Last week I turned off my Netflix account.
I have had it for at least a decade, paying between $9 and $21 a month.
I turned it off because I stopped using it. The last thing I watched on Netflix was Ken Burns’ series The West. But I found I could get that on Amazon’s video service, for no extra money, since I was already an Amazon Prime member.
But even before I was using Amazon, I was hardly ever using Netflix.
Netflix was a great way for me to fill in a lot of the blanks in my movie-watching career. I missed a lot of great movies in the last couple of decades, while I was busy with other things. And there were all the movies made before I was born that I had of course missed. With Netflix, I pretty much could always find something I hadn’t seen that was worth seeing. And I could systematically march through whole genres. It was like TCM on steroids.
But then two things happened: 1. I caught up and 2. They closed the DVD side of the business, or if they didn’t close it, they discouraged it. I forget how I came not to be a subscriber to the DVDs. But the on-demand service just wasn’t worth it to me. There wasn’t enough stuff to watch, or if it was there, I didn’t know how to find it.
I think Netflix missed the boat, bigtime. They could have been the place on the net to learn about and watch and share movie experiences. I think they could have started a match.com type service. If you’re in a strange city and would like to go to the movies with someone with similar tastes, just click a few buttons. They were gathering all this information about people’s movie preferences. But they were reluctant to build systems around it. And reluctant to open it up to app developers. I think we all missed out on something, because movies at least to some of us are such an important form of personal expression.
These days there’s hardly any time for catching up on old movies. My life is filled with all kinds of entertainment, I never have a chance to see it all. Netflix played a big role in the early days by giving us access to a huge base of old movies that are worth seeing. Now it’s time for something new. Maybe someone else will try to fill the gap that Netflix never wanted to fill.