from the sometimes-change-hurts dept
But where does Netflix need to go from here to win consumer hearts and keep pushing the barriers of television? An article over at Wired claims that the biggest thing missing from the Netflix experience is the ability to channel surf. Or, as Wired suggests, some feature that effectively just lets you turn your brain off and soak up a rotating, automated selection of ambient TV noise -- like lonely people used to do in the olden days:
That's the central problem plaguing both set top boxes like Roku and Apple TV and content services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Instead of letting you lean back and soak up content, these new challengers require decisions–a careful cost-benefit analysis of thousands of different options. If the traditional TV experience is about letting viewers surf channels, today's on-demand video is like giving them a speedboat and forcing them choose a destination before they can even get in the water.If your biggest problem is that you're awash in too many choices, that really doesn't seem like much of a problem. Many people claim there's not enough content on Netflix, many of these "choices" being an over-abundance of C-grade dreck like Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, or Gor (which are fine, if laughing at horrible film is what you're in the mood for). If ambient, empty-headed noise filling the apartment is all you need, why not just turn on Gigli and read a book?
It doesn't seem like making Netflix more like traditional TV would be doing Netflix any favors. If you recall, more than a few people questioned Netflix's decision to release original series all at once, insisting that this killed the "water cooler" angle of program marketing, where people would gather and hype a program every Monday in the office. As the data came in, it became more and more clear that people really love to binge watch on their own schedule, and as Kevin Spacey himself ultimately pointed out, giving people what they want isn't a bad thing.
Some of the article's other complaints are more valid, like Netflix's continued inability master their own GUI (though the author's headline suggests the traditional cable UI is "quietly brilliant," making me wonder if they've used a Time Warner Cable cable box lately). Netflix also made a mistake with locking out companies who were doing a better job than they were at highlighting new content. But a lot of Netflix's problems, as you can watch the Wired author figure out toward the end of the piece, is that content industry licensing has hamstrung live TV efforts (see: Aereo), better content and real innovation before it starts.
Keep in mind Netflix streaming is relatively young, and while there's a lot of things Netflix needs to do to improve, becoming more like the lowest-ranked industry in the history of customer satisfaction surveys probably isn't among them.