Why is Netflix instant streaming a BONUS feature?

Netflix Instant Streaming - STOP CHOKING!
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The last two Saturdays, Netflix streaming was dead. Today, on a mellow Tuesday afternoon, it died for a short period.

To quote Benjamin from Netflix (via Thomas Hawk):

Watch Now is a bonus feature for Netflix subscribers.

What? Where does it say that on the Netflix website? Their Terms of Use page?

Maybe.

Under the “Features and Functionality” section:

Netflix allows you to instantly watch available movies on your personal computer or, on certain membership plans, through a Netflix ready device. Currently, the instant watching functionality is provided to you at no additional charge; however, under certain of our membership plans, the instant watching functionality may not be available for viewing content on Netflix ready devices. The movies you watch instantly will be in addition to movies you receive under your existing membership. Instant watching movies may not contain all the same features you will find on a DVD-version of the same movie, such as bonus features, language selection, and captions, and not all movies available by mail on DVD are available for instant watching. In addition, some instant watching movies may not be available through all personal computers or Netflix ready devices and the availability of movies to instantly watch will change from time to time. The quality of the display of the instant watching movies may vary from computer to computer, and device to device, and may be affected a variety of factors, such as the bandwidth available through and/or speed of your internet connection. Netflix makes no representations about the quality of your instant watching display.

[…]

We reserve, in our sole and absolute discretion, the right to withdraw the watch instantly functionality entirely from the Netflix service or to limit, condition, terminate, charge for or otherwise modify your use of the watch instantly functionality at anytime without notice; provided however, we will give you notice before we institute any additional charges for the watch instantly functionality.

In response to requests from content providers, or due to technical limitations, or for any reason in our sole and absolute discretion, and without prior notice to you, some or all movies may not be viewed, or may cease being viewable, through the Instant Watching feature on some or all personal computers or Netflix ready devices.

I don’t like legalese. If it’s a bonus (or beta), please don’t hide it. Say it upfront so I don’t buy a device where its primary feature is to use your watch instantly function.

I’m angry. The Netflix Player by Roku is our main use of Netflix. If you go to the homepage of Roku website, the device is essentially touted as the main Netflix Player device. I’m not requesting DVDs as often because of it.

Netflix — Please figure out the outage problems, reword the ToS and/or add text to the website that says it’s a [unreliable] bonus feature.

As a paying customer, my confidence in Netflix is shaken.

About my photo: While I was napping for an hour or so, my mom watched “Thunderbolt“. (That’s the [Jackie] Chan reference.) Apparently, it stalled and wouldn’t continue, so she went for a walk. Before she left, she scribbled this note and left it on my desk. But, I didn’t wake up until after she came back and was watching it successfully.

Published by

Bryan Villarin

Bryan is a Happiness Engineer at Automattic. He's also a photographer, card magician, and cat whisperer. (Thanks to my friend and colleague Steve Blythe for the sweet photo!)