We’ve heard all our American friends talking about how great Netflix is for them. We’re read the headlines that it’s responsible for 30% of their bandwidth. And we were excited when we heard they were coming to the UK and Ireland.
In Ireland, we just have shite delivery of TV and movie content. No one rents movies any more. We spend enough time commuting to work and don’t want to pay extortionate amounts for DVD rentals. Online services are limited to iTunes or Zune. Despite the presence of hundreds of TV channels, people have gotten tired of the poor delivery of TV shows from America. For example, Irish TV station Network 2 is where they are typically shown …. when there isn’t some God-awful Man United or Arsenal or Champions League game on. And RTE1 is celebrating their 50th anniversary by filling their hours with repeats of shows made in the 1960s and 1970s. Heck, the funniest show on TV is The Big Bang Theory and they used to show that at 2am in the morning. And anything they do show is years old …. they’re only about 18 months behind on CSI … which they show when there’s no football on a Tuesday night (rare enough).
So it should come as no surprise that just about anyone who has a fixed broadband connection has disks full of “online backups”. That way people can watch all the good shows within a few hours of them being on in America. Yup, the producers earn zippo from this but who’s to blame? If there’s demand but there’s no distribution then people will find a way. Certain music may have been banned in the USSR but the kids still found a way. And the Internet makes it oh so easy (SOPA won’t have a hope BTW).
So along comes Netflix. In the USA you get unlimited content for $8/month. My big fear was of a currecny rip-off. I expected €15 or €20 rates in Ireland. They launched yesterday and the price was a mere €7/month. That works out less than the annual compulsory TV license to pay for the awful state owned broadcaster (RTE). If anything could squash movie and TV piracy then this should be it.
So it appears that half the nation signed up for the 30 day free trial with unlimited access to the Netflix Ireland catalogue. And boy were we disappointed. There might be a dozen movies from 2011. On the TV side, they only have seasons 1 & 2 of Dexter (USA) and season 1 of Outnumbered (UK).
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was interviewed on Newstalk 106 (radio) this morning at 08:52. I listened to a recording online. People texted in to criticise the service. The content was shite. You’re tricked into Facebook integration to share information about your viewing habits – you have to go into Netflix account settings to disable that.
Long story short: people in Ireland (and the UK) will not pay €6.99/month for an archive of Corey Feldman movies. They want current content. If satellite, cable, broadcast, and online services won’t do it, then they’ll continue to use Bittorrent. I suspect a lot of people will be cancelling their Netflix accounts when their free trials expire. That’s my plan unless the content improves drastically in the next 4 weeks.