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Rise of Netflix Competitors Has Pushed Consumers Back Toward Piracy (vice.com)
143 points by SirLJ 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 186 comments

>That’s especially true in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, where BitTorrent now accounts for 32% of all upstream network traffic. One major reason for BitTorrent’s rising popularity? Annoying exclusivity streaming deals.

In my country you can't even watch Netflix exclusives on Netflix because they already sold the rights to local TVs. So you sign up for Netflix and it's a wasteland of 2nd tier movies and old series. Yeah Friends is cool but who cares about it in 2019.

Segmentation is the biggest problem. But that's true for every digital store not just Netflix. I wish these stores were one unfied thing not US Netlix, German Netflix, UK Netflix etc.

I know it comes down to copyright laws and such but the difference between the countries is soooo big. Feels like you are signing up for a 3rd tier service for the same amount of money

This has been a problem for a long time with media. For some time, we've been perfectly capable of delivering globally. They don't want to do this, because the money gets made through a calculated release process. They want to maximize revenue on this extremely expensive asset, and there are strategic / logistical concerns.

On side note, I think there's a bit of a "look at this awesome thing you can't have" aspect to IP and content; this can be very frustrating, and has been one of the main reasons people turned to piracy (mostly people are just jerks though). There's actually some very understandable reasons why you'd want, or even need to carefully release in each region; however in other cases the attitude seems to be "we haven't figured out how to monetize this, so I guess no one gets it", "we'll need you to buy that again", or "you can't have this, because we want you to buy something else"

> There's actually some very understandable reasons why you'd want, or even need to carefully release in each region

Please, do tell.

I'd be happy to! Lots of strategic, logistical, and legal stuff. The obvious thing is that I can't release a movie if it's gonna get banned. So you may need to make tweaks or campaign for a different rating / classification. It helps to be proactive and get ahead of these things. Cultures are different and you need to account for that.

Then there's marketing. You need only look at examples like Blair Witch, or "Blumhouse Films" (eg. Paranormal Activity, The Purge), to see what marketing and word of mouth can do for a movie. Of course you'd like to see a bit of that magic (this explains why so many movies are marketed as "reality" / found footage), but in any case, you want to optimize the hype and buzz around a movie. This is a whole skillset, that may differ by culture, and can make or break a film. We're talking about millions of dollars here.

Now none of those things interest me personally. I don't "like them". I definitely don't like restrictions by region. However saying: "they have it in their country, why don't I have it yet?" is a bit like saying "they've made a final cut of the film, why can't I watch it yet?". They have this incredibly expensive asset that they're trying to maximize revenue on.

logistical for digital goods should be a nonissue.

to my knowledge, legal stuff should in most cases be a nonissue as well. They could put everything behind the oldest age bracket (18/21 yrs old), which would probably be their biggest customerbase anyway. and if they did that, its gonna be the responsibility of the account owner.

the only reason that actually holds up is strategic. They do want to milk all brands to their maximum after all... but if thats the reason, they don't really have any grounds to complain about piracy.

This is coming from somebody who hasn't watched any TV/Movies in ~3 yrs now, because i didn't want to pirate and netflix / amazon video didn't have enough content i wanted to watch.

> to my knowledge, legal stuff should in most cases be a nonissue as well.

Why? I'm confused at how that could be the case; it's a big issue for most businesses.

> They could put everything behind the oldest age bracket (18/21 yrs old), which would probably be their biggest customerbase anyway.

You simply can't do this when the entire film is banned. This is also bad from a purely business perspective. Even if it's the biggest customerbase, it's a limiting factor which lowers the number of customers that can see it (this is mostly implicit, not legally enforced in the USA). Sadly, many films are being re-cut or re-written, so that they won't receive an R rating (definitely not the dreaded NC-17). That's why we have things like John McClain saying "dagg nabbit" and "gollie gee", instead of swearing.

> They do want to milk all brands to their maximum after all...

You put this far better than I did. Very succinct and descriptive.

> but if thats the reason, they don't really have any grounds to complain about piracy

You lost me here. These brands aren't cheap; lots of money goes into them. Businesses want as much money as possible, especially given the high cost and risk. I'm not a big IP fan, but it is their property. Saying I stole from you, because I don't like the way you sell things, and you have no grounds to complain isn't completely reasonable (DRM is the most legitimate gripe I have, but it's still not a perfect excuse). I appreciate your commitment to doing the right thing. Sorry for the dissection, I didn't intend for this to be rebuttal, but it kinda got away from me.

The rating is only required if you want your content on cable TV or want to advertise with the official age requirement brandings to my knowledge.

Platforms like Vimeo couldn't exists if it were an actual requirement for all video content.

And no, it's not a limiting factor. You're losing 100% of your customers if you don't stream at all in other nations. Even 10% is more than 0%. There are of course political movies that can, theoretically get the content banned in some countries. These are beyond rare in first world countries however, making this a non-issue for almost everything as well.

Finally: piracy is not theft. It never was and never will be. It is at best lost revenue and more likely not even that, as most people wouldn't have bought the content anyway. Ask the people that stopped downloading their content if they started buying the stuff instead... Almost everyone I know just gave up on it entirely.

Hey, thanks for the followup. Right now, in the USA, ratings are extremely important. Theoretically, it's illegal for the government to restrict cable, Vimeo, streaming, ect. Only public airwaves are actually regulated (you can get fines/punishment for indecency on broadcast TV / radio). For everything else, it's the land of the free.

The problem is industry conventions, which might seem self-inflicted, but are the result of public criticism. It's legal to show porn on cable, but most stations still heavily self-censor. NC-17 / Unrated movies won't be play in many theaters, or sell in big stores. You simply can't make a very successful NC-17 film in the USA. R rated movies make substantially less money, to the point that they've been trying to make less of them. I can't speak for other countries, but I'm pretty sure they censor, or have similar ratings that are avoided. Lots of stuff you dismiss as a "non-issue" seem like pretty big issues to me.

> However saying: "they have it in their country, why don't I have it yet?" is a bit like saying "they've made a final cut of the film, why can't I watch it yet?". They have this incredibly expensive asset that they're trying to maximize revenue on.

IMO it's very clear they are overdoing it. And their profits suffer from it. Nobody in that area likes losing business to torrents. But they keep pushing their luck and the result is very predictable.

> Lots of strategic, logistical, and legal stuff.

This goes exactly as well as "I want 2 months to refactor stuff so the code is beautiful". Not saying it's the same thing -- but it gets perceived the same. Basically: "lawyer crap".

These businesses are losing touch with reality. Distribution and geofencing are artificially created problems. This gives them much less credibility compared to the very simple and logical desire for convenience that the wide public exercises by going for torrents.

In the long run this sounds like the kind of area that begs for regulation. If you run a subscription service you have strong market power over competing content producers who can't do the same and create their own distribution channels. This gives the monopolist strong leverage to purchase content on the cheap and expand their platform to the detriment of other distributors, which is precisely what Netflix is doing, using their economies of scale to discourage consumers to seek alternate offers.

It seems sensible to force platforms with significant market power to open up and allow competing content to be sold on there too, maybe on a basis of costs-plus-fixed-profit for the platform.

From what I understand, "Netflix Original" means two different things:

1) Things that are actually Netflix's shows, like House of Cards

2) Things that Netflix bought exclusive distribution rights for in the US and markets as "Original" just like House of Cards, but actually had nothing to do with.

So it's less that Netflix sold the rights to local TVs and more that they never had those rights to begin with.

In Netherland, The Expanse used to be a Netflix Original, while in the US it was on SyFy. But this "Netflix Original" appeared on Netflix half a year after it had aired on SyFy. And of course now that Amazon bought all rights to The Expanse from SyFy, this "Netflix Original" vanished from Dutch Netflix.

"Netflix Original" clearly doesn't mean much. I think it'd be wiser for Netflix to reserve it for shows they actually own, so they can never disappear from Netflix.

I was extremely surprised to learn one of what I thought was Netflix's first original shows is not in fact owned by them: Orange is the New Black. According to this piece on Netflix's general problem (https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/1/7/18166911/netflix-friend...), it is actually owned by Lionsgate, and I assume Netflix has an exclusive distribution deal.

In some countries (I think Australia was one of them) Netflix did sell the distribution rights to House of Cards before they entered the market and then couldn't show House of Cards on Netflix once they did enter the market.

And that means that Netflix exclusives can go off the air due to poor TV viewership. Dirk Gently, you were gone too soon.

Is Dirk Gently gone from Netflix?! It's one of the best things there.

I thought I still saw it listed recently. Maybe it's only gone from your region and not mine, in which case I recommend a VPN.

It's still there, but because the BBC didn't get a lot of traction with it in the UK they canceled further seasons.

I frankly was surprised to even see a season 2. Season 1 was brilliant, but it didn't seem possible to do a follow up that wouldn't be lame. I was wrong, but I'm still happy we got these two seasons. I imagine it's pretty hard to keep up this level of weirdness.

It's on Hulu.


3) Joint productions like Lilyhammer where Netflix partnered with a foreign broadcaster to produce.

So something like Lilyhammer that was a joint Netflix/NRK production means it's a Netflix Original in the US and aired on NRK1 in Norway, but it's actually produced by both companies.

In Germany "House of Cards" was shown first on Sky and only months later available on Netflix ...

> Segmentation is the biggest problem. But that's true for every digital store not just Netflix.

The effect in TFA only really happens with fixed-cost, apl-you-can-eat offerings. (Amazon Prime is another.)

It's why people groused for years about a la carte cable, but nobody cares about McDonald's not serving Pizza Hut.

Amazon Prime isn't fixed cost though - anything remotely worth watching on there costs extra.

I'm not paying £7.99 on top of my existing subscription just to watch a 30-year-old movie I've already seen 15 times.

I recently tried a free month trial on Amazon Prime because it looked like they had Good Omens. They only had the trailer and very little else. There's a cute kids' show that my youngest son loves, but I don't think we're going to extend this trial.

Agreed, the selection is pretty terrible. Seems to be where terrible movies go to die.

I had a pretty high opinion of HBO from decades ago, tons of premium movies etc. I got a few months free from comcast and was surprised how little content there was.

> anything remotely worth watching on there costs extra.

Sorry, I just meant to refer to Prime free shipping. That was super ambiguous of me.

> So you sign up for Netflix and it's a wasteland of 2nd tier movies and old series

Same thing in my country (United States).

I believe the EU is about to forbid geo-blocking.

Yeah, this isn't surprising at all. I've run into it. Typical lazy weekend evening... - turn on AppleTV - search for [year old hit movie or TV show] - brief happiness because it's available - followed by annoyance because it's available on one of the services to which I don't subscribe (or it's on Amazon, but isn't Prime)

I have Prime, Netflix, and HBO and still run into this regularly. It's really annoying. As soon as GOT is done, I'll likely cancel HBO - it doesn't add much value. Netflix is hanging on, barely - every time I go to cancel, I find something interesting to watch, and that keeps me for another month or two. But, it feels user-hostile and with the price going up again, I'm that much more likely to just cancel and be done with them. And I hate the idea of relying on Amazon even more than I already do.

Le Sigh

>As soon as GOT is done, I'll likely cancel HBO - it doesn't add much value.

This is basically my philosophy with streaming services. I keep Prime because it's useful all-around, and Netflix (for now) still has enough variety to keep me as a subscriber (though I wouldn't be surprised if I jumped ship to Disney later this year).

But beyond that, why not choose a la carte? I'm signing up for HBO when GoT airs, and I'll binge True Detective in between, but beyond that I don't care much about it. Hulu I signed up for a month and then immediately canceled; watched all I cared to in that time. I binged Star Trek within the one-week CBS trial period.

It would be nice to have a Mint-like streaming services dashboard I could use to selectively toggle on and off various streaming accounts when I decide they've built up enough content I haven't seen to warrant activating for a month. There's a product idea for ya.

> It would be nice to have a Mint-like streaming services dashboard I could use to selectively toggle on and off various streaming accounts when I decide they've built up enough content I haven't seen to warrant activating for a month. There's a product idea for ya.

I recommend JustWatch - https://www.justwatch.com

Note: I am not affiliated with them.

> I wouldn't be surprised if I jumped ship to Disney later this year

Oh, man, if Disney really makes their entire catalog available for a reasonable price, I'm definitely going to pay for that. All of Star Wars, all of MCU, all of Pixar, not to mention Disney's own stuff and apparently 21st Centry Fox movies. That's enormous.

But most streamers are just too fragmented to care.

What they should do is have one universal streaming service on which content owners can offer their own content on their own terms, rather than those of Netflix.

Same... i have Netflix and HBO (and my local countries tv service) but recently i get so annoyed by searching for "where i can find a movie" and then not finding it, that i don't even look anymore, i just go straight to torrenting which is a 99% success rate.

Also the Netflix auto-play-previews thing annoys me, trying to constantly force me to keep consuming.

I'll probably cancel both soon.

> Netflix is hanging on, barely

My problem with Netflix is that it's being more and more user-hostile. It only displays shows it thinks I like, and not everything. And the top band does a horrid autoplay banner. I've still yet to figure out what elements I need to watch to disable that in HTML.

Hulu is also pretty hostile with lots of adverts, but a recent uBlock update fixed that. Now the advert timer goes from 30->15->0 but does black screen for a few seconds. But this service was for $1/mo for a year. After that, we'll cancel unless offered a similar deal.

But I certainly get the piracy angle. I don't want or need 6 streaming services. I wanted 1 or really cheap ala-carte. Instead, it's "Subscribe to Cable, and pay for streaming extra" for a lot of shows. And no.

The autoplay previews don't bother me. But, the recommendation engine and navigation/search could use some tweaks. I also hate that the "My List" row seems to move around a bit (though the AppleTV app does have a menu on the left now). I also hate that it removes series from "My List" after I've watched the last (current) episode, when there's a new season in the works, so have to go an re-find the series and add it again.

What bothers me is you can't remove content you've already seen from the list. So you end up having to track what you've seen and it reduces the signal/noise of the netflix interface in exactly the areas you are most interested in. They obviously track what you've seen, they just don't bother to hide it.

I am curious when providers like HBO realize that there are many of us who subscribe for one show only and drop and another group who goes so far as to wait till a series is done to sub one month and binge it. Should not be long before they try to throttle how many episodes of a series you can fit in per month.

It only takes three services to reach my prior cable bill and maybe four or five to hit the bigger bills when you roll it all up. so some kind of change will need to happen to keep it sustainable, either these networks are going to need to drop prices of group up. the smaller players will end up together sooner or later or just go bust. It is like when PTEN; Warners Brothers; tried to launch their channel. The had a few shows but fluttered out within five years

I suspect they will balance the annual and monthly charge. So the monthly will jump to $65, but the annual will stay at $180.

Or maybe people are just too lazy and they won't have to bother. I have to say I'm shocked and amazed at how many families of modest means, generally pretty frugal, have cars that need repairs, and try to fix things themselves whenever possible, but happily pays $150 a month for cable.

You describe my experience almost exactly.

One difference here in the UK is that I'm unable to even pay for HBO.

I wanted to watch Generation Kill the other day, it seemed like it was available on amazon prime but in fact isn't available in my region. My only option is to buy it for £2.50 per episode, which seems like a bad deal to me.

"here in the UK ... I'm unable to even pay for HBO."

Sure you can. Sky (a.k.a. Now TV) carries most (all?) current HBO content in the UK.

Though I guess that doesn't apply to historic stuff like Generation Kill, which predates their exclusivity agreement.

But then you have to subscribe to Now TV. There is no equivalent of HBO Now, HBO's standalone subscription offering.

Huh? Now TV is a "standalone subscription offering".

> As soon as GOT is done, I'll likely cancel HBO

Is GoT currently running?

For years, I got HBO during the months GoT was on, and cancelled afterward. During season 7, they stopped offering in Netherland except on one cable provider (not mine), so I had to resort to alternative means. No idea why they decided they didn't want my money anymore.

No, the last season should be up later this year. I could cancel now, save a few bucks, re-subscribe when GOT actually does come back, then cancel again. But, I'm lazy.

Happened to me about a month ago when I tried to watch Miracle Mile ( https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097889/reviews ). I live in Mexico and pay for: Amazon Prime, Google Play, Netflix, CinepolisKlick and Claro Video (really, I am subscribed in one way or another to all of them). None of them had this movie in their Mexico version... I ended up having to watch it in PopCorn Time.

Not surprised I have a Netflix and Amazon Prime sub I find myself downloading the shows I pay for because it’s eaiser to have them in Plex than searching for them on Netflix/Prime.

In the US it’s even worse as there are many more services available like Hulu all of these really need to open up an API for searching and streaming so Plex and Kodi can easily integrate with them.

The cost is also getting pretty steep with more and more services being required for coverage.

Yeah, it baffles me why Netflix, a company with deep pockets and enormous technical talent, deliberately makes their search shitty and instead seems to be pushing algorithmic "recommendations".

Their genre categorizations are a joke too.

Really, the only thing that their search (at least on the Roku) seems to work for is Titles. Would it be too much to ask to be able to search against director, cast, language, actors, date?

Netflix is a hostile user application due to perverse incentives.

They see engagement as a proxy for stickiness, and similarly lack of engagement as a leading indicator of churn.

So they implement features that look like they increase engagement, like auto-play while scrolling, auto-play of next title, auto-play of a new series after the end of a series. I don't know about other people, but they absolutely infuriate me.

We normally mute Netflix on entry into the app because we know that it's going to start blaring out of the speakers as the menu is navigated. And even the menu can't be navigated in peace: I need to keep hopping between adjacent shows to stop it trying to auto-play in the background with distracting images. If I want to leave the remote idle, I need to exit the app or find somewhere for focus to rest where it's not going to start playing something.

It's just one or two more "engagement" steps away from getting cancelled.

> like auto-play while scrolling, auto-play of next title, auto-play of a new series after the end of a series

The only one I'm cool with is auto-play of the next episode after I finish one, and even then it's iffy. Seriously though Netflix, I'm reading the movies description, why would I also want to see the studio logos and listening to the opening music? I can't even stop it as I'm not actually watching the movie.

> The only one I'm cool with is auto-play of the next episode after I finish one

I actually loathe this. I like endings. After the episode wraps up and the credits finish scrolling, I want everything to naturally stop so I have a few seconds to sit and process and contemplate.

You can technically turn off autoplay next episode, but the video will still go into a tiny window as soon as the credits start rolling, with a big ad encouraging you to watch the next episode. That's not how I want to consume content.

It's particularly irritating if you have kids and you're going to watch one episode of something before bed. Just have to be ready with the 'TV off' button to avoid discussions regarding watching the next episode.

Actually, while I'm here—if anyone knows of a platform that has an outdated Netflix app without autoplay support, please let me know. I will buy hardware for this.

The Wii U Netflix app didn't support autoplay for the longest time, but then they finally updated it, and I can't downgrade.

My Roku (I think it's an "XS" from 2011) doesn't do auto-play on Netflix!

Agreed. I actually like automatically starting the next episode, but it's far too aggressive. I want it to autoplay after the credits have finished, as I also want time to process what I just watched.

I’m pretty sure that’s a feature you can disable.

How? I can only see options to disable auto-playing the next episode. I do not see the ability to prevent the next episode auto-play to aggressively come on seconds after the episode has ended, and putting the credits in a postage stamp.

Can you actually turn this off on all platforms? I watch 95% of all Netflix via PS4 and I cannot find an option to turn off any of this.

I don't remember exactly where, but the option is in your (web-accessible) Netflix account settings, not on your PS4 specifically. I assume it applies everywhere.

It's available in your profile if you browse to it on a computer. The apps and mobile web does not have these setting. The profile settings are global.

That's such an evil pattern to not make this accessible everywhere out at least on the app. I think I haven't logged in to the website in years.

Yes. Usually I try and press Pause to get it to turn off the credits music, but because of focus it accidentally starts the next episode instead, and I need to scramble to avoid it.

Even if you've turned off play next episode, it will still auto-play the first episode in a different series after you've finished the last episode in a series.

Yeah, that's an entirely personal call for me - I enjoy being able to continue the binge, but I totally see your reasoning.

This is infuriating, especially since a lot of the trailers they auto-play are really load and obnoxious. If you stop scrolling for more than a second or so, prepare to have your ears bombarded with whatever happened to be selected. Bah. Get off my lawn!

And it might not even be the trailer - they could launch right into the movie or tv show! Now you have to restart the stupid just to get the first minute of content because you were reading the description and not paying attention to whatever was going on. There's no use case that makes me want to see the content early. You're not going to sell me with your 20 second Miramax logo.

Agreed, this infuriates me. I want to think about what show to watch. Or maybe I'm distracted and want to think about something other than what to watch. Auto-playing anything interferes with what I want to do, and I find myself continuing to scroll just to prevent auto-play. (This is on a PS4.)

> Yeah, it baffles me why Netflix, a company with deep pockets and enormous technical talent, deliberately makes their search shitty and instead seems to be pushing algorithmic "recommendations".

The reason seems obvious to me. They want to mask their lack of content. It always seems that Netflix is trying to discourage search. I guess that's because there's a good chance whatever movie/tv show you're trying to search for won't be available. Netflix only has 35 movies out of IMDb Top 250 [1]. Pretty sure the number is even less for other countries.

[1]: https://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comments/9gksft/netflix_only...

I haven't realized it until your comment. Most of my searches end up without the result I'm looking for. If I do find what I'm looking for, I'm quite surprised.

True. Most of Netflix's "Search Experience" ends in disappointment. No wonder they want to hide that feature.

I was considering to sub to Netflix. This thread changed my mind. Thanks!

I agree with the complaints. Netflix UI is terrible, but it's the least terrible of any of the streaming services I've tried. Hulu, Hulu+, hbo, and amazon prime aren't nearly as nice, at least for me.

If looking for something to connect to a TV, I recommend a roku. They are the Switzerland of streaming, wife/kid friendly UI, and don't compete. The rest of the streaming world is pretty conflicted. Sony/Microsoft, Apple vs world, Netflix vs world, etc. Not only are there more channels for roku than anything else I've seen, the implementation of the client seems noticeably better. In particular the netflix UI on various other platforms like various smart TVs is pretty terrible.

That they favor recommendations over search is bad, but in some ways worse is how they hide the "saved" content -- if you add something to your watchlist, it's usually not even on the first screen; that's something that I literally said that I want to save for watching later, and instead I have to go through page after page of recommendations before I can even see my watchlist, instead of it being front and center.

They seem to have elevated the prominence of the "continue watching" so that it's in the top three bars shown, but even that fact is ridiculous -- the obvious order should be "continue watching", "watchlist", and then start in with the recommendations. I have no idea why they make it so hard for me to watch things that I've declared an intention to watch. Why even have a watchlist in that case? Is it just a holdover from a previous design that they are no longer really interested in supporting?

I can see that this might be because watchlists often times contain "ambitious" things we want to watch. When they still had DVDs my watchlist was full of stuff like the 3hr Andrey Rublev movie that I always wanted to watch, but only in the future, not now.

Maybe the idea here is like putting the milk at the back of the grocery store. (put the staples at the end of a maze of other things to buy)

One plausible, if slightly paranoid, explanation I read was that Netflix is trying to intentionally obscure the size of their library and the deficits in it. This would be especially relevant to OP's story about rising exclusivity.

It isn't paranoid: it obvious when you realize their licensed catalogue is continuously rotating,

It’s even worse with Prime as it’s getting harder and harder to find what is free and what isn’t as Amazon decided that it’s a good idea to intermingle pay per view/rental, buy to own and subscription based content.

I noticed that Amazon prime often only claims season one is included in amazon prime. Last thing I want to do is get hooked on a series that I have to pay for. Classic bait and switch... no thanks.

I use justwatch.com to look for things I'm interested in watching. The search sucks sometimes because it doesn't always find what I typed in,sometimes I have to do a site:justwatch.com search in Google to actually find something, but in general it will usually point me in the direction of where I can stream or what subscription I need (so I do a trial, watch then cancel if there's nothing else to watch). If I can't find it anywhere, I hit up the library or rent it from Prime. I used to not have any money so I would pirate, but now I make enough that a couple of bucks isn't worth doing something illegal for.

>I have a Netflix and Amazon Prime sub I find myself downloading the shows I pay for because it’s eaiser to have them in Plex than searching for them on Netflix/Prime...


If it's easier just to have them in Plex, why would Plex need to search Netflix?

Serious question. I'm not a Plex user, but the first statement made me think about switching for a moment. Then you made the second statement about Plex needing an API to search Netflix.

So I'm genuinely confused why that would be?

They want to watch videos Netflix and other services from Plex. Those services don't have useful APIs, so Plex can't integrate them into their search/UI. So parent instead downloads the videos from torrents etc., so they are normal video files they can feed into Plex.

Because I care about the user experience not the legal technicality.

It’s much easier for me to automatically download and add all the shows into Plex and use its library management for all media.

If I had a legal way to do it I would, Plex has plugins for example I watch NFL trough a plug-in which is linked to my account, I also watch BBC content through the iPlayer plugin, as well as other content such as podcasts for example from multiple sources.

If Netflix and Prime has an official plugin that would allow me to link my sub and add that content to the Plex library I would do that in a heartbeat.

Plex is (mostly) for pirated content. If you could search on Plex with a Netflix API, you would be watching legal content.

Not sure why you're being downvoted here. I'm a Plex user that uses their DVR offering and whenever I look at the message boards/subreddit it's very clear the vast majority of Plex users are using it with pirated content.

Can you link Netflix/Amazon Prime to a plex server and index that?

No. It's for locally downloaded content only (they recently added some web show functionality, but it doesn't apply to Netflix or Amazon Prime)

Not but it looks like that's something they are going for. Offering other subscriptions through Plex in the native Plex interface.


Plex has a lot of plugins for online content https://github.com/plexinc-plugins

Most of these seem to be for public catch-up providers. Getting Netflix to run with the whole DRM situation seems to be a whole other challenge I'd say?

Some aren't public providers it's just a webapp you can do nearly anything you want. As far as DRM goes it isn't really a problem since it's easily solvable on any device you use, for devices they can use the built-in DRM, for computers it's already a browser anyhow so you have the OS and browser level DRM.

And you know what even if you aren't going to stream through the Plex app itself which is easily achievable how hard it is to just make the search API accessible and then simply have links like netflix://f9dd2846-cda5-49a0-bb19-fb9ba5b0521d for one click streaming?

The trailers, recaps and episode data is publicly available any how e.g. https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/70300800

All I want is for a basic API that would allow you to search then use these links to launch the stream through your account I don't care in which app it actually streams, this can be solved by an intern in an afternoon and it's mind boggling why it hasn't been done yet.

> this can be solved by an intern in an afternoon and it's mind boggling why it hasn't been done yet.

This is such an ignorant thing to say. Do you really think it's not done yet because it's so hard to do? It doesn't make any sense business wise for them that's why the public API they had got shut down for everyone except a selected few. Making everything easily accessible and comparable by making it easy to get the data out is most likely not what they are focusing on.

You also don't need an API for their deep urls as you can just build them yourself: nflx://www.netflix.com/watch/<Netflix ID>. This opens the app and plays the video.

"That’s especially true in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, where BitTorrent now accounts for 32% of all upstream network traffic." Here's the thing — you can't legally watch HBO Now here. You simply can't access certain content through streaming. That's also one of the main drivers.

Licensing by country is so infuriatingly backwards for what is supposed to be a globalized economy. Maybe it made sense when you had fragmented countries with their own separate distribution networks (and cinemas) but when it's one provider direct to the end-consumer it's really just a relic of legacy processes being incapable of adapting.

If you look at some of the considerations, it makes a bit more sense. It's not about the technical aspects of distribution. I don't know if it's ever been about that, especially in the last 20-40 years. It's about timing, marketing, legal issues, ect. You can't release a movie if the content is outlawed. A tiny difference in marketing can translate into millions of dollars. These things aren't necessarily "deal breakers" for a global release, but it's virtually (or maybe completely) impossible to do optimally in every region.

>Maybe it made sense when you had fragmented countries with their own separate distribution networks (and cinemas) but when it's one provider direct to the end-consumer it's really just a relic of legacy processes being incapable of adapting.

But you are wrong, the vast majority of Netflix content is licensed and not an original product.

These licenses are sold for regions and countries the same way cinema, DVD or terrestrial programing licenses are sold for specific movies and shows.

They are sold by major distributors like say MGM to clients like Netflix (not really, there's a literal global hierarchy of distribution houses). So say for my country of Croatia, a distributor will offer to sell licenses for their new movie to all the cinemas, and after that to say ALL the digital distribution channels: pay-per-view, Netflix, HBO GO and others.

Basically its not a "a relic of legacy processes being incapable of adapting",why would they adapt? Its literally the business model of the 5-6 major american distributors which makes them boatloads of money even as Netflix tries their hardest to disrupt them. It took decades to build and spread across the world and works perfectly for its purpose: sell loads of movie licenses to all kinds of distribution channels.

No, actually explain why licensing by country is backwards.

It's obvious and perfectly rational.

Well from the point of view of a user it's a real pain.

I really hate that now that I moved to Belgium, I have to use a VPN to watch French TV, although before that I had to use a VPN as well to watch Belgian TV. When I was close to the border I could still get most channels with an antenna+tuner but not anymore. On the other hand, my Netflix account won't let me watch some Belgian stuff, I have to close it first and open a new one here (but then, some French movies will not be available to me anymore).

I can't even pay for watching what I want, my only recourse is using technical solutions that are not available to most people, what does it actually achieve?

Geographic restrictions are one of the most infuriating things on the internet.

Europe has HBO Go and it cost 2.99 ( in Romania at least ) euros per month. I cancelled my Netflix has I have HBO GO included in my internet package and use mostly Usenet or Torrents and my Raspberry Pi / PS4 for all my media consumption.

Not all Europe, only in: Magyarország Česko Slovensko România Polska Hrvatska Србија Slovenija Македонија Montenegro България Bosna

And Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, but under the HBO Nordic brand instead of the HBO Go brand. Also It's 10€ a month, not 3.

Who cares?


The solution I've been experimenting with is streaming rotation; rather than subscribing to a dozen streaming services and watching a few hours of each each month, this couple of months will be Hulu, this couple of months will be Sling (sports, mostly, though lately they seem to be getting locked out of more and more stuff too), this month will be this other service, and so on.

If the content is going to stay available, why have subscriptions to all of them all the time?

I know of people who do this for Sky Sports UK (traditional premium tv), who hold the exclusive rights to many English Premier league games (soccer). When the off season approaches, call up Sky and ask to terminate your subscription. Either they offer you a really nice deal, similar to what new subscribers get, or you quit for a few months and re-subscribe just before the season starts again. There's more on Sky than just soccer, but obviously that's the main draw for most people.

With Freesat in the mix in the UK, the only other things Sky has going for it are:

a) Sky Atlantic showing new HBO shows 1 day after HBO (no HBO in UK)

b) a slightly more polished EPG and recorder than the freesat/linux equivalents though that gap seems to be reducing.

Yeah I've seen projects like OpenVix running on nice hardware, e.g. VU+ tv boxes where there's a nice UI that is a clone of the standard Sky menu.

I'm doing the same. I cancel the same day I subscribe so I can watch for the month without a perpetual bill.

This is my solution as well, and I think it works great. I subscribe to a single month of a streaming service after the show I want to watch has completed, binge watch it, cancel, rinse and repeat with another service. At least they get some revenue out of it -- if they ever tried to require contracts, I'd just ditch them entirely.

that's a really cool idea. I just killed my netflix subscription last month because I felt there wasn't enough good content for my taste and that I've already seen it all ...

Nowdays, with a bit of elbow grease, piracy can be easier than Netflix.

In a purely hypothetical example, I could be running Sonarr and Radarr to gain almot immediate access to any TV-type media release as soon as it's available. I could feed the files into Plex and thanks to Plex Pass, I could then download the episodes of my favorite show in the morning and watch them on the go. If a show becomes unavailable due to legal reasons (Netflix' Star Trek Discovery) or other reasons (removed from media library, not licensed or license ran out), I would have a local copy. I could hook up bazaar to obtain subtitles for all those would-have media files. I wouldn't have to deal with resolution restrictions or siloing. It would be all in one app that contains all my media. This experience would be free plus the work I have to do myself to set it up.

But the actual reality is that I have 3 streaming apps on my phone because neither of the three offers all the tv shows, movies and anime that I want to consume. Shows vanish for various reasons and I cannot consume them anymore. They're gone. I have to put in actual work to discover where the current media is best obtained and sometimes the price is too high. For this experience I have to pay.

If Netflix and Friends want to keep people out of piracy, they need to stop siloing, stop geofencing their offerings and start competing around the service of media, not the availability of media.

Piracy almost always wins the availability contest. Piracy at the moment wins for Geofencing and other DRM (there is none). Piracy doesn't silo my favorite content. And piracy doesn't cost the end user anything, only the producer.

Now, I'm not advocating for piracy. I'd rather live in a world where piracy wasn't necessary or even lucrative for the end user. It's very frustrating to be stuck in the one where I throw money at the subpar solution.

Regarding piracy, IPTV + PopCorn Time really outplay having to pay for 10 different services.

Steam got it right...

And now Steam is under attack from Origin, Gog, Epic games' store, Blizzard, and all the other integrated storefronts that seem to be popping up. Sigh.

It's not just obtaining content, it's bloody playing it too. We have a Chromecast, which works great for Netflix and works acceptably for most domestic UK TV (BBC/Channel 4 etc). But it won't work with Prime, or several other subscription things anyway, and I really resent being forced into buying another media dongle just because the one I have has been crippled due to these corporations' wankery.

Torrenting and streaming local content from VideoStream or similar works great though, so as always, convenience is king.

"Competitors" is the wrong word here. The problem is not competition, it's exclusivity. I'm subscribed to half a dozen streaming services but I still regularly find content that isn't available on any of them.

There's definitely some truth to the notion that piracy is a service problem. Even without considering the costs, I really don't want to subscribe to any more streaming services simply because I'm being forced to maintain accounts and share payment information with so many entities.

It doesn't help that a regular subscription for a streaming service with only one or two appealing pieces of content is simply a bad value.

Here in Eastern Europe torrenting is mostly done for the convenience. It being free is secondary.

I doubt that. Paying 30usd in easter europe is like paying 150 in US. That isn't negligible

I don't pirate... but I pay around ~$100 a month to say that (for video), and still don't have access to a fair bit of content that exists in silos.

For reference, that's buying: Amazon Prime ($10), two channels on Prime ($20), Netflix and another streaming ($20), and a streaming TV subscription ($40-50). Notably missing is Disney SVOD -- though some Disney content is carried by the streaming TV.

Given the frustration of having to use multiple apps and services while still not getting everything because of the massive fragmentation -- never mind that most people can't afford anywhere near that a month on TV -- I'm not surprised people are pirating content.

Minor point: I'm curious about someone paying for channels via Prime. I also have Prime but no other channels via Prime...but because of a seemingly silly reason: the Prime App is awful - both slow and buggy - so i would NOT want to experience those other channels through the Prime app. I'll be honest I've actually never tried to add/pay for other channels via Prime, so i'm making a BIG assumption that they would play through the Prime App. My experience has been quite positive with the netflix app, awful with Prime App, also awful with hulu App, and so-so/not terrible with hbo's separate App....and these are all via my dedicated roku 3 device. If you seem to have a positive experience with those additional channels via Prime, curious to learn more about your set up? Are using roku device, etc.?

I'm deep into the Amazon ecosystem, so I use a FireTV Cube.

There, the Amazon video content is some kind of default invisible app accessible as a tab at the top of the screen and via searches, so it sort of "just happens". When I go to "Videos", there's just an extra lane of channels I've subscribed to below my watch list and suggested content -- if I pull them open, it brings up what's basically the home page again, but with only that channel's content displayed.

It's not a great app, I think your description of 'so-so' fits the experience, but it's better than some of the dedicated streaming ones (looking at you, DirecTV and Funimation!)

"BitTorrent usage has bounced back because there's too many streaming services, and too much exclusive content"

Bzzt, wrong. The number of streaming services is fine.

It's the pricing that's the problem. Proof by reductio: if they were all free, everyone would subscribe to everything.

People are willing to pay for convenience. They aren't willing to overpay for convenience when they have free alternatives.

They'll pay $25/month for a service that combines Netflix, Hulu, CBS and Disney into one searchable interface. Split them up, and people will drop or not even start the ones they perceive as being lowest value.

> Proof by reductio: if they were all free, everyone would subscribe to everything.

Not even sure. If every time you need to watch a movie you need to make a new account, with the usual form to fill, email check, all the little popups telling you how to use features you don't need, the notification to disable, etc... only to notice you didn't subscribe to the right platform, I think you will go back to torrents rather quickly. And that's without touching compatibility issues.

And then, you contradict yourself in the last sentence by saying "a service that combines... into one". Acknowledging that you want a single $25/month service, not just a discount if you buy all 4.

> Proof by reductio: if they were all free, everyone would subscribe to everything.

Not necessarily. Having 15 different apps/ways to access content is annoying too. And of course nobody integrates with anybody because they're all competing so why boost the competitor's offer? But yes, if on top of that each of them costs $10-15/month, that's a deal breaker. I'd just subscribe to one that has the most content, and that's it. Maybe sometime in the future they'd get the right idea and learn to play nice... doesn't seem to be happening so far.

I wouldn't call subscribing to every single major streaming service a convenience.

Netflix's problem are their business methods. Proof by reductio: If Netflix just dominated the whole planet and ran a totalitarian regime, they could force everyone to watch Netflix.

I often think of quiting netflix. I only keep it because its very cheap. But their recommendation system is terrible (includes everything I already saw and liked - why ?!), there is a very, very minimal description (I like to spend more then 1 sec reading before I spend 90m watching), there are no ratings (if imdb says less the 5.5 then I do not watch it anyway), etc, etc.

Do it. I left in October and haven't looked back. I get the library and all but for the reasons you mentioned,I could not keep partially funding an experiment.Although I miss the moments when they've had these releases land into the zeitgeist, after the hype (and mediocre reviews) I realized it's just FOMO and wait another month until I build up enough content I truly want to watch.

The whole streaming model makes little sense st this point. It is replicating the cable channel system. The model which makes sense was/is an ITunes ala carte system where you buy shows and movies you watch direct. Bundling only works for the provider not the consumer. For a while the streaming services like Netflix artificially made themselves look better than ala carte with the standard tech playbook - offer a product below cost until you are an 800 pound gorilla and can dictate terms. I don’t think the vast majority of newer streaming services will make it.

A la carte might make sense if the pricing was more reasonable. I don't want to pay $2-3 per episode to own a TV series I'll never watch again.

I agree with this, the other night I saw a show I wanted to watch but then it proposed a $3 price to watch the episode which sadly turned me off. I laughed like 'ha I guess I'm that cheap' turned off my tv and rolled over in bed to go to sleep.

I wonder what price might have gotten me in that moment?


If the bar is netflix's $12, then 3 bucks better get me 1 week, call it 40 hours of content. I'd be much more eager to watch a bunch of different shows and spend a lot more money than if I had to pay $2.99 or whatever to rent a movie on itunes/amazon.

I absolutely agree that the price points per episode are wrong. Zappos used to let you rent not buy an episode for I think .99 and that was a very reasonable price point. $10-$12 or so for a season of a quality TV show was OK.

I would pay $3 for renting a single movie, but not for a show episode because that would build up too fast. 10 episodes per season and that’s already $30 for one show.

TV on DVD was just as bad.

Netflix got me as it was the first, and it still provides decent value for the money, as well as great 4k/HDR/Dolby Vision content. I'm thinking about signing up for Prime as it seems to have a lot of content. That's about it. I'll seriously consider the Disney streaming service because I am a man-child and love the MCU and want to see the series on there, but I will not sign up for CBS all access, Hulu, or Crave TV. It's all too much, and I'm not going to pay another cable bill equivalent.

I recently subscribed to Mubi. They have a curated selection of movies in a list of 30 movies, every day a movie gets out and another one gets in. I think it's around 8-9 USD per month and there's a week trial. I like revisiting classic or arthouse movies so I naturally like their selection but I doubt this is for everyone. The model however, could work with different audiences.

I was on Mubi for a while and really liked the 'one in, one out' system. I typically watched the movies that were about two days out, regardless of my interest. As a result I watched a lot of movies I never would had known about.

I don't think this model would translate to the less-obsessed, though -- especially for films that are easier to find.

This is particularly hilarious especially when you are in Eastern Europe.

For the longest time the myth that people pirate because they are cheap reigned supreme. Then a few local TVs figured to make on-the-street interviews and about 95% of the people said they torrent because it's easier and quicker (only a minute chunk of them said "I already pay my internet bill, why should I pay extra" which is IMO not such a flawed argument as claimed either).

Convenience is the biggest factor. Make something inconvenient and people will just go somewhere else. It's as simple as that.

I wish the streaming services luck navigating the foggy mire of copyright laws and exclusivity deals now. In the meantime everybody in that area loses business to torrents.

That system is so tragically slow and sluggish that it eventually works against its own interest.

This makes me smile. What makes me smile even more is that they will probably just try to ignore the issue and will lose even more money in the process.

"If your paid product is worse than the free competitor, people will continue to use the free product until that changes." Netflix's value add for 90% of people is content discovery and convenience.

Fair enough, but plenty of torrent trackers have very respectable dashboards, like "Trending content" or "Newest additions", "Most downloaded" etc.

Agreed on your points, just saying that the free alternatives aren't doing that bad themselves.

We're very much in agreement, I should have said "only value add".

"only a minute chunk of them said "I already pay my internet bill, why should I pay extra" which is IMO not such a flawed argument as claimed either"

I would be interested about your reasoning?

The fact that you bought plates and cutlery means that you should have food for free?

Sorry but yours is a very bad analogy.

I don't intend on convincing you because I am not exactly on the opinion expressed above. It's just that many regular folk view things that way -- to them, having paid their internet bill means they can do whatever they want with it. That's not my reasoning. It's the reasoning of a [allegedly small] part of the people out there.

If streaming services or anything that costs extra had a way of adding to your ISP bill -- in the same way as buying apps from Google Play / AppStore adds to your carrier bill does -- then I believe more people would subscribe to streaming services. Alas, it's not happening.

The article correlates rising Bittorrent traffic with exclusive streaming deals without showing any causality. Disappointing.

That being said, users are absolutely having to hunt and peck across different services as the article said. And this is not a simple matter of comparison shopping, as Netflix makes it impossible to actually view their catalogue without signing up. Once you sign up, you realize that shows don't have reviews anymore.

Finally, it's all too obvious now that Netflix's preference these days is to dump all of its licensing deals and only have its own content on the platform. It wasn't an issue with 'prestige' brands like House of Cards and Stranger Things, but now there's a glut of straight-to-DVD-esque Netflix originals that they constantly bug you to check out.

Honestly, if they ever drop Friends and The Office (shows with highly devoted followings), they're likely to see a big dropoff in subscribers.

Honestly, given the sheer amount of high-quality video content that's available from free, ad-supported streaming platforms with no DRM to speak of (indeed, you could easily grab a copy of anything you wanted to keep for the longer term - it's just that you don't even bother with that!), there's very little reason to even pirate nowadays. Why would I want to support consumer-hostile organizations like Netflix, HBO or the Amazon Video division, even with my attention and by engaging with their crappy "content"? I'll just keep watching stuff from the sites that don't pull any DRM crap. (In fact I don't even bother with blocking the ads, they're reasonable enough and they do a tolerable job of supporting creators.)

Yes, please share these mythical high quality, free video streaming services. I know of 1 free service. Pluto.tv But I wouldn't consider it a streaming platform in so much as a TV copy cat.

Can you list one or two? I'm only familiar with the large one's like Netflix and HBO.

How is HBO consumer-hostile?

They have several channels on the roku, not sure why. It's painful to setup, and it forgets the authorization every few weeks. Since there's not much content I wouldn't run it often, but when I did it would pop up a code and ask me to go to a website to approve it. Said website would bounce through the comcast authentication page... but bouncing often didn't work.

When it did work it would take about 5 minutes of futzing around. I couldn't watch it from firefox or google chrome running on my linux box.

The client would hang fairly often, I'd end up resetting my roku to clear it.

Netflix does it right. Auth lasts a long time (at least a year), the client is generally pretty reliable, and I can watch from Linux, Roku, or Android as I see fit. I can even download episodes on Android if I want to save on bandwidth charges.

While Netflix isn't perfect, it does seem way less consumer hostile than HBO.

I wouldn't call that consumer hostile, I'd call it a shitty roku app. HBO go is old school. They aren't going to autoplay bullshit the minute you are trying to think of that movie you were meaning to watch. Their XBOX app looks like it's from 2009, just simple bread and butter search + categories + watchlist. Bulletproof.

I don't know about piracy but I'm definitely thinking about getting a new DVD/blu-ray player as even with Netflix, Amazon, Apple iTunes and BBC iPlayer the choice available is still pretty restricted - particularly when it comes to older content.

You can also rent DVDs and Blu ray for free from the library, and if your branch doesn't have it you can have it shipped in.

Have you checked out Vudu? The catalog is pretty large.

Of course it’s much easier to pay for a cheap VPN and use one of those torrent streaming services.

Could that lead to a revision of the term of licensing and a unification of regional markets (specifically in mature market like Europe)?

Purely rhetorical question at this point as the national networks are likely to lobby to keep the statu quo.

"file-sharing accounts for 3 percent of global downstream and 22 percent of upstream traffic, with 97% of that traffic in turn being BitTorrent"

Two questions:

1. How much is 97% of 3% ?

2. Why did the writer used such technique to make it sound big ?

1. 0.3 * 0.97 = 2.91

2. I don't think the author is trying to make it sound big, but they could have worded it differently. I think the author is making two points:

> a. 3% of all downstream traffic is file-sharing traffic. > b. 97% of file sharing traffic is bittorrent.

This is one of the reasons we still pay for the Netflix DVD service. Eventually everything shows up there, regardless of where it originated. If they can get it on disk, they can rent it.

I stopped the Netflix DVD service because even some Netflix streaming exclusives do not show up, 13th was not available last time I was on there I believe in November 2018, additionally my local library has the new DVD/Blueray releases available around the same time my place in the Netflix queue went from long wait to available.

Why are people still using file sharing and torrents?

Get a Usenet subscription, pay a yearly fee to a decent indexer, setup NZBGet, setup TV automation with Sonarr, and Radarr for movie automation if needed. Lots of Usenet providers include VPN, AT&T doesn’t seem to care FYI.

Setup Plex for a media sever, get plex pass, buy a USB TV tuner or HD Homerun, and a digital antenna. Connect the HD homerun to plex for TV broadcast automation.

Now you need to buy more hardrives because you ran out of space.

Edit: Great my comment is almost as bad as the Dropbox vs Rsync one.

>Why are people still using file sharing and torrents?


That's why. Torrents are easier for people to figure out.

Unrelated aside: This might be the most creatively concise form of critical communication to a comment I’ve ever seen on HN. Nice job.

This is HN. I expect a technical audience who want technical solutions.

I'm a full time DevOps engineer and would consider myself highly technical. I'd never do what you described because looking at the list of steps gave me a headache.

My solution: Download torrents, SCP them to my Plex box, done.

The article seems to be talking about consumers in general, not consumers who read HN.

I’m on HN taking to HN users. I’m sure the same article is on r/torrents with less useful comments.

You are replying to the main article, not an individual user. Therefore, in context, your question "Why are people still using file sharing and torrents?" is asking that of the people referenced in the article. Context is important.

So because I'm technical, I'm supposed to do all of that?

Maybe I don't want to.

Surely you're not positing that torrents aren't a technical solution. They are an extremely technical solution to many problems people originally faced with Usenet.

My point is the HN audience is more adept than normal people. The Usenet automation and setup requires more technical knowledge than say drag and dropping a torrent file into a torrent program.

Looking over your list do you not see how that list of activities might prove to be a little niche, and probably not suited to the broader public?

Also: > pay a yearly fee to a decent indexer

"Why would you get something free? Pay instead!". I already do that, it's called Netflix and Amazon Prime. Plus, the only step those have is "get smart TV, connect TV to internet".

I don’t think HN is the broader public.

I'm a bit confused - what does your solution solve that Torrenting doesn't?

Complete automation, no seeding, less risky download sources, less risk of your ISP complaining about BitTorrent traffic, and an almost nil chance of getting a nasty legal letter for seeding.

Plus the Usenet servers are usually much faster than torrents. With Gigabit I am seeing much faster speeds.

You should look into private trackers... I have the same setup for german content (there are no german trackers that have good seeds/content/moderation and api) but for english stuff torrents are still the king if you have the right trackers (ptp/btn/hdb and even 2nd and 3rd tier trackers are all fine). Any listed disadvantage doesn't exist with private trackers, and it doesn't even cost a cent - unlike usenet subscription and indexer.

What's the yearly fee look like?

You could probably produce an interesting indie film in the time it takes a normal person to figure that out.

(Not to speak ill of your normal person, just that those skills are esoteric and provide little benefit to most people to say the least).

Your process seems very complicated, compared to just launching popcorntime and clicking on the movie you want to watch.

Which popcorntime is the legit one nowadays?

Honestly? Laziness. The only time I will actually totrrent something is if I bought the DVD/Blu-Ray and I want to rip it for use with Plex. I find what I need by torrents, and I already have a VPN I use.

Why are people still using file sharing and torrents?

Why in the hell would anyone do what you suggest, technical or not? A torrent client and about four lines of bash will do the job without Mr. Goldberg's mouse pushing the ball down the ramp to turn on the toaster, to heat the gas in the balloon...

IMO, you're making complexity for the sake of doing so. Regardless, if that's what it takes to watch video media? I'm going to go learn to play the banjo.

Because none of that is necessary for the vast majority of people. And torrents are free.

I’ve run a personal instance of this for 10+ years. Plainly, it’s too complicated for 90% of people; which is fine. Let BitTorrent own the show and attention from everyone. Both of which would destroy my automated luxury.

In the time it takes to read your comment I probably could download 2 HD movies.

Why not both? It's easy to configure those programs to use multiple sources.

Does anyone ever get "life is amazing but I choose to be angry" vibes from the comments on this topic every time it comes up? Like letting yourself get livid that you couldn't quite stretch your legs on a cheap flight that took you where ever you wanted in the world.

I always scroll the comments in the hopes of finding someone frustrated at the frustration, and I never find it.

For example, in these comments people assert that it's "user-hostile" that Netflix's search shows you related shows for your search term.

Should it do a better job indicating that your target show wasn't found? Maybe. Though I'd like to hear how you'd design that, because Netflix search is essentially a multi-lingual keyword search across multi-lingual titles. Is someone searching "funny" looking for the movie "Funny Games"? You'll notice that Netflix tries to help you drill down into comedies.

It's "user-hostile"? Has anyone here not been in a group setting trying to find something to watch, so you search something and someone recognizes some other movie from the search results? I've never even been in a group setting where anyone knew what we should watch, chaining through related videos seems like the best UX.

Also, do we really need access to every bit of content under the sun for some small monthly payment? Is that really the end-game? As a community of people who supposedly appreciate the merits of decentralization, which company gets to be that tollbooth of all content produced by humanity?

This topic generates so many strong opinions and anger at what seem like inconsequential issues that I have to wonder how much of the problem is Netflix and how much is merely our entitlement in a world where we have access to more content than any humans in history, and how that makes us even thirstier than ever.

The netflix UI is pretty user hostile. You can't control what sections you see, nor what order those sections are. So it's maddening to even find what you were just watching 10 minutes ago. When browsing they assume you want to see the preview, and you can't turn it off. Nor can you browse only videos you haven't seen.

You'd think they would want a nice clean interface where your recently seen videos are always on top, and your favorite sections show only videos you haven't seen. Sadly that's not possible. If they published an API for that functionality I'm sure someone would fix that pretty quickly.

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