I’m not as happy as the people on the Netflix homepage.

“You Want to Watch a Movie?” Has Never Been So Complicated

Every day the world is full of terrible news. Nations on the edge of bankruptcy. Wars that seem like they’re never going to end. Domestic terrorism. Netflix continuing its depressing spiral.

I’ve been with Netflix for about a decade. It changed the way I watched movies. It changed the quantity of movies I watched. It even changed the type of movies I watched.

Or, to state it another way, Netflix delivered movies exactly how I’ve always wanted to watch them without ever really knowing that before.

Of course, over the past year so, they’ve made some crazy decisions. Trying to split up physical media and streaming. Raising prices in convoluted ways. Trying to shunt users into streaming-only when they have a terrible streaming catalog.

And, while you’ll find no shortage of commentary online about Netflix’s business model and the ever-changing world of movie streaming, there seems to me to be one important element missing from the discussion.

In my experience, one of the biggest strengths of Netflix has always been that I only had to go to Netflix for the lion’s share of my movie watching.

I mean, on-demand is fine. Has its place. Redbox is fine. Has its place. Theaters are, well, one of the worst places to watch a movie these days, unfortunately, but, still, they have their place. But when I wanted to watch a movie 9 times out of 10 it was Netflix.

Today, it’s not that simple. Now I have Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Redbox, YouTube, and on-demand (and for those with cable, Apple TV, Google TV, Xbox, there’s even a range of on-demand).

That means, every time I sit down to watch a movie, whether I know what I want to watch or not, I have to do a lot of searching. If I know what I want to see, I have to find out if it’s available streaming anywhere, who has it the cheapest, and who delivers it with the highest quality. If I don’t know what I’m in the mood for, then it’s pretty much hopeless, and I’ll probably just end up watching TV.

I’m less of a Netflix fan than I used to be, but I’m really hoping they figure their business out. Actually, I just hope somebody figures it out. Movie watching is starting to become a chore and a bummer, and that’s not good for anybody in the industry.