July 18, 2011
I got on the Netflix bandwagon almost six years go, abandoning GreenCine mostly because the latter's sole distribution center made the turn-around times interminably long. Netflix had that fabled "long tail" (meaning: lots of anime titles), low prices, and a two-day turn-around.
Now it only has the last (thanks to a distribution center in Salt Lake City), and one out of three ain't good. Netflix seems to have adopted the technological Peter Principle: the penchant to keep "improving" a product until it's useless.
As both Lance Ulanoff and Bill Wyman have pointed out, Netflix is at the mercy of an industry still running on empty when it comes to "protecting" intellectual IP. As Wyman puts it, living out the sad remake of a old script "very similar to the one the music industry just acted out."
But now Netflix has taken that weak hand, shown its cards, and bet the house.
I started losing confidence when most of the new anime titles were only available streaming. There's a lot not to like about DVDs, starting with the Neanderthals who apparently use them as coasters. So I might have sprung for a converter box--except that every single title is dubbed.
It's like going back twenty-five years to the VHS selection at Blockbuster: a smattering of random titles, incomplete series, and only available as lousy dubs. Not to mention their still-lousy search engine and DVDs that disappear from the listings for months on end. This is an improvement?
For the time being, I've switched to the cheapest, two-a-month plan. Between TV Japan and my own DVD library, Netflix isn't worth a premium price. If I suddenly had tons of un-wasted time on my hands, there are several specialty anime DVD rental outfits that would get my business instead.
I don't understand people who pay for premium cable channels either, but Netflix may succeed for the same reason: make the incremental costs low enough that subscribers blithely fork over the money without doing any kind of cost-benefit analysis.
Hey, watch this!
Blockbuster goes bankrupt