First Click: Netflix? More like Netshowz

November 11th, 2015

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Remember when you used to watch movies on Netflix? A time when you’d fire up the app to find popular new films ready to stream? I sure do and I miss it, but I should have seen it coming.

In 2012, Netflix lost access to the movies provided under its deal with Starz. Then in September, it lost the movies from Epix. I read the news and grasped it conceptually, but I didn’t fully understand its impact until my wife left me unattended last weekend. Alone on the couch, I quickly devolved into an agitated state of Bukowski as I struggled to find a movie. Amazon Prime Video ultimately saved me, a service that still has its streaming deal with Epix.

Sometimes I want my theater presented in tidy two-hour chunks of video. Instead, Netflix is increasingly bent on serving me serialized shows of its own, cut into one-hour doses that span several seasons. Some of these are great, but it’ll be years before I know what happens to Piper, Kimmy Schmidt, or Claire Underwood. More often than not, I crave the mindless Hollywood blockbusters that wrap everything up with a pretty little bow at the end — films that Netflix rarely provides anymore.

I’m certainly not the first to make the Netshows / Netshowz quip, or the last.

This isn't a deal breaker, of course. I’m already hooked on a few Netflix Originals. And quality is such that I look forward to seeing what it can do with the original films that'll be arriving around the time subscribers gain access to Pixar and Star Wars films next year. I also enjoy Netflix’s catalog of indie films and documentaries while my kids enjoy a seemingly endless supply of programming geared towards their ages. I've just had to reset my expectations of what Netflix viewing means.

Years ago I naively hoped that Netflix would evolve into a single source to stream all my favorite TV shows and movies. After all, it was just a matter of ripping all those DVDs it shipped onto giant hard disks for streaming (I joke). Unfortunately, digital media rights don’t work like that and rights owners won’t be handing Netflix the keys to the kingdom like the music industry did with iTunes.

Bryan Bishop was right, I have to stop waiting for the Spotify of films and TV to appear — it’s not going to happen. Instead I’ll have to cobble together an a la carte menu of services from Netflix, Apple, Hulu, Amazon, HBO and others to sate my appetite. And yes, I’ll download the occasional torrented TV show or film because I know BitTorrent will have everything I’m searching for, and navigating the complexities of modern media access can make anyone feel like an entitled asshole.

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