If you have a pulse, it's probably safe to assume you've heard of Netflix. It's nearly as ubiquitous as the iPhone or Starbucks these days. That's not without reason, of course. Netflix is one of the best ways to catch up on old favorites or new classics without having to schedule time in front of the television or fool around with a DVR. Seriously, I don't know of a network that would be willing to run episodes of The Cosby Show, Top Gear, and Heathcliff in its prime-time schedule.
That said, there are some serious drawbacks and, as you've probably already guessed, we're going to scream about them.
Episode Not Available
Nothing kills my desire to continue watching a television show more than missing out on a good episode. This is probably due to licensing issues and such, but it's infuriating nonetheless. The same goes for episodes of my favorite shows that have been edited for who knows what reason. Come on, Netflix. Don't hold out on me here. I want full seasons.
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Finding time to sit down and watch TV is difficult for me between work and spending time with the family. So when we actually do have a couple hours for a movie, it's a real treat. That's why it's always excellent to see that the movie we were going to sit down and watch is no longer available for instant streaming, removed without warning. Sure, Xbox 360 users do receive advance warning along the lines of "Available until…" but users running Netflix on the other two platforms won't receive any advance notice whatsoever. While the menus in the PS3 and Wii versions of Netflix are generally easier to navigate, they're missing that essential bit of information, leaving more than a few users frustrated.
Can I Get Season 2 Please?
There are all kinds of licensing deals and fees to figure out before Netflix can get content onto its streaming service. That's why you'll sometimes find that certain episodes or seasons of your favorite TV show aren't available. The DVD might be available, but that doesn't ensure you'll be able to see it instantly. This wouldn't be such a big issue if the return service could be at least somewhat consistent. At times, depending on your location, you can get the next DVD in your queue within a few days. At other times, though, you're left in Netflix Limbo.
Some might see the complaint about a missing episode here or an unavailable season there and chalk them up to entitlement issues. I'll go ahead and disagree emphatically with that. If I were to pay my bill sporadically, they'd cut off my service. Immediately. Yet when I fire up Netflix, what I'm going to find isn't exactly set in stone. They could do a lot to alleviate this by providing a sort of TV Guide for their instant and DVD services, informing all of their customers when certain shows or movies would be available and for how long.
Moving forward, networks are likely to become more increasingly difficult for Netflix to deal with, especially if they see the service as a threat. Netflix would do well to find alternative content to provide its customers with or it may face the kind of exodus that was experienced by Blockbuster and Hollywood Video not long ago.
By Patriel Manning
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*