Monday, February 10, 2014

Yeah, the Warner Archive Instant Roku channel IS improved, but...

I got an email the other day touting the new and improved Warner Archive Instant Roku channel. This wasn't a surprise for me since I had already stumbled upon it the night before, but it was an indication that Warners is proud of the changes.

The main improvement is the addition of a My Watchlist function at the top of the screen so you can make your own queue (you can't change the order, though, only add or delete titles from it). This does make it a lot easier to stash the stuff you want to watch and access it quickly. There are also expanded search capabilities, with decade categories and "most watched" rows as well.

Unfortunately, the navigation seems a little slower as your home page has to "load" for a few seconds after you go from your watchlist to the main page and vice versa. Still, this is a pretty cool change, and there is a snazzy new icon for the Roku screen as well.

Now, the cynic in me suspects the timing of this change. See, the new interface and watchlist function wasn't the only thing I noticed when I logged on to WAI the other night. Conspicuous by their absence were scores of movies that the channel just dropped. This was after many other titles had already been purged the week before.

You don't suppose the bells and whistles are here to help distract us from the fact that they've finally started to taketh away as well as giveth, do you? Well, I sure do, but the cynic in ME is pretty strong. Don't get me wrong, I still love the service and think the value is decent, but this IS more expensive than Netflix or Hulu Plus, and I'd rather have all those deleted movies back than a watchlist and some new graphics.


Michael Linder said...

Let's talk content. While there are some gems, much of the bulk of Warner's offering can't compare with, say, Turner Classic Movies -- unless you're in the mood for binge-watching a Bowery Boys film festival or putting up with the unfortunate depiction of African-Americans in the plethora of Charlie Chan films.

I expected far more of Warner-First National's films from the 20s, 30s and 40s when the studio was kicking out some 50 films a year. That's 1,500 movies from the Jack Warner era, yet only a relative handful are offered.

There's also significant hyperbole in Warner's claim that new movies "are added all the time." New content is minimal. It's easy to blow through the Archive offerings in a month or two of casual viewing. Then what? Well, just watch it again. And again.

If you're cord-cutting, the Warner Archive is a Band-Aid that'll soon wear off, not a cure for losing TCM.

Rick Brooks said...

I appreciate the excellent comment, Michael. I am planning on re-evaluating WAI soon when I do a survey of the various SVOD channels.

In short, I agree with you yet I still feel I get value because I can barely keep up with what's on there. However, that is perhaps more a function of my own free time and all the other stuff I am trying to watch than a reflection of their content. I also hoped they would add a bunch of the obscure little programmers that show up on TCM, whether on DVD or not, and at first it looked like a possibility. Lately, new content has been recycling previous content and/or TV/TV movies.

Unfortunately, WAI is our best hope right now. My hope and fear is that the service would be/would have been better without cutbacks and restructuring in that department. I am still hoping for improvements in the content area.