Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My 700th Post, What to Do? Watch Instantly! The Promise of Netflix On Demand Streaming

I just posted my 700th blog. In reaching this personal milestone, the topic was apropos -- the joy of music, since music plays such a critical role in my day-to-day life. And, in particular, the joy that comes from great sound, great ease, and great choice in the "in-home" music experience (enabled by a melange of Sonos, Rhapsody, Pandora, Sirius, iTunes and the iPad/iPhone/iTouch).

So, it is apropos to now tackle multi-media -- in particular, the in-home movie experience. The experiment? Netflix movies online -- on my new flat screen -- enabled via my Samsung Blu-Ray player.

The promise? No fuss, no muss. Simply register on your PC or Mac (which is easy enough) -- add movies to your "Watch Instantly" queue -- and go to your flat screen and click on the Netflix app. Voila, you're done.

The verdict? I love it conceptually -- but the execution still has some ways to go before I really smile. Here's why ...

CONTENT (or the lack thereof)! "Watch Instantly" is a tremendous concept -- it too is emancipating for the consumer in a big big way (no more need to leave your home for the video store -- instant gratification instead). But, that high concept is saddled by movie licensing issues -- and it shows. There is a dearth of content that is available for instant viewing. And, navigating those titles that are available to watch instantly is highly challenging -- the user experience simply isn't intuitive and efficient.

Yet, Netflix should be applauded for what it has cobbled together to date. I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of set-up (although it would be nice to do it all on my flat screen rather than run back to my Mac). And, I was even more pleasantly surprised by the quality of the video streaming back to me on my flatscreen -- yes, the aspect ratio was not perfect, but there was no stuttering of any kind on the playback).

Bottom line -- Netflix "Watch Instantly" is now instantly a significant part of my media enjoyment arsenal. In two consecutive days, my family and I have watched two movies -- the debut was "Monsters, Inc." -- and yesterday's sequel was "Big." My kids are thrilled that we can pick movies anytime (even if we need to hunt and peck for them a bit).