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One of Netflix' strengths is its back catalog of classic movies and TV shows. It is always fun to run into great films from the past when browsing through its collection, and I keep a number of classics in my instant queue, just in case I run out of other entertainment options on a quiet night. But there is a catch with the Netflix instant queue—there is no guarantee that titles added to it will be available in the future, because the streaming selection changes over time. 

 



As the "watch instantly" collection changes over time, some titles become unavailable

 

May 1, 2013 is a particularly significant day for subscribers to Netflix' streaming service, because of the sheer scope of the churn in the company's catalog. Almost 1800 titles are being withdrawn. Some of the titles that will no longer be on Netflix include 15 seasons of South Park and a number of classic James Bond movies, as well as classics from the Warner Bros. catalog.  According to Slate , part of the reason for the purge is Warner Bros. new streaming service, Archive Instant.

 

Archive Instant is a $10 per month streaming service that promises access to rare and hard to find movies from the Warner Bros. archives. The service launched earlier this month and features hundreds of titles. However, many of those titles are already available via Netflix streaming. Check out Vince Simoneau's somewhat skeptical piece on the subject here .

 
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"Although the idea is good, there are simply too many negatives with this solution. Limited content is perhaps the biggest issue. Many OTT services are chasing the same licensing agreements; even Netflix doesn't appeal to everyone due to the lack of certain material." - Vince Simoneau, AVS Newsbreaker
 

Upon further examination, there appear to be several reasons why so many titles are scheduled to be withdrawn from the Netflix catalog this month, and Netflix is quick to mention that it is also adding 500 new titles to the catalog of streaming titles. In a statement, Netflix defended its action, mentioning that many of the titles being withdrawn were no longer popular viewing options. 

 
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"The vast majority of the titles that expire on Wednesday are older features that were aggregated by Epix. We recently added many great, more recent titles such as ParaNorman (Universal), Hunger Games (Epix), Safe (Epix) and Bachelorette (Weinstein). Tomorrow we will also add MI:2, among many other titles." - Netflix
 

Some of the movies that came off the instant queue were expected to expire, such as the James Bond classics. On the other hand, the loss of 15 seasons worth of South Park episodes accounts for more than 10% of the titles that are no longer available.

 
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"According to InstantWatcher, a site that catalogs the comings and goings of Netflix's streaming catalog, the service will be saying farewell to 1,794 different titles in May. That number includes 15 seasons of South Park, old horror movies like Audrey Rose, and James Bond classics like Dr. No and Goldfinger. According to Slate, the drop comes because several licensing deals Netflix has in place with studios like MGM, Warner Bros., and Universal are expiring." - The Verge
 

Perhaps Netflix saw this day coming, and that was part of the reason behind its foray into original programming. Is exclusive access to a few hundred classic movies and TV shows enough to justify another $10 per month bill? And if the market fragments in that manner, is there any end in sight? Is the loss of so much content going to impact Netflix' recent growth, or is that now driven by original programs?
 

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This is the #1 thing about streaming that could doom it: Fragmentation. The studios starting their own streaming companies, or making exclusive deals to certain companies could cause a big change in streaming. Those film companies are now seeing movies paying off down the road and they will not stop at squeezing every dime out of those movies. Paying Netflix $8 a month is one thing. But when you get to paying Netflix, then Amazon $79/year, then Warner $10/month, then Paramount $7/per month, and Disney $12/per month... I think that will turn people off.
 

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I've noticed that the number of movies on Netflix has been increasing for some time. But the quality of those movies seems to have been decreasing at an even faster rate. Most of the new additions these days seem to be low-budget foreign movies or horror movies (or foreign horror movies). I suspect that Netflix is not long for this world, at least for me, as there is less I want to watch among more choices. They seem to be scraping the bottom of the barrel in pursuit of numbers rather than quality.
 

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Originally Posted by IfixitBIG  /t/1470753/classic-movie-buffs-lose-access-to-hundreds-of-netflix-titles#post_23265192


This is the #1 thing about streaming that could doom it: Fragmentation. The studios starting their own streaming companies, or making exclusive deals to certain companies could cause a big change in streaming. Those film companies are now seeing movies paying off down the road and they will not stop at squeezing every dime out of those movies. Paying Netflix $8 a month is one thing. But when you get to paying Netflix, then Amazon $79/year, then Warner $10/month, then Paramount $7/per month, and Disney $12/per month... I think that will turn people off.

Yup. Agreed. If streaming falls, it is due to movie retractions like this one that will kill the industry.


This is a sad day. Although I already enjoyed Mark's Streaming service comparison, I feel I will need to review them more in detail and really start looking at my options. Netflix is still the strongest out of all the streaming services for movies anyways (in my opinion) only because of the huge title base they have acquired over the years.


Netflix will need to review their contracts and make sure they sign longer agreements with the studios in order to keep subscribers and not scare them off with announcements such as this one.
 

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Losing a bunch of titles really does stink. But license churn is a fact of life, even for cable channels. BUT, the James Bond content was only available in April in the first place. Mentioning losing those titles is more than a bit unfair. Losing South Park is bad, but as far as know, every episode is still available from their website (southparkstudios.com). With more and more companies taking streaming services seriously now, you'll be seeing more of this fragmentation in the years to come.
 

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This is exactly why we still need physical media. Too often, I've started watching a series or went to watch a movie I wanted to see and found it's suddenly unvailable. It's especially annoying when you're partway through a season of a show and it goes "poof" before you can finish.


I simply refuse to be at the mercy of the whims of streaming rights.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by NetworkTV  /t/1470753/netflix-to-nix-nearly-1800-titles#post_23266823


This is exactly why we still need physical media. Too often, I've started watching a series or went to watch a movie I wanted to see and found it's suddenly unvailable. It's especially annoying when you're partway through a season of a show and it goes "poof" before you can finish.


I simply refuse to be at the mercy of the whims of streaming rights.

I totally agree with you on this. My family and I probably spend $200 on dvd/bd purchases on Amazon during their week-long "Black Friday" sales, and why I have a dvd recorder connected to my Dish receiver.


EDIT: Amazon lost over 1000 titles today also.
 

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Originally Posted by saprano  /t/1470753/netflix-to-nix-nearly-1800-titles#post_23265362


Holy crap. Time to cancel netflix.

I'm a little over a year ahead of you, since Starz! cancelled their coverage with Netflix. Since then, I've not considered re-subscribing to Netflix, nor subscribing to any other media streaming service.
 

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I've said this before and will say it again, this is the danger of getting rid of physical media. It's also why it's probably important to buy Blu-ray because it might represent the last, best quality of many movies we'll ever see again. Many titles will never see 4k and the streamed and downloaded 1080p versions will be of less quality and may disappear one day.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidHir  /t/1470753/netflix-to-nix-nearly-1800-titles#post_23267108


I've said this before and will say it again, this is the danger of getting rid of physical media. It's also why it's probably important to buy Blu-ray because it might represent the last, best quality of many movies we'll ever see again.

+1


Seriously, I'd be ashamed living solely off of streamed media. I appreciate the sense of ownership and quality of physical media.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by L33TX43RT  /t/1470753/netflix-to-nix-nearly-1800-titles#post_23267132



Seriously, I'd be ashamed living solely off of streamed media. I appreciate the sense of ownership and quality of physical media.

I did not equate film viewing similarly to the way I like to hear music (as an audiophile) until the past year or so. The only way to get close to what the flim crew intended in the comfort of a family room is to watch blu-ray (physical media) on a top notch panel with an adequate AV processor (for the lossless soundtrack).


I will continue to subscribe to Netflix (physical discs only). Streaming is not ready for primetime, in my view. I imagine that there will come a time when the bandwidth will be there to enable streaming of 1080P blu-ray quality along with the lossless (uncompressed) soundtrack. As for rare content, who cares?! Just buy the blu-ray. Only the most serious, disciplined film buffs could possible find anything to complain about these days.
 

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I don't even use Netflix for my home theater - it is strictly used for my tv in the family room. Reason? The picture quality in general sucks. I really wanted to like it for my home theater. The problem is that I would find a movie that I like and, oops, it's not in HD. Or, it's in HD, but not 5.1, or it's in both but oops, it's a really crappy movie. I just got fed up with trying to weed through the crap, of which there is lots. Honestly, Why T2 is in HD and not 5.1 is absolutely beyond me. /rant.


I really do miss being able to rent high quality blu-rays for $6.00 instead of paying the same amount for the crap that these online services churn out. Apparently my rant wasn't over. Sorry.
 

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I've had minor rants on this in other topics here on AVS previously and the withdrawal of streaming licenses is the #1 reason why physical media will persist. I've had the virtual rug pulled out from under me more than a few times now by Netflix and I'm getting to that point where the available selection (quantity always growing, but overall quality always decreasing) isn't enough to justify the continued frustrations with the service. I know it's very much "first world problems" but Netflix seems to have less and less going for it these days. I'd certainly never rely on it to host a movie watching party.


Viva Blu-ray!
 
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I hope they don't delete these from us poor Canadians. I think that would take up about 70% of the titles they offer here!
 
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