Jul 10 2013

Netflix streaming still a crap deal compared to disc plan

Zap2It is out with a press release that Netflix streaming will now be expanding its vast collection to include ... a major network show that's been running for almost 9 years.

Netflix, Inc. today announced an extension of its multiyear licensing agreement for select CBS library content streamed instantly to Netflix customers. Under the revised deal, new titles such as “L.A. Complex,” “4400,” and “CSI: NY” will be available to Netflix subscribers.


The fact that Netflix, five years into its streaming foray still has to fight tooth-and-nail for TV series which are naturally and simultaneously available on its disc service shows just how little progress the company has made. If I look at the list of shows I've enjoyed that are available on the disc service, cross referenced with IMDB's list of shows available on streaming, a little less than 39% of them are actually available (list below). Now, I don't know if that represents the entirety of all TV shows, but since that data isn't available (that I can see), this will have to do. And it's dismal.

One major problem with the streaming service is that HBO and Showtime refuse to participate, and a lot of great shows in this golden age of TV were or are on those services.

As bad as the figure for TV shows is, for movies it's far worse. Forbes did a quick look at the top 100 movies from 2010 and found only 8 that were streaming, with a similar number for 2011. After Netflix's deal with Starz expired, and MGM pulled a large number of titles recently, it's not hard to see why.

But 100% of the movies from that 2010 list are available on disc. So are 100% of my TV show list.

Then you consider the quality of the stream. Netflix uses 475 kB/s encoding for their movies. For a Blu-ray disc the number is more like 4000 kB/s, a factor of 10 better than Netflix's stream. Not that I blame them: Netflix already accounts for a third of all US internet traffic during the evenings. But you're paying for quality, and the disc is far better. Even DVD is 2 to 3 times as much data per second (although it uses an inferior compression algorithm, so this may mitigate the effect).

Netflix allows me to have a disc-only plan, and it's pretty cheap. I don't have streaming because, well, it's a shitty deal. I hope they fix it, but it's not in their control really.


Show Available on
24 Yes
Angel Yes
Arrested Development Yes
Babylon 5 No
Battlestar Galactica Yes
Beavis and Butthead No
Big Bang Theory No
Breaking Bad Yes
Brisco County Jr No
Buffy Yes
Bullshit No
Burn Notice Yes
Californication No
Castle No
Chuck No
Dark Angel No
Dead Like Me No
Dexter No
Elvis Costello Spectacle No
Extras No
Farscape Yes
Felicity Yes
Firefly Yes
Foyle's War Yes
Freaks and Geeks Yes
Fringe No
Game of Thrones No
Holmes on Holmes No
Homicide Life on the Streets No
Human Target No
In Treatment No
Inspector Lynley No
Invader Zim No
Jericho Yes
Keen Eddie No
Lost Yes
Louie Yes
Luther Yes
Mad Men Yes
Miracles No
Monk Yes
Monty Python's Flying Circus No
Moonlighting No
Murder One No
My So-called Life Yes
Nowhere Man No
Prime Suspect No
Prison Break Yes
Psych Yes
Reaper Yes
Red Dwarf No
Remington Steele No
Reno 911 Yes
Sex and the City No
Sherlock Yes
Six Feet Under No
Star Trek No
The Larry Sanders Show No
The Mentalist No
The Prisoner No
The Singing Detective No
The Sopranos No
The Wire No
Twin Peaks Yes
Undeclared Yes
Veronica Mars No
Wonderfalls No