While it will always have its critics, Netflix‘s instant streaming has become something of an essential service for movie buffs. Their ever-expanding library includes everything from classic silent films to modern independents with many award winners and critical darlings among the collection. They also customize their recommendations based on viewing habits, which often leads to the creation of hilariously unique genres (“Critically Acclaimed Foreign Dramas with a Strong Female Lead”) and the discovery of hidden gems in the Netflix library.
One of the biggest complaints that Netflix users bring up about the service is that there aren’t enough films from a certain filmmaker or specific genre. While I certainly would love to see more musicals or Luis Bunuel films, for example, I cannot complain too much about the overall selection. Currently my Instant Queue contains over 400 films that I either have never seen or haven’t seen in a long time. And I’m not the only one who needs my fix of the ‘Flix. According to Variety, Netflix is responsible for approximately one third of peak-period downstream internet traffic in North America.
There is very little that I would change about the way Netflix currently operates. Their recent foray into original television series has introduced a new method for content delivery that I sincerely hope will catch on. However, there is always room for improvement and here are three relatively minor suggestions that would make a great service even better:
3 Ways to Improve Netflix
If you’re a neurotic listmaker and obsessively organized like me, the notion of having over 400 films in a queue with no logic to their order is often upsetting. Often I am not certain of the exact film I want to watch, but I do have a certain genre or director in mind. I would love to have the ability to create folders like “Asian Cinema,” “French New Wave,” “2012 Releases” or whatever else I fancy. It would be even greater if films could be placed in more than one folder. This would certainly make movie marathons more easy.
According to one Reddit user, queue folders are not likely to be available anytime soon. Netflix’s objective is to be available on as many devices as possible, which requires a minimalist interface. Creating folders that would work on devices with or without keyboards is a pretty big engineering task, but it seems to me that Netflix has the resources to make it happen. An alternative would be a downloadable app that integrates with Netflix and allows users who want folders to have them.
2) New Releases, New to Streaming, and Ending Soon List
The Netflix instant streaming home page already lists new releases and classic films that are new to the library in their “Newly Added” section. However, the list rarely changes and is much heavier on television series than classic and independent films. Often I don’t realize a film like Ben Wheatley’s creepy, fun Kill List has become available for streaming until I stumble upon it when browsing other categories. Additionally, Netflix may be implementing an updated interface that does not allow users to see when a title will cease to be available.
Other sites have appeared that try to track new releases or new library additions, but it would be a lot easier if Netflix was more transparent. The addition of a page that simply lists every new film in a given week and every film that will be removed the following week would be an ideal solution. I would even be willing to subscribe to an e-mail newsletter that provided this exact information. It seems like a no-brainer in terms of marketing and user retention.
3) Previously on…
With their original television series, Netflix counts on users to “binge watch” the episodes, or watch many episodes at one time. However, not all of us have the time and energy to give this kind of commitment. This is why a two minute “Previously on…” montage would be perfect for those of us who wait a few days or weeks between episodes. This would have been especially helpful for the recent season of “Arrested Development”, which had a gloriously puzzling narrative with a lot of disjointed pieces that were worth remembering for when they eventually came together.
Do you think Netflix is a necessity? How would you improve the Watch Instant experience?