Feb 28 2014, 10:06pm CST | by Forbes
NOTE: The Internet has radically changed our notion of value for content and services. So when we pay for access to a site, an app, or any other kind of digital service, there’s usually a good reason for it. This is a monthly series in which I will examine my reasons behind paying for certain content and services, including those in which I choose to donate money. See the previous entry here.
My Personal Paywall #2: Netflix.com
Content or Service: Entertainment Streaming
I pay: $7.99/month
Why do I pay?: Simplicity and Access
It’s not enough to say that Netflix has programs I can’t miss, even though I believe that’s essential to any content site asking people to pay. But it doesn’t really fit my own reason. I have yet to like one Netflix Original Series, though I think that strategy was brilliant and could not have come at a better time. There is not one movie Netflix must have ready to stream, or even 10, that would determine my membership.
Here’s another part of Netflix’s DNA that doesn’t really keep me around. I’m not all that impressed with the data-driven suggestion algorithms. I am impressed how the company keeps iterating the feature. Last year, it started asking whether it was me or my wife watching at any given time. That helps some, because my wife binges on Buffy and Dr. Who and Game of Thrones while I can never make up my mind except it’s none of that.
I keep paying Netflix because I know there is always something I can eventually find to watch and, what’s really important, is it works … usually.
This hit home for me the past few months when, all of the sudden, the streaming on Netflix was not so hot. I wasn’t alone in seeing more buffering and the reason why, I suspect, taught a lot of us about how the Internet actually functions. But it was actually the surprise I felt, when I saw that buffering icon, that made me realize how dependable the site usually is. It wasn’t always that way. In the beginning, streaming was just an added benefit to our DVD mail service. As time passed, the DVDs sat unopened as we streamed more often. Then Netflix did some pricing acrobatics, landed on its feet and by that time, something was happening that I somehow just took for granted: I could watch, wherever on whatever I wanted, with few glitches.
For instance, I watched some part the entire Breaking Bad series on my laptop, XBox, tablet and phone via Netflix. Now I Chromecast it too. And I could have watched just one episode on any combination of those devices without having to re-find my place. That’s very cool, but what is even cooler is that Netflix doesn’t confuse me as a user. I know the rules — Netflix makes it clear that not everything will stream forever, but it’s still much better than relying on most alternatives.
Over time, I have also paid for HBO (for the Go), Hulu and Amazon Prime. They have all come and gone, because there’s a weight to those services. What I mean is that it’s not as simple as pay this, get that. I have to subscribe through cable or satellite for Go, the rules seem to change often for what can be shown when for Hulu, I’m supposed to find other value-added features to make Prime seem worth it. Netflix feels lighter. This is what you get: Take or leave it.
Source: Asia One
Source: TV Tonight
Source: MyFox 8 WGHO
Source: Just Jared
Source: The Huffington Post: UK Edition
Source: The A.V. Club
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