The streaming service that could make you delete Netflix
- Publish Date
- Friday, 18 January 2019, 9:43AM
Sick of the Netflix scroll? Switching allegiances to another streaming service could be the answer, writes Chris Schulz.
They were strangers. At first, their conversation was awkward. But the pair settling in behind me for the flight home soon discovered they had two things in common.
First, they were both heading to the same conference.
Second, and more importantly, they'd both watched a hell of a lot of Netflix.
"Have you seen Stranger Things?" asked the man. "Love it. Have you finished The Crown?" replied the woman. "Yes," he said. "Have you binged Bojack Horseman?"
I'm paraphrasing, of course, but their conversation went on and on, with increasing enthusiasm. They discussed Narcos, Black Mirror and Orange is the New Black. For the entire three-hour flight, they unveiled their viewing habits to one another, dissected Netflix's library, and shared their disdain for Air New Zealand's in-flight streaming service.
They were flirting, for sure. But the last thing I heard one of them say before I tuned out was important.
He said: "I think I've clocked Netflix."
"Clocking Netflix" is a phrase I used to hear a lot. It refers to those who binged so many shows on the streaming service that they'd run out of things to watch.
You don't hear it so much these days. There's a pretty simple reason for that: Netflix has become an out-of-control juggernaut. There's so much content, it's impossible to know where to start - or where it ends.
Clocking it has become impossible.
Just today, for example, sees three entire seasons of new content debut: The first season of Carmen Sandiego, an animated series based on the educational video game series from the 80s and 90s, Trigger Warning With Killer Mike, a social justice show starring the outspoken Run the Jewels rapper, and season five of comedy Grace and Frankie.
That's not all: Five films are also being unleashed, including Close, an action-thriller starring Noomi Rapace, and Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, a documentary on a failed music festival in the Bahamas.
Some of those look great. Some don't. IO, for example, appears to be a pretty average sci-fi vehicle about Earth's end days, made with a rookie director. It stars Anthony Mackie, who we'll see next in season two of the also decidedly average sci-fi series Altered Carbon. It's on Netflix too.
There, it seems, is Netflix's problem. Quantity has replaced quality. You only have to look at the backlash to Bird Box - a Sandra Bullock summer shocker about haunted leaves that hit all its algorithm marks but little else - for proof.
The Netflix scroll is real. Aside from the big hits - Roma, for example - I find myself spending more time searching, sampling and skipping content than actually watching any of it these days.
The good news is that there are alternatives. Real alternatives, from streaming services that place emphasis on quality and produce far more hits than misses.
There's one which, judging by this year's release schedule, could become a very real threat to Netflix's crown. It may even make you delete your account.
That would be Amazon Prime Video, the shopping site's streaming service that made big strides last year and is set to do even bigger things in 2019. Some of last year's best shows were on APV. Like The Terror, a thriller set on Arctic ice, Homecoming, the stylish Julia Roberts military mystery based on a hit podcast, The Good Fight, a spin-off from The Good Wife, and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, a multi-award-winning comedy-drama.
But it's what's landing in 2019 that could really turn the tide. The Boys, based on an incredible series of graphic novels, is coming. Good Omens, based on Neil Gaiman's book about Satan, is happening. Carnival Row, a noir-cop show starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, is shaping up great. There are second seasons of The Terror, Homecoming and American Gods to look forward to, and the final season of Mr Robot.
Then there's the big one, the game-changer, the one that might get you to swap your $11.49-a-month Netflix habit to Amazon's much cheaper $4.30-a-month-for-the-first-six-months-then-$8.79 service.
That's The Lord of the Rings, setting a record with its US$1 billion ($1.47b) budget, and might possibly be shot in New Zealand, a series that Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos wants to become the next Game of Thrones.
It could do it. Let's face it: people love Frodo. They cannot get enough of elves. Gollum is multi-faceted talent. Even those terrifying tourists wreaking havoc on the country were here to visit Hobbiton.
If it hits screens in 2019, The Lord of the Rings could help Amazon conquer streaming's Mt Doom. I'm not suggesting it could wipe Netflix out, but you only have to look at it's precarious business model to see how it could easily find itself in trouble.
There's room for a streaming service focused on delivering the good stuff, not the most stuff. Amazon's doing that. It's already persuaded me to chuck my ring into the fire and switch sides.
Will it persuade that plane pair who'd clocked Netflix to do the same? I'm not sure, but the last time I saw them, he was holding her bags while she went to the bathroom after their flight.
So cute. There'll probably be a Netflix doco about them soon.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.
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