Posts Tagged ‘Netflix’

netflix-nomoregoldIts been a few years, (I ranted about this a while back) but it seems Xbox finally caved and will now let us use our Xbox consoles to watch Netflix without forcing us to have a Xbox Live Gold membership.

There isn’t much of an explanation, nor any real fanfare on the Xbox site, just a small note in their frequently asked question section that they “are committed to delivering the best gaming and entertainment experience to you – our most loyal fans.”

It’s funny that Netflix is the one informing customers about this, you’d think Microsoft would be all over it trying to shine up their tarnished public image.

Who knows, I may even turn on my Xbox 360 and use it again, although I, like many I presume, have already found other ways of getting Netflix onto our TVs.  Another example of too little too late I think.  If you are going to wait years to respond to the outcry, don’t be surprised if no one is listening when you finally do.

barkerp

Advertisements

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for companies making money by selling us products and services.  It is after all the basis of the free market that we all know and love.  But when it comes to paying a company a monthly fee just to be able to stream media through their console, that’s where I think they’ve gone too far. And they’ve been doing it a long, long time.

This isn’t me being an Apple-fanboy, this is me being pissed at having to pay a fee to Microsoft so that their gaming device which I already paid for will be able to stream Netflix through it.   They are the only gaming platform that charges a fee to do this, and in my opinion it is nothing but a cash-grab.  What exactly does Microsoft need to do in order or us to use our XBox360’s to stream video through it that can justify forcing users to pay for XBox Live Gold just to use it?  Is it maybe because they have their own service (Xbox Live Marketplace/ Zune Marketplace) that allows you to download movies and music, for another additional fee of course.

They already give us a console that doesn’t include a WiFi adapter out of the box and has more software “updates” than any other console, as well as being the only one to have an entire section of their company dedicated to dealing with broken devices and the “Red Ring of Death“, but they also have the gall to make us pay them a premium just to make their console do something that costs them nothing.  There is no overhead for them to worry about, nothing to administer, no additional load on their servers, so why make us subscribe to Gold just to make it work?

The statement that really got my goat was from someone on Twitter who said “it’s only $60” when I made a comment about being annoyed I had to pay to stream Netflix on my XBox360 when we were discussing which console was better.  Yes, it is only $60 per year. But that doesn’t make it right.  Playstation does not charge for you to stream Netflix, neither does Wii.   Besides, $60 can feed a starving kid for 2 months.  It can keep a few dogs well fed at the Humane Society for a couple of months too.  Or to be more selfish, it’ll pay for my morning timmy’s for 2 months.

The point is, we’ve already paid for the device and if they truly want it to become part of our media hub, why force us to spend more money each month for an add-on service that offers someone like me no value?  Where we live the internet speed available is too slow to make online gaming possible – I’ve tried it.  I rezz just fast enough to see myself fragged over and over again.  Kinda makes most of the games being developed nowadays a rip-off too since most of the fun is online based, but that’s a rant for another day.  So what else does Gold offer? Video Kinect, Twitter and Facebook on my XBox360 – no thanks, we have computers and other devices for that that work much better.  Aside from the fact that to do that I would also need to get gold accounts for my kids too, which means paying even more for the family plan for Gold.  Why isn’t there a plan available per device, which would make the most sense since most of the time only one person is going to be using the device & those services at a time.  Like I said, just another cash-grab.

So really the only part of the Gold account I want is the ability to stream Netflix thru my console, all the rest is of no use or interest to me.  I guess what amazes me the most is the fact there are so many people paying for a service that the other console makers give away for free. (latest number i found was over 30 million “Live” accounts, no breakdown as to how many are Free and how many are Gold though) Maybe if Xbox stopped charging the extra money for the Gold accounts then more people would use them and be willing to pay extra in the XBox Live Marketplace & Zune Marketplace to download movies and TV shows, instead of charging us a fee for the privilege of being able to pay them even more of our hard-earned cash.

tcg

People don’t like to be told what’s going to happen to their services, they like to be asked and have the option of making decisions for themselves.

best intentions?

Netflix should have realized this.  They sent out a blanket email that i’m sure they thought was a good idea but seems to just be creating an uproar from those that use the service.  Basically they are saying they are downgrading the quality of the movies and shows that you are watching in order to save bandwidth.  I’m sure the thinking was that since so many people have limited monthly data caps that by reducing the quality they can help reduce the overages that many people are experiencing.  Sounds good in theory.

The trouble is they are making a blanket decision to change the default quality that affects everyone.  What about those people that have no problems with their quotas?  People who only watch a couple of movies a week for instance.  That seems to be the part that people are missing and getting up in arms about.  If you read the email completely, Netflix is saying you have the ability to manage how much data you use.

manage your settings

When you sign into your account, you now have a new option to ‘Manage Video Quality’.  Within that tab you will see the three qualities offered.  Just choose the one that best suits your needs and try it out.  You can always change it later if you find the quality to be less than desirable, or conversely, better than you need. I set ours to the middle, figuring it should give the best of both worlds, a reasonable quality as a reasonable data usage rate.

set your preferred default quality

Remember this is  the maximum resolution you want to receive.  I say maximum because it will adjust up and down from this level depending upon available bandwidth you have at the time you are watching.

Quite often when the internet is being taxed heavily at our house the quality of the show adjusts automatically to compensate.

I can always tell when my kids are browsing the web or playing Club Penguin as I am trying to watch a movie since I get the “your network bandwidth has changed and we are adjusting video quality” message from Netflix.

I think it was a good move by Netflix to give us Canucks the ability to manage our usage a little better, it may just have come across as being a little heavy handed in the way they did it, but I do believe they had the best intentions.

The often misquoted… “the road to hell is paved with good intentions“… may be a bit harsh for this instance, so maybe Sitting Bull said it best… “I was very sorry when I found out that your intentions were good and entirely different from what I supposed they were.”

As I said before, the service is new and there are going to be bumps in the road, give it time and they should get fixed, and as Canadians we should be used to bumps and potholes in any road.

tcg

I signed us up for Netflix shortly after it was available in Canada, mostly due to a well played advertising campaign that allowed me to try it for a month free.  (you can check it out here) It was nearing Christmas time and I knew the kids would be around looking for things to amuse them, and typically they have a lot of time off to do absolutely nothing. Personally i’m all for making the kids go to school right up to the day before Christmas if for no other reason than to give them something to do other than drive parents nuts, but i digress.

We used Netflix a lot that first month.  I mean, TONS.  It was on all the time, whether it was on iPod/ iPhones/ Apple TV/ laptops/Xbox360 or the Wii, it seemed somebody somewhere in the house was watching something on it – if not more than one. Being able to start watching a show on one device and then switch to another and pick up right where you left off is genius.  The programs available may be a little behind the networks, but the list seems to be getting better and more current all the time.  Its not as good as what they offer in the USA but give it time, it is still in its infancy up here in the frozen north.

One of the things I love is the personal experience you seem to get.  I’ve had numerous emails asking about quality of programs we’ve watched and most recently an apology for the bad service one day.  In all fairness,  the picture didn’t seem overly bad that day compared to others, but many times that is due to our lousy internet out here, but i’m not going to get into that since I think i’ve beaten that topic to death over the past few years.

They offered a refund for 3% which basically amounts to a day free since the service wasn’t up to their standards.  I’m all for free.  The fact they offered it up without having to contact them to complain goes a long way in my books.  Its nice to deal with a company that is proactive instead of reactive when it comes to the service they are providing.  The little things like alerting you there is a problem with the billing for instance (I had changed credit cards associated with my paypal account), and then sending you an email informing you it is fixed, makes you feel like they actually care about you and are listening and responding.   Some of the bigwigs in the telecom world could learn a few things from them I say.

Speaking of which, Bell our current TV provider, may be in for a ‘So long and thanks for all the fish’ letter from me soon.  Quite frankly i’m tired of paying a ridiculous amount of money for “packages” that really don’t work for us.  Being forced to get 4 or 5 packages just to get the 20 or so channels we actually ever watch is just annoying.  If you could pick “a la carte” as the saying goes and create a custom package of channels I would be happier than being stuck with about 100 or more we never watch just to have the few we do want.

a welcome breath of fresh air

As for their lack of caring, when you have to call up and complain about the costs before they offer you any kind of deal, if at all, just goes to show they really don’t care about the customers.  Sometimes they will offer you ‘great’ deals if you sign a contract for a few years, but even at that, you have to basically tell them you are leaving before they offer anything remotely close to a reasonable price.  Probably because they know you only have one other place to go and there are as many unhappy customers over there switching back, so the overall numbers stay more or less the same.  That’s the great thing for them about having a duopoly, Especially one that likes to price fix rather than compete.  They really don’t even have to pretend to care.

As a matter of fact, my daughter and I were watching Jeremy Wade’s “River Monsters” on Netflix as I was writing this.   I love learning about places I could never afford or have the opportunity to go to, and seeing my kids watching them too instead of the repetitive drivel that is so prevalent on satellite or cable TV, or watching crap because “there is nothing good on” at the moment makes it all that much better.  The ability to see what you want when you want is the way all media should be.  Sure, you could pay for On Demand programming, but when you are already shelling out a ton of money each month for so many channels, should you really have to pay more?  Why not just offer more customizable programming packages and include the On Demand part of the service in the basic cable/satellite package?

The writing is on the wall Bell.  And for you too Rogers.  You need to start to act like we are your customers and that you rely on us, instead of treating us like we need you and will put up with whatever crap you are dishing out.  We need more competition in the Canadian market place and hopefully Netflix is just the type of thing to shake it up a little, and inspire others to follow suit.

tcg