Thursday February 14th 2013
I’m not one for brand loyalty. I’ve been stung far too many times not to realise that most of the products and services I enjoy mean more to me than I do to them. I’ll never forget the day that Sam Smith’s pubs pushed the price of a pint above £3, or the time when Apple announced they’d no longer be including cases as standard with new iPods. These were points of no return that left my ‘relationships’ with both brands irrevocably soured. In the years that followed, I’d continue to spend large sums of money on both, but with a feeling of begrudging inevitability, rather than pride.
One service I struggle to see myself falling out of love with, however, is Netflix. Since its launch in the UK almost exactly a year ago, the company has worked tirelessly to come up with more and more ways to render me priapic with excitement, from their gorgeous, intuitive PS3 app, to their breath-taking new ‘Super HD’ 1080p streaming, to the unobtrusive way in which each and every programme segues into the next one, allowing me to procrastinate with maximum efficiency.
It helps that I’ve just finished watching House of Cards, the $100 million ‘Netflix Original Series’ you’ve no doubt read about on The A.V. Club or wherever people go to read about TV nowadays. The entire 13-part series was dumped online by Netflix at the beginning of the month, allowing subscribers to watch it at their own pace, in pristine audiovisual quality, whenever and wherever they wanted. There were no ads, idents or on-screen graphics — just the show itself as it was intended to be seen. I refuse to accept that this is not the future of television.
This ‘audience first’ attitude stands in marked contrast to the business strategy of main UK rival LoveFilm, who not only provide a service hampered by pervasive advertising and an unworkable interface, but also force subscribers who want to cancel their subscriptions into the telephonic equivalent of harakiri before they’ll allow them to stop wasting £13.27 every month. I can’t imagine the day when I’ll feel the need to cancel my beloved Netflix account, but if and when I do, I suspect the process will be somewhat less maddening.
The service’s UK catalogue is, admittedly, a little limited — and it would be inappropriate for me to explain here the very simple process by which you can gain access to the American version of the site — but titles are being added every day, and what the company lacks in product range it makes up for in a considerably more valuable commodity: respect for its customers.
Netflix — I love you. Let’s meet behind the bike sheds after school.