Earlier in the year, I cancelled my Netflix subscription as a temporary measure because, you know, cost saving, and the sheer volume of streaming TV out there to watch. However, I’ve saved up enough things to need to watch on there to make it worth a month of streaming, then I imagine there’ll be another pause to be ended just in time for the next adventures in the Netflix Christmas Universe.
Having re-subscribed, it seems like the perfect time to kick off a new series that I am calling ‘Christine Reviews the Streaming Services.’ Catchy, right? Let’s dive right in!
Netflix has been around in a streaming capacity since 2007, one of the OG, and I vividly recall when they started their original programming and how much fanfare those individual shows got. Orange is the New Black, that political one that we don’t talk about anymore, the one with the guy from the E Street Band…
Since then, they’ve grown in content and expanded their userbase and even have become an everyday euphemism for spending time with your significant other. They’re one step away from being the brand-turned-into-a-generic verb for streaming TV.
And yet, all you hear about these days is how they’re not growing and, in fact, are losing subscribers in some areas (sorry about that, I’m part of the problem there…) Despite my on-again, off-again relationship with the streamer, I actually think they’re one of the best out there and there is a LOT of content to be delved into.
If you were tasked with naming some of the biggest non-franchise shows in recent years, a good proportion of them will have come from Netflix: Bridgerton, Squid Game, Stranger Things and, more recently, Heartstopper. They’ve also had a knack for taking over some of the more popular titles and making them their own: Black Mirror, The Good Place, Arrested Development, Gilmore Girls.
They make TV and films of their own, they partner with others to bring TV and films to you. They have a good mix of old and new, and a great selection of genres and languages covered. Not everything is on there, but you should be able to find something to watch to suit your mood.
I also like that Netflix has been experimenting in interactive content. They have introduced games recently, a quiz style TV show that you interact with to answer the questions, and choose-your-own-adventure style shows, including a high profile partnership with Black Mirror. I didn’t necessarily enjoy that content but I do like that they’re trying new things.
The Netflix logo and the bah-dum intro to the app and their own content has become a cultural phenomenon in its own right. The iOS app is easy to use and navigation straight forward. The only downside to Netflix’s setup, for me, is the fact it doesn’t integrate with Apple’s TV app, the way other services do. It means searching doesn’t include Netflix results, and you can’t see what you’re in the middle of watching in the Up Next section of the TV app.
But I feel like if that’s my only complaint, Netflix has got a pretty good thing going. They’ve got an Apple TV app, they do picture in picture, it plays well, the spacebar pauses playback, and one of the recent innovations that has changed my life (and few other players do this) is to have a variable speed playback option. It ranges from 0.5x to 1.5x and whilst it doesn’t work to speed everything up, I love to have the option.
The second downside to Netflix is the price. It’s one of the more expensive streaming services out there: £10.99 per month for the standard option, with a cheaper version that excludes HD, or a more expensive tariff for more screens and Ultra HD. There’s no opportunity to pay annually for a discount, but they do take a variety of payment types including gift cards or sometimes bundled into your phone contract, and you can start and stop at will (I can personally attest to that).
Given the amount of content available, and assuming you have time to watch it, it’s value for money, but there’s no denying it’s a significant outlay on a monthly basis.
Netflix is a high price streamer but packs in the content and innovation to try and make it worth your while. Thev’ve been lucky and/or smart to have been at the centre of many cultural hot topics which mean if you don’t want FOMO, you almost have to stay subscribed. But, whether that can continue in a world of shrinking budgets and much more competition remains to be seen.
I personally think my relationship with Netflix for the foreseeable will be stop/start, but I do know that there’s plenty of content on there that I want to keep coming back for. And ultimately, that’s the key to streaming success.