A week ago, I downgraded my Netflix account, dumping the streaming side of the service. There simply isn’t anything on there I want to watch anymore. Or rather, what there is I’ve either seen, could easily watch elsewhere, or am only vaguely interested in watching. And by “vaguely interested” I mean if I had literally nothing else to do. I’ll continue to be a disc subscriber to get the movies I can’t get at a Redbox, but it is amazing how completely worthless the streaming service has become.
Especially considering that it is the future of movies.
It is, in fact, so futuristic that Netflix gambled not once but twice that it would carry their business, making moves that angered much of their customer base and – ironically enough – allow little old me (and probably a lot of others) to opt-out of their streaming service altogether. The idea of the service is really amazing, actually. Streaming any movie to practically any device for a flat monthly fee? I mean, damn. On paper, that idea is incredible.
Problem is, while the future of movies (and TV) at home may damn well be streaming, it certainly won’t be unlimited and it certainly won’t be for a reasonable flat monthly fee. No, the studios want as much blood from the turnip as they can get. So why would they license their content to a service that charges $20 a month for unlimited viewing…when they can license them to services that charge $2.99 a pop? They wouldn’t, and that’s why Netflix Streaming is a virtual wasteland.
So while Netflix has certainly made some dumb mistakes over the past year and they will be losing some of my business, I’m not blaming them. Hell, the way things are going, they may end up as another carcass alongside the road right there with Blockbuster. If the rumors are true, Sony’s new video game console will somehow prevent people from playing used games. I’m sure there’s some executive somewhere reading about that and thinking “What if we could do that with movies, too?” And from there it’s only a hop, skip, and jump to “Hey, how come we’ve been putting up with this rental nonsense all these years?”
Don’t get me wrong, I love digital content. It’s incredibly convenient, reduces clutter and waste, and opens doors to smaller creators who would never have the budget for a large-scale “hard-copy” release. But its slippery slope undeniably leads down into a whirling mass of razor blades. The worst-case scenario is that we’d live in a disc-free world only to find that while we buy all these movies and games (or for that matter, music and books), we don’t own them.
I hope that doesn’t happen, but I have the sinking feeling it already is…