Why after 14 years of being a subscriber, I canceled my Netflix account

A quick background

When I graduated high school in 2003 my big gift to myself was getting a Netflix account, being able to have thousands of movies and TV shows mailed to me for less than it would cost to rent them at the store was amazing and something I fell in love with.

Then streaming came along, and at first it was buggy and I didn’t really like it, but over time streaming got better and I grew to love the fact that I could stream anything in the library instantly.  And so for a little while I had both the DVD plan and the Streaming plan, and I enjoyed having options.

Then about three years ago I decided to cancel my DVD plan and stick with Streaming only.  I only had the DVD plan to try and rent newer movies and honestly I could just rent those same movies on Amazon or VUDU for the same amount per month or less if there wasn’t anything I cared to see that month.  So that’s what I did, and overall it’s worked out great, yes a few times I’ve paid more in a month than I would have for the DVD plan but if you average out the numbers I’ve saved a lot more than I’ve spent, so I don’t mind.

Why I cancelled my Netflix streaming account

There are three main reasons for this, they are:

  • Auto-play previews
  • Auto-play of the actual title
  • Removal of the star rating system

The auto-play of the previews is annoying but it tolerable, I would prefer to have not have them but it’s not a deal breaker.  The auto-play of the actual title on the other hand really gets to me, I’m not given a choice, if I click on something it just plays without me actually hitting play.  There have been several times something has been recommended to me and instead of clicking on it and adding it to my queue I skip it, why?  Because I don’t want to have to deal with the auto-playing of the title when I just want to read the damn description!  And most of the time when I get to my computer or phone I’ve forgotten what the title was and so I never end up watching it.

But what finally drove me away was the removal of the star rating system, since 2003 I have been rating everything I watched and Netflix just threw all that away for this stupid “thumbs up or down” system.  Now I’m getting recommendations for things I would never watch, and of course all the Netflix Originals are being rated in 90% range, when most of the stuff they produce I have zero interest in.  So this was the final straw for me, I’ve been a loyal Netflix customer for 14 years and this is how they treat me?  Take all the work I’ve put into training the algorithm to know what I like and what to recommend to me, and they just throw it all away and give me nothing but pure crap!  Well I have choices outside of Netflix and later on in this post I’m going to list some of those choices, and a few resources for finding more.

Netflix originals aren’t holding me back either

Let me just say when it comes to “Netflix Originals” they don’t have the most compelling choices, the only shows I actually enjoyed and would like to see more of are House of Cards, The Santa Clarita Diet, and The Ranch.  That’s it, three shows, and I can watch them other ways without paying for Netflix, so if I really want to see them I can.

Netflix needs to change their attitude if they what to survive

Since 2011 and the Qwickster debacle Netflix has become more and more hostile towards their customers, they seem to push out things we don’t want, take away things we do want, and now just strait up spit in our faces with the removal of the star rating system.

This attitude has to change, going against the customer no matter how good it seems for the company in the short term will always end up hurting the company in the long term.  Eventually the customer base will get sick of being treated like crap and cancel their subscriptions, and once enough of them do it Netflix will start losing money and that will be the end of the line.  And even if they eventually down the line realize that they screwed up and try to give the customer what they want it may be to late, once enough people associate Netflix with hostility towards customers no amount of PR will bring them back, and the company will be dead.

What should Netflix do to avoid this and bring customers back

  • Bring back the star rating system and dump the thumbs system
  • Stop the auto-play of previews
  • Stop the auto-play of the actual titles
  • Bring back the “Not Interested” button
  • Show the titles expiration date from day one.

I want to explain that last one since the first four are self explanatory, I’ve lost track of all the times I’ve been watching a multi season show and suddenly it’s gone.  I don’t want to have to go to the website, hover over the streaming menu, select “My List”, and then scroll through my entire queue once a week to see if there are expiration dates next to anything on my list.  I want that date to be shown from day one.  Let me give an example.

Let’s say Netflix acquires the right to stream the TV show M.A.S.H. from August 5th 2017 to December 1st 2019.  Ok so I see Netflix has M.A.S.H. and add it to my queue, I want to know that if I add it to my queue in July of 2019, I only have a few months to watch it.

With the system they way it is right now I get one maybe two weeks notice before a title is gone.  And I know that Netflix thinks that if they tell me a title will be gone in a certain amount of time that I won’t watch it, but the opposite is true, I would be more likely to watch it, especially if I had started it and wanted to finish it before it’s taken off.  If I’m only on the first season of a 7 season show I want to know when it’s going off with enough advanced notice that I can finish it without spending every waking moment of my free time hate watching something because now I only have a week to finish the entire show since Netflix didn’t bother to tell me it was going to be gone until a week before they remove it.

Alternatives to Netflix

This is a big list and I’m not going to list them all here, but I will link to resources that do list them all and stay up to date with the cord cutting trends.  I don’t claim to be an absolute expert on cord cutting, but I’ve been following the movement for several years now and will share some of what I’ve learned when it comes to viewing choices outside of Netflix.

Paid Services
  • Amazon Prime – I have this one listed first since a lot of people already have a Prime subscription and get Prime video with that.  Take a look at what Amazon has to offer, they have got some really compelling offers with their originals and network offerings.  I have to admit I never really looked into their catalog before writing this and I was amazed at how good their selection has gotten.  Plus don’t forget all the sweet extras like free 2 day shipping, free music, storage, ect.
  • VUDU – I love VUDU and have been converting my entire DVD and Bluray collection over to digital on VUDU, and most of the movies I buy now are on VUDU instead of physical copies.  A nice bonus is VUDU lets you take advantage of UltaViolet which lets you link up other accounts and unify your collection across multiple services.  VUDU also has a free service but you have to watch ads, but hey it’s a small price to pay to watch a free movie!  The main difference between Amazon Prime and VUDU is that VUDU is not a subscription streaming service, you buy or rent on VUDU.
  • Google Play – I’ve used Google Play a few times, and it’s a lot like VUDU with a few exceptions, they aren’t UltraViolet compatible (at least not at the time of writing), and they don’t have ad supported free content.  And dear reader the irony should not be lost on you about that last one since Google is an ad network that runs a search engine.  Also like VUDU you buy or rent rather than paying monthly for an a la carte streaming service.
  • Hulu – Hulu gives a lot of options, you can get a lower cost package with ads, or for a little more get the ad free package.  And like Netflix and Amazon Prime Hulu has originals and network shows.  The other benfit you get with Hulu is you can watch network shows after they’ve aired, sometimes within just few hours.  Hulu is a subscription based streaming service more like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
  • iTunes – Now not being an Apple user I don’t know much about iTunes so I can’t go into much detail, but what I can say is that Like VUDU and Google Play iTunes is a buy or rent service.
  • HBO NOW – HBO NOW is HBO’s subscription streaming service, you can watch the  current shows and the back catalog, plus any movies they have the rights to at the time your subscribed.  The nice thing about HBO NOW is they get newer movies sooner than Netflix, plus they do have some amazing shows.
  • Starz – Starz like HBO is the subscription streaming version of the cable channel with on demand TV and movies.
  • Showtime – Showtime like HBO NOW and Starz is the subscription streaming service for the cable channel with TV and movies on demand.

There are other paid services and I’m not going to list them all here, but you can find them in some of the resources I’ve listed below.

Free Services
  • Crackle – Crackle is a free streaming service with TV and movies, it is of course ad supported.
  • Pluto TV – Pluto TV is like the Internet’s version of over the air (OTA), you get a bunch of channels for free but you have to watch ads.  They have a lot of channels of varying types and have a few movies channels.
  • The CW – The CW has an app that lets you watch for free with ads, so far there is no subscription offering from The CW.
  • PopcornFlix – PopcornFlix has movies and TV shows all ad supported.  While the selection isn’t top of the line I’ve found things to watch on this service.
  • tubitv – tubitv like PopcornFlix has TV and Movies for free with ads, again the selection isn’t the best but not horrible.

There are countless other free services and I’m not going to list them all here, but you can find them in some of the resources I’ve listed below.

Resources
  • The Cord Cutting Report – This is a website with a lot of information, it should have all the answers you need, at least to the basic questions.
  • Channel Master Cord Cutting Guide – Channel Master is a DVR for Over The Air (OTA) TV, and they have a basic guide to cord cutting.
  • AntennaWeb Cord Cutting Guide – This is a website that helps you find local antenna channels, they also offer a basic cord cutting guide.
  • Cord Killers – This is a weekly podcast all about cord cutting, I personally listen to it every week.
  • A Brief Guide to Cord Cutting –  A book all about cord cutting written by a cord cutter and co-host of Cord Killers Tom Merrit, this i a great resource.

I have not listed everything possible, I merely gave a brief overview of what is out there.  If you are looking for something that I have not listed here just try Google, there’s a good chance you’ll find something you like.

In Conclusion

Netflix has really screwed up this time, by becoming more and more hostile towards their customers they are pushing them away more and more.  And their customers are realizing that they don’t need Netflix like they thought they did, and that can only hurt Netflix in the long run.  There needs to be some major changes in the attitude of the Netflix management team or they will be out of a job in the not to distant future.

And what about me?  Well I’ve learned that while I liked having Netflix, I don’t need it.  There really are only two downfalls I see for myself by getting rid of Netflix,

  • Having to find other ways to watch the three Netflix originals I enjoy.
  • Staying current with the films on a podcast I enjoy called Film Sack where they watch movies on Netflix and then do a podcast about them.  I guess I’ll just rent them on Amazon or Vudu, not that big of a deal.

So in the end I can live without Netflix, and I encourage everyone to try it out with me, see what you can find outside of Netflix, you might find you don’t need Netflix either.  And while your at it make sure to contact Netflix customer support and let them know that you are unhappy with the new ratings system and anything else you’d care to let them know about, just keep it respectful, the customer support person your talking to didn’t make these changes, so don’t take it out on them.

An open letter to Netflix about the new rating system.

I am writing about the new “Thumbs” rating system, please remove it immediately.  I am less likely to rate something if it’s just an up or down vote, I need some nuance, if I liked something but only as a one time watch I want to give it 3 stars, now if I liked something but only as a one time watch I just won’t rate it because that would messed up any recommendations I get down the road.

 

As for the recommendations I’ve received since this Quickstar 2.0 was introduced, I’ve been told that shows like iZombie are 96% for me and EVERY Netflix original is 95% or higher.  Let me give you a little context so you can understand why I bring this up, I watch Sons of Anarchy, Star Trek, and WW2 documentaries, and more of the some, does that sound like something interested in iZombie?  No, I used to trust the rating system, if I saw a 4 star or above I added it to my queue without thinking because Netflix is mostly right, now not a chance once I saw that your new system has no idea what I like and heavily weights your own content regardless of if I’ll like it or not I refuse to trust it anymore.

 

I won’t delete my account right now but if this doesn’t go back to the old system soon I will.  I’m an Amazon Prime member so I have that video, I have over 200 movies and over 20 TV shows on my Vudu account, and now that Hulu has an ad free level I might try it out since I’ve been hearing good things about their originals.  Needless to say I have options and don’t need Netflix, I’ve only stuck with Netflix because I’ve invested so much time that I didn’t want to have to redo it all, but now thanks to the new system I’d have to redo it all any way so what’s stopping me from leaving?  I stayed when you started the auto play on previews, I stayed when clicking on a title to get more information auto played instead of giving me a damn choice in the matter, but this is it, I’m done putting up with this crap, stop forcing crap we don’t want on us and listen to the customer!  If you don’t get your heads out of your own asses soon you’re going to lose consumer confidence and once you’ve lost that market share is gone too.

 

TL;DR:  The new rating system sucks, and if you don’t get rid of it I will stop giving you money.

 

Regards,

Mike Oplinger (Netflix member since 2003)

What's the interest China?

I’m not complaining about page views but I’ve been noticing for the past few days I’ve been getting a lot of hits from China, and I mean A LOT, take a look below.

This screenshot was taken two hours ago, so it is current.  I’m just wondering why I’m all of the sudden getting a ton of hits from China.

我可以问你为什么对这个博客感兴趣?

Please comment below or on the Facebook page.

Oh hey and if you really want to help me out click the banner below and buy something, every cent helps!

Happy New Year

 

Donate to the USO and help support members of the military who can’t be home with their loved ones this New Years.  Click Below to donate.
 

We need to communicate our concerns about Trump to congress

Due to the election of Donald Trump, I believe the safety and integrity of America is at risk on many fronts.  We have a president-elect who has repeatedly expressed positions and attitudes that, if acted upon, will take us back to an age before the civil rights movement and feminist movement of the 60’s and 70’s.  Some seem to believe that those were the good old days but those days were not so good for many of us.  Trump proposes such things as stop and frisk (racial profiling), interference with freedom of religion by suggesting squads be sent into mosques to investigate what may be happening, mass deportations, and changes in women’s health issues.  These are just a few examples of his thoughts on how to limit our rights.  He wants to limit our right to free speech when he talks of changing the law to be able to restrict what journalists can report.  He says he will require the military to engage in forms of torture that constitute war crimes.

In terms of economics, he talks of limiting relationships with our major trade partners one of which is Mexico.  If we do not have substantial and workable trade agreements, how can new jobs be created?  After all, without good trade agreements, who will buy the products produced by American workers.  If  few American products are being purchased overseas, how can new jobs be created??

As for his budget proposals – numerous economists have stated that his plans favor the wealthy and would actually increase our national debt by several trillion dollars.  I am aware that other economists support his proposals.  The problem is that I do not have the economic expertise to evaluate the opposing viewpoints but I have concerns because Trump’s many business failures do not reflect a person that I feel I can trust with plans for our national economy.  In addition he wants to eliminate Dodd-Frank which will unleash the Wall Street Banks.  How does this make sense?

We must question how Trump’s business enterprises and debt owed to foreign entities will influence his decision making as the president of the United States.  Would he be susceptible to manipulation or even blackmail by foreign actors?  He  states that he is placing his business enterprises into a blind trust to be run by his children but this is not a blind trust.  He will continue to know exactly what is going on in his businesses.  Should we not be concerned that he would place the welfare of his business concerns and family above those of the nation when making presidential decisions?

He wants to interrupt our participation in NATO.  This means we would abandon those countries who need our support and lose the support of countries that would come to our defense if needed.

Attention must be paid to the people with whom he is choosing to surround himself – what are their backgrounds and beliefs?  Would they act to protect the nation or further endanger it? The cabinet he chooses will signal how he chooses lead this country.  We should pay attention to his choices.

It is so important to learn from history so that we do not make the same mistakes that have led to disaster in the past.  In the 1930’s Europe was in a condition similar to what we are now experiencing in the United States.  If you remember, that was when fascism reared its ugly head.  That was when individuals with loud, aggressive rhetoric convinced people that their troubles were because of certain portions of the population such as Jews and gypsies. What ensued was horrific! Rights were stripped away and millions of people were brutalized and exterminated.  In her book titled “Men in Dark Times” Hannah Arendt states that people dealt with the evil that existed by choosing “internal exile”.  In other words, they facilitated the evil by staying under the radar and not speaking up when they disagreed. We cannot be passive or complacent. We must pay attention to history and recognize our current vulnerabilities so that we do not have a similar fate.

In October of this year The Guardian published an article about a more recent historical event, namely Silvio Berlusconi’s time as Prime Minister of Italy.  Italians continue to struggle with the damage suffered during Berlusconi’s terms of office.  It is important to note the extensive similarities between Berlusconi and Trump. With the current vulnerable state of our nation, the voice of a president who can incite people to violence, hatred and divisiveness could be disastrous and should be taken seriously.   

 There are so many questions and so few answers at this time.  I am sure there are those who will read my words and vehemently disagree.  But here is the point – right now we live in a nation which allows us the wonderful freedom to have open discussion and disagreement.  We must communicate our concerns and opinions to our senators and representatives.  We must make our voices heard in a lawful manner and strive to use the tools of our constitution and legal system to assure that we continue to have the rights and freedoms we have always enjoyed.  To this end, I have sent a letter to each of the senators and representatives from my State.  In this letter I have expressed some of my concerns and my expectations for them.  I am making my letter available to you and if you feel it accurately reflects your thoughts, then please fill in the blanks on the letter and send it to the congressional members from your state.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!  Don’t forget about those who can’t be with their families today, donate to the USO by clicking the image below.

 

 

Why I held my nose and voted for Hillary Cinton

First let me make a few things clear:

  1. I hate the Clinton crime family (I thought they were criminal long before Trump)
  2. I’m normally an independent
  3. I switched to democrat to vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary
  4. I believe Bernie Sanders won the primary and Hilary ClintonDebbie Wasserman SchultzDonna Brazile stole the primary from the will of the voters
  5. I believe the Clinton’s have had people murdered
Now having said all that, why the hell would I vote for a lying, murdering, backstabbing bitch?  Because she’s running against Donald Trump and I live in Ohio which is a swing state.  Donald Trump is to much of a danger to our country I’ll list my reason below:
  1. He only wants power and will abuse it once he has it
  2. He’s a conman, just ask someone who’s been conned it’s obvious.
  3. He’s totally incompetent and has no idea how to govern
  4. I believe he is a Russian agent, either willingly or through blackmail, and will give the Russian our most classified secrets and put our troops and our entire country at risk.
  5. He’s to thin skinned to stand up to his critics.
  6. He has stated he will try to revoke libel laws so that he can sue anyone who makes fun of him.
  7. ect…ect…ect…
Now I’m not happy about voting for Clinton, and if Ohio was in the bag for either candidate I would have voted Libertarian in protest of the two clowns the major parties put up, but we’re a swing state and I care more about my country than and my protest and while Hillary won’t get anything done in four years, at least she won’t destroy this country.
Now if the Republicans can pull their heads out of their asses, fire Reince Priebus out of a cannon into the side of Trump Tower, realize they need a moderate candidate, and nominate someone like John Kasich, then I’d vote for the Republican and kick Hillary out.
And let me just say I voted against John Kasich for Ohio Governor twice, but if it was him against Hillary Clinton then I’m voting for Kasich every time.
So there you have it, and if any Trump supporters want to tell me “if you really loved your country you’d have voted for Trump” please go back and read why I won’t vote for him.  Anyone who says anything even close to that, even s a joke, will be blocked.  You are entitled to your opinion but keep it to yourself, you don’t tell me why you think I’m wrong and I won’t tell you why I think your wrong. I’m just stating my personal opinion on the matter, I’m not looking for debate, if I was I would have posted this a few months ago not less than 24 hours before the polls close.

Oh and by the way if you really want change in our government try reading Republic Lost by Lawrence Lessig.

Political yard signs

I have seen so many political yard signs I’m surprised when I don’t see one.  Obviously I’ve seen these stupid things all my life and I’ve always wondered “who the hell chooses candidate to vote for based on a yard sign?”

Lets face it, if your vote can be swayed by a yard sign then you aren’t really committed to the candidate.  Seriously does the thought process go like this?  “Oh Jim across the street has a yard sign for the other candidate, well he did fix my weed wacker last week I guess he knows what’s best, I’ll vote for his candidate”

I just don’t see the purpose of these things, and before you say “I give $50 to the campaign and they send me the sign” well that’s great but guess what if you really wanted to help the campaign you’d give the money and refuse the sign because the sign costs the campaign money, and they have to pay postage to mail it to you.  So really all you are doing is buying a sign in your yard to make yourself feel better and make people pay attention to you, it’s nothing more than a totally selfish act disguised as a political statement.

So because I want honest answers I’m setting up a poll, your answers will be totally anonymous so tell the truth, have you ever been convinced to vote one way or another because of a yard sign?

have you ever been convinced to vote one way or another because of a yard sign?

Yes
No

Quiz Maker





And just for fun here are some other the best yard signs I found on Amazon.