Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This Is The End

Those of you who have been following this blog in recent months know I've grown increasingly disenchanted with Netflix Instant. It began with what seemed a more-dramatic-than-usual purging at the beginning of the year, followed by the Great BBC Scare, more purges in June, a sneak attack in July, then a complete overhaul of the website's user interface—making it increasingly difficult to navigate beyond basic selection and playing. This was complemented by the introduction of the awful pre-play function to many streaming devices, followed by last month's announcement of nearly 700 EPIX (i.e., popular and classic) movies being dropped for good.

Remember when you could do this?
Then, last week, yet another insulting blow was struck: the removal of the information box that popped up when hovering your cursor over a title in My List (or in accompanying search results). This was a crucial feature for anyone seeking at-a-glance info about a movie or show before playing it or adding it to your queue. It was also a great way to discover if that title was marked to expire (especially TV titles, which often displayed a full month's notice).

But now that's gone, and the only way to see more than basic titles in My List is to switch to the mostly useless Netflix Suggests view (via account settings)—which trounces your carefully ordered queue and eliminates any expiration notices. In other words, just when I thought it couldn't get worse, Netflix snatched yet more control from users.

I'd intended to continue this blog through late November (when I'll be canceling my subscription), but I simply don't have the stomach to stay invested in a service that so blatantly disregards customers who want more than indiscriminate content forced down their throats. As such, I'm sad to say this will be my last post for WoNN, at least for the foreseeable future.

It's been a great experience keeping this site going for the last two and a half years and providing a forum for such a devoted community of movie fans. All your support has been amazing—not to mention invaluable in compiling monthly lists—and I regret having to abandon such a useful gathering place for those who regularly visit and contribute here. But as regular contributor Linklisa wrote in a recent comment (which didn't appear due to a Blogger glitch), there's always the possibility of someone else carrying the torch:

David...if you do seriously mean to drop the blog, I hope someone else can pick up the ball with a good transition. I don't know if that would mean "merging" with another existing blog like New On Netflix, or having one of the contributors here start up a new blog to track expiring (if not also new) titles. A few other bloggers have tried to post monthly lists of Netflix expirations, but haven't kept it up, and might be revived with what you and we have been doing here.

I definitely like the idea of some of this site's more dedicated contributors banding together to create something new. Along with Linklisa, there are several in particular whose specialties I think would make a great combo, including Wellesley72 (industry analysis), will g (style maven), Brian T. and fantasticangel (expiration confirmation and research), and LarryG (data extraction and formatting). If any of you, or anyone I haven't mentioned, are interested in working together, just drop me an email at the address in my profile and I'll be happy to connect you.

Lisa went on to detail what she'd like to see in a future site or blog, which I'll quote in full since she offers a great starting point:

My first wish is to have a good way of tracking what's expiring. Having a forum that people can contribute to, with whatever level of self-identification we choose, has several other benefits:
  • Multiple contributors can triangulate our efforts. Our different sources of information, and different titles in our queues, give a better chance of catching more expiration dates.
  • Letting people submit comments that appear right away means there is no delay in sharing that information.
  • The option to comment with or without a linked identity offers a lot of freedom to participate.
  • The community that has gathered on your blog is dedicated and respectful. This makes it a pleasure to check the comments frequently.
Thanks, David, for all you have done, are doing, and I hope will continue to do. This blog and its comment forums offer a great service to those of us who participate, and no doubt to many silent lurkers as well.

And thank you, Lisa, for such a thoughtful post and for your many contributions over the last two years. Enormous thanks to everyone else not already mentioned for your support and comments, including Brian Clarkson, Starchild, Ventum Mingit, CanandaiguaNY, Kirby, Pox Voldius, Eric Vandenberg, Orzel, Tim, Carol, Achernar, Kari, Kristina, and all the Anonymouses who regularly pitched in.

While I don't plan to contribute any more posts to WoNN, I will keep the site online as an archival resource and continue to moderate any comments to this post or others. I'll also still be active on the Amazon Prime blog (at least through January when my Prime membership expires), so check in over there to see what will hopefully be a more encouraging story for lovers of classic, cult, and indie cinema. Hope to see some of you there. In the meantime, happy streaming--

David

10/1/15 Update: I'm happy to report that longtime reader Carol has stepped forward to offer a new blog that lists upcoming expirations: What's Expiring On Netflix Soon? So if expiring titles are your thing, please join her there and thank her for offering her services as host. (Thanks, Carol!)

41 comments:

Laurie Leiker said...

Thank your so much, David. This has been an invaluable resource and will be sorely missed. I hope some do take up the torch and I'll see you over in the Amazon Prime side.

David Speranza said...

Thanks, Laurie. I hope so too!

Rijkstra said...

I'm ahead of you. I'm planning on dropping Netflix in mid-October when my billing period expires. I'll give my son the option of taking it over, but I'm betting he won't since it's been nearly three weeks since he watched anything. I can't even see my grandkids' watch history any more. That's really bogus, since they can't have a separate password or device.

David Speranza said...

The only reason I'm waiting so long is to a) finish Breaking Bad, and b) watch Jessica Jones, which debuts on 11/20. Otherwise I'd already be gone.

Jon Paris said...

Sorry to see you go David - even for those of using Canadian Netflix this has been a valuable resource.

I'm interested to know (if you don't mind sharing) what service you plan to use as a replacement?

David Speranza said...

From what I've seen, Hulu+ will offer more than enough content to keep me busy, especially now that they're picking up the EPIX catalog. And I expect I'll do at least the free trials of Warner Archive Instant and Acorn TV. I also have a pretty extensive DVD library--which I've been seriously neglecting since all this started!

Rijkstra said...

I reactivated Hulu+ for two series not available on Netflix: Seinfeld and Touched by an Angel and also six shows that are updated the following day. My main beef with Hulu is they auto delete shows from your queue when you may have only watched a few minutes. The service is sorely in need of preferences that are non-existent.

jim said...

David - Sorry to see you go, but I don't blame you. I've been a Netflix subscriber since 2004 and have seen many changes, but the recent ones are exasperating. It seems like they're tailoring the site to movie morons (or as I like to call them, cineasses). Netflix, however, works for me because of the abundance of horror films they license and a few good TV shows.

If you haven't done so; check out Crackle.com (run by Sony) and ShoutFactoryTV.com (they have alotta cheesy genre movies and really obscure TV. I think they pull product from Hulu).

One thing that is overlooked in this whole licensing business is the need to reform our copyright laws. There is absolutely no need for big media to hold on to these properties in perpetuity and then stick it to the providers who want to carry the product at reasonable rates. We need to go back to the 12+12 rule and allow consumers the freedom to enjoy everything Hollywood has to offer (but that ain't gonna happen as long as Hollywood owns congress).

Anyway, best of luck and thanks for all your hard work and dedication. BTW, it looks like there may be some good stuff coming next month. :-) Jim.

Wellesley72 said...

David, I'm sorry to see you end your blog--I have found it to be an invaluable resource. I share your frustrations in a number of areas. First and foremost is Netflix's inability to give timely notice of expiation so far titles. I am at a complete loss as to why Netflix will not share this information. In many cases, particularly with films over 10 years old, Netflix knows it has a limited window--many movies move from Netflix to Amazon to HBO to Starz. In those cases, there is no excuse for not giving 30 days' notice of expiration to subscribers, both under "My List" and in the title description. Yes, in certain cases, Netflix may be renegotiating an extension of a streaming license up to the last minute. Since we--and Netflix--don' know whether that negotiation will be successful, there is no reason NOT to list an expiration date; if the title is extended, they can always drop the expiration date. This unwillingness to give clear notice of expiration dates is by far my biggest complaint with Netflix since I subscribed.

I am not as disappointed as others may be in the termination of the Epix contract. What REALLY bothered me is the notice given to subscribers, which implied that the primary reasons for dropping Epix were (a) it's availabity on other streaming platforms and (b) the inability of Epix to provide recent films to Netflix faster. As to the first point, Epix is only available to me ONLY if I subscribe through my cable provider or if I get a subscription to Amazon Prime or Hulu. I hope that Netflix isn't telling us that we need two or three streaming services since Netflix may well become the odd man out. As to the second point, no major movie studio is making its content available to streaming services any faster than Epix. Even Disney is going to have a six-month lag between theatrical release and streaming on Netflix. Maybe that's a month sooner than Warner Brothers or Sony but not by much. To add insult to injury, Netflix then points out the great movies that will open theatrically and on Netflix at the same time--the list is not very long--plus we have the dreaded made-for-Netflix Adam Sandler quartet of movies for which no one contemplates a theatrical lease. So I guess Netflix is paying AS for the equivalent of four Lifetime movies.

Finally, Netflix hurls the ultimate insult at us when it says that, unlike Amazon, it will not allow off-line viewing of content because it would only confuse us. Instead their answer seems to be to place a network server in every hotel and on every airplane, ship and train. Give us a break, Netflix--do you really think we are that stupid!Many of us have been downloading content for off-line viewing from Amazon or iTunes for years. (Even Comcast, which I can't stand, has let Showtime and Starz subscribers watch content off-line through their app. For those of us who would like to watch Orphan Black in our downtime on our next overseas vacation where we either can't get internet access or the cost is too high, I say, "Thank you, Amazon". As for Netflix, which prides itself on the ability of its subscribers to watch content anywhere, any time, maybe they need to add a disclaimer that their slogan only applies if you can get a decent internet connection without paying through the nose.

Service companies live or die based on their service. If Netflix wants to ignore its customers' wishes (or, worse yet, to insult our intelligence), they shouldn't be surprised when their subscription numbers drop greatly, which I suspect is going to happen in the US in the next couple of months.

Pox Voldius said...

What they all said!

I've already decided that as soon as I get the number of movies in my NF queue down to zero, I too will be dumping Netflix and going to either Hulu or Amazon (but not both at the same time, because I still have the same number of hours in the day, and I'm streaming movies more than tv shows).

Kirby said...

Sorry to see you go David, but as a longtime blogger myself who has had ups and downs with it I totally understand. It can get to the point where you are blogging more about movies than, you know, actually watching them lol.

Best of luck to you and thanks for getting this started. Hopefully it will continue in some form, it has been a great resource.

CanandaiguaNY said...

I'm sorry to see this blog end, but I understand David's frustration. I hope someone else picks up the work because I'll miss the early notice of expirations. I'm still getting, usually, two weeks notice of film, and four weeks or a month's notice of TV show, expirations on my TV Netflix app, but some posters have been finding and posting even earlier notices, for which I'm very grateful. And I've seen posted notice of expirations for film or TV shows I didn't even know were streaming, so I'd grab them before they go. All benefits of what David has wrought.

I'll stay with Netflix for a while yet. I don't take cable, so my TV viewing is over-the-air (CBS, NBC and FOX), shows I can view the next morning on the Internet (PBS, ABC and Comedy Central), Netflix DVDs, one streaming service (Netflix), a large stash of DVDs and cassettes (all of Hitchcock), and the library. There's radio and sports bars for sports I don't get on TV. That's plenty. A few months ago my Netflix streaming queue was at about 350, with additions matching viewings. It's now at 250. But that still means that there's always something to watch when I want to turn on the TV. No need to subscribe to another streaming service, and as of right now Netflix still has the biggest inventory of the stuff I watch.

Netflix is redefining its business model. My biggest beef with their changes is that, searching from the MyList page, I can't see the full description page, with reviews (which I can see when searching from the MyList DVD page), and I can't add a film that comes up in the search to the MyList queue. A few weeks ago, clicking on the film after a search it would start to play; now that's changed and Netflix sends me to the app where I have the choice to play or add to queue. An improvement, not as good as it was, as in David's screenshot above.

Netflix seems to be deliberately discouraging its users from building a large streaming queue and working from that. It wants users who will watch the shows it's pushing when you first turn on the app. Given the competition to attract entertainment eyeballs, I'm not sure this will be a successful strategy.

All my best to all of you, wherever you're going. And thanks for all you've done.

will g said...

All I can do is echo everyone else in thanking you David, especially for the expiration posts, which, for as long as I was aware of them, added greatly to the value of my Netflix membership. I can't believe that before I discovered this blog, I was completely at the mercy of Netflix's asinine 7-day notifications.

I just became a Prime member, so I will undoubtedly be posting on the other blog. With that and a recently acquired HBO GO password (not mine lol), there is simply no reason for me to keep Netflix as well. I still have two pretty full My List queues, even after the recent purges, so, like you, I'll probably hang on for another month or two. If I wasn't cancelling, I would have been interested in collaborating with the others to keep at least the expiration threads going somewhere. Until this blog is actually closed, I guess we can keep posting titles in the existing expiration thread, right?

fantasticangel said...

Thank you David for all that you have done with this blog. It's been an incredible resource that I will hate to see go.

As far as collaborating on something new, as far as research goes, I was able to find so many last month because I actually had a head's up about Epix so I knew what to look for. Unfortunately I can only see what's expiring 7 days ahead like everyone else unless I want to look for individual titles on the wii, which is tedious and time consuming. Whatever arises with a new blog or site, I will happily contribute anything I do find in my queue. At least until Netflix decides to do away with expirations completely.

David Speranza said...

Thanks, everyone, I do appreciate your understanding. Of course, it figures that the day after I posted this, Netflix decides to add a bunch of really good titles, including some welcome returns and a bunch of classics--three starring Gene Kelly and two directed by Stanley Kubrick! Oy. I will not...be...tempted!

seth mishne said...

if you are not posting anymore how will I know what movies are expiring now. you blog was such a big help so I could plan what I was watching so I would not have any surprised expirations.

Carol said...

Hi All,

I have set up a temporary blog called What's Expiring On Netflix Soon? I desperately needed an organized list of expiring titles for October, so I made one from all of your comments, and figured you might like to have that as well.

The blog is at http://expiringonnetflix.blogspot.com/
Feel free to add titles in the comments there. I will also continue to check this (David's) blog for new expirations.

David, I hope this is alright with you. Thanks for making my movie life so much easier, more organized, and better over all.

Everyone else, I hope I'll see you at the new blog, at least until something better comes along. Like fantasticangel, I don't have the resources to come up with expiring titles on my own, but I thought if we had a place where all of you who DO could continue to list them, it would be helpful.

David Speranza said...

That's awesome, Carol. I was actually feeling bad about leaving everyone in the lurch for October, so I'm glad to see this. Thanks. I'm sure you'll be getting plenty of contributions. Good luck--

Linklisa said...

Oh, David. I knew this was coming, but it's still like hearing "So long, and thanks for all the fish!" It is both sweet and practical that you quoted me so much in this post. And it is yet another reminder of how participatory you have made this blog.

So, if the group endeavor is to keep going in some form, how do we all want to make this happen? Some thoughts:
- PARTS I CAN PLAY: [We could each comment here on what we ourselves are willing to keep doing.] For instance, I (Linklisa) can easily share expiration dates that pop up in my own "My List" and that I see listed elsewhere. I can contribute some to organization and guidelines and such.
- THINGS I HOPE SOMEONE ELSE CAN DO: Host a forum for contributions. Set up monthly pages to share expiration dates, and separate pages for discussion. Check expiration dates further ahead (possible with DVD subscriptions and some 3rd party device listings).
- WHERE THIS COULD HAPPEN: We might reach out to NewOnNetflix.info or allyourscreens.com or another existing blog, and ask if they're willing to open up comments to Name only and Anonymous, not just people who will link to a blog or URL. One of us might step forward, with clear indications on David's blog of where else we can all meet up. If David were willing to keep hosting, it could be a matter of setting up a new comments page each month, perhaps with brief guidelines rather than an essay. (Of course I don't know how much that would be asking, in terms of quality control or of tugging at the heartstrings.)

In all of this, I'd like to acknowledge the tremendous labor of love this blog has been for David, and what a warm campfire we've all been invited to. We all benefit from the tremendous crowd-sourced information resource this has become, and I hope we can find a way to keep this up.

Linklisa said...

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojydNb3Lrrs for So Long and Thanks For all the Fish from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Anonymous said...

Sad end.... Thank you, DMS, for your wonderful work on this blog.

Cheyenne Bodie

David Speranza said...

You guys are getting me all misty-eyed. Thanks for all the fish, indeed!

will g said...

David could you put a link to Carol's blog in the post, so it isn't just buried in the comments? Thanks, and thank you Carol.

David Speranza said...

Way ahead of you, man! See update above.

Ventum Mingit said...

Here's to the departing hero of the Battle of Netflix. "Never in the field of" online streaming "was so much owed by so many ..."

Based on Netflix's pseudo-Darwinian attitude towards their employees, which they openly crow about itin this recent NPR interview, their treatment of customers comes as no surprise.

http://www.npr.org/2015/09/03/437291792/how-the-architect-of-netflixs-innovative-culture-lost-her-job-to-the-system

LarryG said...

Let me add my thanks to everyone else's. Thanks David for all of the movie recommendations over the past year that I have been following your blog. Your expirations list also helped me find many titles I did not know were even streaming at the time.
I took a look at Carol's blog and noticed it's not set up properly. She may be a little tech-challenged. She posted a Comment using a Simple Template without any Comments link. Perhaps, if you don't mind sharing, you could explain to her where to find a blog post Template and which one to choose. And how to add the Comments feature to the Template. Her email address is on the webpage. Thanks.

LarryG said...

Or perhaps another blogspot blogger, like Wellesley72, CanandaiguaNY or will g?, would be able to provide Carol with the necessary tips. And as Linklisa said, be sure to allow users to comment with a Name/URL or Anonymous too.

will g said...

Larry I'm not sure I'm understanding your complaint about the template. The link to the blog David posted is to the home page, but if I click on the post itself I see Lisa's comment and the box to post a comment. There's even a Reply button! So it seems OK to me.

David Speranza said...

As far as I can tell, it looks fine to me, too (once you click on the post).

LarryG said...

Sorry, I did not click on the post title or the post link on the side. I mistakenly thought the homepage was all there was to see. Thanks for straightening me out. I found the Comment link.

Carol said...

Sorry for the confusion, LarryG. I didn't want to spend a lot of time on design issues this morning - just wanted to get a list posted. I plan to go in tonight and spruce up a bit. BTW, you can also click where it says "2 comments" at the bottom of the post, right after "Posted by Carol at 8:13 AM." That will also open up the comments.

Will G and David, thanks for your assistance.

Nica said...

They've completely overhauled the look of My List. I can't manually arrange titles or see expiration dates on that page anymore, which means no more one-month warning on TV shows. And with titles not available through search on the DVD side, that means that TV shows you can't find on the DVD side will only have two weeks' warning if you have a device that will show you that. I called to complain and said I'm on the verge of cancelling. With Amazon Prime and Hulu as the big choices plus smaller services cropping up and DVDs as low as $5, the reasons to stay are getting smaller and smaller.

David Speranza said...

Nica: Are you sure your queue isn't in the Netflix Suggests view? If you go to your account page and select Order in My List, you should be able to switch it back to Manual. Otherwise, that doesn't bode well--and is yet another nail in Netflix's coffin...

will g said...

My My List hasn't changed. Hope this isn't something that's being rolled out and hasn't reached me or David yet.

Nica said...

No, it was definitely on manual. When I called to complain, I was told it was a test. I said I had turned off the test option on my profile and was told it wasn't a test I could opt out of, that it was for everyone. About half an hour later, My List was back to normal. Maybe enough people called to complain and they put it back, or they did something to my settings where I was signed up for tests anyway and undid that after my threat to cancel. Or, I guess the test could have been based on region and I was in one of the unlucky regions.

Rijkstra said...

What ticks me off about MyList is that the link that used to get you there forces you thru the browse screen where the identical link works from there.

http://www.netflix.com/MyList

Mr. Sandman said...

Disappointed to see this site go. I've only been here a relatively short time, but really appreciated all the expiration dates. Thanks for all the work you and your supporters put in to this site.

Achernar said...

David,

Soory to see your blog go. It has been a great resource, both for recomendations and for expiration info. I hope that Carol is successful with the later.

I don't know what I will do with Netflix in the long term. I have been on Netflix and Hulu for two years with the first year free for each with a new TV. The last couple of months with Netflix have been very annoying, but there is still a fair amount of content and it is a lot cheaper than cable.

To those commenting about MyList, lately for me it works differently depending on whether I go to it form the Home page (thumbnail format) or from the My Account page (text format), and I can't figure out any way to add to it from the Web page. The TV app still works fine.

Brian Clarkson said...

Thanks for a great run with your blog, David. Between you and your readers, I've learned quite a bit since I started covering Netflix for Rotten Tomatoes (under both my real name and under Apex Predator).

Due to RT's Touch and Go nature this year (they've shut down twice for renovations this year alone), I've decided to go ahead and start a blog covering Netflix's additions and subtractions on a monthly basis in case the decision is made to shut down RT once and for all. It's called Netflix Queue Busters and it's basically my weekly report to RT in a blog form, complete with plot summaries and a few jokes.

Now, I do plan on helping Carol out with her blog when I come across entries that haven't been reported yet. There's not any competition, but I consider NQB more of an enhancement that can help other Netflix users with films to look forward to or try to catch before it leaves the streamer. Any help from long time or new users is appreciated (as they say, the more eyes that can see something, the better).

Here's the link: http://netflixqueuebusters.blogspot.com/

I wish you the best of luck with your life and career and hope everything goes right with every one of you.

David Speranza said...

Thanks, Brian. You've been of great value to our community here, and I'm happy to see you branching out. Looks like you're off to a good start--although at the current pace (and breadth) you're going to have your work cut out for you! If you're interested in a bit of feedback, I'd recommend 1) bolding or otherwise highlighting movie titles so they stand out in paragraphs, and 2) maybe not using the same template as Carol? Could be confusing. Anyway, just my two cents. Lots of luck with everything, yourself!

Brian Clarkson said...

Thanks for the advice, David. Here's what I've decided to do for my blog:

1. Considering that I'm putting the dates in bold, I've decided to italicize the movies and TV series that appear.

2. Template has been switched. In addition, as titles are removed from the service, instead of crossing them out, I am now highlighting them in gray.