There was almost a riot in the Militant Ginger household the other month, when Netflix lost Doctor Who from its streaming lineup. But that’s just a front-and-center example of Netflix’s declining list of popular titles.
Oh, they mocked me when I bought my Amazon Prime account – but they’re not laughing now. Not only do I get free shipping on all my purchases, and can borrow as many Kindle eBooks as I want, but now I’m the one watching Doctor Who – while they’re all stuck flicking through the ‘sci fi’ selection on Netflix and deciding which direct-to-video monstrosity to struggle through.
Okay, I’m not exactly sure who ‘they’ are – I think I might have just made ‘them’ up – but my point is: Netflix is hemorrhaging all the top shows and films, bro – and it’s becoming something of a problem for them.
As of this month, there are 4,335 different movies and 1,197 individual TV shows to enjoy on Netflix’s streaming service – which sounds impressive. But be kind and rewind to the same period in 2014, and there were 6,494 movies and 1,609 TV shows available – including all the shit I wanted to watch, like Knight Rider and The A-Team.
In just two years, competition from Amazon Prime and Hulu has bled away almost a third of the Netflix catalogue; and it’s a problem that’s getting worse. Back in the early days of Netflix, they had a literal monopoly on streaming content, and could by it all for pennies on the dollar. Now they’re embroiled in a bidding war with their competitors, and it means they’ve having to pay a lot more for what content they do have, and are just letting a lot of good stuff slip by the wayside (cough, Knight Rider and The A-Team, cough.)
Netflix is making the right call in responding to this – by investing in original content like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, which they can control the budget of. But for casual consumers like us, it’s not a great situation to find ourselves in. Netflix used to be our go-to. Now I find myself clicking the Amazon button on my Roku more frequently; as they have more and more of what I want to watch.
I fear we might have seen the end of the golden age of streaming TV. From now on, there won’t be one easy, affordable service that provides us with everything we want. Square-eyed Americans are going to have to splash out on more than one streaming service to get the content they desire; and even with that solution, there’s going to be a lot of it that falls into the cracks.
The good news is that we’re going to get a lot of great new content. The bad news is that I can no longer pile onto the couch with my kids and share the same TV shows with them that I used to enjoy when I was their age. And a world without Spiderman and his Amazing Friends on instant streaming video isn’t the sort of world any of us want to live in.
Get it together, Netflix. You’re making it harder and harder for us to chill with you.