Netflix Scores With Streaming

The Fox Family subscribes to Netflix, the DVD rental service. We are on their “Wow you’re cheap” plan, getting a single DVD at a time. It’s perfectly suited for our needs.

Last night, I read about their new program where you can watch movies or TV shows on-line at no additional cost. I had to try.

I went on the Netflix site, logged in, got scolded because I was using Firefox and switched to Internet Explorer.

Please, let me choose my broswer Netflix. Don’t force me to use a Microsoft browser on a Microsoft platform.

I downloaded the player and then waited as it gauged my Internet connection speed. Within a few seconds, my movie was playing.

The quality was excellent – somewhere between VHS and a DVD. Playing back on my laptop, which was on my lap, and filling the full screen, it was as good as watching a large screen TV across the room.

Playback was flawless. I’m very impressed technically. I’m not impressed with the program selection.

I’m a documentary fan, so I chose “Helvetica,” a documentary about the Helvetica typeface. It was actually a movie I wanted to see.

Yeah, I hear you. It doesn’t seem like there should be enough going on with Helvetica to fill an entire movie. You’re right! The movie was a disappointment. That’s not Netflix’s fault.

Unfortunately, the rest of their catalogue was pretty thin, to be kind. The movies were mainly third rate. The documentaries were mainly obscure. None of the TV shows interested me.

I’m sure the problem is with rights acquisition. It’s always tough to convince content owners to embrace a new technology, especially when it hasn’t yet been established whether users of that technology can rip-off your product.

If and when Netflix improves their selection, this will be a powerful business. My guess is, they already see the writing on the wall for their current business.

One Response to “Netflix Scores With Streaming”

  1. Bob says:

    I’ve been using the online streaming service since it was rolled out in early ’07. The technology is impressive; I’ve watched any number of movies and TV shows on my laptop through a wireless connection, with good video quality and very few interruptions.

    The number of titles is indeed disappointing: 6,000 vs. the 90,000 unique DVD titles they keep in stock. And of the movies they do stream, most are grade C or worse.

    You’re absolutely right, though: it’s a rights acquisition issue. I’ve read that, according to law, if someone sells a DVD, outfits like Netflix have a legal right to rent it. (There have been some attempts on the part of certain rental outfits to block others from offering certain DVDs by making exclusive arrangements with the studios, but, as far as I can tell, these efforts have mostly come to naught.) There’s no such right for streaming, so Netflix must obtain permission for anything they put online. And the studios, Luddites all, are scared to death of anything new, even if it has the potential to make them a fortune. (Remember Jack Valenti and VCRs?)

    Anyway, the Netflix guys are to be congratulated for working on the infrastructure so that when the studios do loosen up on streaming rights, Netflix will be ready.

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