Monday, January 11, 2016

Bad news last week for this Netflix user

Several news items last week may have pleased Netflix investors and other stakeholders, but they irked me, a longtime subscriber alarmed at the gradual de-emphasis on older content.

ITEM:  Netflix announces its original Adam Sandler vehicle "The Ridiculous Six" is its most streamed in the fastest time movie ever or some BS like that.

Look, I am not suggesting that a publicly traded company, even one that guards its viewership metrics so tightly, would be less than honest about something like this. Consider, though, the scorn this project received from movie critics, subscribers, and general lovers of humanity everywhere. Does anyone think Netflix would NOT take an opportunity to brag about how "successful" it was no matter what its own internal numbers indicated?

It doesn't matter how many people have watched "The Ridiculous Six," nor does it matter if they liked it or  not. Netflix invested a lot of bucks in these Sandler movies, and the fact that they are crowing about this one proves that they are all in on it. We can expect to see more of this kind of thing going forward, so Netflix subscribers who don't want to see your dollars go these movies (raises hand)...well, too bad.

ITEM: Netflix original docuseries "Making a Murderer" generates tremendous buzz.

I find it hilarious that a bunch of armchair detectives watching a TV show are literally trying to make a federal case out of this and suddenly fancy themselves experts on the case. I haven't seen the show, though, but I do think it sounds interesting. Still, it's not really where I want Netflix's content acquisition dollars to go. Too bad for me, though, because the big hype proves that Netflix will get that precious ~BUZZ~ not through reruns of "Leave It to Beaver," but through originals like this that can become "hits" and drive critical attention, media coverage, and ultimately subscriptions.

ITEM: Lower-tier Disney classics leave Netflix in early January.

I remember when Netflix announced its big deal with Disney a few years ago. Yes, one of the selling points was access to theatrical motion pictures before any other streaming services or pay cable outlet, but there was also a lot of talk about access to the Mouse's vast library. Indeed, many cool titles joined Instant Watching, a nice mix of second-tier classics like "Dumbo" and some old Marvel cartoons.

For a while, a handful of back catalog titles joined Netflix each month. "Snow White" didn't show up, but my kids enjoyed the likes of "Lilo and Stitch," and I hoped that more of the Marvel cartoons would appear, and maybe--just maybe--the real crown jewels in the Disney library would be added after their umpteenth home video releases had some time to collect money.

Nope. The Disney content has slowed to a trickle in recent months. I gave up hoping for all the Marvel cartoons, and some of them actually left. I had speculated that maybe subscribers would get at least some of all those old live-action family movies, and that still hasn't happened. But the worst blow came a few weeks ago, January 4, when a decent-sized assortment of lesser Disney cartoons said bye-bye. "Dumbo," "Pocahontas," "The Aristocats," "The Fox and the Hound" and others are gone, and as of today, I see no indication when or if they will return.

"Well," one might interject, "these aren't the true classics like Cinderella or even the more modern gems like "The Little Mermaid." To that I respond, 1) those never came to Netflix and 2) none of it should be leaving! I thought the deal would keep this content on Netflix for the duration of the deal. If it's cycled in and out, that makes the whole thing a lot less appealing. These 8 or 9 titles vanishing may not be the biggest blow, but I fear they indicate a larger problem: the rest of it could go any month.

Considering how much content left Netflix in 2015 and how few high-profile theatrical releases it gets each month, one might expect the company would have had some surprises or at least would have found a way not to lose the Disney content it HAD, especially since it won't be getting new Disney movies until the second half of this year. Instead, we're off to a bad start, and it looks like the company's plan is to push originals like Adam Sandler movies and hope we don't notice nor care about what it DOESN'T have.

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