Netflix Needs To Chill

Back when Netflix really got rolling, it was an amazing collection of all your favourite movies and shows, great documentaries and some offerings from the WWE catalogue for the wrestling fan in your life. There were plenty of smaller movies that you stumbled upon or skipped over, but the majority of the titles were familiar, even if they weren’t necessarily your cup of tea.

But these days, as services like Shomi and CraveTV drop their “Cable Provider ties” and welcome everyone to peruse their offerings, Netflix feels like it has taken a step backwards in terms of the quality of the shows and movies dominating their scrolling category lists.

While they are responsible for dropping gems like Jessica Jones and Daredevil and the much-talked-about Making a Murderer – and rolling out a new season of Suits in a couple days (YEAH!) – the movie choices are struggling… mightily. For every new release that is mildly interesting (like Tomorrowland), there are two or three straight-to-DVD quality offerings featuring straight-to-DVD stars. Skimming through the Recently Added or New Releases collections sends you by more movies that make you say, “What the hell is that?” than “Gotta add that one to My List.”

And where the hell did My List go?

It used to be whenever I signed in, the first two categories that appeared (after the featured offering of the week) were My List and Continue Watching. Now I have to scroll down through a bunch of junk like the Top Picks for Spencer that rarely make sense or a collection of suggestions Because You Watched The First Four Minutes of Tupac & Biggie which was all I needed before calling it quits.

The categories and collections that are showing up are getting more and more specific, which makes them less effective. Comedy Movies is a category I’m going to flip through when I’m in the mood to have a laugh; Romantic Dance Dramas is not a collection I need, even if I just watched Step Up with my wife.

Netflix is still the industry leader – “CraveTV and Kick It” will never be a thing, though there is potential with Shomi – but their competitors are closing ground, at least in my opinion.

CraveTV has some solid television offers to roll through on a binge and provides the entire HBO and Showtime back catalogues, while Shomi draws you in with the biggest hit of the summer, Mr. Robot, and the critically acclaimed Transparent. There is the potential for them to start competing with Netflix for titles and if that happens, things are going to get interesting.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

All three of these streaming platforms can co-exist and Netflix can still be the kick-ass king of the castle, while the others become your stop for a show or two. They just need to get back to showcasing the titles that the masses actually want to watch rather than making everyone scroll through a bunch of junk that one out of 10 people are going to jump in on.

Those first four or five visible titles in each category need to be titles that the majority of people are going to be interested in checking out or that make them want to investigate the category further. When they’re a collection of “Never Heard of That” options and “That Looks Awful” offerings, there is a greater likelihood that I’m just going to shut it down and do something productive instead.

And honestly, my productivity is too high lately, so hopefully Netflix sorts this out so I can get back to spending every second or third afternoon on the couch instead of at the computer.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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