Friday, October 8, 2010

Why Netflix is Exciting



Let me start out by saying that I am not a Netflix shill, but a real Netflix customer. Of course a shill would say that…


So we got Netflix back before streaming was a big deal. Streaming? What the hell are you talking about? I’m talking about being able to watch a video without ‘downloading’ it. (You really are, but for clarity’s sake we’ll just say that you’re not.) You can get on YouTube and stream a video. Like this one!


We might as well learn a little about octopods while we’re here.


That, friends, is an example of streaming video. Beamed straight from the interwebs, right into your eyeholes. Now you’re wondering what the big deal is and what this has to do with Netflix.


Netflix started out as a DVD’s by mail setup. You enter the movies you want online in a list, then they send you whatever is available on your list. You mail the ones you’re done watching back and they send you more, ad infinitum. That was neat and all, but their big selling point then was that you could keep the discs as long as you wanted and not have to go farther than your mailbox. A nice selling point to be sure. Even Netflix knew that this was just a means to an end though.


When a company names itself Netflix, instead of something like Mailflix. You know they had a goal in mind. That goal, was to deliver content through that series of tubes to your home. No disc involved. That’s a pretty lofty goal. One that seemed highly unlikely at the time. Now though, we’re getting closer and closer everyday.


A few months ago Netflix made an interesting deal. It seemed to be that Netflix execs had gone crazy! They would no longer be getting movies for release as soon as they came out. Netflix would have to wait thirty days before they could let customers rent movies from Warner Brothers. The same news just came out about Sony Pictures. Has Netflix gone the way of Tom Cruise?


Tom Cruise
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No, not to fear, Netflix hasn’t started mixing any kool-aid or anything. Netflix has made these seemingly crazy deals because it allows them to massively expand their online offerings. Meaning that Netflix can stream lots and lots more content than it used to be able to. Netflix ‘Instant Watch’ used to be primarily comprised of Indie films. Which is good, it got me watching some Indie and Foreign films that I might not have done otherwise.


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Ok, they’re not always on point with suggestions, but there’s good stuff there. The point is that now they’ve got more streaming stuff. In making these deals Netflix also secured a bunch more streaming stuff. That wouldn’t be super exciting if you could only watch ‘Instant Watch’ on your computer. Yeah, it would be nice and all, but that’s not really exciting. Good news though! You can watch Netflix streaming content on your TV! That means, that given the right equipment you can have essentially the same experience as renting a DVD from Blockbuster or Netflix. Only you have to do even less than walking to your mailbox. Now it’s as easy as picking out a flick. There’s lots of ways that you can do this, through XBOX or on a Roku box, some TV’s and blu-ray players have Netflix built-in. (Go here for more on that one.)


“Ok, ok that’s cool and all. I still don’t get why you’re freaking out about this.” The reason I’m freaking out about all this streaming goodness is because it’s signaling a real shift in content delivery. Up until this point you could get video content in your home a few ways. It started with television transmission through the air, then you could get vhs (or betamax) then laserdisc, then dvd’s, satellite, cable and blu-ray. The internet as a video content delivery system is just now starting to become a real possibility. Many people have high speed connections to their homes, and they have devices capable of playing back that content smoothly. Think about it like music. We had the same thing happen. Now almost all music is delivered digitally. Whether it’s streaming or downloaded through something like Amazon or iTunes. Sure, sure they’re experimenting with video sales like this too, but HD videos are really large files, and it would be hard to have a large collection of movies on your computer. (We’ll get more into that later.)


We are on the cusp of a major shift in the way that people get their movies. Netflix is on the bleeding edge of this revolution.


Oh, this revolution will be televised.


I can agree ‘Green Acres,’ ‘Beverly Hillbillies,’ and ‘Petticoat Junction’ will not be relevant, though.

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