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Netflix & the slow death of the classic film (Newsweek)


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http://www.newsweek.com/2017/09/22/netflix-streaming-movies-classics-664512.html

Netflix’s selection of classic cinema is abominable — and it seems to shrink more every year or so. As of this month, the streaming platform offers just 43 movies made before 1970, and fewer than 25 from the pre-1950 era (several of which are World War II documentaries). It’s the sort of classics selection you’d expect to find in a decrepit video store in 1993, not on a leading entertainment platform that serves some 100 million global subscribers. Netflix’s DVD subscribers enjoy a much wider selection (four million customers still opt to receive discs in the mail), but as the company shifts its focus to streaming and original content, cinephiles fear the cinematic canon is being left behind.

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 in recent years, DVDs have started going the way of the floppy disk, and Netflix, the golden child of the streaming revolution, has started catering less to the film nerd and more to the average bored consumer. By 2013 or 2014, Fiore had canceled her subscription after noticing the classics selection had dropped off. She subscribes to other streaming services today, like Fandor and Warner Archive Instant, and holds tight to her large DVD collection.

Film professors and historians are particularly troubled by the situation.

“It was very distressing when Netflix began to phase out their huge inventory of movies available on DVD with the goal of shifting viewers over to the streaming model,” says Stephen Prince, a cinema studies professor at Virginia Tech. “Now we see the danger inherent in this change—an emphasis on mainstream, contemporary movies has replaced what had been a broad archive of world cinema… Convenience biases viewers toward mainstream fare and makes films of the past or from other cultures less visible.”

Gone are chains like Blockbuster or the quirky video rental stores that turned Quentin Tarantino into a film fanatic. “It’s getting progressively harder to connect with non-contemporary film cultures outside hubs like L.A., where multiple venues offer gems for all ages,” says Jan Olsson, the Swedish film scholar and author (most recently) of Hitchcock à la Carte. Olsson says access to film archives are essential in the streaming era. (The screenings in his classes at Stockholm University, for instance, are in 35 mm format.) “For educators outside schools close to film archives, this is a big problem. As DVDs are on the verge of being phased out, streams will be the key resource.”

Prince has seen the shift away from classic cinema reflected in the classroom. “My students are heavily biased toward what’s new and what can be streamed on portable devices,” Prince says. “What isn't available to stream essentially doesn't exist. I've had students ask if it is okay to watch Vertigo on Youtube.” (No.) Last year Prince taught a course on horror movies, during which he showed The Shining projected on a large screen. “One student who knew the film and had watched it on a laptop was astonished at how powerful it was when seen big.”
 

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Until I read your post I couldn't figure out what was going on with the DVD side of Netflix. I have 20 DVDs on my "active" queue and more than 100 on my "saved" queue, most of the latter are classics and foreign films and have an "Unknown" release date.

 

I'm talking all Lina Wertmuller films, and Bunuel and de Sica--they've been in my saved queue for years and now I know why they're not being sent out.

 

But why pretend they're available if they're not. That really upsets me. Netflix lets you put the titles in your queue but apparently doesn't ever intend to let you see them.

 

thanks for the post

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I couldn't agree more, and I had much the same opinion when Netflix first start offering streaming. Amazon, too, seems to be placing more and more emphasis on newer movies, or even more so, their own proprietary series offerings, such as The Man in the High Castle. The less people are exposed to classic, foreign, or underground films, the less they will seek them out, so it becomes a self-perpetuating problem. I canceled my DVD-thru-mail subscription with Netflix not long after streaming was introduced and I noticed that the delivery times on physical discs almost immediately got longer, and that they stopped replacing older titles when they went defective, opting to focus on streaming content instead.

 

This is why I've kept, and continue to grow, my DVD and Blu Ray collection. There are many streaming services, but they only offer a limited amount per service, and usually for a limited time, and there are picture, sound and streaming quality issues that change from day-to-day and hour-to-hour. I know a lot of people espouse the fact that there is more entertainment available than ever before. But does the quantity matter if the content is something you don't care to watch?

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As long as TCM keeps going, the quality classic films will have a home.  Not everything shown on TCM is considered stellar entertainment, but the variety of options given should be suitable for fans to enjoy.  Watching movies at home, like sporting events, is not the same as actually going to a theater or arena to enjoy the event with other like-minded people.  But, if viewing what you want is relegated to a website rather than a television screen, I'll take what I can get.

 

Many people here have watched various feature length films and short subjects on other platforms, like archive.org or YouTube.  So many titles I've perused are unfamiliar to me.  Sometimes you find a hidden gem that you remember from your youth or younger days.  Other times, you get a real howler that makes you wonder why you wasted your time.  In the end, it's all good (at least, for me).  The computer I had for the last 11 years croaked on me in May.  I got a new machine that's all-in-one....no tower involved and just two or three wires to hook up.  Compared to the first computer I got in 1999 that allowed internet access, my new machine is like a Mini-Cooper rather than a Cadillac, but it can do so many more things than my old computer, so, as the saying goes, I'm as happy as a pig in mud! 

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 But, if viewing what you want is relegated to a website rather than a television screen, I'll take what I can get.

 

Yes, I'm not against streaming movies. I have been streaming quite a few lately from YouTube, archive.org, FilmStruck, and Amazon Prime. But I don't like the one method (physical media) being disregarded for the other. I would have stayed with Netflix if they hadn't allowed their physical discs to dwindle down, and if they had maintained a large base of classic, foreign and underground films. But the leaders in the streaming services are all opting for new content, and even more toward their own, self-produced series and films. And everything that I've read has said that trend is only likely to increase.

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http://www.newsweek.com/2017/09/22/netflix-streaming-movies-classics-664512.html

Netflix’s selection of classic cinema is abominable — and it seems to shrink more every year or so. As of this month, the streaming platform offers just 43 movies made before 1970, and fewer than 25 from the pre-1950 era (several of which are World War II documentaries). It’s the sort of classics selection you’d expect to find in a decrepit video store in 1993, not on a leading entertainment platform that serves some 100 million global subscribers. Netflix’s DVD subscribers enjoy a much wider selection (four million customers still opt to receive discs in the mail), but as the company shifts its focus to streaming and original content, cinephiles fear the cinematic canon is being left behind.

 

The cinematic content IS being left behind:  The few "classics" that show up on streaming are those with dubious ownership or PD status that any service can show for free, and already are, on Amazon Prime, Vudu Movies on Us and PlutoTV.  The same ones that, back in disk days, you used to find in bulk boxsets at K-Mart.

As for recognizable movies, there seems to be a scrabbling among a common animal-watering-hole pool for the exact same movie titles between the Big Four (mostly old discarded MGM--I can, suspiciously, watch A Bridge Too Far and All Dogs Go to Heaven 1 & 2 on all four systems in the same month), as it seems to be all the water that's left in the drought to keep the animals from dying out.

 

And why aren't they showing movies?  Because studios, still trying to whisper-campaign hypnotize the public that "EVERYONE KNOWS disks are dying!" in the hopes it'll sell digital-download for them, wonder why it isn't selling.  And being execs, are still technologically stuck in 2010, think that Netflix still shows actual movies, and that it must be The Enemy that explains why they're not selling any.

So they starve the services of all their well-known catalogue, except for throwing them one little care-package of Jaws, Superman or Jurassic Park sequels every month, so we'll all remember that studios are always more important than movies.

 

It's become the vicious spiral:
- Netflix creates original movies to fill in the void by studio starvation

- Reed Hastings becomes Emmy-happy, thinks Netflix is The New TV Network, and creates more series, not pursuing more old licenses,

- The DVD service is phased out, since the postage and acquisition costs only take away from more new streaming productions,

- More movies disappear from the service, etc., etc..

 

Oh, and if there are still some people who wonder what happened to the DVD service, and what the heck that 'Qwikster" thing was that everyone threw a tantrum about before Hastings pulled it, it's too long to go into--Already blogged about it last year:

http://movieactivist.blogspot.com/2016/10/october-8-2016-something-missing-at.html

 

Prince has seen the shift away from classic cinema reflected in the classroom. “My students are heavily biased toward what’s new and what can be streamed on portable devices,” Prince says. “What isn't available to stream essentially doesn't exist. I've had students ask if it is okay to watch Vertigo on Youtube.” (No.) 

 

Especially since YouTube has been fighting their image of "copyright piracy", as the "free" place to watch anything--

And the new loophole is that, since a re-edit or fan mash-up is considered "original user content", licensed movies or TV shows are often allowed to be posted only if they are user-ALTERED in some way that makes them less appealing to watch than going out to watch the real disk:  Time or pitch-sped up, zoomed-in out of original frame, squashed into a tiny quarter-screen corner of a large homemade border, and/or darkened with a brightness-dim/out-of-focus filter, turning "Vertigo" into "Glaucoma".

Here's what said student would watch, if he could find it.  (Presumably if he went lazily looking for the "free" version on YT, and not the one that Universal was selling, on YT, for $2.99):

 

Some watch movies on YouTube (or, ahem, archive.org) because they literally don't know where else to find them, but for a movie that's already readily available on a disk at the public or college library, no one could be that desperate.

 

marcar

Until I read your post I couldn't figure out what was going on with the DVD side of Netflix. I have 20 DVDs on my "active" queue and more than 100 on my "saved" queue, most of the latter are classics and foreign films and have an "Unknown" release date.

I'm talking all Lina Wertmuller films, and Bunuel and de Sica--they've been in my saved queue for years and now I know why they're not being sent out.

Back in the old days, before the company went national in '01, the little niche of customers knew that "Unknown" or "Unavailable"--which happened often, with one little office in Santa Clara, CA now having to take on the sudden explosion of DVD in '99-'00--meant one thing only:  NO DISK.  Go ahead and take them off, they ain't coming back.

 

And for reasons already detailed, very few disks that the DVD service used to own are EVER coming back.  Reed is by no means letting the door hit their butt on the way out.

That's not a comment on DVD-vs.-streaming--quite the opposite--it's just pointing out how a generation of DVD fans have now been betrayed by a Napoleonic looney who's now helping destroy the TV industry as well.  

It comes as a sad shock to all of us who were there at the beginning, but after twenty years, we're back to being On Our Own Again, as Knights-Templar guarding the movies on our shelves, and spreading the voice-in-the-wilderness to the pagans.

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Disney's copyright-lengthening lobbying doesn't help either. Before 1976, things were under copyright for 28 years, and could be renewed for another 47. If that were still the case, then the films of 1942 would be entering the public domain this year.

 

But the blankety-blanks at Disney are worried that people are going to make hardcore Mickey-on-Donald action or something if Steamboat Willie ever goes out of copyright. Never mind that trademark would be perfectly accurate to protect popular characters like them.

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Just an example of some conglomerate trying to control the market.  And they succeed mainly to  far too many people who allow, and probably ALWAYS allowed themselves to be led by the nose by them.  All due to a "because I can" attitude and a desire to avoid appearing to be "out of it".  I mean, really....

 

How thrilling CAN it be to watch a classic like BEN HUR in letterbox on a smartphone?

 

No WONDER they're phasing some of those classics out.

 

 

Sepiatone

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I do not use any streaming service nor do I patronize Amazon.  Do not watch movies or TV on anything other than a real TV.  Don't use facebook either.  So my input is sort of limited.

I do find it ironic that Newsweek is no longer a print magazine and they are presaging the demise of another media form.

 

As to DVD's, they are not dead yet and neither are CD's.  I base this on the number of catalogs I receive each month with hundreds, if not thousands, of DVD's listed.  New ones all the time.  Got four in today's mail alone.  Most of these have sections of Classic Films.

 

Heck, even vinyl LP's are making a comeback.

 

I think Blockbuster and similar stores disappeared not only because of streaming services, but also because cable companies began offering movies On Demand.  Not to mention the lowering of DVD prices.  Today's $29.95 DVD will be $19.95 in six months and maybe $9.95 in a year or two.

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I do not use any streaming service nor do I patronize Amazon.  Do not watch movies or TV on anything other than a real TV.  Don't use facebook either.  So my input is sort of limited.

I do find it ironic that Newsweek is no longer a print magazine and they are presaging the demise of another media form.

 

As to DVD's, they are not dead yet and neither are CD's.  I base this on the number of catalogs I receive each month with hundreds, if not thousands, of DVD's listed.  New ones all the time.  Got four in today's mail alone.  Most of these have sections of Classic Films.

 

Heck, even vinyl LP's are making a comeback.

 

Vinyl only made a niche "comeback" with music buffs and hipsters because of nostalgia and bucking the system, but it hasn't sold the mainstream--

A new technology only takes over when it solves a problem, and if you play one, most people still notice the problems vinyl LP had in the 70's--Not the least of which is the "Warping in the sun" problem that made us love CD's in the 80's.  My sister refuses to give up her childhood LP collection and still has a turntable (even though I keep telling her that the Windjammer soundtrack is now on iTunes), and when she dug out one of her records for the kids while I was there, I thought "What's that SOUND??"  It was a scratchy needle, something I literally hadn't heard in thirty years.

Say that to an LP defender, and they defend, "Yeah, that was what was so great, that made the recording real!"  Er, no thanks.  That's like a VHS loyalist saying "It's not a real movie unless you rewind!"

 

CD's are struggling outside of the collector market because

A) most people would rather buy one new hit single, and

B )there's just not many places you can play them.  MP3 became more portable, and aside from the "Blast box" fantasy of college students' first apartments, most mainstream-adult stereo systems are now compact little data bars that also play the TV's stereo.  

Newspaper and magazines, like Newsweek, are better on a tablet reader, because we're more paper-conscious than we were thirty years ago, and don't like cluttering up old news-obsolete issues in our living rooms from two months ago like a dentist's office.  (And btw:  You still get paper catalogues by mail??)

But try to apply the "Look what happened to CD's and magazines!" format to movies, and it simply doesn't work:  We do sit down in one place to watch movies, we buy a whole movie, not one scene, and we WANT them to be in hard format on a big shelf in our living room, so we can have the sentimental security of knowing they're there every day.

 

The market will gravitate to what the public wants, and every day, it's now finding a reason why they didn't really "want" digital and streaming after all.  

All we have to do is keep from throwing the baby out with the bathwater, before it can grow up and go to college.

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Vinyl only made a niche "comeback" with music buffs and hipsters because of nostalgia and bucking the system, but it hasn't sold the mainstream--

A new technology only takes over when it solves a problem, and if you play one, most people still notice the problems vinyl LP had in the 70's--Not the least of which is the "Warping in the sun" problem that made us love CD's in the 80's.  My sister refuses to give up her childhood LP collection and still has a turntable (even though I keep telling her that the Windjammer soundtrack is now on iTunes), and when she dug out one of her records for the kids while I was there, I thought "What's that SOUND??"  It was a scratchy needle, something I literally hadn't heard in thirty years.

Say that to an LP defender, and they defend, "Yeah, that was what was so great, that made the recording real!"  Er, no thanks.  That's like a VHS loyalist saying "It's not a real movie unless you rewind!"

 

CD's are struggling outside of the collector market because

A) most people would rather buy one new hit single, and

B )there's just not many places you can play them.  MP3 became more portable, and aside from the "Blast box" fantasy of college students' first apartments, most mainstream-adult stereo systems are now compact little data bars that also play the TV's stereo.  

Newspaper and magazines, like Newsweek, are better on a tablet reader, because we're more paper-conscious than we were thirty years ago, and don't like cluttering up old news-obsolete issues in our living rooms from two months ago like a dentist's office.  (And btw:  You still get paper catalogues by mail??)

But try to apply the "Look what happened to CD's and magazines!" format to movies, and it simply doesn't work:  We do sit down in one place to watch movies, we buy a whole movie, not one scene, and we WANT them to be in hard format on a big shelf in our living room, so we can have the sentimental security of knowing they're there every day.

 

The market will gravitate to what the public wants, and every day, it's now finding a reason why they didn't really "want" digital and streaming after all.  

All we have to do is keep from throwing the baby out with the bathwater, before it can grow up and go to college.

There are lots of "places" you can play CD's.  CD players are still sold in most, if not all, stores that sell music playing equipment. My computer plays CD's.  They are still available on all cars that I know of.  I have 2010, 2011 and 2014 vehicles and they all have CD players with one having a 6 disc CD changer.  Have researched several 2017/2018 vehicles and they all have CD players.

And yes, there are lots of companies that still send out paper catalogs.  All you have to do is ask them.

No one "reads" on tablets, laptops, etc. because they are more "paper-conscious" in that they are trying to save the forests, etc.  They do it because it is more convenient for them or "techy" maybe.  As for "cluttering up," recycle.  Not to mention that electronic devices use up energy, the bulk of which comes from coal and petroleum and petroleum is the product from which the devices are made.  And within a few years, most end up in landfills and/or the oceans. 

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I think Blockbuster and similar stores disappeared not only because of streaming services, but also because cable companies began offering movies On Demand.  Not to mention the lowering of DVD prices.  Today's $29.95 DVD will be $19.95 in six months and maybe $9.95 in a year or two.

 

Oh, no, friend, We were there:  Once you had disk-Netflix by mail, the hunting instinct had vanished...You would walk into a Blockbuster, and the urge to grab any Friday-night rental was just not in your bloodstream anymore.    

And if we're talking full Disk-by-Mail saturation, that had taken hold from '01-'03, a good seven years before Instant Netflix first appeared on Roku and Playstation 2 in 2010.  Big Blue was crushed by the Red Envelope.

Used to be, you would go into a BB searching for that big theater hit you missed, wonder about a few runner-up B-titles nobody had taken, look around for some old war or sci-fi movie on the cluttered, unorganized shelves...And now, if you did find a surprise good one, you'd think "I'll have to put this on my queue when I get home."

And why?  Because after you could just drop a Netflix return in your front-porch mailbox, no movie was worth taking out of Blockbuster if you had to GO BACK to return it.  That's probably why Redbox disk rental struggled on for a few more years in places where you went every day anyway, like groceries and Wal-marts, and was a faceless service that didn't have overhead or closing hours you rushed to return your disk by.

(And if you did have mail-Netflix, Cable-on-Demand was a joke:  "Now you can FF and rewind!"  Doooo tell.)

 

When Instant Netflix first appeared, they didn't digitize their own movies, they were just the set-top-box clearinghouse for every OTHER company still trying to sell movies on desktop--That's why they had so much of PBS, HBO and BBCAmerica's shows for streaming.

Literally half of their initial '10-'11 catalog for mainstream US studio movies (including new current Disney movies) was simulcasting the streams from StarzPlay, the cable channel's streaming service...Fans often complained "Netflix's movies look like crap!" because most of Netflix's other movies/TV were now in 720p HD, while StarzPlay's movies still used a very low-quality SD encoding for their desktop service, and on a bigscreen HDTV, you could usually tell which of the two providers you'd gotten.

 

And, of course, when StarzPlay broke up with Netflix, took their movies and went home, 200 movies disappeared off the catalog on March 15, '11, and wailing cries of "Netflix-pocalypse!" were heard all over the trendy mainstream-adult press.

Because they didn't know the difference, you see, they'd originally jumped in with both feet, and thought All the Movies Would Be There Forever, as long as Netflix was in business.

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Vinyl only made a niche "comeback" with music buffs and hipsters because of nostalgia and bucking the system, but it hasn't sold the mainstream--

A new technology only takes over when it solves a problem, and if you play one, most people still notice the problems vinyl LP had in the 70's--Not the least of which is the "Warping in the sun" problem that made us love CD's in the 80's.  My sister refuses to give up her childhood LP collection and still has a turntable (even though I keep telling her that the Windjammer soundtrack is now on iTunes), and when she dug out one of her records for the kids while I was there, I thought "What's that SOUND??"  It was a scratchy needle, something I literally hadn't heard in thirty years.

Say that to an LP defender, and they defend, "Yeah, that was what was so great, that made the recording real!"  Er, no thanks.  That's like a VHS loyalist saying "It's not a real movie unless you rewind!"

 

CD's are struggling outside of the collector market because

A) most people would rather buy one new hit single, and

B )there's just not many places you can play them.  MP3 became more portable, and aside from the "Blast box" fantasy of college students' first apartments, most mainstream-adult stereo systems are now compact little data bars that also play the TV's stereo.  

Newspaper and magazines, like Newsweek, are better on a tablet reader, because we're more paper-conscious than we were thirty years ago, and don't like cluttering up old news-obsolete issues in our living rooms from two months ago like a dentist's office.  (And btw:  You still get paper catalogues by mail??)

But try to apply the "Look what happened to CD's and magazines!" format to movies, and it simply doesn't work:  We do sit down in one place to watch movies, we buy a whole movie, not one scene, and we WANT them to be in hard format on a big shelf in our living room, so we can have the sentimental security of knowing they're there every day.

 

The market will gravitate to what the public wants, and every day, it's now finding a reason why they didn't really "want" digital and streaming after all.  

All we have to do is keep from throwing the baby out with the bathwater, before it can grow up and go to college.

You're kind of generalizing here, and in a personal way. 

In a reply to your "Most peope would rather buy one new hit single" statement flies in the face of what it was that phased out the 45rpm single in the first place.  The change from AM to FM becoming the preferred music outlet combined with FM formats moving from label designated "singles" to playing various other tracks from released LPs is what turned people into preferring to buy LPs rather than singles when it was discovered there were tracks on the LPs they liked better  than the track the label hoped would be the big "hit".  And remember...in the '70's stations resorted to calling themselves AOR( album oriented rock) stations.

 

And there's plenty of places to play CDs.  I have a CD player in every room of my house, save the bathroom, and one in my car.  I also still have many old vinyl LPs, but will admit I prefer the less bothersome CD format.  Less bothersome due to not having to put up with the scratches that affect vinyl LPs sound, and being able to eleiminate the need for special ion erasing devices and special cloths and fluids to care for them.  But, expecting those pesky ambient noises from my old vinyl, it doesn't bother me when I occasionally listen to them.

 

And those "data bar" sound systems you refer to aren't, in my opinion, very good at reproducing  any good SOUND.  Compared to the home system I currently use, and also have my TV running through. 

 

And I'm not sure just WHO the "we" are that you refer to.   Sure, at night when gathered with the family, or even by one's self, watching TV in one place, on monitors much larger than a tablet or phone, but the latter two are an increasing distraction at many family functions I've been to in recent months.  While many are gathered in one room having actual conversations and/or watching a movie or special presentation, there's often a certain number in another room staring zombie-like into a hand-held toy watching some 90% CGI robot movie or vampire flick.

 

And I get several paper "hard copy" catalogs at my house, and even get a local newspaper delivered to my front door.  Granted, the Free Press has pared down home delivery to three days a week and I have to resort to their eEdition if I wish to keep up with certain theings, but I much prefer reading the actual PAPER newspaper.  For one, if I drop IT, I don't have to worry if it'll still work.  And it doesn't require a battery that either needs to be charged or might catch fire. And if I'm in a restaraunt for example, I can leave it on my table if I leave to use the head and it'll have a better chance of still being there when I return. 

 

And I can enjoy ordering items from those paper catalogs over the phone, and they send a statement through the postal system that I can  "snail mail" a payment to them without the worry of my banking information being out there in cyber space like I would have if ordering and paying for them online.

 

 

Sepiatone

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http://www.newsweek.com/2017/09/22/netflix-streaming-movies-classics-664512.html

 

Netflix’s selection of classic cinema is abominable 

 

 

This reminds me of an incident I had at the local McDonalds. This customer was at the counter holding up the line complaining , asking why McD's doesn't serve rice. I know , it sounds strange but, there he was. They had to open up a second cashier just to get the line moving. But frankly, I don't go to McD's for rice and don't think they should ever sell it. That's not who they are or what they do. 

 

People like this article want this "all in one" concept to exist. One stop shopping. Get everything in one place and moan if they only have 99% of what they want. I like that Netflix has found their identity, what they do best. And also what their customers want, what enhances business. Most I know who have Netflix are actually happy with the small selection of classics. Because they might only watch five or six a year. 

 

Also reminds me of those AT&T people that when you call for any random topic, they suddenly try to force you to bundle all your bills into one clump and give it to them. I would never have all my services in one company. I like going to who does what best. I buy bread at the best bakery, meat at the freshest butcher etc... Anytime they mention convenience, there is always an opportunity cost on the backside that they never mention.

 

I like that Netflix and Amazon have new stuff. Filmstruck and TCM have classic stuff. Let those who understand and appreciate the classics handle them. Treat them like the headliner, not the also ran. Even in a video store, they would be in some dark corner, not ever featured.

 

There are lots of "places" you can play CD's.  CD players are still sold in most, if not all, stores that sell music playing equipment. My computer plays CD's.  They are still available on all cars that I know of.  I have 2010, 2011 and 2014 vehicles and they all have CD players with one having a 6 disc CD changer.  Have researched several 2017/2018 vehicles and they all have CD players.

 

They have CD players but, they are becoming more of an option than standard. If you shop after market car stereos, most don't play any discs. They have aux plugs, play flash drives or bluetooth (wireless). A CD might store 8 songs. My MP3 player stores over 800. And no risk of getting is scratched.  

 

 

And why?  Because after you could just drop a Netflix return in your front-porch mailbox, no movie was worth taking out of Blockbuster if you had to GO BACK to return it.  That's probably why Redbox disk rental struggled on for a few more years in places where you went every day anyway, like groceries and Wal-marts, and was a faceless service that didn't have overhead or closing hours you rushed to return your disk by.

(And if you did have mail-Netflix, Cable-on-Demand was a joke:  "Now you can FF and rewind!"  Doooo tell.)

 

 

I'm the strange person who was an adult the whole time video stores existed. And I might have rented 10 movies total during that whole era. I was never a fan of, not a patron, don't miss it a bit. Its obsolete. Every person I know who did use those stores remembers driving around in a robe in the middle of the night to avoid a late fee. No thanks ! And in recent years I find Blockbuster counted on those late fees for 16% of their profits. No thanks !
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Just an example of some conglomerate trying to control the market.  And they succeed mainly to  far too many people who allow, and probably ALWAYS allowed themselves to be led by the nose by them.  All due to a "because I can" attitude and a desire to avoid appearing to be "out of it".  I mean, really....

 

How thrilling CAN it be to watch a classic like BEN HUR in letterbox on a smartphone?

 

No WONDER they're phasing some of those classics out.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

Here with young people and all around the world, people don't have televisions. My two nephews don't have tv's nor are they trying to get them. Cell phones are their preferred viewing mode. Watch anytime, anywhere. They don't have to sit on the living room couch anymore.

 

Netflix doesn't control anything. They lead the market because they have the cheapest price. And they have content that's not the predictable network tv fair that's the same plots over and over.

 

You ever notice all the streaming services charge anywhere from $10 to $15 a month ? I only pay $8 for netflix. Hard to blame a company for low prices.    Actually, its the conglomerates that are hurt by Netflix ! I know too many young people who get all their viewing pleasure from Netflix, YouTube and a host of other online services. The conglomerates still want people to pay $150+ a month for 300 channels, of which you only will watch 10. They are the ones who want to control.

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As I have said in other threads, I just stick to the primary delivery medium.  It is what has been worked out on a large scale, is in place, and is most likely to deliver.

 

In my case it is using Directv and a DVR.  There is more to my setup than that, but that is all I use to bring TCM in.  In many areas cable TV works fine too, just not in mine.  [Cable TV is more complicated than satellite, so it has more hoops to jump through in order to work.  Satellite has a simpler distribution model, in that it is basically just a hop up to the satellite and then a hop down to you.  No cable plants.]  Plus I didn't like how my cable co programmed their boxes.

 

I agree with being at least suspicious about bundling.  We have three different providers for these things:  satellite TV, cable Internet, and land line phone.  It doesn't necessarily have to be that way, but that mostly has to do with the order which we subscribed to these services. 

 

Land line came first, then cable TV with Internet.  We discontinued the cable TV and replaced it with satellite due to picture issues, but kept the cable Internet because it was fine.  Directv's bundle option for us would have included DSL, and in general cable Internet is a superior technology to DSL.  This has to do with the type of wire used.

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I'm the strange person who was an adult the whole time video stores existed. And I might have rented 10 movies total during that whole era. I was never a fan of, not a patron, don't miss it a bit. Its obsolete. Every person I know who did use those stores remembers driving around in a robe in the middle of the night to avoid a late fee. No thanks ! And in recent years I find Blockbuster counted on those late fees for 16% of their profits. No thanks !

 

I'll raise you to being in college when VHS rentals were still the big thing.  Especially in a city, where there were more storefront mom-and-pop rentals--since all the Blockbusters were out by the strip malls and upscale tourist districts--and independent rentals had a more eclectic selection of rare stuff to discover.  I remember seeking out the most out of the way places (Videosmith was the cream of metro-Boston rental chains) just to see what strange riches they had.

Blockbuster was interested in only one thing, the HIT titles to move in big trendy pushes, and likely because the studios wanted them to.  Blockbuster was the "one" big chain for studios to crunch all their audience data numbers from, so Blockbuster had to deliver the numbers once the new movies hit.  Once VHS and DVD became a thing, studios started depending on it to pay the bills for all the money they'd lost in the theater, and those bills had to be paid as fast as possible--Walk into a BB, and see the front plastered floor to ceiling with ads for "More of the hits you want, faster!"

That's why we have "Pre-order your movie today on digital, while it's still in theaters!" today:  Now that it's online, studios don't have to wait three to six months anymore.

 

But back when Blockbuster was crushing all the little regional and local rentals, it brought up the big philosophical movie debate: 

SHOULD a rental be second-run hit theaters where you rush to catch Pirates 5 two months later if you missed it at the plex, or should it be a library where you can peruse shelves for curious past movies you don't know?

We know whose side Blockbuster was on, and their CEO said so, when the debate hit the press.  But that's one reason mail-Netflix crushed BB, since it was becoming curiosity now to browse old movies, and rent one without obligation with just a click, and not even leave your house.  If you were on a film discussion, and said "rent this", you could even just post a link, since the other person probably had a subscription too, and "Netflixing" something was literally slang for deciding to be curious about a movie or show you'd never seen before.  The Binge-TV era started with DVD boxset rentals years before Internet could ever stream video.

 

Nowadays, digital is being pushed by studios, and studios don't see a reason to care about movies they already made their money back on from TV sales thirty to fifty years ago.  They've got more expensive fish to fry, and we're the bait.

Digital is the new Blockbuster, that wants to harvest cash cows, Blu/DVD culture is still the culture of the curious explorer.

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I think technology has made classic films more accessible..a decent Kodi add-on can 'scrape'nearly a hundred sources, YouTube has public domain offerings, terrarium tv does good searches..I know most of the movies I have on cassette or DVD, I can find and watch with a few clicks..I'm no whiz, but love it when gadgets make it easier

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As I recall the video rental days....

 

First came the players( Betamax then VHS).  Along with video caasetts of movies already for sale.  THEN came little "mom and pop" video rental outlets.  Hundreds of them.

 

THEN came big chain Blockbuster with their memberships and many chains.

 

Of course whenBB first came about,I jioned, but quickly got tired of often not finding a movie I wanted to rent available.    There WAS a place in my city called HOLLYWOOD VIDEO that often had more copies of movies available, but usually the latest releases.  But, unlike the BB I belonged to, they also offered more "classic" titles on tape, then DVD.  And a THREE DAY rental fee that was the same as BB's overnight fee.  They're long gone now too.  The empty building does however, get used seasonally.  Like probably at the beginning of next month, the annual HALLOWEEN store will be moving in for a few weeks, then later on the CHRISTMAS store will take over the space.

 

I kinda miss that place.  Their 3 day rental fee was lower than what my cable server charges for a 3 day OnDemand fee.  And that OnDemand service doesn't have a "one time" option.

 

 

Sepiatone

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One thing that has long puzzled me is how the movie studios KNOW their movies will be seen on TV's, laptops, monitors and whatever else, BUT the credits are sized for a regular movie theater screen.  In addition, they now have little pop-ups or the phone screens to show a received or sent text message. Heck, I can't read these on any of my TV's.

Of course, the people making TV shows are now doing the same thing.

 

I remember both BlockBuster and the mom and pop rental places.  I was introduced to a lot of very good current and classic movies through them. The local BB is now a gym.  

I wonder if DVD's contributed to the fall of video rentals or maybe just the lowering cost to purchase them?

Redbox (DVD rentals) is still out there in my state, but I have never used it.  Do see lots of people using them and have friends who do.

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When I was little, almost every Friday night we went to a video store called American Family Video as it was next door to Papa Murphy's Pizza.  Since the pizza was take-and-bake, we would order our pizzas and then, while it was being made, we'd go next door and rent movies.  We would also rent movies from the video store inside of Albertson's if we decided not to have pizza.  Eventually, we moved to Hollywood Video as they had a better selection and more copies of new releases.  We never went to Blockbuster because their rental policies didn't mesh well with our schedules so it was hard to get movies returned within their specified timeframe.  Hollywood Video had a 5-day rental policy. 

 

The American Family Video we used to go to is now a tobacco store and the pizza place is a payday loan place.  The Albertson's was closed and subdivided into a Trader Joe's and Petco.  The Hollywood Video is a pet supply shop and I think the Blockbuster is some type of convenience store or something.

 

Now, if there are any new movies I want to watch, I usually get them from RedBox or I keep an eye on the Bestsellers/New Release movies at the library (ones that can't have holds placed on them).

 

There is something to be said about the fun of hunting around the video store for whatever gem I will watch that evening, or doing what I used to do, and stand by the counter where all the recently returned movies are sitting, waiting to be re-shelved--I got a lot of the new release movies I wanted to see that way.  They'd be out on the shelves, but I'd score one from the recently returned counter.  Streaming is convenient, but sometimes more of a hassle than just sticking the DVD in the player--especially if your internet connection causes buffering issues.

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I became a "streamer" for the first time ever this summer. I can't speak for Netflix. I've heard others say the material they make available is weirdly arbitrary - stuff comes and goes when presumably there's memory to keep everything available forever. Maybe they generate traffic by creating artificial deadlines. "30 Rock is only available until the end of this month!" And it sounds like they're way more interested in providing quality TV shows than quality movies.

 

But I got on Amazon Prime instead, and they have thousands and thousands of movies, quality movies and classic movies. Now, almost all of them (maybe not some of the PD ones?), you have to pay to view above and beyond your $9/month subscription fee, but the prices are about the same as they were at the last independently owned video store still operating in my city (finally closed this summer, alas, prompting me to get on Amazon Prime). "Renting" a movie is typically $4. You can keep it on your device for a whopping 30 days, but once you start watching it, you only have 48 hours to complete it. They don't want you watching 30 times for the price of one rental I, I guess. Alternately, you can buy it and have it stored on your computer forever, usually for about $8. On the exhausting Sidney Poitier SUTS night, when primetime was the same three Poitier movies TCM always shows, I rented 1950's No Way Out, Poitier's first film, written and directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, Ben's great-uncle, in the same year he put out All about Eve. It is a startlingly progressive look at racial tension eons ahead of its era, I don't know how widely seen it was in its day. I can't imagine it played anywhere in the southern half of the country, not without being severely edited, anyway. I watched it two nights in a row for my $4.

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I became a "streamer" for the first time ever this summer. I can't speak for Netflix. I've heard others say the material they make available is weirdly arbitrary - stuff comes and goes when presumably there's memory to keep everything available forever. Maybe they generate traffic by creating artificial deadlines. "30 Rock is only available until the end of this month!" And it sounds like they're way more interested in providing quality TV shows than quality movies.

 

"They, they, they"...THEY don't have any control over what's available to stream, apart from the original productions.  (Of which we seem to be getting more and more.)

That's the naive aforementioned "Keebler Elf" fantasy, that lulled everyone into such a sense of false security back in '10.

 

Content is provided by the original content owners, meaning that Paramount provided them with the digitized streams of Cheers, Frasier, Wings and all of Star Trek, BBCAmerica provided them with Sherlock, and if they were lucky enough to have Mission Impossible 6 or Ninja Turtles 2 suddenly show up out of nowhere, a recent hit action movie usually gets there by way of Epix getting it first.

Most of the licenses are for a year or so, but the content owners giveth and the content owners can taketh away--Disney's exclusive deal with Netflix was a good source to have Disney Jr. shows, Moana, Rogue One, Pocahontas and Marvel's Civil War show up on the service, but with Disney now planning to spin off its own subscription service and take most of their content there, it's already in doubt which ones are going to stay on Netflix for long.

 

I tend to surf my streaming options--I have Netflix out of sentimentality, Hulu for classic reruns, Amazon for free shipping, and Vudu Movies On Us for their Impact B-movies--and again, if you have more than one service monthly, you can't help noticing there's one COMMON POOL of overlapping titles across the services at the same time in the same month.

How simply can we explain this?:  The services take what they can GET.  And that's "take", not "make".

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Hmm. You seem to be implying that I'm part of a large group of naive, clueless humans, and I take issue with your implication. I guess I could have reworded my statement to read "here's my understanding of what WE can and can't find on Netflix". I didn't really mean to imply the owners of Netflix are above the mandates of licensing.

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