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Netflix is getting huge, but can it get great? (nytimes.com)
86 points by jv22222 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 177 comments





I need a cheap streaming service which has a huge catalog of movies and shows from other producers and distributors that doesn't keep vanishing regularly. Netflix seems to be less and less of this as time passes, and is relying way too much on original content (which is mostly great) to attract new subscribers and retain them. I don't think this party can last very long. With every content producer or distributor starting or wanting to start their own streaming service, the customer experience becomes very painful from two counts — high price and not knowing where to find a specific piece of content.

As much as I hate huge companies and consolidation of companies, this is one area where some consolidation could make it better for customers. I'm not sure if this is the right hope to have though.


Netflix rightly saw that there was no independent end game if they continued licensing other owners' content.

Eventually, revenues go up and licensing deals expire. Then, either the owners increase the price for licensing their content, or they refuse to license it and start their own service.

Lose/lose

Netflix realized the only blue sky was owning a large catalog of their own content, ideally used to retain users and starve other services, and then license content when they have the upper hand.


The real beauty that enables this blue sky opportunity is the personalized targeting Netflix can do AT GLOBAL SCALE! The old school Hollywood model for creating shows and movies is getting turned on its face.

Critics will hate a lot of what Netflix puts out, and it won't matter at all to the fans who can get exactly what they want in the comfort of their home free from judgement and peer pressure.


This seems like a good idea on its surface (even to me). But in every case I can think of where an algorithmic approach was taken to producing "high-quality" "high-value" artistic content, it's produced things I have zero interest in that the greater population seems to dutifully consume and not even really enjoy all that much.

Youtube is positioned to take a similar approach, and it turns out the formula that works the best is sociopathic narcissists of a certain age with certain facial features producing 10-minute videos of rats getting tasered 7 days a week.

I think this might be a situation where the gap between what people want, and what people will consume, is very wide. And the algorithms know how to produce what people will consume, but they do not know how to produce what people want.


The problem is that people will end up paying for what they consume even if they don’t want it; but won’t pay (or at least continue paying) for things they want but don’t bother actually consuming.

There's no personalized targetting in content. It's really one size fits all, or at least the regular S-M-L. It is, obviously, impossible to make different shows for millions of individuals.

What Netflix has is more detailed data of what people watch. So will its competitors is just a few years.

What matters in content is the content of that content. Ideas, emotions, excitement. Technology is irrelevant.


Can't we expect in a few years to dynamically change what actors have been cast as what charavters with a flip of a button? Deep fakes already look pretty convincing.

Also, insert some scenes, remove others, change the cut a little bit, change color grading, music mix – all these changes look like something modern AI could learn to do.


Absolutely not. None of this is possible or even desirable. We don't want to watch optimized video. We want to watch stories that move us, created by geniuses like Coppola, or whoever you think is good.

What if a story could be modified dynamically in order to maximize the chance that it moves you? Or to deepen its impact? I figured that’s what the GP post was getting at.

Just more tools for geniuses to use to move us and move us more deeply.


It makes a lot of sense, and though what I say may sound a bit ridiculous, I don't think most people are capable of making such decisions. They'd rather have some mindless entertainment than moving stuff (we already know this from what's shared on social media, and how TV news and reality shows thrive).

Why would you think that what we want, or, to be more exact, what we think we want, matters? The only thing that matters is what we end up watching more and not closing.

A lot of people say that they want long, challenging reading but they end up reading Buzzfeed articles. Don't ask people what they want to do - watch what they actually do.


The question is probably a bit different - if there is a place for a new genere that is not a linear, sequential narrative model.

There is, they're called video games.

I'd just like to add that Netflix's vision and foresight and courage has been consistently amazing for years at every stage of their phenomenal growth. Hats off to their leadership.

I agree. The expansion of Netflix to 130 countries was a great move! The content isn't the same in all locations, but it's better than incentivizing people to download from elsewhere by keeping content closed and restricted.

That’s not how Spotify played it. Spotify bet the farm on discovery and won, with users marveling at how good their playlist selections are. When people are using Spotify recommendations, they become immune to content creators threatening to terminate deals because their users are listening to “Spotify” rather than going and specifically searching Taylor Swift.

> That’s not how Spotify played it. Spotify bet the farm on discovery and won

Spotify has a horrifically bad business. They're bleeding to death financially, having never earned a profit in their entire existence; they've burned through billions in financing and are still burning at a similarly high rate. Simultaneously Apple is likely to catch up in subscribers in the near future, diluting the leverage Spotify desperately needs to improve its bargaining situation. Apple can afford to burn billions to bury Spotify (likely force them into a sale/acquisition).

Spotify is in a no win scenario. They'll never have enough margin to earn a profit via licensing all of their most heavily listened-to content. The content owners will perpetually squeeze Spotify. This is the fate that Netflix understood to attempt to avoid, which Spotify has entirely failed to avoid. Meanwhile all of largest competitors to Spotify actually make money (Sirius as one example is very profitable). Spotify's only possible future is in the belly of one of the tech or media giants.


Spotify is a music service with the background of compulsory licensing. If we had compulsory licensing for motion pictures, the landscape would be a lot different.

Only the publishing is compulsory license. The performance is not — if Spotify wanted to carry Taylor Swift songs against her wishes, it would need to hire a musician to re-record the tracks.

Can't they carry anything that was released commercially under the non-interactive rules if they play it in the Radio portion, or a 'Taylor Swift Fan station? I agree they wouldn't be able to play it for on demand without a bilateral agreement.

I think they're already moving this way. Most of the things in my "Discover Weekly" for the last several months have been covers of popular songs. I haven't opened Spotify in weeks. When I want music these days, I go to Bandcamp.


That’s a coordinated action (through the courts) which is a good point... if the four major labels collude they can fuck over Spotify and the DOJ sure as shit isn’t going to care one whit.

It's been heading the same direction. There have been a number of artists that pulled out after the Taylor Swift bit, and the Beetles albums are still iTunes only due to an exclusive deal.

You'll see there are quite a few bitter complaints online: https://community.spotify.com/t5/Content-Questions/WHY-do-yo...


The Beatles are on Spotify. Taylor Swift has even rejoined Spotify, obviously it was worth it for her in the end.

There are only a few artists who are Apple Music or Tidal exclusive, in an attempt drive users to those platforms.


Tool is not on Spotify or Google Play Music. I'm not sure if they are on Apple Music or Tidal. If anyone knows for sure, please do comment, I'm interested to know.

Also, Spotify has 3 Volor Flex albums, but is missing the one I usually want - "Unlit". I'm pretty sure that specific album is on Amazon Music though, oddly enough.

This isn't a particularly substantiative comment, just some datapoints that irk me about Spotify's inventory.


Tool isn't on any streaming services. They don't believe in streaming or something. They're probably the last popular artist/band to eschew all streaming.

The Beatles are not exclusive to iTunes. I can access a tonne of their albums on Deezer.

You're right, it seems they only ran some things exclusively temporarily: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles_Bootleg_Recordings...

Spotify has done well, but what is their moat? If another service becomes better at discovery, won't most of Spotify's users switch to it?

I would believe what the parent is alluding to is that "sufficiently good" discovery is enough, in that if trusted, it turns music into a fungible good.

If Taylor Swift pulls out of Spotify, but Spotify's users are listening to "Discover" not "Taylor Swift", then Spotify is afforded with the opportunity to play "something that sounds like Taylor Swift." And god knows there are enough hungry and talented bands out there looking for a break...

Admittedly, it's been awhile since I was in grade school and marched in musical lockstep with my peers, but it seems as decent of an idea for disempowering major, advertising-heavy record labels as anything.


Their moat is that discovery is fueled by listener data, so it will be very hard to get better at discovery than them. Apple Music tried and failed: their success comes from device bundling and most evaluators of both agree that Spotify’s discovery is far better (I have not personally evaluated Apple Music).

Spotify doesn't have a moat. They're not profitable.

Most evaluators?

I have both, and for discovery spotify is way behind Apple Music, and i often find things on Apple Music that i cant get on Spotify. But one of those factors maybe my taste, but i have one friend with totally opposite taste to me that has had the exact same experience.


> i often find things on Apple Music that i cant get on Spotify

You are not using discovery really if you are doing the finding. It should be automatic in that just play one of the daily or weekly lists and music that you like (some old some new) should be played.

I tried Apple Music for its free trial and switched back to Spotify as I just can't be bothered to choose what I listen to myself.


Hell, I don't even need a cheap service.

Take my money! I just want to be able to watch stuff.

"Let's watch X"

"Darn it. It's not on Netflix"

"Not on Hulu"

"Not on Google Video either"

"Try VidAngel"

"No, they got shut down by Disney"

"Oh, doesn't Disney have a service?"

"Not yet."

"Oh look it's on Amazon video!"

"Oh, but we have Vizio Smartcast. Can't get it from the phone to the TV because Vizio uses Google and Amazon has some sort of blood feud."

"F--- it, not worth the hassle. We're pirating this."


My work around is to subscribed to one service at a time for one month. Then I switch to a different and catch up on that service's shows.

Right. When I said "cheap", I was actually referring to something reasonably priced, compared to subscribing to several services individually. Unfortunately, the industry seems bent on proving time and again that pirating content is still the easiest, most user friendly (and not user hostile), most device friendly (supporting almost all devices) way to get to content.

Music industry size is 47.5 billion a year and streaming services cost 10$ a month [0]. The movie and TV industry size is 287 billion a year [1]. Paying the same subscription price proportional to the industry size would be 60$ a month. Netflix + hulu plus + amazon prime come in under 30$ a month which leaves you with 30$ to rent the movies/shows that are not covered in those plans.

It sounds like you just don't like how much it costs to support high quality television/movies. Granted, one 60$ a month service that offered everything would be more convenient.

[0]: https://www.statista.com/topics/1639/music/

[1]: https://www.statista.com/topics/964/film/


Except if your taste is not right smack in the mainstream, those services have a terrible selection even combined.

I went to JustWatch and even pretended to be an American, just to make it easier on them.

First option, The Exterminating Angel. It's a classic, part of the list of 1000 best films by the NYT, and less than 60 years old. Nope, not even one service has it.

Second choice, Lore; still foreign, but it's a film from 2012, made already in the streaming era! Apparently I got to subscribe to "Fandor", so the price is now $40/month.

Third, let's give them an easy win: Missing, made in the US and owned by Universal! Yet another service, so called "Starz", for $9/month more.

Fourth, an American classic, they have to have Raging Bull... and no. Now it's something called "MaxGo", which from what I can tell costs another $10/m.

These were literally 4 of the 5 first movies I searched for, and we're already at your $60/month, and still missing one! It's not reasonable.


I'm not going to argue on the stats, but some assumptions you have made are that I (or anyone else commenting here) live or have a livelihood in the U.S. or that I (or anyone else commenting here) can afford the $30 or so a month. I won't go into details, but these three services alone are not adequate, and the remaining $30 as per your calculation wouldn't be enough. There are great shows from HBO, ShowTime, etc. For someone who likes good content from different sources, the current crop of services are not yet suitable (speaking solely for myself).

FWIW, I do have Netflix and Amazon Prime, but still don't get everything I'd like to have (and the bigger headache of knowing what's where adds to the frustration). Of course, I have seen people make the argument that one shouldn't wish for things one cannot afford. For digital content though, I believe the companies are leaving a lot of money on the table by not expanding their customer base and making it easier to subscribe and use (vs. say, downloading content from elsewhere).


Okay... But I'm saying the industry is losing money to far easier-to-use pirating.

I don't see how the current size matters for that.


Buy movies or shows you like on Blu Ray, and use Plex. It takes a few years to break even, but by that point you have hundreds of movies and shows you like. This really only falls down if you want to watch a show within a year of the season ending.

Discovery is good, works on every platform, offline sync with transcoding so you can decide how much space it takes up, hdhomerun for dvr-ing live OTA sports, camera backup on vacation in full resolution. It's amazing if you're a little patient on the ramp-up.


Or, you could just pirate them, and have it in 15 minutes.

This is why I'm still on private torrent trackers.

Any chance asking for an invite will work?

That never works. Just take RED's interview.

FYI VidAngel is still in business. They run on a different business model though.

Caavo seems to have an interesting idea on how to solve that problem. Early reviews are mixed.

Looks interesting, but I'm not sure if people would want yet another box or yet another stick in their rooms just so they can watch what they want, what with all the apps for the streaming services already available on different hardware platforms. At $399, this is very expensive! I certainly don't want yet another box, and the TV app on Apple TV has kind of solved this problem (to the extent that services support the search).

If it's done correctly, the Caavo should effectively make your other boxes "disappear".

[flagged]


> Because you have a God-given right to any show you want to see?

Practically, speaking, yes. What are you going to do about it? You can keep railing about the morality of piracy but it's been 17 years since Napster and still nobody cares.

Thanks to Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube, I don't know anyone who pirates music anymore. The solution is right there.


[flagged]


> No one gives two shits about you furiously torrenting the shows you think you're entitled to.

You just gave two comments about exactly that.


The important thing is that you've found a way to feel superior to pretty much everyone.

The rationalizations to artificially make content unavailable, difficult to consume, or only available at extremely high prices is a part of the equation.

Fair.

My point is that I think these people are leaving money on the table, because weak humans will wind up pirating rather than wait weeks for a DVD to arrive.


We agree on that point. Only the most inept of businesspeople would ignore human nature.

> As much as I hate huge companies and consolidation of companies, this is one area where some consolidation could make it better for customers. I'm not sure if this is the right hope to have though.

This is basically what Hulu is -- NBC, ABC, and FOX consolidating their online streaming content into a single service. (I don't think it would be better for consumers if any of the three corporations that own those networks actually merged.)


If you are into foreign and criterion collection movies, I recommend FilmStruck.

Netflix is popular and needs to cater to the popular tastes, in an environment of content owning launching their own streaming services.


Thanks for mentioning FilmStruck! It looks interesting, and getting foreign movies is not easy. So I see this as a great option (though yet another steaming service is something I'd rather not have at this point).

What we need is two tiered model. Use your favorite frontend, and subscribe to the content networks you want content from. I doubt we get there, but it's certainly possible.

Amazon have something close now in the form of their channels service, which allows you to subscribe to specific providers who’s content then becomes available in the same way as Amazon Prime Video

That still a kinda walled garden. What I'm imagining is like email. You choose your prefered frontend (email client), and pay for x vendors content (email providers). The communication between client and providers is standardized.

> not knowing where to find a specific piece of content

That bit is addressed by https://www.justwatch.com, which shows you where to legally watch any movie / show. Very useful.


Thank you for that resource, but I think it validates the parent's post. I just searched for Miami Vice (the original) and got 0 results. A few years ago Hulu had everything except the first season (??).

I use trakt.tv https://trakt.tv/shows/miami-vice looks like it’s on NBC.com for free. (At least in the US)

https://www.nbc.com/classic-tv/miami-vice


This comment nicely brings in the pain of geo-restrictions. There are services that would accept payments when done from the local country (say, with a billing address there), but wouldn't allow streaming for IP addresses believed to be somewhere else. And now the customer has to bother about getting a VPN service on top of streaming service subscriptions. This game that's being played, with "get this, and this, and this, and also that, plus something else", gets annoying quite fast.

There are several, including Amazon, that will stream most any movie for $3-5 a pop.

If you think that's worth it up to you, you can watch pretty much any movie at any time if you accept this price range.


Around holidays Google Play Movies usually has coupons that let you rent any movie for 99ct.

This is all over the place.

NBC and HBO are both networks. And so is Netflix. And Showtime, and AMC.

The main difference is that Netflix broadcasts all over the world using the Internet, while NBC and HBO have limited reach outside of the US using cable and/or OTA signals (and over the Internet too!).

House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Big Bang Theory, Gray's Anatomy. These are all just original shows of their respective networks.

In Hollywood an Original Show just means that it was shown exclusively in one place first.


> Netflix broadcasts all over the world using the Internet, while NBC and HBO have limited reach outside of the US

A merger of Netflix and HBO is such a face-smackingly obvious win/win I can't imagine why it hasn't happened already.

Netflix's service, reach, user data mining, and tech powering a hybrid content catalog of Netflix originals and HBOs library, which becomes a freebie/cheapie with an HBO cable subscription.

As it stands both companies are trying to become one another, with mixed results, and Disney is gonna try hard to eat both their lunches once Disneys Streaming Platform to Rule Them All is live...


> A merger of Netflix and HBO is such a face-smackingly obvious win/win I can't imagine why it hasn't happened already.

Because HBO isn't independently held; its owned by Time Warner.


Conglomerates don't do M&A anymore?

And just keep pulling on that sweater thread: combining the subscriber platform of Netflix, the content & cable capabilities of HBO and their boxing connections, along with sweetheart win/win deals for streaming as much of Time Warners catalog as makes sense... That's exactly the kind of slightly-adult-oriented position I'd want to go head-to-head with Disney/ABC/Pixar/Lucasarts/ESPN in the forthcoming streaming war. Plus bigger budgets, which is a factor since Netflix is a verifiable money printing machine.


In the US 'television network' and 'network television' have specific meanings and HBO and Netflix are neither networks nor 'network tv'.

It's a conflated term. There is the one you're working with, which is specifically about the technological method of distribution, and then there is the other meaning, which is used for content creation and licensing (and awards).

It is the second meaning which the author seems to imply and that I'm using here.

For example, the Emmy's (and the Hollywood Reporter, for example) consider NBC, ABC, HBO, Netflix, and Amazon to all be networks on equal footing.


It's not just about the technological method of distribution, it's about the structure of the entity, how it's regulated, etc. It's a pretty standard term and while it can have other meanings and the meaning can shift (as the strict original meaning becomes more, uh, meaningless), it seems weird to complain about that usage being somehow 'all over the place'. It means something most newspaper readers understand.

Who reads newspapers these days?

> For example, the Emmy’s (and the Hollywood Reporter, for example) consider NBC, ABC, HBO, Netflix, and Amazon to all be networks on equal footing.

The trade papers may use ‘network’ interchangeably in Ye Grand Tradition of old school Deadline slang for TV, but nobody in the industry would ever confuse networks (read: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) with cable/premium/streaming channels.


As a mere set of eyeballs... why are they (E.g. Netflix vs CBS) different? And why should I care?

To me they are all channels. Just some don't allow binge watching or time-shifting well and others do.


Plus the argument kinda petered out at the HBO also broadcasts on the internet part...

What do you mean? I have had in the past an internet only HBO subscription via Sling TV.

Paraphrasing: The main difference is that Netflix broadcasts via the internet while HBO broadcasts on cable and the internet.

So not a vast difference.


As the cable TV bundle starts to peter out, all of these entities are just effectively studios, i.e. entities with money that fund TV shows/movies with various exclusive distribution rights for some periods.

One of the questions becomes what does the new bundle look like? (or the a la carte package.) Because there are pretty clearly a limited number of monthly subscriptions that most consumers are willing to pay for especially if they're in the >$10 range.


For anyone outside the US it is. Or at least in the UK, I can't get watch HBO without jumping through VPN hoops.

Don't they license pretty much everything to Sky? NowTV costs about the same as Netflix, UX/UI is rubbish but you should get all their current HBO content.

Hmm you are right. I thought they had at least a few of the big markets. But no, seems like US only.

I thought this article was just some highbrow whining.

I'm personally rooting for Netflix. I'm really enjoying the content. I thought Bright was a pretty entertaining throw-away action flick. And I love Stranger Things as well as Ozarks. Hell, I even watched the first ep of Queer Eye the other night... I love being able to watch at my convenience, and not be bombarded with ads. I also love that they're not subjected to the same restrictions as the big US networks in terms of their content, just like HBO isn't.

I'm excited that they're investing so much in their content pipeline.


I thought this was an interesting read regarding a number of different points/ideas.

Netflix is like the upside down of TV is an interesting idea.

Netflix takes things people already like and doubles down on them, and that's the whole business model.

So, then, the main question the author ends up with: "Can Netflix ever do anything truly original in the way HBO does?"

TLDR: It’s hard to be groundbreaking when your whole purpose is to take people where they’ve already been.


> "Netflix takes things people already like and doubles down on them, and that's the whole business model."

There's a name for this, it's called "television". Netflix makes television, and they do a good job of it. They're getting better at it too despite having only started doing it for a few years. Compared to the quality standards of the '80s or '90s what netflix produces today is near solid gold. Some of it truly is great, most of it is merely good. Little of it is truly groundbreaking, but that's true of television (and video media) in general. The number of groundbreaking shows that get made every year is pretty close to zero. That's true even at places known for making groundbreaking shows, like HBO.


I thought Bojack Horseman was pretty original.

It's the same junk cartoon network has been peddling for years. Netflix has been spamming geek series nonstop, and it's all been crap. All of it. It's just popular crap at the moment, and they were lucky to catch the wave at the earliest rise. Iron Fist and Inhumans were what happens when they ride it too long.

yeah I guess a Korean movie about a girl and her genetically engineered super pig is retrodding well worn ground.

Did Netflix produce Okja? I think they just bought the rights.


In fairness, Okja was similar to the kind of fable style tale with a near-future/modern/technology angle that Black Mirror had done for some time before (the first two seasons of Black Mirror were not Netflix productions). Almost everyone I know who watched it comments on this.

There are really only two stories: a stranger comes to town, and a man goes on a journey.

-Tolstoy


Netflix has to come up with hit shows that set them apart from the other VOD services. Especially now since they can't easily buy streaming rights to already existing shows.

Worked pretty well for them in the past - originals like House of Cards, Master of None, Orange is the New Black, Narcos, Stranger Things, Bojack, Black Mirror, etc were vastly popular and certainly drew in more users

> Black Mirror

That wasn't original, it was taken from Channel 4. The rest still stand though.


House of cards was a BBC show in the 90s. All of this has happened before, and will happen again.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Cards_(UK_TV_series...


If it wants to beat cable all it has to do is not be awful.

One of the biggest parts that makes cable awful are the ads, so they don't even have to avoid being mildly awful.

Watching crappy shows that doesn't have ads doesn't sound appealing to me. Not that that is what Netflix, but is sounds like your argument is.

Do you think this is a common opinion? Consider that popular network TV is popular, and that successful means appealing to the widest audience.

Netflix has also awful product placement in some of its shows :/

Netflix:cable::Uber:taxis

Thirty years ago, cable was to network television what Netflix is to cable today.

I have a feeling that this time around, it will take less then 30 years for Netflix to reach the same unwatchable state.


My Netflix bill is creeping up. I’m up to $13.99/month. Honestly I’m probably not going to keep it if it keeps creeping up.

Vs. a $50-100 cable TV bill that's still small potatoes. It's about the price of HBO but with a caveat that you definitely don't need a cable bundle to watch it.

We shouldn't be comparing Netflix to Cable TV, but comparing Netflix to Youtube, Twitch, Prime Video, Hulu, etc.

Cable TV has such a high price because it includes both a network and content. Netflix should only be compared to entities that do not own networks.


Why? Hell I watch less CableTV than I watch Netflix. I consequently value Netflix despite paying less.

When you pay for cable, your $60/month bill pays for programming, as well as the wires that deliver your television to your home.

When you pay for Netflix, your $13/month bill does not pay for the wires that deliver your television to your home.


> (me) Netflix should only be compared to entities that do not own networks..

> (vkou) When you pay for cable, your $60/month bill pays for programming, as well as the wires that deliver your television to your home.

Vkou's rephrasing is precisely correct. Home phones are also $20-$60/month because operating a wired network really is that expensive.

Many people I know that use cable/satellite TV either have low home bandwidth or have a home bandwidth cap. A standard home datacap is 300gb/month. The average American watches 5 hours of tv a day [0], or 500+gb/month (at HD).

[0]https://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/average-american-watc...


What if I told you I did most of my watching through my iPhone on T-Mobile. And that it's about $23 ($230 for 10 lines) for that line, and data is fully subsidized (480p but hey, it's a smartphone screen res).

Yeah, technically you're correct, I should include internet of my cable portion, but it's also doing about a dozen other things for me, too, so lets be generous and say it's $60 data/10 uses = that's an additional $6 just for Netflix.

So < $20 for Netflix for my family.


> Vs. a $50-100 cable TV bill that's still small potatoes

Netflix is more comparable to a single premium cable channel than a Cable TV subscription.


There is this thing called inflation.. Things will get more expensive no matter what we do.

I'll be okay if the price increases moves at the same rate as inflation, but the price is increasing much faster.

Except without the flouting of regulations and labor laws

To be honest, a lot of the content that they are delivering right now, is not very good quality.

Recently, 20 new series were delivered, and I think that only 1 or 2 are good. The rest, are not even worthy of your time.

And the ratings that they use are atrocious. For example, a series is given a 4.5 star rating, but when you watch it, you ask yourself, who rated this?


Netflix series that come to mind as "I enjoyed and believe a reasonable number of people would describe as 'good'":

* House of Cards * Orange is the New Black * Narcos * Stranger Things * A Series of Unfortunate Events * Mindhunter * Altered Carbon * Daredevil * Jessica Jones * Luke Cage * The Defenders * Master of None * GLOW * Wet Hot American Summer * Bojack Horseman * Castlevania * Chef's Table * Abstract * Voltron: Legendary Defender * Trollhunters

Maybe I misunderstood your thesis, but the 1-2 remark seems ungenerous...


The other 18 are for other target audiences. They can statistically separate groups of TV viewers and try to target each one.

Besides, you might be surprised how low people's standards are. After all, 5 hours a day is Americans' average TV consumption. The world can't product that amount of high quality TV.


When Netflix used a star rating system, the star rating it showed you was Netflix's guesstimate of your expected rating. It's guessing how it thinks you'll rate the movie, based on what you've watched and rated, and what other similar people have done. It's not always going to be right.

In 2017 they switched to a thumbs-up / thumbs-down system, and now they show a percentage which I believe is their estimate of the chance you'll give it a thumbs-up.


If Netflix becomes only independent content, then won’t they just be HBO? And if so, will they still command their current market valuation?

I wonder if network pressure has something to do with the shift as well. A huge part of Netflix streaming is people watching series/old content in the background. I have definitely been guilty of putting the office or always sunny on in the background and letting it ride while I do casual work.

From a networking perspective that is a terrible scenario vs. users actively engaging with a single new episode of some netflix series.


I'm curious how you know that, is there a study/dataset somewhere that I missed? That would be awesome.

The post seems to make its point by dismissing just about everything. Bright is "just another Will Smith movie" and Stranger Things is "pistache by design." Game of Thrones is probably just another fantasy-book-to-TV translation and The Wire is probably yet another crime drama.

Through that lens, is anything going to impress you?


He's specifically comparing Netflix shows to superior HBO shows like Deadwood. His appraisal of Stranger Things feels spot on to me. It was a joy to watch, but it was clearly calibrated to appeal to some niches and, no, it's not the same caliber as The Wire.

I did not read the article but even the damn title reeks of pretentiousness. “Netflix is doing great but when will it finally be a trillion dollar business?”

The article does not concern itself with the business of Netflix, rather the merit of its art

I agree with your main point, but Bright was just the kind of expensive awful I’d hope Netflix would avoid.

Why should they avoid? I sort of liked it. And also about 86% of Rotten Tomatoes reviewers out of about 17,620 did. Not every movie has to be liked by the elite movie reviewers or editors in media news media. Some of the movies just works for folks. I'd say keep them coming. I'm only paying a fixed price and I can always choose what I want.

I’m with you in that all too often pro reviewers are just jaded or pushing an agenda, but I should be clear that I personally disliked Bright. I didn’t however, mean to offend, and I should have simply said that I didn’t enjoy it, rather than make a generalization about it.

Edit: the third thing professional reviewers are, is hungry for clicks.


I felt like I was getting beaten over the head with the metaphors.

If I dismissed every movie or show with left-progressive propaganda I would have nothing to watch.

You’d still have COPS and Blue Bloods...

Which are not at all like Bright.

If I dismissed every movie or show with left-progressive propaganda I would have nothing to watch.

Had no relation to Bright either.


I liked Bright. It can be difficult to defend because it certainly has some substantial flaws, but people seem to just love love love crapping all over it like it's the worst thing they've seen all year.

It is one of the worst movies I have seen in years. I do not understand how anyone likes it. Literally nothing about it was good.

That is just silly hyperbole. It had plenty of strengths despite also having many flaws.

Will Smith played Will Smith, but that was fine for the movie. Joel Edgerton's performance as Jakoby was great. The dynamic between those two to be compelling and carried the movie. Certainly, if you aren't sold on the Ward/Jakoby dynamic then you probably won't like the movie. But I thought it was good.

Tikka's reluctance to speak English or use the wand early on in the plot did strain creduily a bit, but upon watching a second time it's clear the filmmakers did make an effort to keep the wand out of her possession and justify her reluctance to open up to the two protagonists. Again it's not perfect but it's also not completely incompetent.

While the social commentary is a bit clumsy and heavy-handed, I found the earnest, straightforward portrayal of that message refreshing. In a world of increasingly group-based identity politics, a clear and simple message about treating people as individuals is a rather nice change of pace.

The use of graffiti as world building, some call lazy but I enjoyed it and found worked well enough for a 2-hour movie. The vagueness with regard to the history and backstory did not bother me. It was quickly apparent that the movie wanted to include both familiar real-world elements and familiar fantasy elements without actually running a complete alternate-reality simulation from first principles. For the sake of a single 2-hour movie, it's easy for me to forgive a top-down, less rigorous approach to world building.

The characters introduced by the story were compelling enough for me to be interested to learn more. I liked the role played by the Department of Magic. I'm interested to see more about the elves and about the fogteeth clan and the shield of light. Again, while these elements are painted with broad strokes, it's a popcorn movie not a 10-hour TV series, a serious novel, or an RPG campaign setting. I give the sequel about a 50:50 odds at being a disappointment.

The humor was uneven, sometimes it worked well and sometimes it didn't. I found myself laughing in spite of myself at lines like "we're not in a prophecy we're in a stolen Toyota Corolla." The action scenes were not well lit, but were much better at conveying a sense of real tension and danger than typical Marvel-style superhero blockbusters.

The plot succeeded in developing characters and revealing mysteries. The turning point in the church is exciting. We'd been carrying around the Wand for several scenes and the first use is dramatic and satisfying, as well as carrying with it meaningful consequences for the characters and the story. The climax and big reveal, predictable as it was, is still exciting. Classical music always resolves the dominant to the tonic but it's still fun to hear.

I certainly had some complaints. I'm mildly disappointed Ward's wife character went nowhere, although I appreciated the small scene where she appears halfway through. I thought the fairy scene in the beginning was dumb. I think the "kick me" scene was dumb. I thought the scene with the police beating the Orcs was a bit much. In general, the police were portrayed as frustratingly and irredeemably corrupt(and I don't think that was necessarily the intent). A bit more subtlety would have been nice. Jakoby's "I always wanted to be a cop" motivation is cliched (but Edgerton sells it anyway). The villains were introduced as super-powered fighers but then the protagonists didn't have much trouble when the final battle came. There's one moment in particular when four characters are standing in an open parking lot, one gets sniped and the others make it to cover without even taking additional fire. I think there were too many scenes set in a generic urban landscape. The villain is style over substance with no development at all.


The Ward/Jakoby thing was a really sad excuse for the same old buddy cop dynamic we've seen a thousand times, but done better in almost every other case.

The "world building" was lazy and beyond boring; take a bunch of urban cliches and a bunch of fantasy cliches and slap them together.

The visuals were unappealing, the acting was flat, the dialogue was trite and terrible. The plot was beyond predictable and terrible (spoiler alert for the sequel, Tikka became the dark one at the end, which was obviously going to happen from the beginning.)

It's just all around a really, really bad movie.


The Ward/Jakoby thing was a really sad excuse for the same old buddy cop dynamic we've seen a thousand times, but done better in almost every other case.

This seems like a matter of taste then. I don't see any real criticism of it, just that you prefer how it's done in other movies.

take a bunch of urban cliches and a bunch of fantasy cliches and slap them together.

Why is this automatically a bad thing?

The plot was beyond predictable

Again, not automatically a problem. I can predict that every Mozart sonata will end on a cadence to tonic.

The visuals were unappealing, the acting was flat, the dialogue was trite and terrible. The plot was beyond predictable and terrible (spoiler alert for the sequel, Tikka became the dark one at the end, which was obviously going to happen from the beginning.)

This is not exactly convincing. I can call anything terrible, that doesn't make it so.


Dude this discussion is an even worse waste of my time than that awful movie was. I gave you the obvious reasons why it gets roasted so badly by anyone who knows anything about movies, if you don't want to hear them or don't agree that's fine. You don't have to have to, but your claim that the panning is unjustified is just wrong.

I am done with this conversation now.


I watched The Room for the first time this year. sigh

I’m older now, but no wiser.


I hate will smith, don’t like most of his movies. Enjoyed bright. Started out slow but now hoping for sequel...

Bright is Urban Fantasy, which is a rather rare genre for feature length films. It's not a great movie but it's a lot better than you'd think if you just listen to critics.

It was Shadowrun lite, which is awesome. Now that they have a movie that rates well with normies, they can go deeper and expand (and probably even make a series out of it).

A lot of settings that are actually interesting only really work as long-form episodes--Babylon 5 or Angel for example would've been a garbage movie.

Bright was essentially a large pilot. I'd be really interested in seeing what the production side of the house is learning.


why? Shadowrun was garbage too. Go back and read the novels some time. There's a reason why Shadowrun consistently failed to get an audience throughout its entire lifetime, even back in FASA days.

Bright was a truly horrendous movie. Everything about it was terrible. The writing was beyond bad, the performances were weak, even Will Smith was just a bad R-rated version of previous performances. One of the worst movies I have seen in a few years.

Like objectively it’s a bad movie but my inner shadowrun playing 15 year old loved it.

I respectfully disagree. I love both urban fantasy and Shadowrun and was really looking forward to the movie as it should have been practically made for me. And I found it unredeemably terrible.

While Netflix content can be discussed, their client is flat out bad. Try to watch something on a not so great network is painful. Image quality sucks, impossible to skip/replay few seconds without minutes of buffering. Turning on closed caption? Yeah, that's no video for 3 minutes. In another hand, same network and same device, Amazon Prime Video client is great, gets the best image quality out of my network, allows me for a 10 seconds replay without issue, I can switch captions on and off quickly. Also X-ray is a great feature.

Netflix produces superb and important documentaries - it is great already!

Netflix has already peaked.

For some reason people think of them as the new hot thing, but the reality is they have been around for longer than Google. With competition in the streaming video market only getting hotter, I can't see them going anywhere but down. Any one of Amazon Video, Hulu, Disney, or HBO could unseat them.

The growth expectations implicit in their 200+ P/E ratio seem way out of sync with their actual potential. If I owned Netflix stock I'd be selling it all now.


Hulu is an absolute failure compared to Netflix with 14.5% paid subscribers and even the absolute free tier gets under 1/2 of Netflix's viewership.

HBO go is struggling and heavily dependent on dwindling cable subscribers to keep HBO viable.

Amazon video is similarly subsidized by Amazon. Treated more as a loss leader than a profit center with ~1/3 million of Netflix's subscribers even though it's included with an Amazon prime subscription.

Netflix does not have total dominance, but with a solid track record of original content and a massive subscriber base they are becoming harder to beat over time.


Does Hulu have a free tier anymore? I thought they discontinued it.

HBO seems to be doing fairly well. They have ~5 million online subscribers, up from 2 million in Feb. 2017. That's small potatoes vs. Netflix's 117+ million subscribers, but it's a nice growth rate for a premium product. We don't have cable and are happy subscribers to both HBO and Netflix.

It's funny you don't even mention Apple. We used to buy seasons of TV shows off of Apple when they weren't available elsewhere, but don't anymore because we can't watch them on our Roku (at least I don't think we can).


HBO is fairly profitable and Netflix isn't. That is a pretty important data point when comparing the two IMO.

Netflix has had steady profits over the last several years. It's sub 10%, but that's particularly relevant when it's both growing and investing in new content.

HBO's has higher profit margins, but lower revenue. Further, being tied to Time Warner complicates the issue, without cable HBO would fail. So it's in a race to add subscribers fast enough to keep up with cord cutters.


Hulu is a non-starter for me for the same reason I'm cancelling Google's Youtube TV: mandatory commercials. Netflix, Amazon Prime with the Starz and HBO uplifts yields more programming than you can reasonably consume and is cheaper than cable. People like me will keep Netflix in business as long as they try to keep some kind of compelling content available.

Hulu without commercials costs 12$/month: https://www.hulu.com/nocommercials

It's really a content issue for me as last few times I checked they had nothing worth watching that I have not already seen.


Even with the upcharge there are simply less commercials on hulu, not zero. So says their FAQ - https://help.hulu.com/s/article/included-in-no-commercials-p...

A small number of shows are not included in our No Commercials Add-on. You can still watch these shows, however, they will play with a short commercial before and after each episode.

While the list of shows may change, they are currently: Grey’s Anatomy, Once Upon a Time, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Scandal, Grimm, New Girl, and How To Get Away With Murder.

And then on top of that it's a wasteland content-wise as you stated.


Fair enough.

It's not eye bleed territory, but it would piss me off if I had any interest in watching those shows and paying for a 'commercial free' experience.


Are you intentionally ignoring the critically acclaimed pipeline of shows/movies Netflix has produced, or are you just ignorant to their actual success.

They aren't _just_ a platform for content producers. They are producers of content. Competitors need to outprice them, our perform them, and outproduce them.


They're really just hitting their stride in content production. There's plenty of room for them to grow making stuff for their global distribution platform. They're in 190 countries and can exploit their productions worldwide.

Having said that, 200+ p/e is still insane.


Anecdotally I feel that Netflix has peaked in terms of content too.

They are producing more and more shows I am less and less interested in.

Meanwhile they still have a rolling library of titles instead of an ever expanding one.


> ignorant to their actual success.

I'll bite - I'm totally ignorant of their success. What metrics are you using to define that success, and where are you getting the data?


Well, that's just your opinion, man. 200:1 P/E is kind of an outrageous thing...

Just P/E by itself does not say anything. Amazon was at around -3000 or more at some point and people were still buying it and pushing it up (this continues to happen even now, with Amazon's P/E being around 297 as of this very moment whereas Netflix is about 209). Even the P/E projections for the next two years look significantly favorable with Netflix than with Amazon.

The businesses are very different, but P/E as such is just one measure of market sentiment on a stock.


Their content peaked years ago. Used to be that the "Netflix" badge of content meant this was quality. Now it doesn't really mean anything.

I feel this way, but when I examine it I don’t think it’s true. I believe they’re still releasing OitNB and HoC caliber shows at about the same rate, but now there’s so much filler in addition that it seems the days of quality are past.

What would make Netflix truly amazing, but apparently is not possible, would be if their DVD catalog was available to stream.


The problem is that companies like Disney have already out-produced them. Disney has decades of quality material ready to go

For very narrow values of quality, sure. I also hope to hell that the fragmentation or content distribution doesn’t continue unabated. Someone else posted the phrase earlier today, “Death by a thousand cuts,” and they’re right.

Hulu. Netflix. Amazon. CBS. Disney. FX. YouTube Red. Crunchyroll. And on and on.

It’s only vaguely workable when compared to the totslly unworkable price of American cable tv.


Sure but I want to watch things I haven’t seen before

I think Disney is going to find that it’s harder to build a massive online service than it looks and Netflix will become an attractive merger target if they ever falter too badly.

Have to agree. The content is stale everywhere else than in US. Disney and others are pushing their own services. Netflix's own shows are hit or miss and can't realistically rely solely on them for those growth expectations. Over time people are less likely to subscribe for long periods of time and only tune in periodically for that netflix exclusive. Those bargain bin movies aint going to cut it for most people.

I agree with this. Disney is the real threat imo. Their IP seems really sticky and unbeatable. Netflix is basically in a race to establish beloved IP before Disney gets into the fray because the basic stories all these films/shows tell are not really all that different, but people way pay through the nose to get Star Wars / Toy Story etc.

Competition wise, I think Amazon would be the bigger threat, because that company does not hesitate to lose money almost all the time while Wall Street continues to cheer it on. Netflix on the other hand, does get some unfavorable treatment as far as its stock is concerned.



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