Netflix, You Owe Me, You Owe Everybody

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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49 Responses

  1. Kazzy says:

    “You are right…one day early would be appreciated.”

    This isn’t really true. If failing to release it one day early let to complaints, then doing so would not have been appreciated as much as it was expected. For people to expect something they have no reasonable entitlement to is indeed problematic.Report

  2. Brandon Berg says:

    My understanding is that Netflix runs on Amazon’s servers, which means they have access to a lot more computing power and bandwidth than they need under normal circumstances. I’m not sure that bandwidth constraints are a factor here.Report

  3. NewDealer says:

    My guess is that everyone is playing armchair Net Titan. This is why most people are not Captains of Industry. I am personally not into TV and B movies largely being the Netflix stock in trade. I want movies and from what I read those licensing deals are getting harder to get because everyone can stream now.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

      Apparently, its still much more profitable for content providers to sell their content to cable channels than it is for them to sell it to streaming sites like Netflix or Hulu on the net. Netflix streams a lot of not so good movies rather than what people want to see because of the difficulty of getting content from the providers. Until providers make more money through streaming than we aren’t going to have a lot of titles available for it.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The above seems to be true even if there aren’t a lot of cable channels that would be interest in buying a particular piece of content. A lot of old movies are really only going to be sellable to TCM and maybe one or two other stations but its still a better source of money for the content-owners than streaming.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I suspect Netflix is absolutely killing the “series on DVD” market. Since we started using the streaming service, we pretty much stopped buying any TV show on DVD or blueray. (We do buy the very, very, very occasional movie). That was not our previous pattern.

        About the only show I’ve even considered picking up on Blue-ray are the ones Netflix doesn’t stream — Game of Thrones comes to mind — or, as a rare exception, Sherlock.

        Because, you know, Sherlock. Self evident.Report

      • Mo in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I think the last sentence should be, “Until Netflix pays more for movies on streaming we aren’t going to have a lot of titles available for it.”Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @mo, I have no idea what Netflix and other streaming sites are willing to pay content providers but I wouldn’t be surprised if its a combination of content providers demanding more for content than they really are worth, especially for less popular movies, and streaming sites not wanting to pay what the titles are really worth. It wouldn’t surprise me if both the content providers and streaming sites are being really stupid when it comes to prices.

        @morat20, most people still need to at least rent DVDs from time to time because finding what you want streamed is problematic frequently. You either have to choose something else or get the physical DVD through mail. There lots of titles that you probably need to buy because they aren’t available as a rental DVD or streaming.Report

      • Mo in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeesq Netflix lost most of their new movies when they lost the Starz deal. Starz wanted Netflix to add a premium tier for those interested in their movies and Netflix balked. I believe it’s because Startz gets charged per subscriber and they wanted to have it available only to subscribers interested in those movies.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @mo, it made sense for Netflix to bulk at the Starz demand. The demand might have been reasonable from Starz’ perspective but the streaming model is based on everybody having access to all available titles for the same price. A lot of Netflix’s customers would have left and refused to pay if Netflix suddenly started requiring an additional payment for certain titles. If other content providers followed the Starz model than things would have been worse.Report

      • Mo in reply to LeeEsq says:

        @leeesq Starz didn’t necessarily want all the extra money, they wanted their product to be part of a tiered service. Which, I believe Netflix could have gotten away with (as opposed to what they actually did shortly afterwards and raised prices on everyone). I don’t see people flipping out over Netflix regular for $6 and Netflix+ for $10.Report

  4. James Hanley says:

    “If/when DC shuts down for blizzard Thursday, Netflix would be smart to make new ‘House of Cards’ available one day early,” tweeted Alex Conant, the press secretary for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

    Because everything revolves around the beltway. *eyeroll*

    And, ahem, what a sense of entitlement, Mr. Republican.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to James Hanley says:

      I assume he meant “smart” in a business sense, rather than in an “It’d be a shame if something happened to your nice little multinational business” way. Though he may not really have thought it through, since I can’t really see how Netflix would benefit from it. It’s not like they’d get new customers, since new customers haven’t seen the first season.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        I was thinking of, dare I say it, privilege, not extortion. Would this employee of the federal government living in D.C. have bothered to say that if the blizzard was going to hit Minneapolis?Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Eh. I don’t know. I see this stuff all the time. Netflix should do this, someone should sell that, they should make a movie where this happens. The combination of hubris and wishful thinking that leads people to think that they know a business better than the guy who’s spent years running it is not exactly in short supply.

        As long as it stays in “I wish and/or think this would be a good idea” territory and doesn’t veer into “This is an outrage and the government should step in and do something,” I don’t see a problem.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        How dare you argue with me on such a serious issue!Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Don’t think of me as a hero.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Brandon, that sort of thinking is everywhere.

        It’s why guys with high school degrees roll their eyes at, say, biology. Or why CEO’s stride amongst a bunch of software engineers or even politicians and start saying how ‘obvious’ the solutions are.

        In fact, the more Type A you are the more likely you are to think you’re just plain smarter or better than experts or people with experience.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Brandon, that sort of thinking is everywhere.

        Don’t get me started. I really do appreciate the attention, but sometimes I just get a bit tired of people constantly running up to me and asking for autographs.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Don’t think of me as a hero.

        Who could help it?Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Or why CEO’s stride amongst a bunch of software engineers or even politicians and start saying how ‘obvious’ the solutions are.

        To be fair, politicians are constrained by popular opinion, which really is grossly under- and misinformed. Politicians really do create bad policy, not (necessarily) because they’re stupid, but because it’s what they have to do to keep their jobs.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to James Hanley says:

      I don’t think this is really just a Beltway thing. In fannish circles you see this all the time. Various factions of fans demanding this or that from the studios or the creators. Its consumers being consumers really.Report

    • zic in reply to James Hanley says:

      Does this suggest that people are not drawing distinctions between government and private sector in how they approach making their wants known; they’re simply relying on the social media tools at hand?

      (And do on-line petitions without actual signatures have the legal standing of other petitions, say the petition with 10 signatures I need to have a matter put on the agenda for a meeting of my town’s governing board?)Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to zic says: is a site where anybody can put up a petition for anything. These petitions have absolutely no legal force; they’re just to show the people you’re petitioning that you have a bunch of other people (or a botnet) on your side.

        Perhaps, like I originally did, you’re thinking of the White House’s petition site due to Obama’s “Hope and Change” campaign? Totally different.Report

      • Glyph in reply to zic says:

        That White House petition site has been hilariously misused. Who could have foreseen the existence of bored wisenheimers with internet connections?Report

      • DavidTC in reply to zic says:

        Ah, indeed I *am* thinking of the wrong petition site. That makes it somewhat better. (Although still rather silly.)Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

        It also got 110 signatures. It was never really a big thing.Report

  5. DavidTC says:

    I’m starting to think we need someone to go through and weed out nonsensical petitions at That’s not a place where you just put up petitions because you want things to happen. It’s not a damn wishing well.

    Anyway, I agree that Netflix’s plan is a bit odd, and it’s a bit odd on the *backend*, too. It requires the *entire season* be done before releasing any of it.

    Which is, I guess, is great for plot arc and basic continuity, and probably saves a hell of a lot of money on minor locations and parts. (Someone goes to visit their family three times? You rent the house once, pay the actors once, and film all at once. Which TV shows do normally, but not across an entire season.)

    OTOH, it results in them holding hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets until later. In a normal TV show, there’s maybe three completed episodes in the queue, they’re making them almost in real time. (Even after filming, there’s editing and whatnot.)

    I guess there’s not much risk here, Netflix isn’t going to give up on the show ‘mid-season’ (Whatever that would mean.), but wow, that’s leap from TV show funding to expensive movie funding.Report

    • trumwill in reply to DavidTC says:

      Kevin Spacey said the main reason that House of Cards went with Netflix is that they signed up for a whole season up front.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to trumwill says:

        Yeah, I understand the behavior of the House of Cards people. They’ve really got the best of all possible worlds there.

        Although I wonder what their ‘syndication’ deal is. This is a show that’s never going to be ‘off the air’, so I’m assuming there’s some sort of new paradigm in the contracts. Does Netflix have to keep it forever? If they stop, can episodes be sold in syndication? And I see the DVD for the first season is out already. I was actually wondering if Netflix was going to allow DVDs at all.(1)

        The HoC people is entirely rational. It’s *Netflix’s* behavior that seems somewhat amazing.

        But maybe I’m just not used to American businesses, especially in entertainment, actually taking risks and trying new things. Maybe it helps that Netflix is a fairly new company, and Netflix has actual *data* on what sort of things people watch instead of the old TV channel standby of ‘making up complete gibberish and reciting it as fact for decades without any evidence’.

        1) That would have been a very weird sentence a decade ago.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to DavidTC says:

      I’m starting to think we need someone to go through and weed out nonsensical petitions at

      You should start a petition for that. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that I’m going to go start a petition to convince you to start that petition.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        That’s pointless. I’m going to petition against allowing your petition.

        But seriously, even the Death Star petition was something the government could hypothetically do, or at least start research into doing.

        But how the heck does anyone expect the government, *which was snowed in and thus not in session*, to act fast enough to move ‘House of Cards’ forward one day? How exactly would that even *conceptually* work?

        I mean, people can feel free to petition for that, but it’s not a sane thing to petition *the government* for. Petition the government all you want, and petition anyone else all you want, but is for the *former*, not the latter.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        As I noted in another comment, is a private entity, not affiliated with the government or specifically dedicated to petitioning the government, nor was this particular petition directed at the government.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Barack Obama does not actually own the trademark on the word “Change.”Report

      • But maybe they will. Does anyone know how the lawyers for Candy Crush Saga vote?Report

  6. Brandon Berg says:

    This is wildly tangential, but has anyone else seen The Booth at the End on Hulu? Best miniseries filmed entirely in a diner booth ever.Report

  7. Kazzy says:

    I see others have touched on some of my further thoughts, namely, how does a day-early release benefit Netflix? It doesn’t. It also probably doesn’t harm them, but none of us really know that for sure.

    Maybe it’s not a new phenomenon, but a vocal segment of the population seems to feel uniquely entitled to media content access. It manifests in piracy and petitions like this. CTFD everyone, your precious show will be available tomorrow.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

      The upside would have been more general, some good press at an opportune time. Netflix would have gotten a bunch more publicity (or a bunch of publicity, but more positive) that would have been a reminder to potential customers that “Hey, Netflix is a good thing to have right about now, isn’t it? In addition to releasing the second season of House of Cards, we have bunches and bunches of movies that you could be watching while keeping warm under a blanket.”

      If there were no technical difficulties here (Brandon suggests not, Veronica thinks there might have been), I think it would have been a good move.

      Even so, I find the sense of entitlement here irritating.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Will Truman says:

        To clarify, I don’t know if it would be a problem for them, as I don’t know what kind of performance hit they expect when releasing a new series, or what specific agreements they have with their current CDNs (one of which they own). I was only pointing out a potential issue.

        Note that most CDNs cache on demand, which means they would, within a few hours, have the popular content widely cached. It is more an issue of preparing for load and having staff reading to deal with outages.

        (When streaming something like the World Cup, a CDN will have operations staff monitoring the streams and quickly reacting. Also they can pre-reserve a certain amount of cache/bandwidth space for the expected content. I have no idea if a Netflix series warrants this kind of special treatment.)Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Will Truman says:

        Actually, Veronica may be right. I’m not really a networking guy and hadn’t considered CDN issues.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Will Truman says:

        s/staff reading/staff ready/

        Having your staff sitting around reading is probably not ideal.Report