuff like when he has his notary step into a boxing ring with his 250 lb bodyguard, why he decides to start driving a car in a race at the last minute, or why his normally calm and reserved army buddy decides to start a full on battle in Stark’s house to beat some sense in him. It doesn’t matter why we’re doing this, it’s just a cool scene you see and we had to have it happen!

      • False Prophecy says:

        Iron Man 2 was trying to continue some kind of character development arc for Tony, while allowing for a high-action plot, and setting things up for the Avengers, and it just couldn’t keep it all together. Half those plotlines should have been scuttled or at least tied together better. The “I’m dying” plotline could have been tied into Whiplash’s “If you could make God bleed” threat, and maybe Tony could be thinking about his legacy–either who will take over the reins of Iron Man after he’s gone, or possibly coming to terms with the darker parts of his father’s legacy as weapons merchant. But both these plotlines just seem wasted in this film.

        Although, I don’t get the people who hated Justin Hammer. I thought he was the best part of the film! Sam Rockwell obviously played him as someone trying really hard to be Tony Stark–copying his style, dating a woman Tony slept with, trying to be as flashy in his presentations. Just a brilliant performance.

        • Infinitron says:

          Yeah, the villains were the best part of the film. I kept wishing for another scene with them.

        • John says:

          “who will take over the reins of Iron Man after he’s gone”

          I kinda felt like he was thinking about that. He just wasn’t saying it out loud and making it really obvious.

          • Tesh says:

            Indeed. That was made fairly clear when Fury called him on letting Rhodes take the other suit of armor. Heck, half the battle scene seemed like Stark putting Rhodes through the paces with the suit.

        • Joshua says:

          I didn’t think of it like that, but that’s a really good explanation for it. The whole I’m dying bit was especially pointless because they used an Ass Pull to cure it at the end.

          As far as Justin Hammer, the character wasn’t any more ridiculous than Jeff Bridge’s character. I just felt it was a little silly for the #2 weapons manufacturer in the U.S. to make nothing but duds.

    • kmc says:

      I’m just mad they have Iron Man 2 but not Iron Man. What the crap? Yeah, I hate it that Netflix–which absolutely has the best model (for me, anyway)–is just fading into irrelevancy.

    • Jack V says:

      Is Iron Man on the list? I thought Iron Man II was mixed (I agree the other Avengers films are better, and several other superhero films are worse), but I thought it was better than Iron Man I, simply because something seemed to happen! :)

      • Thomas says:

        I remember liking the relationships between Pepper and Tony a lot in the second one. I think the advantage of 1 was that it was really new and fresh to have a hero like Downey (why is it, I feel compelled to write his full name, even the junior?) played Iron Man. I haven’t seen Captain America but I can’t think of a single MCU film that completely blew me from the plot. They’ve mainly been weak plots faily good action and excellent humour and characters (though not character _arcs_ apart from the Hulks in The Avengers, which was mindblowingly good and maybe Loki in Thor)

        • Aldowyn says:

          I didn’t actually see the Incredible Hulk, but apparently he already went through that character arc in that movie and just kinda did it again in Avengers, so…

          I personally liked Iron Man 1 better than the second for some reason. It seemed more consistent somehow.

          Loki was definitely cool though :D

          • Thomas says:

            The villain was better in 1 and as an origin story it didn’t have to put so much stress on the plot as 2 did.

            Also I hadn’t seen the Incredible Hulk and I’m really sad that the best part about the Avengers might not work in continuity :(

            • Peter H. Coffin says:

              Essentially, Iron Man benefited from simply having less going on in it, fewer angles that needed attention, etc. There were enough storylines and material in II to fill out six to eight hours of screen time to handle properly, or maybe two three-hour films.

    • Dev Null says:

      Not the best of the lot I’ll grant you, but it was glorious eye-candy compared to Thor. The entire plot of that movie was “Ancient Norse god goes to earth and is confused by modern American society. Then he fights stuff.”

      And frankly, if the entire plot had been “Thor fights stuff” it would have vastly improved the film. The hackneyed attempts at humor just ruined the mood and the pacing.

      • Aldowyn says:

        You’re ignoring Loki’s development, which was way more interesting than Thor’s.

        I wonder how long it’s going to be before Hemsworth does something that’s not fantasy…

        • Thomas says:

          Although I feel like Loki is so good it causes problems. Because I want Loki to win. I’m really hoping Marvel has an arc for him where he finishes up good one or two films down the line(and not caving into the others either, but something he does for himself), it was sad to see he’d only got worse in the time between Thor and the Avengers

      • David Armstrong says:

        When Thor walked into the pet store and demanded a horse, I nearly died laughing.

        Yes, those moments were obviously shoehorned in for comic relief, but damn they worked. It was great :)

        • Kavonde says:

          Seconded! And that bit with the coffee mug was brilliant, too.

          The “fish out of water” parts might have been trite and cliche from a conceptual standpoint, but in practice they were very clever. If I’ve learned only one from the dozens of hours I’ve spent on TVTropes, it’s this: tropes are tools. In the right hands, they can make great things.

      • Infinitron says:

        Thor was a good movie because the plot was actually interesting and it even had a bit of mystery. However, the Natalie Portman romantic plot tumor should be excised with extreme prejudice.

        • SkeevetI says:

          Here’s the thing about the Natalie Portman love story. Firstly, her character gives Thor a reason to give a crap. That relationship is there to show Thor growing compassion for humans. Sure they could have done this with a scene in which a bunch of people save Thor, and some old guy gives him a good talking to after about how we humans want to be nice and love each other. That would have sucked though. It was easier and makes more sense to give him one likable homosapian to be the representation of humans and the source of his humility. Also these movies, especially the Iron Mans have a tendency to give men a lot of eye candy. Women tend to get less attractive men to look at. I for one am glad they finally tossed the ladies a bone. (no pun intended)
          Lastly Thor as a movie or a comic book for that matter is a tough one. Stories that aren’t way far out there fantasies are tough to make for this character. If you notice The Avengers movie is completely void of any love story. So it is not as if they are afraid to make a movie without one. They just felt it was necessary for Thor. Laslty Natalie Portman is beautiful. if your only complaint about the movie is having to look at a very pretty lady for two hours, then i would say it was a damn fine flick

    • Christopher says:

      Why are all these comments about Iron Man 2 when the post is about Netflix? Ugh.

    • nick says:

      Really?! Thats what you got from this article? Lets ignore all the good points he has and harp on a movie everyone knows is good because yoh like to wear tight pants. Omfg you looser! Yeah, netflix blows, i started writing down my instant queue because I noticed they were pulling movies off netflix. To date 12 “a list” titles have been pulled, including the aforementioned book of eli. Netflix is garbage, I want to give my money to people, but no one is offering an easy way to watch decent movies. So, torrents and streaming sites it is.

  2. rayen says:

    pretty much only use netflix to watch anime. otherwise, well, our apartment came with basic cable, and up until now we haven’t had anything beyond what bunny ears could pick up. so we’re enjoying that. as far as movies are concerned, i mostly use the $5 bin at wal-mart.

    • Phil says:

      Would be great for anime if any of it were japanese audio with english subtitles. Which none of it seems to be (at least, not as my ps3 sees it).

      • Honestly using Netflix to watch anime is pretty useless. The anime available tends to fall on the cheesy side (only a few really great ones available the rest are unavailable.) We own quite a few anime for that reason. I agree with Phil here– the fact that they only have anime that is dubbed pretty much is it’s downfall. There are so many awesome subbed ones out there.

      • Danman says:

        Actually, the anime that you would expect to be in English are all in Japanese. I’m guessing you don’t want to watch shows like Bleah or Naruto from the beginning (if at all), but they are both only available subbed (in their streaming versions).

      • mixmastermind says:

        Naruto, Inuyasha, and Bleach are all in Japanese, I think.

        And… none of them are on Netflix Instant any more. So… huh.

      • SkeevetI says:

        The argument between sub and dub is kind of a dumb one in my opinion. It just depends on the voice actors for the most part. Shows like Sgt. Frog and Naruto are WAAAAAY better in sub form. However classics like Cowboy Beebop and Trigun suck in sub form. Johnny Yong Bosch the guy who voices Vash the Stampede is a terrific voice actor. That series wouldn’t have been half of what it was without his dubbing. Some animes are good with dubbing and some are not. To say one is exclusively better than the other is being both an elitist and a fool.

        • (late to the party, apologies)

          I used to be a SUBS only person, but I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t just sit and watch something (I blame my ADHD). Subs require me to read, which means I need to constantly have my eyes on the screen and thus can’t knit or read a book. I now prefer bad dubs to good subs, just because of the ADHD inability to sit still. So knowing netflix has a decent dub of Trigun means I’ll go back and watch it again (but I shall bookmark crunchy roll for later perusal)

    • TMTVL says:

      I use CrunchyRoll, I *think* it’s got a better offer (haven’t checked NetFlix out in years, though) and Hulu just goes “We’re sorry, 95 percent of our content is only available in the United States of America.”

      Reminds me of whenever I log into the PS Store on my Japanese account and wind up gawking at the PC-98 titles.

      • You aren’t missing much by not being able to watch Hulu. Their goal is having the most recent American tv shows though I like that they have Dramafever titles and I can watch them on the phone (dramafever premium is more expensive or I would just get that really since we don’t watch anything else on Hulu.)

  3. X2Eliah says:

    Interesting. Seems like netflix will go into obscurity & irrelevance before even extending its reach across the world. Which, really, is a very poor performance on a content-delivery project thats on the Internet

    • Michael says:

      Except, weirdly, it is extending its reach at last. It’s just recently launched in the UK. I thought it was odd seeing adverts for this amazing “new” service called Netflix after hearing about it for years, but if this is happening at the same time loads of films are being pulled from the catalogue then that’s even stranger.

      • What is available on Netflix differs from country to country based on film rights. Movie studios again are to blame. Apparently Canadian Netflix pretty much is pointless thanks to the lack of movie rights.

        • Mephane says:

          There will be one killer application in that field, one day. It will be the website where you just pay a subscription fee and can, from anywhere, watch any movie/series (or at least any the service generally has to offer) regardless of your location. Living in one of the worst region-locked countries in the world*, I so hate it not being able to watch stuff that is running, for example, in the US – series like Caprica, which have not even started here but already been cancelled over there, which means it is likely not even to be delivered at all, or only in parts.

          And then there are these services like Hulu which do exactly what I’d want there (I have no problem watching stuff in English anyway, prefer it for games and books nowadays even if there is a decent translation), but then they are region-locked. Sometimes I feel like I am in exactly one of those “Shut up and take my money” comics.

          I say when/if we ever beat the DRM demon, region-locking and censorship of movies/series/games will be right next on our list of foes…

          *Germany, we even have our own friggin maturity rating here instead of joining in with PEGI (which everyone around us uses, not sure whether it has a reach beyond Europe), and the very same stuff that in neighbouring Austria is available rated “PEGI-18″ – like Saints Row 3 – is available here labelled “USK-18″ AND so heavily censored that entire game modes and mechanics are removed, player-made mods do not work etc.

        • Lame Duck says:

          UK Netflix is also pretty worthless. The 1 month free trial was enough time to watch most of everything we were interested in seeing on there. I suppose it’s not impossible for it to get better with time, but if the American version has a shrinking content base I certainly wouldn’t hold my breath.

        • Steve C says:

          Eventually what will happen is that a country that never signed international copyright treaties will offer an “official” pirate bay like service with professional front end client software. Without those treaties it won’t be illegal in that jurisdiction and a company will just operate with the blessing of the government.IE Netflix-isk that wouldn’t have to answer to anyone.

          If Greece gets booted from the EU, my money is on them dropping copyright law and doing it. The government already sells airspace to the pirate bay servers.

          • Even says:

            Except they’d just eventually get threatened with embargoes and/or being network blocked out on national level if they wouldn’t put a stop to it soon enough.

            • Steve C says:

              Maybe, but it doesn’t/won’t work. Both an embargo like that nor network blocking.

              If Greece is kicked out of the EU they would have a defacto trade embargo levied against them immediately… an economic one. The true power of an embargo is the freezing of foreign capital markets. IE they can’t borrow foreign money. When a country’s economy completely collapses, nobody trades with them anymore and they can’t borrow foreign money anyway. An embargo at that point has all the power of putting a boot on a car without an engine. They won’t have anything to lose. Futurama explains this quite well.

              Network blocking only works if the receivers =don’t= want the traffic. IE stopping spammers from China, blocking a DoS attack coming from Australia etc. But if both the ends want the traffic to happen, it will happen. That’s true of alcohol, drugs, or bytes. Except blocking bytes is not physically possible anymore. If it was, then the great Firewall of China would work.

              • Even says:

                “If Greece is kicked out of the EU they would have a defacto trade embargo levied against them immediately…”

                I’m not sure why they’d do that or if that’s really an official sanction. EU is not a union of states, even if it wants to pretend to be, and I highly doubt that all EU countries would go along with it.

                I just can’t imagine any country sustaining themselves on that kind of business alone. Total economic collapse would be followed with various levels of societal collapses which tend to have an impact on the infrastructure as well which may put a serious hamper to this plan anyway. I never said either embargoes or network blocking was foolproof, but nobody in their serious mind WANTS to be embargoed if they care about staying afloat economically and with network blocking, it would potentially make it that much more difficult to use the service than your average internet user can deal with. Whether they really are efficient or not is irrelevant to the point I was making anyway, which was that no Western country would ever let them do it. If they won’t work, then there are always other measures.

                • Steve C says:

                  I don’t think I explained myself properly. I meant they’d have an embargo in practice, but not officially established. You can’t engage in trade if you have no money. No trade is no trade regardless if it’s because sanctions or because you’re broke.

                  My point was that if a country has suffered an economic collapse due to the country defaulting on it’s national debt, (which everyone agrees will happen to Greece if they are kicked from the EU) then any official embargo based on economic policies has no teeth. Furthermore those kinds of economic embargoes can only be enforced by physical means (ie a ship blockade of oil tankers) or by locking down the buyers (the # of oil companies is a finite number and can be monitored with little difficulty.)
                  Neither of those are remotely possible when it comes to copyright material.

                  Also no country is embargoed completely. It’s always specific goods. The USA is the only one (that matters) that attempts to embargo a whole country (like Cuba). But it doesn’t work (like Cuba) especially for IP. In fact, IP as an official exemption from that embargo because the US couldn’t stop it if it wanted.

        • Eric says:

          Yeah, I’m in Canada and I’m having a very hard time continuing to justify my Netflix subscription. While I don’t think content has actually shrunk down, the new stuff is added at a snail’s pace. Netflix announced, for instance, they’d be putting up Star Trek last November in time for the end of the year. Now, over six months later, not even all the movies are up, and none of the episodes.

          I actually don’t mind the lack of film selection because I prefer watching TV shows, and they do have some good ones, but it’s still not enough. For example, there’s Doctor Who, Farscape, Firefly and other sci-fi shows that I’m interested in… but they’re also largely niche franchises. Anything you’ll find on primetime is almost impossible to find, except the odd sitcom or animated series.

          Part of the problem in Canada is content rights. Bell and Rogers (the two big Canadian telecoms) already own most of those rights exclusively and did so before Netflix showed up in Canada. They have deals to offer them on their (comparatively much, much worse) satellite pay-per-view services, but because they’re also significantly more expensive, it’s not really worth the price. It’s honestly much easier, faster and better to torrent most stuff, even though Netflix offers, in theory, far, far superior service.

          I think Netflix was always kind of doomed. As an independent company they don’t have the clout of big cable networks and thus can’t compete purely financially. Their $10/month subscription is a great, almost too good to be true offer, but it’s clear that it’s not enough to keep them in business. Netflix are basically offering the content several networks offer, with relatively high upkeep costs (tons and tons of servers, not to mention all the lawyers and stuff they need to secure distribution rights), ad-free to boot. They might have more or less got the streaming ball rolling, but now that people with more money and clout have got involved, I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix goes out of business in a few years. It’s a shame, because I have absolutely no desire to touch their competitors.

          • grescheks says:

            Huh, I’m also in Canada, and I see 9 Star Trek movies on Netflix right now, and almost nothing in terms of Dr Who.

            As for what Shamus was searching for, a quick search of Netflix Canada brings me Miami Vice, Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class, The A-Team (both the new movie and the older TV show) and Nicholas Cage’s Bad Lieutenant. But strangely, no Eureka or any of the newer Dr Who (both of which Shamus has in his screenshot); all I have is a couple episodes with the Fourth and Second Doctors, and the Three Doctors special.

  4. Kdansky says:

    Now imagine you live in Europe. There are literally no acceptable streaming services where I live (Netflix? Hulu? Pandora? Nope). The best I can get is “last weeks TV programme on demand”, which means I get to watch German subbed versions of mainstream TV that is at least two years old, for the low price of about 30$ month. Example: Gilmore Girls (2002). That’s just ridiculous.

    Which means I have completely given up and just resort to The Pirate Bay directly. I’m not against paying money, but I won’t make the extra effort to order DVDs, rip the content, download a subtitle, patch it together and then sell the DVD on e-bay (because I do not care about physical media, nor will I watch the show in the span of a decade). That’s way too much work.

    Or HBO. Game of Thrones? To my knowledge the only way to get HBO stuff is to buy the DVDs many years later, and frankly, I don’t have the patience to wait that long if I can download a Torrent just hours after its airing. I don’t even feel guilty about it, because that’s just human nature.

    [Bonus chatter: My wife asks for Japanese subs. Which takes days in the case of TPB, or decades in the case of official releases.]

    • Bubble181 says:

      Ah, yes, being able to buy season 7 of NCIS for $3.50 per episode and all that jazz, so lovely.

      These days, I tend to buy the DVDs from American/UK on line shops. I don’t really mind subtitles being only in English (though my girlfriend struggles occasionally); by now I have a backlog of several seasons of shows so I don’t mind as much that I watch everything afew years later.

      Annoying when you see the occassional more modern show though, or in on line discussions – memes that aren’t known yet, references to things you haven’t seen yet,…

      One would think it’s the dubbing/subtitling of things that take time, but given that the Pirates often have better subtitles and even the occassional better dubbing (and who the * wants dubbed sound anyway?!), it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

      • Chargone says:

        when it comes to anime:
        people who’d rather avoid the screech japanese schoolgirl voices. seriously. track down azumanga daioh and listen to the japanese soundtrack. i can’t even tell most of the girls voices apart, it’s just one screechy headache inducing Doom. ‘cept Sakaki’s voice. that one’s nice.

        then listen to the english dub. no such issues. but bad dubs can ruin things, it’s true. i’d take subtitles over a bad dub, but i prefer a good dub over subtitles…

        and if anime is anything like manga, the MAIN delay for the legit version is the japanese publishing companies being absolute Dicks about the licensing deals. seriously, the things that go into those are nuts. though, to be fair, it’s with good reason. they got burned early on by some US companies doing a really crappy job.

        that’s the japanese-english issue.

        english-anything else is more: US media cartels are made of suck and seriously believe it’s better to force you to wait weeks to months for the thing to come out on one format after another until you get to the one you want, seriously think it’s legit to charge 20+ dollars NZ per unit on units that have a maginal cost of a few cents, if That, and only if you’re buying a physical disc, think region locking is a great idea because it lets them charge that, or more, in the regions where the customers have that kind of money available AND drop the price elsewhere where that’s not true without the product just being re-imported at the lower price (and there’s serious legal stuff going on in the US to make that particular process Illegal, incidentally), and then releasing the thing in another language, in another jurisdiction? if they can’t lean on your government to enforce their nonsense they’re not interested in paying the extra costs….

        and on and on it goes. gist of it is this:

        the media cartels are made of arse and are more interested in Tradition (this is how it’s always been done) and Control than they are in profit.

        • Mephane says:

          I wholeheartedly agree. The funny thing this, these companies have no idea how much of customers’ money they are missing out on due to this behaviour.

          • gyfrmabrd says:

            The really “hilarious” thing is, if one of their execs read a thread like this (which would never happen, of course, because duh!), the only thin they’d take away from the discussion would be “I go to the Pirate Bay”. Then they’d go all “I told you so”, and go back to their cave and add even more DRM, FBI warnings and herpes to their content.

            • krellen says:

              Dear fictitious media executives reading this post: I do not pirate.

              I do not consume your material because you don’t offer it to me in a convenient manner. I simply go without, and find other, more convenient entertainment venues to spend my money on. You are not losing me to piracy, you are losing me to your own inability to offer me what you have to sell.

              Please sell me your product. I would like to buy it, but you make it really difficult for me to do so. (Please note, convenience includes pricing. $2 per episode of your show I might want to watch once is not convenient. And I’m not fooled by your “.99″ pricing. $1.99 is $2.)

              • Dasick says:

                I’m with Krellen. I’d rather enjoy your product rather than complain about your business practices. But I can do without.

              • Joe Cool says:

                The thing is, I think the executives think they are making the most money by restricting content. Shamus wrote a piece some time ago about breaking CPUs to sell them for cheaper. The goal was to be able to sell them to two markets to make the most money. However, it’s a bit harder to “break” a TV show or movie. You can have or not have special features, or futz with resomolutions, but in the end, the content of the movie is largely the same.

                Now, the executives want you to buy the $30 three-disc special addition Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Download combo-pack, because that’s where they make the most money. And some people will buy that. However, if the movie is always available, whenever and wherever you want it, on demand, then there’s less reason for people to buy the expensive version. So by making it available on demand, where they get just a couple bucks for it, yes, they will be getting more customers, but they might not necessarily be making more money, because fewer people would be buying the Blu-ray.

                I think this is how executives think. I don’t know if this is, in fact, true, since I don’t have access to data about DVD sales vs. digital downloads. I know that I like to buy physical copies of movies I like, regardless of the streaming ability, so I’m not less likely to buy a movie because it’s available on demand. But maybe there are other people out there who won’t?

                The other factor is the cable companies who are fighting Netflix tooth and nail, because if you can watch TV shows and movies there, you don’t have a reason to subscribe to their expensive services. This is where talks of bandwidth caps and throttling on the part of cable companies comes in. It’s not because their equipment can’t handle everyone streaming Netflix all the time. It’s that when you do, they don’t get as much money.

                • Sumanai says:

                  It sounds likely that what you’re saying is what the executives are thinking, but I also consider it highly unlikely that they’re right. From what I’ve heard of the sales statistics a few years ago, most physical copy sales at full price are done by a handful of people. Outside of big hits of course, but you can limit those separately.

                  So the $30 BluRay-DVD combo is going to be bought by the few who buy the stuff anyway and most of the rest, unable to stream it for cheap, will wait until the price drops. No doubt there are more sales if streaming isn’t available, but I do doubt that the profit from it is higher than the loss of revenue through streaming. Actually I wouldn’t be surprised if even the gross sales (profit before anything is paid for by the seller) would be actually lower, and it’s only the number of sales that would be higher.

                  Not to mention that, generally speaking, monthly revenue is worth more than a lump sum of money. Especially if the former means that the client will never own anything in any sense despite paying for it and therefore will be forced to keep paying in order to keep* what they’ve got*.

                  * In a manner of speaking, of course.

                  Then there are those situations where someone thinks that a movie or a series is not all that interesting and would only spend $5 or less on it, but they end up streaming it and then decide it’s good enough to buy for more.

        • I see your point, but I’ve gotten oddly acclimatized to those screechy Japanese schoolgirl voices. Now I actually sort of miss them when they’re not there.
          Plus, there’s something I just like about subtitles. They give me this weird feeling like I understand a foreign language–and after watching quite a bit of anime, I have started catching quite a few common words, common boilerplate greeting phrases and stuff. I like being able to tell whether the word being translated as “idiot” is just “baka” or something more serious.

          • Yeah, we are huge fans of subtitles around here (well, except for Shamus that is.) I love to read and having moving pictures plus reading makes me incredibly happy. Plus I have an easier time catching the intent with the original acting. Also with my weird hearing issues I use captions whenever possible anyway– just makes it much easier for me to know what is happening.

        • DirigibleHate says:

          In theory I agree that you could have an issue with the original voices, but why did you use Azumanga as an example? Aren’t the characters even screechier than they were before (or butchered in other ways?) I tried to watch the English dub and I couldn’t stand it.

          The other problem is that the English VAs are generally of a much lower quality than the Japanese VAs. Take, say, Dragon Ball Z or, more recently, Gurren Lagann, as examples for translations where they pulled people off the street and gave the direction “Be Dramatic”.

          • Hamilcar says:

            I actually hold up Azumanga Daioh as one of the few animes I prefer the original Japanese over the English. As a schoolgirl comedy you need the voice actors playing off of each other. You can tell in the English version that the girls were dubbing in different rooms on different days whereas in the Japanese the girls were clearly in the same room shouting over each other. This is a very important element in a comedy like Azumanga that is missing in the English version.

            • Chargone says:

              i can see how that would Help but… having to read the subs to keep up with what’s going on kills that effect just as dead for me…

              more so, actually, as i never really noticed it as an issue in the first place.

              personal preference and processing methods strike again!

              (seriously, i have mental processing issues that mean i Cannot Filter what i hear. if the characters are talking over each other on the TV i just lose Everything and they may as well not be talking. this might contribute to my view on this bit…)

          • Chargone says:

            screechier than the japanese voices?

            no.

            very VERY no.

            i’d go so far as to say ‘Hell no!”

            with the possible exception of Sakaki (and that’s the difference between a -6 and a -5 on a scale of 0 to +10 anyway.)

            the only ‘butchered’ voice is Osaka’s… and it’s only butchered in that they gave her a pleasant sounding spacey, soft southern US accent, which kills the joke in having the character from the stereotypically loud and fast paced city being the spacey one.

            well… that and Chiyo is squeeky. but that’s true in the japanese too. small children’s voices always give me problems anyway.

            and i cited Azumanga Daioh as an example because it’s one i have and actually bothered listening to the both sound tracks.

            but yeah, a lot of the time the English VAs are pretty bad. not that i have any way of judging the japanese VAs. it depends on a lot of things though. Dragon Ball Z is pretty dreadful.

            I, as a native New Zealander, who hasn’t really watched much TV in quite some time (though when i did it was mostly US programing, so the more standard US tv accents sound not far off normal to me), find the Azumanga Daioh voices to be some of the better ones. i’ve certainly encountered my share of Bad ones, but most of the more recent ones would be better described as ‘average’. what’s more noticeable is sometimes it’s quite clear that whoever was selecting the VAs didn’t do a very good job of it, or had a limited pool to draw from.

            that said, i could happily sit for Hours just listening to a conversation between the english voices of Sakaki and Ayumu(Osaka)…

            heh. a funny thing to listen out for is when the VAs are quite clearly using a fake accent, and then the character has to shout… that comes out strangely.

    • Skyy_High says:

      Game of Thrones season 1 Blu-ray has been out for a few months now, just fyi. Took a little while longer than most people would’ve liked, but not quite a year after the end of the season.

    • I hear you. It’s not quite as bad in Canada, but for my purposes almost. I mean the thing is, my family doesn’t watch a ton of movies. And our tastes are not very mainstream. Back in the day, when there were video stores, we went to them and poked around looking for things. If we wanted something a bit more indie maybe we’d go into town and get something from the funky video store like wot you don’t get in the burbs.

      But now all the video stores are closed, and we don’t watch enough movies to want to pay a monthly service, and it seems like Netflix wouldn’t have anything much we want anyway, and the services that let us watch video on demand,
      (a) seem to charge more than a video store used to, which seems kind of ridiculous when they don’t have to make a DVD box or rent a storefront or pay the employees. I’m not huge into being ripped off.
      (b) again, don’t seem to have anything much we want.

      So it’s basically the library or Pirate Bay. They’re both free, and we use the library quite a bit. But the Pirate Bay has bloody everything. The Pirate Bay has Charley’s Aunt from the forties starring Jack Benny. It has The Three Musketeers from 1973, with Raquel Welch and Spike Milligan, which is the only really good Three Musketeers movie. It has Tampopo, a Japanese comedy about food from 1985. It has obscure anime. I’m not sure I have ever thought “Hmmm, I’d like to see this movie/see it again” and failed to find it on The Pirate Bay. The Pirate Bay is already the universal movie service people wish Netflix was and which the Internet seems to be receding away from providing. So yeah, for anyone with slightly fewer, or even just different, scruples than Shamus, it’s really almost too late for any official online service to move into that space.
      Maybe Apple could do it. But iTunes might have had more trouble if Napster still existed . . .

    • Tse says:

      Same here, coupled with insanely low wages. Many people can’t afford to buy movies, games, software, books as often as they need. Learning software is ALWAYS accompanied with downloading it semi-illegally (since it’s not a crime here, unless you use it for profit). And in order to find work as an architect you have to know a LOT of programs. Currently, I have over 50000$ of software I “should’ve” paid for on my hard disk (I’d need to work 10 years on the average wage and not spend any of the money in order to buy it). There are 2 hugely popular Bulgarian torrent sites, one of which hosted in the US and used worldwide. And piracy in Bulgaria is, naturally, the highest in the European Union.

  5. PurePareidolia says:

    I live near one of those old timey stores only you have probably heard of where you can rent out movies on dvd so that’s where I watch them.

    Because Netflix doesn’t exist in my country.

    I don’t know why the NZ dollar is no good to these people, but apparently they just don’t want our money.

    • Sucal says:

      Same here in the land of far superior beaches. I guess thats another example of the tax Americans force Australians to pay for being awesome.

      • PurePareidolia says:

        Yeah, I figure they’re just jealous of our incredibly fantastic landscapes or something.

        • Bubble181 says:

          To be fair, us Europeans are jealous of your fantastic landscapes too, and we don’t force you to give up your left kidney in exchange for entertainment. :P

          • Chargone says:

            … at this point most of my entertainment comes from Japan anyway.

            games by way of Europe. (and most of my games that DON”T start in japan start in Sweden. possibly germany if you include the board games)
            manga mostly by way of Canada these days i think… though that might just be a cunning disguise…
            Anime… i’m not really sure how many hands it passes through first, but the branding and packaging is all Australian.

            i just plain don’t bother with movies or tv shows anymore.

            about the only thing i still get from the US is books, actually…

            none of this is deliberately planned, that’s just where the stuff i consume comes from.

            but yeah, NZ’s landscape IS awesome, isn’t it? *pretends as though he had something to do with that.*

            • NZ’s landscape does seem to be pretty awesome. As a Canadian (and more specifically, rain forest/mountains British Columbian), I always feel a certain kinship–the places seem to have a lot in common somehow.

              • Sucal says:

                Considering we are all part of the commonwealth, and our armies generally outbadass everyone else when they team up, Australia welcomes our maple syrup bringing friends with a free jar of vegemite, a pat on the back and a cry of ‘she’ll be right mate’ for having to share a border with America.

                More seriously (and less racial stereotypes) though, do intend to visit Canada one day. Always wanted to see snow

                • Chargone says:

                  … you realize New Zealand gets snow too, right? and is a lot closer.

                  heck, there’s some places in Australia that get snow (one of your eastern mountain ranges or something?) if i remember rightly.

                  which isn’t to say you shouldn’t visit Canada…

                  WW2 Rommel apparently said something about if you gave him 1000 New Zealanders to take a place and 1000 Australians to defend it (or possibly the other way around, i can never remember) then… i forget the exact wording. something to the effect of being unbeatable, anyway. hehe.

                  which doesn’t include the Canadians, sadly… if it helps, ww1 Canadians were pretty much the Empire’s elite troops…

    • Danman says:

      To be fair, it’s the studios who won’t allow Netflix to stream in other countries. I’m sure Netflix would LOVE your NZ dollars. From what I’ve seen, they’re very pretty.

      • Mephane says:

        I think no one here is blaming the content delivery services. We know it’s the studios/music labels/game publishers that more often than not are the biggest hurdle when it comes to getting the stuff from the artists to the audience.

      • PurePareidolia says:

        They are – all the notes have pictures of native birds, and they’re all different colours.

        Seriously though this is just the entertainment industry being horribly, horribly backwards and outdated, then resisting any attempts to modernist because they all result in empowering consumers.

  6. psivamp says:

    I have a Netflix account that I never use anymore — I just can’t find anything worth watching. The girlfriend watches reality TV and apparently that’s all on there, but there isn’t a whole ton of sci-fi that looks good (although a Google search of ‘netflix primer’ turns up that they say they have Primer and that was awesome — and, yes, I’m too lazy to turn on the XBox and see if Primer is available for streaming).

    For these problems and because my ISP was routinely complaining to me about torrenting things, I actually get my stuff via dcc transfers on irc. The way piracy used to be in the 90′s but apparently those guys never left.

    • Shamus says:

      Primer has also gone missing. (Because obviously the studio wanted to maximize profits on this decade-old low-budget indie sci-fi staring Two Guys in a garage. I’ll bet they’re rolling in cash now.)

      Luckily, I did get to see the movie. I first watched it in 2010, and then later got to see it again in 2008.

      It made more sense the second time.

      • psivamp says:

        I guess that figures pretty well with the article in that case. I really should give that another watch, or three just to try to follow the timeline.

      • MichaelG says:

        Well, you should have just told yourself what was going to happen.

        Then you wouldn’t have had to see it. Except that then you wouldn’t have seen it, and probably would have rented it.

        And then the two of you could have fought over whether it was any good.

      • captain says:

        You watched it in 2010 and then got to watch it again in …2008,
        Shamus. You might want to try doing something more worthwhile with your time machine. Just saying.

        • Mephane says:

          Two scientists are celebrating christmas:
          “I was unsure what to get for you, so I used the time machine to travel into the future and see what I would have given you.”
          “Yay, a necktie and a paradox!”

      • evileeyore says:

        “Luckily, I did get to see the movie. I first watched it in 2010, and then later got to see it again in 2008.”

        Uh, Shamus, your timetravel is showing. Again.

        Tighten up or they’ll revoke your pre-1900s priveleges. Again.

      • Mephane says:

        How much of a geek am I that I did not even stagger at the reverse time frame in your post and my brain automatically and seamlessly translated this into a between-the-lines-info “this movie is about time travel”?

        • Abnaxis says:

          I thought it was some sort of inside joke I wasn’t getting because I haven’t seen the movie.

          • Dasick says:

            A bit. Before his autoblography, Shamus did the “hotel” posts saying he was x years old, but when he got to doing the autoblography that same event fell closer to him being y years old, where y is less than x.

            Since that slip up we all caught on – Shamus has a time machine! I mean, how else can he be writing books, software, insightful blog posts, articles for escapist, family life(?), playing games, doing spoiler warning and watching random videos on youtube? All of the above are full time jobs, yet Shamus seems to have time for all of it.

        • Ramsus says:

          That’s exactly what I did too.

        • decius says:

          If it isn’t now, it willen have been in the future.

  7. Dasick says:

    My father once had this to describe piracy:

    “Sure, it’s cheaper, but you waste a lot of money fiddling around with it afterwards, trying to get it to work properly.”

    Aah, the good ol’ days.

    Also, if you’re looking for some sci-fi to watch on Netflix, me and my buddies recently used it to watch Titan: AE which is pretty interesting.

    • Ironic isn’t it? Just like those annoying unskippable anti-piracy segments that you only get at the start of PAID for DVDs and the games that you only need to be online to play if you PAID for it.

      The days of paying for entertainment media being the efficient smart move are apparently long over…

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      Titan: AE was quite good! I’d heartily recommend it for those who haven’t seen it. It bombed on release, but got fairly positive reviews. If you want to see one of the last efforts of ‘classic’ animation then it’s the way to go.

      The story is nice even if it is just simply every sci-fi trope you can think of poured into a bucket.

      • Chargone says:

        there’s really not much bad one can say about Titan A.E.
        it’s good.

        about the only negative i can really pin on it is ‘well, it’s not Spectacularly Great’

        but that’s only a bad thing if they spent enough on it for it to need to be a blockbuster to cover costs. it’s certainly good enough that i’ve watched it more than once, which is a rarity.

        (rented both times… i should probably look into tracking down and buying a physical copy of my own at some point. )

        • KremlinLaptop says:

          I’ve seen it a few times as well and I suppose that the biggest problem for the movie was that it wasn’t spectacularly good. It has good voice acting, interesting characters, and amazingly nice visuals (I especially like the opening up to and including the spaceship graveyard. Looked very cool.)

          I sort of wish there were more movies likes Titan AE. It’s my sort of sci-fi.

          Which reminds me I’m going to watch Heavy Metal the original and Heavy Metal 2000 with a few friends to see if they’re as silly now as they were when we first saw them.

        • Aldowyn says:

          I will also recommend that movie, it was pretty good. Been a long time since I’ve seen it…

          Animation is kind of deceivingly expensive though, and people tend to think it’s for kids, so I can see why it didn’t do so well…

      • False Prophecy says:

        I think at the time of release, I wasn’t hugely impressed with Titan A.E. because I’m not a fan of alien invasion stories where the aliens aren’t given any real motivation for wanting to curbstomp humanity. Yes, there’s a cryptic, throwaway line about it, but it sounds dangerously close to another one of my pet peeve sci-fi tropes: humanity will eventually evolve into a non-physical form, because somehow that’s a superior state of being, which both misunderstands evolution and disparages the form of humanity that built spaceships and computers in the first place.

        But now I can say unlike the last decade of brainless alien invasion flicks, Titan A.E. at least had heart and soul. And interesting characters. And some really innovative art design (the ice field sequence is still one of the best things I’ve seen in animation).

        • Dasick says:

          Humankind has developed a means of (efficiently) converting energy into matter. Drej are pure energy. Drej are also at the top of the food chain, and I reckon they don’t like a piece of technology that can wipe out their entire species in a heartbeat so that some monkeys can build another McD’s.

        • Naota says:

          People can say what they will about Titan AE, but there was a sense of wonder and exploration to it that I found completely absent from the Mass Effect series. The universe was full of strange and interesting things – alien landscapes, ruins of passed civilizations built to scales and standards humans would never conceive, and bizarre features of space like those massive ice crystals.

          By comparison, the Mass Effect universe offers… a bunch of randomized terrain (ME1) and featureless cliffs punctuated by prefab structures (ME2/3). Its “ancient ruins of an alien civilization” on Feros look like an unfinished parking garage, and the hostile alien climate on Noveria consists entirely of mundane snow storms. Its interiors are unremarkable hallways of crates, railings, and rust. The elements are all there, but the games did nothing to sell me on the incredible intrigue of roaming the galaxy and setting foot on alien planets.

        • Peter H. Coffin says:

          Those kind of forms are OBVIOUSLY NOT superior. They cannot enjoy cheeseburgers properly.

      • Dasick says:

        You mean “every sci-fi trope ever… AVERTED”.

    • Have Titan: AE in the instant queue. Keep thinking about watching and haven’t. Will have to once Es and I are finished with Full Metal Panic (I am rewatching because I had forgotten I had seen it and Es is going through for the first time and LOVING it.)

    • krellen says:

      You can’t call a planet Bob!

    • Nick-B says:

      All I could think of at the end of Titan A.E. was that they got a whole earth-like world to explore, ruins (goody huts) to explore and find, and natural wonders to find. My inner civ is showing?

  8. Moon was a really nice surprise, in many ways a very simple concept and yet done very well.

    On the subject if Netflix, it is constantly astounding how stupid big business can be (and by that I mean the movie studios).

    One begins to suspect that Google, Apple and the like don’t even need to be smart to do so well, they just need to avoid the chronic big business stupidity that infects their competition (Sony would be an excellent case in point).

    • MichaelG says:

      This was what Moon was like for me:

      We have this giant base with huge mining crawlers. All of this was built by many, many people over years, but now there is no one left. Not in this base, not in nearby bases. Why?

      We have this AI that can talk to people in English, and is coordinated enough to cut hair and make meals, and is basically running the place. But we still need a handyman to sit around. Why?

      So then we find out that they basically invented immortality along the way. The ability to read memories out of someone’s head, grow a clone, implant the memories. Are we going to consider the implications of that? No.

      They use all this technology so that … they don’t have to send a new handyman up every two years? Really?

      Any one of those elements — habitats on the Moon, human-level AI, cloning, recording and restoring memories, would have been the basis of a good SF movie.

      Instead, they throw them all in the pot without examining any of them. And just so they can make their usual point — we are all disposable to huge evil corporations. On the Moon!

      Yuck.

      • StranaMente says:

        I was disturbed by this when I watched the film, so I agree.
        The cost/benefit of this operation is so skewed that it resembles a plan made by the Umbrella corp.
        I guess it could make a nice material for a short story about the meaning of a life and what constitutes the identity of a man, but not for a full length movie. It lifts more questions than it solves.

  9. MatthewH says:

    I am constantly amazed by HULU, Netflix, Crackle, and the other streaming services to have managed in a medium without:
    Channels
    Timeslots
    Schedules
    or Seasons
    To still replicate the “thousands of channels, nothing to watch” phenomenon.

  10. Nick Bell says:

    Just a quick correction, Amazon Instant Video IS available on the Xbox. It offers you access to both the entire Prime library, and any videos you’ve purchased. (I assume it lets you watch rentals too, but I’ve never attempted that). The interface is pretty terrible, but so is Netflix (damn Microsoft and it’s “make everything Kinect friendly”, aka not very useful at all).

    As an FYI in general, Hulu, Amazon and Netflix are all available on the PS3 and have much better interfaces.

    • I’d also add that this is like as of three or four weeks ago, it’s a recent development. I haven’t even installed it yet because right now we’re getting our Mythbusters from iTunes since Amazon had a track record of being really sluggish with it last season, and after the first episode of this season took three extra days to show up we bailed.

    • We actually also have Amazon Prime instant but thus far there have only been 2 shows that they have that Netflix hasn’t and the kids found those thanks to Netflix stupid 2 devices at a time rule. Otherwise Amazon instant is just too hard to find shows you WANT to watch that don’t include a p[rice tag. (I suspect Shamus forgets because he also has his own Amazon account and is usually logged in as himself thanks to kdp publishing stuff with Amazon.)

      • Mari says:

        Yeah, you know what I’ve watched on Amazon thanks to Netflix’s stupid rule? “Toddlers and Tiaras.” No, I’m not joking and yes, I’m deeply ashamed. But I needed something to watch to kill some time, Netflix was all used up, so I dug around and eventually in desperation for SOMETHING to watch caught two episodes of a reality show about kiddy beauty pageants.

        • Nimas says:

          I think in those circumstances (meaning no offence, I’ve had those too much time, nothing to do phases) I would rather have beat myself to death with my own monitor.

        • Chargone says:

          ya know, there are these things… made of paper… got words in ‘em. lots of interesting stories and information and stuff… great for filling in time…

          think they’re called books :P

          (beat’s the ‘death by head trauma’ alternative suggested above, if only on cleaning bills.)

      • LintMan says:

        On my (internet-enabled) Blu-ray player, it’s pretty easy to tell the free Amazon Prime movies and shows from the rental/purchase stuff. Are they not listed in separate categories on the Xbox? Also, For me, all the free prime stuff has a small white box in the corner of the movie/show icons saying “Prime”, which indicates the free stuff. Is that not there on the Xbox?

        Maybe because it’s just been added, they don’t have the interface fully rounded out yet.

        All that said, while I like Amazon Prime a lot (hey, it’s free movies, since I get it purely for the shipping discount) the movie selection is quite limited and I think Netflix has little to worry about on that front. The TV show selection is decent, though.

        • The Xbox isn’t wireless enabled and is currently packed away for impending move so no idea. We use computers for our Amazon Prime streaming viewing (there has got to be an easier way to say that– they really need a cute little name for that particular service.)

    • krellen says:

      Is it one of those things you need a Gold account to access, like Netflix?

  11. MrPyro says:

    If by the Amazon service you mean LoveFilm*; it’s not really any better. I’ve got that and your description of Netflix is hauntingly familiar to me.

    LoveFilm does seem to have a premium section though (BoxOffice, I think), where you can do a pay-per-view on top of the subscription. The selection in there did look a little more modern, but it may have involved a financial transaction though my Playstation which scares me.

    *This may just be how it’s branded in the UK

    • asterismW says:

      Agreed. I don’t have Netflix or any other movie account, but I’ll occasionally watch movies on Amazon. However, their selection is pretty pathetic. Much of what I want to watch isn’t available for rent (though they’ll happily sell it to me. Why yes, I’d love to pay $15 for a digital copy of a movie I will only be able to watch for as long as your servers are active), and the few movies that are available are often about $4. It’s ridiculous.

    • Must be branded that in the UK– here it is called Amazon Prime instant video or some such. A mouthful. Though I think if they called it “LoveFilm” here in the US um, people might take it wrong.

  12. Praxx says:

    I ended up canceling my Netflix account for this very reason. Every single thing I wanted to watch wasn’t on it. I don’t have enough know-how to pirate but I’ve come to find that you can watch almost anything online streaming.

  13. SubmarineBells says:

    I have no idea if Netflix carries it, being in Australia as I am; but if you’re looking for indie SF films, give “Iron Sky” a try. It’s a Finnish/German/Australian fan-funded indie flick about Space Nazis On The Moon, with music by Laibach, and is absofuckinglutely hilarious. Cheesy as they come, in the best possible way, and with a black satirical humour that reminded me a bit of “Doctor Strangelove”. It’s well worth a look.

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      Huh.

      …I feel a bit bad for the fact that I’ve yet to see Iron Sky and I’m a Finn.

    • zob says:

      It is super campy and it got Udo Kier(you know, the guy who played Yuri in Red Alert 2) in it. What more one can ask?

    • MichaelG says:

      I’ve been waiting for that to show up on the net, but haven’t seen it anywhere. Did you see it in a theater?

      • SubmarineBells says:

        No. I came across it in a Wikipedia article, did a bit of hunting around on the web and concluded that it was unlikely to get a cinematic release here in Aus if it hadn’t already; went to the “official website” in search of a copy and discovered that they wouldn’t sell the DVD to anyone not in Finland; and so wound up ordering a blu-ray copy off eBay. While I was doing all this, my partner mentioned it to a mate at work, who presented him with a pirated copy he got off some torrenting site or other; so we watched that while we waited for the purchased copy to arrive.

        The distributors really don’t seem to have gone out of their way to make it easy to access this film. Oh well, hooray for eBay, I say.

  14. Retsam says:

    If the only place that you heard that “Book of Eli” wasn’t very good was Moviebob, I would take that with a huge helping of salt. His review of that movie was, in my opinion, so unfair to the movie that I almost stopped watching his reviews.

    There are a few reasons why I’d hesitate to call it a “great” movie; but I’d certainly call it good. It’s definitely worth watching at least once. (And often, twice)

    • I thought it was a great movie. Haven’t seen Movie Bob’s review but I’m surprised anyone could call it bad.

      • Dave B says:

        If I remember right, he claimed that because the book is a Bible, the story’s only purpose was to promote Christian ideology. Which I don’t think is a fair assessment.

        • Thomas says:

          I don’t think it was quite that bad, but I think he definitely had problems with that aspect. I don’t think he could respect or find tension in a story about travelling with God because he felt it was ‘duh God wins’

          I don’t think he was being misleading and that was probably his genuine impression of the film. Bob always has interesting opinions but despite his continual protestations that it’s not so, he is by far the most biased and personal of reviewers I’ve experienced and it means I don’t find him a good guide on films. It’s not even that he likes what I don’t like, because that would be some sort of guide. It’s just really erratic.

          But I still listen to his reviews (maybe not of films I want to see) because he’s interesting and it feels cool to see someone elses viewpoint on something. It’s just not this objective super-critic fact thing that he can make it out to be :D (also his opinion of certain social groups is unfortunate, and maybe the one actual negative thing about some of his reviews)

        • Abnaxis says:

          Depends on how you look at it. I would go into more detail, but that would be spoilerific. However, I side with Movie Bob in this assessment.

      • Retsam says:

        I know this sounds like the worst kind of cop-out, but I think Moviebob simply couldn’t get over the religious content. He gets totally hung up on the fact that (I don’t think this is even a spoiler; but better safe than sorry) the Book of Eli is the Bible and calls it “the most trite plot device ever”, and spends a large chunk of the review mocking this.
        I get that the spiritual aspects of the movie appeal to Christians more than non-Christians, and that’s part of the reason I only call it a “good” movie; I realize there’s a lack of universal appeal, even if I happen to greatly enjoy it. But I don’t think that it ruins the movie for others.

        EDIT: Ninja’d above and below while in moderation. But, I’m glad I’m not the only one who had that impression of the review.

      • Dasick says:

        I’ll save you the grief of watching the review:

        “This movie is pushing Christian values on me because it has a blind man saving the last bible. Therefore it is BAD.”

        At least, that’s the impression I have of it after several months had past. I’m guessing that was his main point of his displeasure since this is the point he spent most of the time elaborating on.

        You can watch it here if you don’t trust me

        EDIT: Yeah, I just re-watched it in the name of fairness. My statement stands. The ‘BAD’ is even plastered over the screen in all-caps.

        • Volfram says:

          This is basically why I don’t watch Movie Bob.

          Except for me, it was his reviews of Paul and Atlas Shrugged. Paul is apparently exactly the opposite of Book of Eli, where Movie Bob’s opinion was “The movie is all about ripping on the Fundie Right-Wing crowd, and is therefore irrevocably awesome.”

          Erm… the comments of that spoiler tag toe Shamus’s controversy line pretty closely, so I will avoid saying more on the topic.

          • Thomas says:

            Paul was a bit irritating. There were a lot of ‘Take thats!’ where I was just thinking, is that even meant to be a problem?

            I saw it with my brother who is different from I and when I asked why Paul should know this stuff more than we do he said (without realising the irony) ‘Well he can resurrect people, I’d listen to someone who can resurrect people’ :D

            To be fair though, this doesn’t come up a lot in Bob’s reviews. He’s not written an objective review in his life, but it’s not like he’s bashing people constantly either (or at least he cycles through them, so we all get a break :D )

    • Dude says:

      I love that movie. I think most haters of that movie hate it because of what the book turns out to be, but really, I think that it wouldn’t matter what the book was about at all. In the end everybody would make comparisons between that book, and the book it turns out to be, because, hey, John Coffey from The Green Mile? Jesus Christ, man! Jesus Christ!

    • MatthewH says:

      I liked the movie -not enough to get the DVD, but I thought I got my $5 worth at the theater. It struck me as a very good bottle episode with a lot of -well, I hesitate to call it pointless, but I’m not sure there’s another word for it -action grafted on. I get the symbolism of things like how he’s only ever injured after he gives up the book, and how once the book is saved the girl goes out to spread the word. I don’t quite get where chainsaw wielding Fallout 3 villains fit into it.

      Also, given the importance, prominence, and highly implied divine intervention, I though the conlusion of the film -where having preserved it, it is simply stocked on a shelf with several other books in the same genre -severely undercut the theme.

      • Retsam says:

        Aye, that last scene really irked me, for precisely that reason. At the end the Book seems to be treated as a mere academic curiosity, rather than something with real significance.
        (Additionally, it induced a little fridge logic when it was placed next to the Tanakh, i.e. the Jewish translation of the Old Testament. Why would they bother having Eli dictate the entire Old Testament if they already had a version that is only slightly different? At least they would have had him dictate the New Testament first.)

        • krellen says:

          That’s because you bought into the hype about it being a “message” movie, when it’s not. That scene is there to reinforce the idea (which I got throughout the film because I didn’t go into it with a bias) that it was the quest that mattered, not the book. Having a purpose drove Eli, not God.

          • Retsam says:

            I didn’t go into the movie with any particular expectations. I wasn’t expecting a message from a movie that featured the graphic violence that the Book of Eli does.

            I would understand interpreting the movie with your last statement if it weren’t for the “importance, prominence, and highly implied divine intervention” as mentioned by MatthewH. The ideas that God personally guided Eli across the country and the Bible is “just another book” are diametrically opposite.

            (And it’s really not fair to say I had a bias and you didn’t. Your bias is simply opposite to my bias)

            • krellen says:

              I didn’t see any divine intervention, implied or otherwise. If you saw it, it’s because it’s what you wanted to see. Kind of like the symbolism English teachers try to make students see in the Classics – a lot of them, especially “modern” Classics like Hemingway or Dickens, have no conscious, implied symbolism at all.

              • Retsam says:

                Really? A blind man, carrying a Bible, crossing an entire country, with no known destination in mind, defying all odds of his survival, and pressing on against obscene opposition, only to miraculously (and entirely coincidentally) stumble upon the last vestiges of the civilized world where the Bible can be preserved for future generations. You’re right, I can’t possibly see how one might come to the conclusion of divine inspiration, except by reading in their own bias into the plot.

                Were we watching the same movie? In the non-theist version of the movie, what exactly was Eli’s quest that drove him to such extremes?

                • krellen says:

                  Maybe it’s my minor versing in Japanese mythology that gives me another view, but the blind master is an old trope that has nothing to do with divinity.

                  Eli’s quest was that he had a quest. He found a purpose. Like Guy Montag, preserving the knowledge was his quest. The nature of the knowledge was not important – evidenced by the fact that most of the movie goes by without revealing what “the book” was at all. Eli was driven by faith, but faith does not imply divinity. People have faith in all sorts of things – gods, ideas, other people. Eli believed in the Book. Solara believed in Eli.

                  It was faith, not God, that drove Eli. His strength was internal, not external.

                  • MelTorefas says:

                    Your comparison to Fahrenheit 451 is the first thing I have ever read that makes me want to watch this movie.

                  • MatthewH says:

                    My recollection was that the book is revealed fairly early on. The implied divine intervention is that, so long as the book is in his possession, he is not hurt despite the villain pointing a gun at his back and shooting him (among other improbably events). This protection ends once the villain takes the book. Towards the end of the movie, Eli says “I got so caught up in keeping it safe, I forgot to live by what I learned from it.” Carnegie is adamant that he needs the words because he can use them influence other people -and the irony is that having gotten the words, he can’t understand them. And in the final scenes, Solaris returns home to bring them words so that they can live by what she has learned, rather than be manipulated by people like Carnegie. And Eli’s last words are a prayer that she can spread the word and thanking God that he lived long enough to finish the race and keep the faith.

                    The major theme here is that it isn’t just the quest -in fact, Eli’s major arc is that he moves away from “Stay on the Path it’s not your concern” to “Do more for others than you do for yourself,” the lesson he takes from the book. The theme is that words have power if put into action. That this is folded into a religious and spiritual story does provide additional interesting context to the story, but it would work for a different volume.

                    All of this is undercut by shelving the book at the end. “Oh, the knowledge is preserved, no need to worry any more.” Or, to put it in Eli’s terms: stay on the shelf, it’s not your concern.

                  • Retsam says:

                    With that interpretation, then the ending where he finds the “civilization” on Alcatraz is the biggest coincidence/Deus Ex Machina ever.
                    Trying to take an non-theist view of the ending makes the ending utterly unbelievable.

                    An analogy: Perhaps the force isn’t real in the original Star Wars movie (A New Hope), and Luke is just really lucky when he closes his eyes and blows up the Death Star. (Yes, the spoiler tag is a joke) Sure, it’s a possible interpretation (even one Han Solo might applaud), but that’s certainly not what George Lucas intended.

                    • krellen says:

                      Movies are made out of coincidences. People ending up where they need to be is a stable of virtually all forms of media – books, film, and even video games. To attribute something that happens all the time to divine intervention is pushing a rampantly pro-theist viewpoint.

                      I knew the book was the Bible before I saw the movie, because I heard all the “oh no, this is such a Christian allegory, it’s horrible!” stuff before I ever saw it. I was actively looking for anything that sold the film as a purely theist story. I failed to find it.

                      I cannot pull you specific time-stamp examples because, as Shamus points out, the movie is not available on Netflix streaming and I no longer have their DVD service. Suffice to say, as the atheist son of a minister, I went into the film trying to see it as “horrible Christian propaganda” and failed to come to that conclusion at all.

                  • Retsam says:

                    I replied to this, but it got stuck in moderation; I wonder if there’s a random component to moderation. Two of my posts are in moderation, and the others aren’t, even though I used roughly the same vocabulary in both of them.

                    • krellen says:

                      Certain words are instant flags. Not even Shamus is sure what they all are.

                    • Retsam says:

                      This is actually a reply to the post that begins with “Movies are made out of coincidences…”. I know this is probably a faux-pas, but I wanted to reply to this one. (And then I’ll probably be done, though I’ll read any replies to this tomorrow)
                      Yes, movies and books are made of coincidences, but Occam’s razor applies, or at least a version of it. The interpretation that adds the least to the “context” of the film makes the most sense. In other words, sure, there’s no reason to invoke a completely unmentioned or unrelated deity to explain the events of a story. Trying to shoehorn God into every work of fiction is often adding way to much to the context.
                      But this film is an exception. I’m not “shoehorning” God into the film. He’s already all over the place. The plot revolves around a Bible, the main character claims to be an agent of God, and miracles occur around him.
                      Eli, pretty much point-blank claims that it’s God who’s led him. I can’t really give snapshots either, but “I walk by faith, not by sight” was definitely a quote. I’m pretty sure he means faith in God, not faith in himself, or faith in his “quest” of wandering around aimlessly. It’s just downright stubborn, when a main character gives an explanation to reject it and invent your own, if there’s no real justification given in the context. (And nothing ever suggests a natural explanation for what occurs)

                    • krellen says:

                      Just because the man has faith in God doesn’t mean it isn’t his faith that drives him, and faith cannot be exerted from the outside (I have to invoke the Quran, not the Bible, because I don’t know any Biblical passages by heart that say the same thing (though I’m sure they exist): “there can be no compulsion in religion”.)

                      Just because it’s Eli’s faith in God that drives him does not necessarily mean his actions and abilities are directly attributable to God. As I alluded above, all the strong characters in the film are driven by faith; Eli’s faith in God, Solara’s faith in Eli, and Carnegie’s faith in himself and power.

                      If you want to see God in the coincidences, feel free – that’s why the filmmakers made the book a Bible, after all, to appeal to Christians in that way. But don’t go around telling people that see something else that they’re wrong because they don’t hear the film beating a drumbeat of “God is great”.

                      You want to invoke miracles? Show one instance of God intervening that is NOT “through Eli”.

                    • Retsam says:

                      Yes, his faith gives him strength, but it doesn’t give him direction. Eli walks with purpose, not knowing where he was going, and he ends up at what is probably the only place on Earth that could help him. You can explain many things in fiction as coincidences, but you can’t explain thoughts/motivation that way. Eli claims that he’s going somewhere, but doesn’t know where. There are 3 options:
                      1) He actually knew where he was going (either only subconsciously or lying to everyone).
                      2) He actually didn’t know where he was going, and was crazy to think that he did. And then, in the biggest coincidence ever, he happened to end up somewhere despite being crazy.
                      3) He didn’t know where he was going, but God did.
                      There’s really no other way of looking at it.

                      There’s no evidence that Eli is either crazy, or a liar, and his explanation is the 3rd.

                      And, even supposing I’m right, why are atheist so defensive about this movie, anyways? I feel like whenever people on my side of the spectrum make a big deal about movies, they’re always ridiculed “Haha, don’t the Christians/Republicans/Conservatives [whichever fits the context] know the difference between reality and fiction?” Conservatives are mocked all the time for being concerned by fictional portrayals of things that they don’t like (for example the last paragraph of this article is not discussing political opinion, but is mocking the group for thinking that fictional portrayals matter). Yet, suddenly we have a fictional portrayal of a man of God acting by faith, and a movie suggesting that *gasp* God might actually exist and might actually empower those who believe in him, and suddenly the shoe is on the other foot, and suddenly it’s not simply an interesting movie, but “Christian propaganda”.

                    • krellen says:

                      You know why it’s Christian propaganda? Because you refuse to accept any other explanation.

                      I’ve said at least once, and now I’m saying again, that if that’s how you want to view the film, that’s fine. That’s your view, and that’s great. It works for you. You asked how a non-theist could see it non-theologically. I told you.

                      It becomes a problem when you start telling me that if I don’t see God, I’m Doing It Wrong. I’m not telling you you’re not allowed to see God; stop telling me that I have to.

                  • Abnaxis says:

                    Before I get to posting–how was it not revealed early on what the book was? I thought it was blatantly obvious–and, in fact, intended to be blatantly obvious. It’s right there in the flipping title, but everyone here is treating it like a spoiler?

                    I mean, it’s not immediately obvious that the book is in Braille, but you know about twenty or thirty minutes in that it’s a Bible

                    • krellen says:

                      “Eli” is not one of the books of the Bible.

                    • Abnaxis says:

                      Maybe it’s my memory playing tricks on me, but isn’t the Bible itself referred to as the Book of Elijah, within the text itself?

                    • krellen says:

                      I have never heard the Bible referred to as “the Book of Elijah”.

                      First and Second Kings refer to the “voice” of Elijah, his “mantle”, “saying”, “hands”, and “spirit”. Never his book.

                    • Syal says:

                      “Eli” is not one of the books of the Bible.

                      “The Book of ____” is pretty much a Christian term. I can’t think of anything non-Christian that fits that format.

                    • Retsam says:

                      Right, yeah, I knew that it was a Bible, or at least was pretty darned sure, just from watching the preview. Cause, yeah, Eli isn’t a book of the Bible, but as Syal says “Book of ____” pretty well suggests Bible. (Not quite as much as “The Gospel According to Eli” would have, but that would have been a tad obvious) Either that, or something magical, but watching the preview it certainly didn’t give me the impression that Eli was a wizard.

                    • Thomas says:

                      And Eli is a big biblical name too.

                  • Thomas says:

                    But see, even that makes it weird. Because if Eli has faith (and that film makes it pretty clear, he talks about things being given to him and made for him, then he wants the book to be used as a book but instead he goes to this place where its a bit of literature.

                    I always figured it was an exec cop-out to tone the film down a bit (because the bad guy was pretty connected up with the book as something a little less academic too and it seemed to imply he was missing the point when he was talking about it in abstract from it’s true message.

                    Else maybe some sort of pantheism faith for the director (Jainism or something? Maybe just universalist christian) which would be okay, which is why it ultimately didn’t bother me, because I guess that one would be valid. (Although the guy collecting them didn’t talk like that still)

                    • Retsam says:

                      Well he ends up at what’s probably the last working printing press on the planet. This makes good sense; but not printing a single copy and putting it on a bookshelf. Rather, it should have been spread and distributed, (which arguably could have happened, but was certainly not well-depicted by the movie).

              • “In many college English courses the words “myth” and “symbol” are given a tremendous charge of significance. You just ain’t no good unless you can see a symbol hiding, like a scared gerbil, under every page. And in many creative writing course the little beasts multiply, the place swarms with them. What does this Mean? What does that Symbolize? What is the Underlying Mythos? Kids come lurching out of such courses with a brain full of gerbils. And they sit down and write a lot of empty pomposity, under the impression that that’s how Melville did it.”
                The Language of the Night, Ursula K. Le Guin

      • Scott (Duneyrr) says:

        I am just surprised you can see a movie in the theater for $5. Here in Los Angeles, you’re looking at twice that much for a sub-par theater. If you want a nice place, you’re looking at around $15 and that’s not IMAX or 3D (which can get up around the $20 range)

    • krellen says:

      I consider the Book of Eli to be the best representation on film of Fallout ever made. And yes, I have seen The Road.

      • Irridium says:

        I remember when I first saw previews for that movie my first thought was “Did they make a Fallout movie when I wasn’t looking?”

        • Thomas says:

          Eli was a muchkin, who took perception as his dump stat but balanced it out with the extra-sensory power perk and built a badass melee focused character who treks across the Wasteland encountering cannibals, bartering junk, looting corpses, speech checking bad guys, whose guns are all surprisingly ineffective and dragging along a useless companion who always stands in the wrong places. The villain surrounds himself with mooks, always talks before fighting and rants on about how he will recreate the world to suit himself.

          Never mind visual style, even the plot was Fallout. The level design was Fallout. You could even imagine rummaging through all the chests in that bar after you’ve pissed off all the locals and been forced to slaughter them all

      • Thomas says:

        The Road is nothing like Fallout :D The Road is one of the most brutal films I’ve ever seen. That and The Hunger Games were the two films I’ve come out thinking, ‘that’s a brilliant film, why would anyone ever want to watch it?’

        It very accurately and realistically depicts just how much the setting sucks. Which to be fair, is really the original point of post-apocalypse. But in Fallout nothing serious and it’s just a way to blast heads of super mutants
        EDIT: Getting moderated a lot today :D I think it might be pot frequency, although some of the others were definitely keyword loaded. Sorry for the extra work Shamus. Term has ended, I’m slightly too stressed to engage with the community of an actual forum and it’s raining a lot =D

    • mixmastermind says:

      That movie was seriously pretty dumb.

  15. Jokerman says:

    There really is a huge problem when stealing the film is much easier than buying it legitimately, you could honestly get any film off that list right now without much hassle on pirate Bay or something, while going through the correct channels just gets you frustration and disappointment.

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      I used to pirate loads and loads of old games that I couldn’t get copies of easily enough through legitimate channels; i.e stores, second-hand, etc too much hassle.

      Then Steam began evolving into a distribution platform. GOG came around. Etc, etc.

      With that something very weird happened; I stopped pirating games when I could just buy them for a few euros easily. Yet for some reason utorrent is still chugging away busily bringing me ten year old — or far older — movies to enjoy.

      I guess they need to put more of those FBI warnings and unskippable anti-piracy ads on legitimately bought DVDs. Surely that’s the answer to this problem.

  16. MadTinkerer says:

    It’s simple: the Media Cartels want to drive people to piracy, so they can go crying to Congress about piracy stats, and then get horrible laws like SOPA and PIPA and that other one passed. That seems to be the plan, anyway.

    • MichaelG says:

      The book publishers and record companies know that the artists don’t need them. They keep looking for some future where they still exist and can take 80% of the cover price, but it doesn’t exist. So they have nothing to lose by being legal pests and trying to wreck the net.

      Movie studios should know that it costs a lot up front to make a movie, and so they still have a role. From what I read, they are just terrified of the net though, and don’t want their content out there.

      Netflix was an end-run around the studios, not something they started. They hate that and Redbox and are trying to kill both.

      • Khizan says:

        I wouldn’t say that book publishers have no place.

        Self-published books have a well-deserved reputation for being terrible. I can’t remember the name of the last one I tried(not counting Witch Watch), but I got it for free on my Kindle via the Amazon whispernet(so no personal bandwidth usage) and I still feel like I got ripped off. No editor. No proofreading. No standards.

        What you get is plot holes, wooden dialogue, one-note characters, and every bad cliche on TVTropes. When I read a published book, I know that the book has seen an editor. I know that a company that really likes selling books has said “Yeah, I want this author associated with our name”. When I’m pondering over a book purchase on my Kindle, these are HUGE factors that I take into account, and I know I’m not the only one.

        My experience with self-published books has been so bad that, as a rule, I don’t bother to read self-published books anymore unless the author’s got a significant backlog of material available that I’ve enjoyed and considered high quality.

        So far, that’s been Witch Watch. And while the world is very interesting and well designed(even if he flip-flopped wizardry and sorcery, damnit), I still think the book would have been improved by some tighter editing.

        • Thomas says:

          I mean big names have claimed that their books were messes before the editor got to them, so clearly a lot of input is given. It’s just in many ways there are an awful lot of contributors competing for not much attention or time and even less money, so no situation is going to be perfect.

        • Dasick says:

          The publishers do have a place in the creative process. They bring up a work to a level of professionalism and a set of standards. This I agree with you. It is useful; it is necessary even.

          Shamus likes to say that the natural state of any internet community is YouTube. I think this applies to creative mediums as well ;j

          However, the publishers of today seem to have forgotten quality for the sake of just desperate money grabs. I think that when they first figured out they have the power to dupe people out of money with fancy marketing and appeals to popularity, the masses were unprepared for that. Previously the publisher cared so much about his reputation these sorts of tricks were inconceivable. Negative rep, it seems to be the case, is easily drowned out with hype.

          I’m still waiting for the pendulum to swing back and knock the bastards on their asses, and the levels of awareness seems to be rising. We’re still beyond the level where the big companies will have to keep their reputations spotless in order to sell; for all the talk of rEApers and boycotts, our comrades seem to posses the willpower of an alcoholic at Oktoberfest.

        • You ar econfusing book PUBLISHERS with book EDITORS. You can have an editor without a publisher and a publisher wihtout an editor. The writers I have worked with that have dealt with an editor almost always come out the other end way better whereas the ones that just deal with a publisher…um, don’t.

  17. Chargone says:

    … i can only imagine the frustration all that ‘not avialable for streaming’ causes.

    i say i can only imagine it because, frankly, it doesn’t even come up for me. i hit ‘not available in your country/region’ long before on most services, and on those i don’t, streaming is pretty much impossible due to lag.

    i’d rather take four times as long to download the thing and actually have something Watchable, thank you. even Youtube used to have it’s iffy moments in that regard (not anymore, fortunately.) … the tyranny of distance strikes again! and brings it’s friend ‘really really bad compression’ to eat your data cap at the same point. (lesson for x-box users with data caps: buying games on line eats your cap something crazy because x-box live’s compression is RUBBISH. as of last time i bothered, which was a while ago now.)

  18. KremlinLaptop says:

    So, a thought…

    These people from major studios — and I know this is an absurd thing to say when so much evidence to the contrary exists — they aren’t stupid. Well, greed might be a form of stupidity, but any bell-end could see with their third-eye clear as day that there are boatloads of cash to be made through online distribution.

    Why hasn’t anyone walked into the Valve offices and gone, “Look, you have a big-huge distribution network. We want to stream movies through your system for a flat fee (or possibly offer them for purchase) you’d get x% of the profits. Let’s make a deal.”

    Well, I suppose it’s the x% they’re worried about but they’d still be making buttloads (One buttload is equivalent to 1.35 Standard Fucktons) moolah that they aren’t right now.

    …and fuck it, I want one single distribution method for everything. Yeah, I do. I know monopolies are bad or something to that effect but I’d MUCH rather have one system for everything than a dozen specific ones all with different accounts and ways of working.

    • Nick says:

      Because, for one reason at least, it’s not that simple. Valve is set up to handle video game downloads and authentication, but not primarily constant streaming of data for all of it’s users, all the time.

      That changes once you get streaming video content involved, which is a whole hell of a lot more data.

      Valve would need a load more servers and bandwidth. I wouldn’t be opposed to steam having a service for downloading video on top of it’s other stuff, but it wouldn’t be a quick fix

    • MatthewH says:

      Standard economic theory would suggest that everything should stream, c.p. The up-front costs are sunk, the marginal costs are close to zero. That they don’t stream suggests that all things aren’t equal. My guesses for the differences:
      1.) licensing limbo based on deals worked out before digital distribution
      2.) residuals driving up the marginal cost above the price
      3.) higher bids from networks (though this would suggest that anything not streaming on the Internet should have at least semi-regular play on cable, for which purpose I’m going include the premium channels too)
      4.) The business model is very inefficient (I’ve read it suggested that Netflix’s flat fee rate is actually a money-loser as usage rates increase, which was the reason for the attempt to split off the streaming service from the mail-service).

      I doubt Valve could make these problems go away.

      Oh, and monopoly may not be the proper framework. We’re dealing with a network effect, for which railroads, turn pikes, and shopping malls may be the closer analog.

    • X2Eliah says:

      Why Valve, which isn’t using streaming stuff, and not, say, Youtube?

      ~

  19. ccesarano says:

    Amazon Instant Video can operate like Netflix if you have a Prime account, but all the stuff that is “free streaming” on Prime is basically the same content you get on Netflix. I was hoping the two services would offer me different content, but no. And Netflix has better interfaces on most devices it is on (which in my house is damn near everything, I’d be surprised if the next Toaster Oven in this place doesn’t have it), so there’s no use for Amazon Instant unless I feel like paying $5 per movie or more.

    I do find it interesting that others have issue finding content, but when my brother came home from Korea there have been a LOT of movies added. It went from about 50-60 item queue to over 200, and this doesn’t count the massive drop of content since Starz decided millions of dollars wasn’t enough.

    I just opened the website up to see if I could find anything to recommend, the first being the new True Grit, which I liked quite a bit (never saw the original, but I’ll blaspheme and say that I’ll take Jeff Bridges over John Wayne any day). The real problem? Below it then recommends me The Social Network, Moon and Men Who Stare At Goats, none of which are available for instant. I imagine if I added it to my queue (which I’m pretty sure I already have) it would show me Instant items. Why not show some of those? Is it trying to convince me to pay more in order to get DVD’s of more instantly recognizable films?

    By the way, they still have Limitless which…wasn’t as good as everyone claimed, but it was still pretty good.

    Right now, what Netflix has in spades are television shows, even in terms of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Firefly, Farscape and pretty much every iteration of Star Trek is on there, Stargate is on there, and if you want a bit o’ Whedon in your life his entire anthology is pretty much on Instant. Buffy, Angel (recommeneded, sans Season Four), Firefly, Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible are all on there.

    In truth, though, the biggest reason my Netflix queue is so long is 1) there’s a lot of older films I haven’t seen, and 2) My brother has an eclectic taste in films. From Korean and Japanese films to Blacksploitation, he’s got content (and in a lot of ways, it is annoying).

    It’s a shame, though, because sometimes you’re just in the mood for typical summer blockbuster fare, and while it’s nice that Iron Man 2 and Thor are both on there, it is more nice when a movie you are less likely to already own on Blu-Ray is up on Instant.

    In any case, here are some personal recommendations to you in case you missed them.

    Brick, a classic Noir film set in high school starring Joseph Gordon Levitt. Pretty bad ass. Probably shouldn’t watch in front of the kids.

    Trollhunter. MovieBob reviewed it, and I can concur that it is pretty good. That is, if you don’t mind shakey-cam. This one isn’t horrible, but then again I can deal with it considering it is a fake documentary style.

    The Tick Live-Action TV Series. Doesn’t have quite the same charm as the original cartoon, but it’s a lot of fun. Only 13 episodes long, so you don’t have to invest too much time into it.

    Monster, an anime that has no supernatural elements to it. It’s a drama about adults, something that is very uncommon in the anime world (at least, in the States).

    Spaced, the TV show by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg before they made Shaun of the Dead. Only about 13 or 14 episodes, loaded with tons of nerdy references because it is Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg.

    The IT Crowd, which you should already know about so I won’t explain it.

    Killer Elite is a movie I haven’t watched yet, but it has a pretty good looking cast.

    Tucker and Dale vs. Evil starring Alan Tudyk a.k.a. Wash from Firefly, and is a sort of Dark Comedy Subversion of horror.

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is an intellectual comedy in the most true sense. Two side characters of Hamlet are idiot-savantes caught up in a political conflict they know little about, and ultimately…well it’s really a commentary on the role of characters and death in entertainment, and is one of my favorite films ever. If you haven’t already seen it then I’d guess it may be right up your alley (though it usually takes at least two viewings to truly follow what’s going on at times).

    I could probably come up with several recommendations based on my “Watch Again” list, but truth told I have no idea what you have or haven’t seen.

    • Part of our problem is that since we only own a Playstation 2 as DVD player we dropped the dvd side, and Netflix doesn’t even show you dvd content without that side of thigns. Which is dumb. If they did show us that they had something we wanted on dvd we would probably re-add the dvd side of things because it reminded us we wanted to watch it. But this separation they went for kind of broke that and since we can’t even see if they HAVE it we don’t bother.

      ALSO, we have seen, I think, absolutely everything you listed or nearly.

      • ccesarano says:

        Oddly enough, I stopped with the DVDs because I ended up having them just sit around for extended periods of time. It wasn’t worth the additional cost to do the DVD’s as well, especially since, at the time, I wanted to watch TV shows which took too long to get through when waiting for the discs to ship.

        But, this is personal experience. In truth I can see why Netflix Instant seems gimped to a lot of folks at this point. Fortunately there’s a lot of films I missed out on that are on there, but the real problem is having time to watch them with a six year old around the house (still waiting to watch Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, to show my brother the early 90′s Kicking and Screaming (no relation to the Will Ferrell film), to see if Season of the Witch is just another crappy Nicholas Cage movie, etc.)

        In truth, Netflix is basically becoming a TV service, which is a bit of a downer as you usually are a season behind when new episodes are added.

    • krellen says:

      To those trying Buffy for the first time, I recommend stopping at the end of Season Five and just take that as the canon ending. The series wraps up much better that way.

      (Sure, you miss two of the best episodes of the entire run, but the rest of Seasons 6 and 7 aren’t really worth those two.)

      • ccesarano says:

        At this point my only recommendation for Buffy is to watch it until Angel spins off from it. That way you get enough of Angel’s back story to properly follow along.

        Buffy and Dollhouse suffer from the same problem: the protagonist is the least interesting of characters. Everyone else is the attraction. I was able to deal with this the first three seasons because there was enough time spent with characters like Giles, Willow and Xander, but then Season Four comes around and it feels like the primary focus is “Buffy trying to be a normal girl in College going through normal girl in College things”, and I just…gah. I tried to watch both Buffy and Angel simultaneously to keep up, but I just stopped watching Buffy.

        I’m pondering moving on to Supernatural since I’ve been recommended that show by the same friend that recommended I watch Angel, and as he was right about that…

        • Muspel says:

          Supernatural is definitely a show that I’d vouch for, although I personally feel like it doesn’t really hit its stride until the second season. Not that the first season is bad, mind you, just that it’s not as good as the rest.

  20. Daniel says:

    There’s a reason for this. It sucks, and I get your frustration, but there is a good reason.

    Netflix used to have a lot of customers like me: young and broke, I’m not really willing to pay to rent individual titles or for premium cable (ok, any cable TV). If Netflix can make a few dollars off me and pass on a few cents to content providers, then everyone wins — like you said, the other option is 100% of nothing.

    But *now* Netflix is starting to have a lot more customers like my parents. They do pay for premium cable or to rent/buy movies. At least, they did before Netflix came along. As internet streaming has caught on with a wider segment of the population, it’s becoming more and more true that some movies watched on Netflix represent lost sales.

    The gravy train of a few years ago is over. Then, we geeks could stream movies for cheap, because the rest of the population was still paying through the nose for content. Now everyone wants content for the bargain we got, and the people who make the movies are putting on the breaks. For a more detailed analysis, see this blog post .

    • Dasick says:

      What about older movies then?

    • zob says:

      I’m pretty sure you got this backward. Young broke and geeky can always pirate stuff. They are paying money because they want to(LouisCK, humble indie bundle, kickstarter, etc) not because they have to. And that’s the real way to stop piracy, by making people not want to pirate.

      What do you really think will happen when netflix goes down? Do you honestly expect all netflix subscribers to buy/subscribe to overpriced services? Netflix lost 800000 users in an instant when they decided to raise their prices. Gravy train may be over for someone but that’s not us.

      ps: piracy is bad and illegal don’t do it.

      • Daniel says:

        But that’s getting at the same point. For me, the option was Netflix or do without, but if you talk about someone who faced the trade off of Netflix or pirate, the point stands just as well.

        Imagine our sometimes pirate. He feels a little bad about pirating, so if Netflix has good selection for low prices, he’ll use Netflix. But if their prices get too high (or their selection too low) he’ll just pirate.

        Now imagine his dad. He’s not quite as tech savvy, and won’t pirate at all. He would also prefer to get a good selection of cheap movies on Netflix, but he has a bit more money and will pay for cable and buy movies if he has to.

        Now, so long as most Netflix customers were like the first guy, studios could sell their movies to Netflix for very little. Sure, they weren’t making much, but they were picking up customers who would have been pirates.

        But as more customers start to be like the second guy, putting movies on Netflix starts to cost studios serious money. Bizarrely, in this case it’s the people who *won’t* pirate who provide the incentive to pull content from Netflix.

        • zob says:

          No we are not. You are saying (at least the article is saying) that netflix model is not sustainable with greater numbers. I disagree the unsustainable thing is current business model of the mainstream media. They are trying to keep a hit n miss business model on our dime. We are financing both their losses and profits. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to finance next Catwoman by watching Avengers.

          • Thomas says:

            But that’s how creativity works. A low risk system involves tight, corporate reigns where you don’t try new things and don’t take chances on people.

            I mean Valve are even more extreme. When you buy a good Valve game, you’re funding that, plus all the games they’ve made and just thrown away because they weren’t good enough (which sounds like several). So you’re completely funding Catwoman with Valve,

            • zob says:

              Uhh, just to be sure, are you trying to be sarcastic?

              a) You are mixing “investors” with creativity there.
              b) We are already in that “low risk system” where nothing but dumbed down franchises survive.
              c) Valve is mostly funded by steam. Just to make it clear they don’t use that hit or miss model.

              • Thomas says:

                They do. Read the handbook. Steam gives them the money to do it, but the reason they make good games is they don’t release the bad ones. There have been at least two games they’ve made and never released. And the rest of them are made and remade until they actually work.

                Heck Pixar do this. They produce and reproduce film after film, throwing away all the things that don’t work.

                Same with Apple, they make a lot of products that never hit the shelves because they aren’t good enough.

                The Avengers was a risk, The Avengers was a film that could easily have blown up in people’s faces. The reliable income comes from stuff like Transformers and the risky income is the stuff we really love, like the original Star Wars.

                The difference between Apple, Pixar, Valve and the film industry in general is that the film industry can’t afford to not release a film they’ve made that turns out to suck. This hit and miss model is the only way they can make even the small amount of good they do already.

                • Peter H. Coffin says:

                  Apple’s made plenty of shabby products, and a good number of them hit the shelves. It’s just that people don’t remember them.

                • Chris says:

                  ummm… Steam is a distributing program owned by valve not its own company… It doesn’t give Valve the money that Valve owns. duh.

                  • Shamus says:

                    This was perhaps not the most graceful way to introduce yourself to the other commenters, by sneering at someone else and implying they’re being stupid. Making a factual error isn’t nearly as bad as being rude about it.

                    Moreover, Thomas was most likely talking about the fact that Steam, being a store, gives Valve a cut of every sale. Just like Wal-Mart gets a cut of all the stuff you buy at Wal-Mart, even though Wal-Mart doesn’t produce anything themselves. These store profits likely eclipe that money that Valve makes selling their own videogames.

                    This revenue stream means they can shelve projects and hold things in development longer than (say) a developer trying to make due with a fixed budget.

          • Daniel says:

            But bills have to be paid.

            Either content starts getting made for less (lower budgets, fewer effects) or *someone* pays for it. A few years ago, Netflix customers got a great deal because they were able to pick up content that had already been paid for by everyone who already bought movies or paid for cable. But we can’t *all* get such a good deal or there’s no way to fund the budgets.

            Now, if you want to argue that budgets have gotten too high and studios ought to make more movies that can break even when no one pays more than Netflix can afford on our $15/month, then that’s a separate debate. (Though I doubt that model would produce The Avengers looking anything like it did.)

            EDIT:
            Amarsir makes the same point below, but with numbers:
            “Starz, who owns most of the titles people go looking for, originally leased the library [to Netflix] for $30m per year. But they got complaints that it was hurting viewership to the cable channels, which bring Starz $1.3 billion.”

            So long as Netflix was only reaching those of us who would never pay for cable, they could pocket the $30m per year. But as soon as dads started signing up, that $30 million was suddenly risking the 1,300 million (if Amarsir’s numbers are right.)

        • Alan says:

          In the short term it might be a good decision. But in the long term the dads pass on and the generation that got used to illegal downloads will be the only remaining audience. Convincing them to try the legal options will be hard, especially after years of being treated like crap (obligatory Oatmeal). Apple/iTunes Music Store pulled it off for music, so maybe it’s possible, but it’s a gamble. In the meanwhile, they sure as hell aren’t earning my loyalty.

          • Daniel says:

            Oh, I agree entirely with that — no question they’re being shortsighted.

            But the rant “They’ll regret this in 30 years when everyone they haven’t pissed off is dead!” is something of a different rant than “they’re refusing to take my money *right now* for no reason other than pure stupid!”

            Plus, given how dynamic the media/tech world is, I figure most of these guys only have an even shot at surviving the next decade. Asking them to think in a 20+ year horizon might be a bit too much when they are worried about making it there.

            • MatthewH says:

              “You’ll regret this 30 years from now!” is a hell of threat to an industry that is wondering whether it will survive the summer the way their tent-pole pieces keep dropping.

          • Dasick says:

            I have to ask. Is Oatmeal comics the new XKCD?

  21. some random dood says:

    Not really linked to this, but an interesting opinion piece at Ars Technica about the direction of AAA games.
    (Sorry, didn’t know any place else to post this, and thought it would interest you/your readers.)

    • Thomas says:

      I felt it was a bit harsh maybe. At the very least it didn’t seem to acknowledge that the deaths in Tomb Raider and the Last Of Us weren’t been shown as good things.

      The whole point of the apocalypse setting since it’s origin has always been about the horror of society degrading to such a level where your forced into things like that or see your loved ones die. I thought it was nice to see a piece of creative work step back towards that instead of the ‘shooting things is fun’ ala Fallout and lots of modern apocalypse literature.

      In the same way Tomb Raider was acknowledging, that actually whilst we have only seen power fantasy video games really (except for Metal Gear Solids), that its a lot more disturbing than that and a lot more traumatic for the people involved.

      I feel like Tomb Raider and the Last of Us were the opposite of games like Assassins Creed and Fallout. And it doesn’t feel like any change in the industry really, except maybe a step for the better, we’ve had ‘watch people’s heads blow up’ for far too long and it’s about time we began having stories of. ‘people’s heads blowing up, might not be fun’

  22. Dave Brown says:

    I have a nitpick with your post! Miss Marple was never married.

    That aside, I live in Japan, and when I go to visit Netflix, all I get is “haha, you guys suck, get out of here”. In order to get a decent amount of content that I actually feel like watching, I have to go onto the iTunes store, don a cardboard American mask (the easiest way to do this is to get a US iTunes prepaid card) and then ask it to give me the goods. Sadly, the best customer I can get still comes from piracy, and that includes writing shell scripts to convert the videos I’ve downloaded so that they actually work on my phone/tablet/set-top box.

    As far as I can tell, it’s not Apple stopping anyone from buying anything they want–it’s the paranoid control freaks at the studios. For some reason, they want to make sure that people in Japan get their content months after the people in America get it. They seem to think that since it used to be that they had to ship movies across the ocean on steam vessels, they have to provide a sort of emulation of that here in 2012.

    • I know, that drove me nuts as well. As much as I love him, Shamus has no clue about anything Agatha Christie. ;)

      And that is the cool thing about iTunes– our oldest adores all things Japan including J-pop and can’t wait to get her hands on a Japanese iTunes card and buy music.

  23. Blake says:

    You have absolutely nothing to complain about Shamus, you’re just spoiled. I’m a Canadian, which means I can only use the streaming part of Netflix, and my options are about 1/3 of yours because over a certain percentage of it has to be Canadian-made content according to out Broadcast laws.

    Also Hulu and other alternatives are straight-up not allowed in Canada. Here I am, drooling over the possiblity of having access to the American Netflix library and you’re complaining its not big enough. That seems pretty silly to me.

    I was surpised I’m the first to point this out, but as far as I can tell, I am. If I’m not I apologize for only skimming some comments.

    • Dave B says:

      I wouldn’t say he has nothing to complain about. Less than you, sure, but not nothing. It is a logical fallacy to equate “sucks less than another thing” with “doesn’t suck at all”. The U.S. Netflix situation could be a whole lot worse, but it could (and should) be a lot better.

      • Nimas says:

        Indeed. Just because something could be worse does not mean you can’t point out its flaws. That is one way to improve, see what we’re doing wrong and fix it.

        Continuing the logical fallacy, how can you Canadians complain about your Netflix library? I just get region locked. ;)

      • krellen says:

        I am very grateful that it doesn’t work the other way around, otherwise I would have to go without my colourful talking ponies, and that would be a travesty.

  24. Jjkaybomb says:

    Netflix was the only place I could legally watch Star Trek Next Gen. Couldnt find the DVD’s for rent anywhere, nor on hulu, nor pirate streams…

    I admit, I have about sixty movies/series in my cue right now, but I don’t look for any titles, because that’s always, always, ALWAYS ends in disappointment and failure. So I just browse what they have and get excited when I see something I recognize. Like… Oban! Dirty Jobs! A Knights Tale! Labyrinth! Oh god, Labyrinth sucked… Ooh, Kick-Ass! Ghost in the Shell!

    • Taellosse says:

      Well, on the plus side, all of Star Trek, every series (though, sadly, not the movies), is stream-able on Netflix now. My wife and I have been working our way through DS9 lately.

  25. RichVR says:

    They pulled Superman: Doomsday. I used to watch it once or twice a month. Bastards!

  26. Hal says:

    I’m not sure if the issue is that the studios are wanting to set up their own services or they’re trying to milk Netflix for more for access to their libraries.

    If it’s the former, that’s a bad idea; customers will reject the idea of paying a half-dozen subscription fees for access to different libraries. If it’s the latter, they’re strangling the goose that laid the golden egg; to get more money out of Netflix, Netflix would have to raise their rates, and we saw how well that went over.

    I don’t know what’s going to happen here. Hopefully something breaks the logjam before Netflix dies by a thousand small cuts.

    • Abnaxis says:

      I don’t think the problem was so much with Netflix raising their rates as much as it was them trying to play it off as a feature

      • krellen says:

        It was them raising their rates, playing off as a feature, and adding a second account login for the “privilege”.

        That said, I was somewhat stoked about the Gamefly-like promise that came with Qwikster, and disappointed that it didn’t come to light.

  27. Rosseloh says:

    Same experiences as you, Shamus. I think the only reason I still keep my account active is because I get a few decent documentaries and TV shows out of it, and it costs less than an hour’s worth of work a month.

    And I still am not afraid to torrent if there is no other legitimate way to get something (i.e. Game of Thrones season 2). Would that people with the words “Chief _____ Officer” in their job titles were the sort who would read blogs like this.

  28. Abnaxis says:

    WordPress is doing something weird. I left a comment, but it isn’t appearing. Yet if I try to post it again, WordPress detects the duplicate and won’t let me

  29. RTBones says:

    As I read through your post, Shamus, the thing that stuck in my mind was that what we have here are the makings of a great Monty Python sketch.

    I am amazed at the absurd lengths the studios go through to make viewers lives h3ll. Its more than just streaming services too. If you buy a DVD/BlueRay that includes a digital version of the movie, in all likelihood, what you will get these days is an invitation to join a service that will allow you to stream the movie when you want – not an actual digital download. This does nothing for me as a guy that spends a lot of time on airplanes over some ocean or another. Oh, and by the way – if you read the fine print of some of these services, to make use of their stream, you have to allow them to spam you adverts on various products to give you ‘the best possible service.’

  30. Carmel J. says:

    It makes me sad that just as we are willing (and need) to cut the Cable, the options for online viewing are drying up like a weed and blowing away. I knew we should have done this years ago!

    I second the hatred for having to hear dubbed anime (I like original languages, whether it’s a movie, a show, or an opera, go fig.) I’ll add that it was getting harder to watch anime with discs too because of the number of discs that were disappearing and not getting replaced. It seemed like half our queue was in the Saved list. :(

    We switched to streaming, and it seems to be working out ok so far for TV shows- I can find things for the kids to watch at least- but I had a similar experience recently trying to watch Clueless, The Princess Bride, even A Dolphin Tale… guess I should watch Iron Man 2 while I still can!

  31. I think the US Congress should mandate the same thing they do for Radio. Setup a mandated industry royalty scheme and the individual streaming services log what they play and/or subscribers and pay royalties into the fund which distributes to the right holders.

    Imagine what Radio Stations would be like if the current situation existed for streaming video as for music.

    • Abnaxis says:

      That would never, in a thousand years, work, nor would it be a good thing to try. The reasons why:

      1) Radio frequencies are considered a “natural resource” because…well…they are. Therefore, the government has control over them just like they control over their sovereign airspace and over nature preserves. The internet, OTOH, is entirely artificially created on company bought and run machines invented for the purpose of running the internet. Government mandated royalties would cross all sort of boundaries between property rights and government purview that really should not be crossed.

      2) The internet is not restricted to the United States. While this isn’t a barrier in terms of legality that #1 is (and indeed, hasn’t stopped our government from trying to impose our own rules on the internet in the past), imposing levies on the internet is crossing all sorts of international boundaries that really shouldn’t be crossed like that.

      3) I don’t think radio even really works that way. What you’re talking about basically sounds like the Performance Rights Act (google it yourself–Wikipedia doesn’t offer much and any other source is going to be biased), which hasn’t been passed (and IMO shouldn’t be passed, but that’s another discussion).

  32. Michelle says:

    Distribution rights.

    Netflicks lost most of it’s streaming movies because starz…the media company that leased them those rights decided to make it’s own online service…which you have to have a cable service to use.

    Until the cable satellite mosel breaks…streaming movies will be iffy.

  33. Michael says:

    It’s very frustrating because there are so few options.

    You can either get netflix for $8 and a very limited selection, buy cable for $60 and get a lot of tv you won’t watch and a fairly large selection with each movie costing an additional $5-10.

    Why can’t I just pay netflix $20 to $30 a month and get the whole library? Why can’t I get only the movies at $5-10 each and not have to pay the huge cost of all the tv I don’t watch?

    It’s an efficiency failure. I can either get cheap crappy service or expensive decent service but with more options than I desire. Where’s the middle ground?

    • lasslisa says:

      It’s actually not an efficiency failure in the way you’re thinking. The cable company isn’t selling you all these channels thinking you’re going to watch them all, and pretty much no one is buying all those channels planning to watch them all.

      Each cable subscriber is motivated by a particular set of features – football, or HBO, or food network, or cartoons, or So You Think You Can Dance, or any combination of those. The cable company reimburses their channels in approximate proportion to how many subscribers it thinks it gets by having those channels. And in return for providing the infrastructure, tech support, etc. it gets a cut of the money as well.

      In order to sell you a movie for $5, there needs to be the cable company providing the infrastructure, and the cable company’s motivation for doing this is that it gets some number of subscribers who would not be subscribed if not for the movies. So – on that end – it’s efficient to have a consolidated delivery mechanism.

      I’m not saying it’s not a pain and a ripoff, though. I don’t like my cable prices at ALL, and it’s definitely a pseudomonopoly (AT+T recently came to the neighborhood so uh… now it’s a duopoly, I guess?) but it’s worth it to us for the handful of channels we watch. And… that’s what it is to the vast majority of cable subscribers. A handful of channels or shows they watch regularly, and the option to watch something else if they ever feel like it.

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        In order to sell you a movie for $5, there needs to be the cable company providing the infrastructure, and the cable company’s motivation for doing this is that it gets some number of subscribers who would not be subscribed if not for the movies. So – on that end – it’s efficient to have a consolidated delivery mechanism.

        See, it’s that kind of logic that makes me question whether I’m understanding an argument at all. The number of people that are, for example, paying $50, $70, $100 a month for cable TV and a premium service purely for the purpose of watching whatever the amazing thing is this year (E.G. Game of Thrones, The Tudors, etc.) seems to be … astronomically thin. Several dozen maybe, but not thousands, much less millions of customers. Thousands may be using that as a rationalization, but I really doubt that they’re gaining zero benefit from anything else anywhere on the service that they’re buying. Plus usually the internet connectivity and cable TV are add-ons for each other.

  34. Irridium says:

    Feel as though I should post this comic. Also, here’s the New Zealand version, though it works for any country outside the US, really.

    I’ve never been able to stream, though. And when my internet is good enough to actually stream the quality is so bad I just don’t bother. Crappy internet sure is fun.

    So yeah, I just use the disks. Works pretty well for me. Kind of sucks for Netflix though, having to deal with these media companies. And the people paying for the service, who get screwed when it comes to stuff they want to watch. From what I hear, the studios are wanting more money or something like that, and the only way Netflix can do that is raise their price, which didn’t go over so well. So now we’re left with the other option, which is less videos available for streaming.

    Or something like that. Haven’t really followed it that closely. I just wish movie/television studios would stop being so damn stupid and make their content available to buy and watch easily.

  35. Not Yet Measured says:

    I thought Netflix used to have the ability to create multiple queues on an account. I don’t know if they still do, or if that will help the recommendation engine (it might still be account-wide).

    • Taellosse says:

      That’s what he’s talking about with sub-accounts. It is still a feature, but it was originally implemented for the disc-service, before streaming was even available. They tried to discontinue it, but got customer backlash, so they left it in, but it’s never been very well supported, and, as he suggests, may not even be available at all on the streaming side of things. And from the sound of it, that’s all the Young household has from Netflix anymore.

      And I’ve been tossed into “awaiting moderation” again? What’d I do?

  36. Dev Null says:

    Ditto.

    I don’t even bother to search for things on NetFlix anymore – if I feel like watching a movie, I just browse the entire available streaming collection in the couple of genres I’m interested in, and then I go read a book.

    • Hitch says:

      Yeah, this is how it works for me too. I’ve long since given up looking to see if something I want to see is on Netflix. If I feel like watching something, I look to see what Netflix is offering. Occasionally I get a nice surprise of something I hadn’t considered before seeing it listed on Netflix or, more often, I realize after scrolling through a couple genres that’s there’s something better I could occupy my time with.

  37. krellen says:

    One thing that really bugs me about Netflix is that it’s hard to tell if they just don’t have streaming, or if they don’t have a thing altogether, because unless you have a DVD subscription, you can’t search their DVD offerings. This is one stupid business decision that is all Netflix – why the hell wouldn’t you want the free advertising of “hey, give us more money and you can get that thing you want!”

    • Yes, this exactly. And I think they have lost us as potential disk-borrowing customers more than a few times because of it. We would start back up for a month if we KNEW they had what we want to borrow.

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        I suspect, though I cannot prove, that the model of not telling people what you have is thought by the company to make people think that the service has more than it has. I further suspect that the reverse is true: that not publishing the list publically keeps people from signing up for even the one month…

  38. Chris Headley says:

    Gave up on TV because cable was too expensive.
    Hulu, will be done with because works well on computers but weird things on roku, don’t like the same targeted 3 ads on every show.
    Netflix, am contemplating ending subscription due to lack of content I would like to see.

    Thanks for confirming similar problems with finding something to watch on Netflix, thought I was losing it.

    I am noticing if I kill the above and the time spent for searching for above (either with service or pirating) and wait till I see a movie at garage sale or in cheap bin somewhere, I may be able to pursue other hobbies. Not a bad thing that a greedy corporation may get me outside more or hanging out with friends and not around a TV.

  39. hborrgg says:

    Not really a big fan of movies or tv shows on the internet unless youtube or hulu already have them for free.

    Besides, I can aready waste my time watching this series I found about five people drunkenly swearing at video games. I forget what it’s called exactly but I think you would really like it.

  40. Alan says:

    My own success rate for “I want to watch this now” is getting so low, I’m considering cancelling my Netflix subscription. But Netflix is trapped. They are correct that they need to move to digital delivery; shipping plastic around the country is a dying market. But the studios are still so paranoid about piracy that they refuse to license shows and movies at reasonable rates, or in some cases at all. Of course this is idiotic, since someone who can’t find the content on Netflix isn’t going to be a good little consumer and go buy the blu-ray. No, they’re going to pop over to the Pirate Bay and get it for free. Self-defeating idiots.

  41. Anachronist says:

    In our family, we eventually realized that whenever we turned on the TV, it was to watch a DVD or some anime we had downloaded onto a DVD.

    So, we don’t subscribe to any cable service. Once or twice in the past year we watched something broadcast over the air. We have so many DVDs at home, many still in their original un-opened wrappers, as well as anime series we downloaded and never got around to watching, that there is no shortage of stuff to watch.

    Movie subscription services? Bah. Way too much stress to make sure we got our money’s worth, sort of like over-eating at an all-you-can-eat buffet. We gave up on that too. Our local library is 4 blocks away, and has a huge collection of DVDs for every generation and every taste, more than anyone could watch in a lifetime. And it costs us nothing but a bit of time to go there and check out 5 DVDs at a time.

    After becoming accustomed to living this way, I now wonder how anyone can justify the cost of cable TV or a movie subscription service. The value just wasn’t there for us.

  42. Rod Spade says:

    The Netflix DVD service is awesome! Particularly if you want to check out old classics or foreign films that you just wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. Last night I watched Gilda, from 1946. You do have to plan ahead a little, due to the 2-day latency when returning a disc, but it’s way better than leaving the house to rent a mediocre recent release.

  43. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I have a solution for you Shamus:If you dont find what you want on netflix,pick up a discworld book and read it.Thatll hook you up and keep you occupied for a loooong time.Plus,once youre done,you can then go back to the web and search for discworld movies.Those are worth a watch.

  44. I don’t have Netflix, never have, I just don’t watch movies. I could be doing other more productive stuff, like playing Spacechem.
    That said, two things (both shameless plugs).

    Netflix was going to die at some point. All organizations do. That it came sooner than many would like is disappointing, but it’s just not that surprising.

    And if you’re looking for Indie Sci-Fi there’s a movie coming out soon (I promise, really soon) called Project London. I worked extensively on the special effects and a bit on the sound design too. The main thing is that it’s completely volunteer driven and made with mostly open-source tools. Yeah, remember Blender? We (somehow managed to) use it for all the CG.
    There are a few good trailers on Youtube. Check it out!

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      Most organizations die, or change. But there’s a lot that don’t. There’s dozens of breweries in Germany that have been ongoing concerns for 500 years, and there’s an inn in Japan that’s been in business for 1300 years.

  45. Michael says:

    After reading all of this, I sure am glad I don’t like movies/TV. Netflix streaming looks like a bit of a waste of money, now.

    Even at that, the few things I am interested in (the new My Little Pony series, that Scott Pilgrim movie a couple years back, etc) are also things my friends like, so, chances are, I end up seeing them by pure virtue of having friends with whom I share interests.

    (Is that the correct use of whom? I’ve never been able to tell.)

  46. Naota says:

    This would be like if, when television was rising to replace the radio as the dominant form of entertainment, TV stations suddenly pulled the plug and announced their shows were all going to be on their own proprietary brand of television.

    Almost like if interactive gaming was rising to replace (or at least compete with) television and movies as the dominant form of entertainment, and game publishers suddenly announced their games were all going to be on their own proprietary brand of computer – and nowhere else.

    Format-exclusive video games are my biggest complaint with gaming, even above DRM and unreasonable pricing. I already shelled out money for an Xbox 360 so I could have access to the plethora of games which aren’t available on my fully capable PC hardware, so why on earth should I be expected to throw down the same amount again just to play great games like Metal Gear or Persona on the Playstation 3? Why is it necessary that I own three sets of hardware engineered to do the exact same thing just in order to peruse all of the content out there?

    I don’t need to buy a Dreamworks Player to see the Shrek series. I don’t need a 21st Century Foxbox just to be able to watch Firefly. I don’t need a Warner Brostation to view Sweeney Todd. What makes this a totally normal and acceptable state of affairs for video games?

    I know that the realities of bridging formats with a product as systematically complex as a conventional video game are far more work-intensive than a sequence of images with matching sound, but it doesn’t render the situation that much less absurd. I still have to own four almost identical computers to be able to play any video game I want.

    • Chargone says:

      dubious as to how ‘identical’ the PS3 is, really, they did some fancy experimental things there. but other than that, valid point. (certainly valid with the previous generation)

      avoiding monopolies is a good thing, but propriatary formats don’t avoid monopolies so much as split them. multiply them? something like. then you’ve got all the headaches of cross platform stuff as well as ‘exclusives’…

      yeah.

      • Naota says:

        Well, the PS3 had a lot of fancy multimedia aspirations and functionality, but for the purpose of playing video games it still works on the same fundamental principles.

        The player interacts with the game in a primarily 3D environment using an input device, while the console employs a power supply, a processor, RAM, semi-permanent storage devices, and a dedicated graphics processor to create a game environment. On the software side, much of the same tech (SSAO, normal mapping, antialiasing, HDR/Bloom, soft particles, havok physics) is used for all products.

        I don’t believe there’s anything which 99% of PS3 games did that could not also be done in a near-identical fashion if developed for a PC or 360, barring little differences like memory limitations.

        It’s even sillier when you realize that almost all game content is functionally identical before it’s put together in an engine. All sounds, textures, models, and to some extent even level geometry are created with the same tools and methods until they’re packed up and exported.

  47. I like Amazon Prime streaming video, I wish I could use it on the Wii. The free streaming collection is comparable to the limited selection Netflix currently has, a little better I suspect, and when you have a hankering for a specific title it is, generally speaking available to rent or own instantly for a reasonable price.
    Access to the Kindle library and free two day shipping lumped in with it is also a nice perk.
    Amazon is pretty awesome at getting you to give them more money by providing you with overflowing buckets of convenience.

  48. Miguel says:

    It’s funny how you mention X-Men: First Class as not being available for streaming, because it is here in Canada. Maybe Netflix has just been neglecting their local customers while focusing on their international branches?

    Also, about this little snippet…

    “My daughters are into laugh-track faux-comedy like … Ned’s Declassified Not-funny Show.”

    *Adjusts monocle, puting* Good sir, we must have words

    Seriously though, the show was brilliant at what it did (Blending the standard sit-com school-life drama with cartoon physics and sensibilities and building a well-rounded cast of extras, all while using the plots of the week as framing devices to give tips to the younger viewers on making their own school lives more bearable.) and what it did is right up my alley. The first season was a bit shaky at times, but I still regard the show as probably the best thing to come out of Nickelodeon I’ve ever seen.
    And one little technicality: it didn’t have a laugh track.

    • Shamus says:

      “It didn’t have a laugh track.”

      Hm. Then Ned probably isn’t one of the offending shows. There are a few of them, and I don’t really keep them all straight. There are a few shows with excruciatingly bad jokes, and I was thinking Ned was one of them. I usually just catch them in 30 second intervals when I stop in the kitchen to make tea.

      The humor isn’t even jokes. It’s people having a conversation using the rhythm of humor, but without punchlines.

      Loud character: I just did [obviously dumb thing]!

      (Laugh track.)

      Even louder character: OH NO YOU DID-N’T!

      (Laugh track.)

      Most loudest character: OH YES HE DID!

      (Laugh track.)

      Gah. Hate, hate, hate. Silly is okay. Goofy is okay. Cheesy is okay. But putting a laugh track over hammy acting and inane dialog with no jokes drives me up the wall at escape velocity.

      • Sagretti says:

        I’m sure all the shows you listed have moments like that, though I have to say iCarly is actually a guilty pleasure. Not that it’s brilliant writing or anything, though hardly worse than your average sitcom, but the creators obviously use their position on Nickelodeon to cross the line and get things past the radar as much as possible. This includes at least 3 instances, off the top of my head, of recreating famous murder scenes from television and movies.

    • Jarenth says:

      It also had a Fairly Odd Parents cameo, which makes anything gold. But no, what I’ve seen of that show (Dutch-dubbed, of course, because screw emergent language learning) showed it as having quite a few chuckle-worthy moments.

    • anaphysik says:

      I still regard the show as probably the best thing to come out of Nickelodeon I’ve ever seen.

      What heresy is this?!(‽)

      AHEM.

  49. Amarsir says:

    What the decline of Netflix has done is educate me just how much people still use traditional methods for viewing. Starz, who owns most of the titles people go looking for, originally leased the library for $30m per year. But they got complaints that it was hurting viewership to the cable channels, which bring Starz $1.3 billion. Damaging that is so hurtful that even when Netflix upped the offer to $300m, Starz still had to say no.

    I can’t verify their accounting firsthand (and these numbers are by memory, but at least approx correct), but it’s not “100% of 0.”. It’s protecting a much much larger business. As much as you and I may prefer our videos online, and as good as netizens are at making noise, we’re just not that relatively important yet.

    • krellen says:

      This is apparently also why CurrentTV cannot offer full shows online; their agreements with cable providers explicitly forbid such, and losing the cable providers would tank their business.

    • Dasick says:

      Aha. I knew there was a deeper root cause for this. Like I always say: never attribute to incompetence what is quite clearly malice.

      Shamus likes to rage about how incompetent business people seem to be, but they are not incompetent. They are very, very good at making money. Even when EA does something “stupid”, they’re not really being stupid. They have researchers, working day and night trying to put the dollar figure on outrage and the controversy that attracts attention. And when EA makes people rage, it’s because their calculations told them that they can get the greatest revenue by enraging X amount of people.

      • Shamus says:

        When I make the case that they’re being stupid, I lay out a set of assumptions and reasoning and show how they could do better if they behaved differently.

        You’re countering this by saying that they’re not making mistakes because… they’re big? Because they have a lot of money?

        “And when EA makes people rage, it’s because their calculations told them that they can get the greatest revenue by enraging X amount of people.”

        I don’t believe this to be the case at all. Origin is a great, shining example of just how badly they misunderstand this new market.

        Huge corporations have, in the past, made profoundly big mistakes, missed market changes, gone out of business, or been eaten alive by smaller, more forward-looking competitors. There are a lot of reasons why a bunch of smart people will come together with a massive supply of money and power, only to piss it away making mistakes that are obvious to people on the outside. I’m just pointing at these guys and saying, “I think now is one of those times.”

        • Amarsir says:

          It’s worth noting that Joss Whedon created and distributed the amazing Dr. Horrible without traditional channels, but it didn’t lead to a change in models – even for him. The potential exists to completely change how media works, but not the momentum. Early adaptors have to get used to waiting while others catch up,

          The lack of digital distribution certainly has the feel of a missed opportunity. Rather like how mp3s were considered the enemy of the music industry until iTunes created a win/win. But I’m also not sure Netflix’ buffet style is the path. I think if I was intent on changing behaviors, I’d cancel my cable and buy downloads from iTunes/Amazon whenever I could, because when enough people do that the tide will shift.

        • Steve C says:

          You’re countering this by saying that they’re not making mistakes because… they’re big? Because they have a lot of money?

          I believe Amarsir is describing the logic behind a monopoly player rationally taking a deadweight loss even though it’s… you know… a loss.

  50. The Rocketeer says:

    Shamus’ young like Agatha Christie? There’s hope for the future!

    • Shamus’ young adore Agatha Christie, as does their mother. And Netflix DID just add all of Poirot and more Miss Marple so we ar ea happy clan even if Shamus is a crank. :P

      • The Rocketeer says:

        Apparently, it hasn’t been published since 1990, but you might be interested in an autobiographical book she wrote called Come, Tell Me How You Live. I read it in high school and I’ve tried to track down a copy ever since.

        It’s about her time in Syria, Iraq and (I think?) Afghanistan in the 1930′s, riding along with her husband’s archaeological expeditions, and it’s mainly about their adventures there and her (favorable) impression of the people and culture there until they had to return to England as World War II spun up.

        It’s a very nostalgic, heartfelt book, beautiful both for her impressions of her time abroad and just seeing Christie being Christie in a rare nonfiction context.

        (Maybe you’ve already heard of it, but I get the impression it’s pretty rare; I’ve never seen but that one copy, and I was pretty well-read in my school days. I try and pass it on whenever I find another fan.)

        • Oooo, I have a thing for nonfiction books and letters by favorite fiction writers. For years read and reread Tolkien’s Letters (lent it out and never saw it again)as well as C.S. Lewis’ letters and many others. Will have to see if I can track it down.

          • vukdolak says:

            Both of you might be interested in her actual autobiography as well. It covers the period of her life from the earliest childhood to the late 1960s or so and a lot of it is very compelling and/or illuminating. Be forewarned though, I say ‘or’ since the first 200 pages cover her childhood in excruciating, if nostalgic detail. Those first 200 pages are a slog, but shed an interesting light on how she regarded her childhood as a happiest time of her life and you get glimpses on how it influenced her later work. The rest of the book is a very good read – and remarkably honest, especially around the time of the breakdown of her first marriage.

          • The Rocketeer says:

            Well I’ll be… I might just have to pick one up for myself, after all this time.

            Thanks for taking the suggestion of someone who’d open with a pun.

  51. Chris says:

    Amusingly, right next to the article entitled “The Slow Death of Netflix” listing the reasons for the quality-of-service being much poorer than one would hope for the price, there is a huge banner ad for a Netflix free trial.

    Oh, Google AdSense, you are so silly.

  52. TMTVL says:

    Well, we’ll probably have decent ways to get movies around the same time we get decent ways of paying for them.

    Seriously, I don’t qualify for a credit card under the laws in my country, so there’s a lot of stuff I couldn’t get even if I wanted to. Why are debit cards so useless?

  53. GTB says:

    I canceled netflix two years ago, when i was laid off and literally went through the streaming list alphabetically, watching the movies and tv shows I wanted to watch. After that, I kept it for almost two months and nothing new showed up but “Asylum” films that I wasn’t interested in. I have Amazon Prime, which has free streaming of some stuff, but it’s even more limited than netflix (was). I don’t have a television, or a cable tv subscription (I only have broadband) and so I watch everything from streaming services. Hulu was fine until they went full retard with their gorilla commercial campaign, netflix has become the incredible shrinking service, and Prime is okay, but has less content and a terrible interface.

    So now I basically just watch stuff in itunes. But I have to buy things piece-meal rather than a subscription, which is what I really want.

    It’s just ridiculous.

    Fortunately, i’m not as scrupulous as Shamus.

  54. Volfram says:

    (This comment’s never gonna get read, but what the hey!)

    Oh man, Shamus, if you’re skipping TV shows you are COMPLETELY missing out!

    Stargate: SG1 and Atlantis(Universe sucked)
    Burn Notice
    White Collar
    Lie To Me

    You will thank yourself!

  55. Fawkes says:

    We’re talking an industry that has taken the marketing slogan, “Available a month before Netflix and Redbox.” on their DVD commercials. And that’s just for physical rentals, a business that has been around forever now in some form and they are still doing everything they can to discourage the use of. They truly don’t care.

    Netflix is in the unenviable position of being the ‘face’, or ‘patsy’ if you prefer, of deals and contracts that hamper their ability to offer what they claim to be selling. A lot of their library went missing with the loss of Starz, and they aren’t finding new material to fill it back up.

    I’ll at least give, that when a treat pops up, around once a month, it’s a real treat. Finding Drive available on Netflix was great, and being able to watch that and Thor with a few friends who hadn’t seem them before was one of those experiences Netflix should be trying to encourage and market as a feature. (I could rant at how hard they’ve made it to do just that. Especially with their new redesign of the player, but I’ll let it be.) Worth the monthly price? Less and less, I’ll admit. And I can’t imagine the marketing campaign mentioned above that seems to revel in how Netflix and Redbox won’t have their product for a month, a hurdle they themselves forced on the companies, is helping either.

    • Shamus says:

      I read your comment, watched Drive, and came back to say thanks. Drive is one I’ve been waiting to see.

      It did not disappoint.

      • Fawkes says:

        It’s definitely a film worth watching. Even if the marketing for it was trying its hardest to make it seem like the next ‘Transporter’. I’m glad my recommendation didn’t disappoint. You’re very much welcome.

    • krellen says:

      My threshold of what’s worth $9/month must be a lot lower than yours.

      • Fawkes says:

        I have a lot of friends online I watch movies with, and I’m not the only person in my household using the account. So it works out, if barely. As I said, I’d love it if Netflix realized they have the technology here to let people across the world, well country, share in an experience. But they continue to do everything they can to discourage that sort of behavior.

        I have three friends who share an account. They can only watch on two devices. So one uses a computer, the other two use the Wii. But the Wii counts up, whereas they changed the PC player to count down. That’s not even getting into the fact that the Wii has a delay and lag that makes it even harder to sync up properly. A way to auto-sync, or at least a continuity of time would help wonders.

        Still, it’s certainly a service I pay for in spite of, rather than because of. And that’s never a healthy way for your customers to be thinking.

  56. Ben says:

    I know a lot of people tend to disregard Star Trek:Deep Space Nine but its definitely worth a watch for a few reasons.
    1) DS9 is one of the shows that laid the groundwork for the highly serialized, and generally awesome, shows that have made this the Golden Age of Television. The other two shows that really helped lay the groundwork, X-Files and Babylon 5.
    2) If you’ve enjoyed the Battlestar Galactica [if you haven't watched it, get on it, the BSG reboot is the best sci-fi drama produced and its on netflix] reboot DS9 is more of the same, although some of the craziness of late run BSG is kept in check. Its interesting to see the artistic progression of Ron Moore, there are some similar themes and character beats, some work better on BSG because Ron Moore had more freedom, some don’t work quite so well but its interesting regardless.
    3) DS9 is the best Trek (heresy I know) and is some really fine television. Episodes like Duet, The Wire, In the Pale Moonlight and Siege of AR-558 are great sci-fi.

    If you are looking for something to watch on netflix, try DS9, its not like the other Treks in style and in many cases in substance and it is one of the best sci-fi shows to air on television.

    • Amarsir says:

      I loved DS9 and thought B5 had a lot of good stuff. But man I just can’t make it throught Battlestar Galactica. I’ve tried several times and gotten maybe a third through season 1, but it’s just too boring! Episodes of Dramatic! Talking! about the 3 minutes of action that happened 5 episodes ago really don’t grab me, I’m afraid.

  57. 6b64 says:

    I wonder if people pirate as much all around Europe as in Eastern Europe.

  58. Ian says:

    I make use of Amazon’s Love Film (Available on Xbox 360 in the UK at least)

    They have a much better selection.

  59. GeneralBob says:

    Indie sci-fi, did you mean…Space Cop

  60. Mayhem says:

    I saw a few Korean period dramas, like “Emperor of the Sea” on an Asian channel that Comcast no longer carries. They were pretty good, although they all seem to have the Whedon philosophy that there should be no happy endings. The villains always won and the heroes died or were cast out by the end.

  61. [...] Twitter doesn’t need to be beaten, it just needs to be threatened so it gets out of its comfort zone. Right now it’s chasing after NASCAR and trying to give users tailored content; that’s a fool’s game. Users will never warm to an algorithm’s suggestions – just ask Netflix (or better yet, ask a user). [...]

  62. Gulderian says:

    Don’t give up on Man On Fire, Shamus. It’s an epic movie and you shouldn’t be deterred by this netflix nonsense. Watch it.

  63. Jaerys says:

    The DOJ is actually conducting an investigation against the cable companies over whether they are using their status as service providers to put online video services like Netflix or Hulu at a disadvantage. Though, as near as I could tell, the investigation doesn’t include the availability of streaming licenses.

    I’m kind of surprise that the one month delay movie studios insist on between a dvd’s release and its rental date hasn’t triggered any red flags. Heck, Warner Bros insists Netflix enforce a two month delay and won’t even let people queue for a movie until its dvd has been released for a month.

    • Andy L says:

      Since comcast owns universal pictures and who knows what other smaller studios, I’m site they’re doing their part to kill Netflix and force people to use their expensive pay per view streaming service.

  64. Andy L says:

    Netflix used to have a feature where everyone in your family could log in separately.
    They canned it, apparently it was too confusing for customers. Which seems fixable.
    (The feature still exists, but I think its just grandfathered in for customers already using it. )

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  1. By Twitter doesn’t innovate on June 20, 2012 at 7:44 am

    [...] Twitter doesn’t need to be beaten, it just needs to be threatened so it gets out of its comfort zone. Right now it’s chasing after NASCAR and trying to give users tailored content; that’s a fool’s game. Users will never warm to an algorithm’s suggestions – just ask Netflix (or better yet, ask a user). [...]

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