Would “Streaming” Services Like Netflix Be Better If They Were More Like TV? Is TV Streaming?

what channel?NetflixOver at Wired, Kyle Vanhemert argues that Netflix would do well to think about how to also present its streaming video content in Web 2.0 streams like Facebook, Twitter, or:

You know what else is a stream? Live TV! It comes with the very same qualities that exist in and enliven all the examples above. It’s immediate. It’s constant. It’s always-on, always-there, always-new. You don’t have to do a damn thing except show up.

While synonymous with the age of streaming video, Netflix is less like a stream and more like a colossal vending machine. It offers a plentitude of carefully wrapped choices, each requiring careful consideration. Infinite choice is exhausting. Ask anyone who’s spent 30 minutes trying to pick a movie, only to give up and see what’s on TV.

I can relate, as can anyone who finds trouble committing to a two hour long movie and then watches five episodes of an hour-long TV show instead. Vanhemert suggests Netflix try something between organizing its “second-tier” content into channel-like streams or just a “Pandora-mode” of actually-streaming video. He offers that Netflix may be prevented from doing this by its licensing restrictions as a reason about why the obvious-when-you-hear-it idea hasn’t been tried yet.

Netflix is a step in the direction toward a more individualized television experience, part of the brave new libertarian world of digital content. Were Netflix to develop channels of their own, it’s not hard to imagine you’d be able to personalize those too. It really is hard to say you’re not better off than you were ten years ago.

Related on Netflix as television network: how it’s making TV shows like one.

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  • ||

    I'm pretty sure Netflix is hamstrung by its licensing deals. Those deals are why it tried to separate its DVD business from the streaming business (and got reamed by customers for it).

    Netflix is a damn good service that I use all the time but those licensing deals really stop them from being great, especially in the movie realm. Their streaming movie offerings are shit, but the studios want it that way (or demand too much money to change it). At least they're the go-to for streaming TV shows.

  • CE||

    The first studio or cable company that figures out that the incremental cost of delivering one more movie is zero, and lowers the price for new on-demand movies, will make a fortune by dropping the price to one dollar. No one would bother with Netflix, or driving to Redbox, and volumes would go up by a few orders of magnitude, while revenue per movie would only fall by 80 percent or so.

  • ||

    So then I can have a whole channel of cerebral British costume dramas based on 19th century fiction? SWEET

  • ||

    There's no market for that, nicole. Other than you and 50 million other chicks. See? No market.

    (tries to find Aqua Teen Hunger Force network, fails)

    Damn it!

  • ||

    I understand. I was devastated that it took Pandora years to roll out classical stations. But it was worth the wait.

  • ||

    Now you're just waiting for their nerdcore channel?

  • Paul.||

    Filch channel.

  • Paul.||

    fuuuck... filk music. Whatever.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I will film an unabridged porn version of Middlemarch.

    Visit my kickstarter for details.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    That sounds...exhausting.

    Link?

  • silent v||

    Middlemunch?

  • BakedPenguin||

    MILFle-much?

  • CE||

    Maybe someone really will open an Austenland.

  • ||

    So then I can have a whole channel of cerebral British costume dramas based on 19th century fiction? SWEET

    Is this not your local PBS affiliate?

  • ||

    Yeah, but they have pledge drives, which make commercials look like The Puppy Channel.

  • inkovic||

    Like everything in life, every idea has been done successfully on the black market or even psuedo-black market.

    Justin.tv has(had? haven't checked) dedicated movie channels where people would just stream movies all day until the inevitable DMCA takedown would occur.

    Each video was accompanied with a live chat so people can communicate in-movie for an engaging and social experience.

    There is always a market for experiencing things with peers for the shared experience.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    Speaking of TV, I recently dropped DirecTV because the cable package I have now is "free" (I am paying the same amount for TV and internet that I was previously paying just for internet).

    I have local channels, HBO, and then a very random assortment of other channels (A&E, Comedy Central, Animal Planet, Food Network, etc...but NO ESPN, HGTV, TBS...)

    HOWEVER, I can stream ESPN and a bunch of the channels I am missing on TV via a tablet or my phone.

    How in the fuck does this make any sense?

  • ||

    It's weird that you don't have ESPN, since that is usually on the same tier as the other channels you mentioned. What cable company is this?

  • Bam!||

    I think I read ESPN charges a butt load to cable/satellite companies. It'd make sense to remove it if they are "bundling" free TV with Internet.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    It offers a plentitude of carefully wrapped choices, each requiring careful consideration.

    Carefully wrapped though it may have been, this afternoon's matinee of Sacred Flesh did not merit careful consideration on my part. Now the choice between Jackie Brown and The Talented Mr. Ripley (RIP PSH), on the other hand...

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    According to CNN, Inuit village is one giant rape wasteland because there are no police in the town.

    Absolutely no mention of the fact that Inuit culture is based in myths like this:

    Sister Sun and Brother Moon
    In olden times a brother and his sister lived in a large village in which there was a singing house, and every night the sister with her playfellows enjoyed themselves in this house.

    Once upon a time, when all the lamps in the singing house were extinguished, somebody came in and outraged her. She was unable to recognize him; but she blackened her hands with soot and when the same again happened besmeared the man's back with it. When the lamps were relighted she saw that the violator was her brother. ...

  • Paul.||

    Perhaps an uptick in firearm ownership rates could correct the social situation.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I sure like watching on-demand TV without commercials. Good Eats, for instance, has a few free seasons on Amazon Instant Video. Around 21 minutes per episode.

    I find my tolerance for commercials has grown quite low. I almost can't tolerate watching the Super Bowl without doing something else during the commercial breaks, they've gotten so long.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    I've never understood the allure of getting excited to watch Super Bowl commercials.

    "Did you see the Doritos commercial!?"

    CPA: No. I was either taking a piss, getting more food, or getting another beer.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, most of them suck, even the ones people make a fuss over. And I can watch them on the web later on if I hear they're simply brilliant.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    I doubt he's a libertarian, but Alton Brown is my favorite TV chef this side of Justin Wilson. Who is alive and well on Youtube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK4umRMJlrs

  • Pro Libertate||

    I doubt it, too, but if there are politics in Good Eats, I can't tell.

    Justin was great, too.

  • Paul.||

    The Superbowl has good commercials? Huh, I was either taking a piss, getting more food or getting another beer. But I'm probably unique that way.

  • ||

    Netflix is a step in the direction toward a more individualized television experience, part of the brave new libertarian world of digital content.

    Only after they get the FTC to impose a government dictatorship over the internet.

    Take your "Netflix is libertarian" bullshit and shove it up your ass Ed

  • Cytotoxic||

    Missing the point, The Post.

  • Paul.||

    Netflix is working double-overtime to set themselves up some regulatory capture. They're the rent-seeking-est of the rent seekers.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Again, missing the point. The NF service represents further individualization of viewing choices. That's the point.

  • ||

    Cable on-demand also represents individualization of choice as does cable's different tiers for pricing which allowed such channels as discovery and history to shake down the networks. A plethora of channels for an individual to choose from is individualization of choice donchaknow.

    Yet Netflix lobbied the FTC to set up extra-congressional regulations to prevent cable companies from expanding on this and when the FTC lost in court Netflix is now running around lobbying congress and putting out bullshit propaganda for net neutrality to be made law. All for the purpose of eliminating competition and making them the only place to go for on-demand TV.

    Ed ignoring this and trying to wedge in how great Netflix is in the libertarian mind is the point.

  • ||

    FCC not FTC

  • Cytotoxic||

    Missing The Point 2: Electric Missingoogaloo

    The NetFlix SERVICE is a huge gain for individualization. What the company is doing is a separate thing.

  • ||

    The NetFlix SERVICE is a huge gain for individualization.

    meh. No different then cable on-demand really. Nice to have another competitor I suppose. Isn't Amazon doing the same thing? I know Hulu is doing the same thing and Apple with iTunes. HBOgo does it with their shows as does Starz.

    What the company is doing is a separate thing.

    Sure but the article Ed wrote is not a separate a thing. Would not be surprised if Netflix payed him to write a feel good piece here. Netflix did say they were going to spend lots of money to use their customers to push Net Neutrality.

  • ||

    Also not only is netflix a political proponent of regulatory capture ie Net Neutrality they are also shitty motherfucking pricks on the Internet.

    If anyone shares Internet in a house they know as soon as someone starts a Netflix stream everyone's Internet slows to a crawl for a few min. The reason why is because when netflix starts a stream it takes a giant dump to fill up part of the stream in your PC/devices memory. This also happens internet wide.

    The underbelly of the Net Neutrality debate is that ISPs thought that was shitty so they slowed down Netflix and others who want to hog bandwidth with giant spikes for caching. Essentially Netflix was being a giant cocksucker and the cable companies tried to slow em down so the whole Internet worked well not just Netflix and Netflix then went and cried for the government to save them.

    Fuck Netflix and fuck Ed for calling them libertarian.

  • pan fried wylie||

    How am I slowing down the whole internet by using the bandwidth cap that I pay for?

  • ||

    Net Neutrality has nothing to do with caps.

    What, are you stupid enough to think net Neutrality would stop ISPs from capping?

    Netflix has you hook line and sinker.

    I don't have a cap by the way. Perhaps you should switch ISPs.

  • pan fried wylie||

    cap wasn't the right word. the speed they quote you on on the plan, I mean. I consider the cap to be me using my connection fullout 24hrs day.

    I'm happy with FIOS. Interruptions are rare and brief, and we can do two netflix streams and multiple games without issue. Maybe you need a better ISP.

  • ||

    So you are just here to brag about your fiber connection....

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Is porn making money doing TV-style streaming?

    Therein lies the answer since porn is more innovative than mainstream entertainment.

  • Cytotoxic||

    LOLWUT?

  • Paul.||

    Porn isn't like a regular market. Everyone needs porn, but not everyone needs Breaking Bad.

    Porn should be a human right.

  • Tony||

    Liberals already treat Internet access as a right, so we got it covered. It's so gratifying being on the team that looks for more rights rather than the one that looks for rights to deny (in the name of freedom).

  • Irish||

    D-

  • Irish||

    ^ I feel like there was a little grade inflation here. If it had been a normal troll I probably would have given it an F. However, Tony's normal output is so low and incoherent that I felt he deserved a little something for actually managing to write a post that only used two logical fallacies instead of his usual 14.

  • Paul.||

    D-?

    That is a square F-.

    It's actually an (I)ncomplete.

  • lap83||

    Totally. It's much more fun to believe in Santa than to be the one who really buys the presents. I also thought that when my brain was only 1/2 developed.

  • ||

    It's so gratifying being on the team that looks for more rights to take away.

    Fixed for you.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Therein lies the answer since porn is more innovative than mainstream entertainment.

    Don't worry! The fed will pump some more. Don't let it make you insance

  • Irish||

    Therein lies the answer since porn is more innovative than mainstream entertainment.

    There are like five porn plots and all of them end pretty much the same way.

    How's that innovative?

  • x4rqcks3f||

    Apparently people don't like choices. Prepare for your bronze, silver, gold and platinum TV plans.

  • Paul.||

    Netflix could start by simply getting better content on its streaming services. I'd pay real money for a Netflix subscription if they could stream the equivalent of their DVD mailing roster.

    But instead, I get C- horror movies.

    Sure, there are some gems on Netflix, but Jesus, why should I pay any money for a subscription to anything that I have to work really, really hard at to maybe find a semi-precious nugget at the bottom of an 80' deep pit?

  • The Last American Hero||

    House of Cards

  • Cytotoxic||

    Archer.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    And whither season four?

    No doubt that Netflix isn't exhaustive in its streaming library yet, but that's to be expected given how new the technology is. Anyone else remember 2006, when the chance to stream grainy Werner Herzog movies was a weird add-on on top of your DVD membership?

    I'd recommend a combination of Netflix and solarmovie for your entertainment needs, provided you don't believe in IP. If you're pro-IP, I'd recommend Netflix, Amazon Prime, and sanctimonious irritation at denying yourself access to easily digitized goods that are no longer economically scarce thanks to the miracle of the internets, which is basically just a giant copying machine.

  • Cytotoxic||

    If you're pro-IP, I'd recommend Netflix, Amazon Prime, and sanctimonious irritation at denying yourself access to easily digitized goods that are no longer economically scarce thanks to the miracle of the internets, which is basically just a giant copying machine.

    I'll take that option since, you know, I actually believe in property rights 'n all.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    All the more bandwidth for me.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    And it's worth pointing out that you don't believe in property rights. You believe in IP. The two are mutually exclusive.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    If you're trying to view new movies on NF you're going to be disappointed. But then again, how long after the party's over do ST and HBO have them?

  • Paul.||

    Way sooner than Netflix. I subscribe to HBO and Netflix. I use HBO to see more recent movies (recent-ish) and Netflix for obscure French war movies about Algeria.

  • kbolino||

    Ironically, The Battle of Algiers is not actually on Netflix.

  • Bam!||

    Depending on the movie, HBO and other premiums get them pretty soon after they're released on DVD.

    Netflix's new selection, on the other hand, is crap. Pretty good documentary and TV selection, though.

  • CE||

    TV is not streaming. TV is blasting. Every channel is blasting something, most of which you don't want to watch. Even the programs you might want to watch started 15 minutes to 2 hours ago, so it's too late to watch them if you didn't set your DVR. And most of the good first-run programs are on at the same time.

  • goodoldsam||

    Seriously, this article was confusing to me. The entire reason I have a Netflix subscription is so I can choose what to watch. You could compare Netflix to TV on demand but not to live TV. I think they both have value, so I don't know why you would want to blend them together.

  • Tony||

    People like the TV model which is why DVRs were such a flop.

  • kbolino||

    The fairly large shadow market of people with terabytes of content on hard drives shows that "people like the TV model" is not the whole story.

  • Pro Libertate||

    DVRs are such a flop that commercial TV has been searching for years for revenue to protect them from the day when people stop watching commercials altogether.

    Not that it's all DVR--it's also reduced share because of lots of channels, on-demand services, the web, and gaming.

  • RishJoMo||

    Well they do indeed seem to know which way is up thats for sure.

    www.Anon-Works.tk

  • AlmightyJB||

    I love Netflix. Just finished the first season of Dexter last night. On demand is where it's at.

  • cheap kits||

    Just as he said" I almost can't tolerate watching the Super Bowl without doing something else during the commercial breaks, they've gotten so long."

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