Date:20 January 2016
After two weeks of Netflix I’ve realised that I’m not a cord cutter. Actually, no South African converting from regular TV to online streaming actually cuts a cord. You actually get cabled in when you use your internet… But that’s not the point. My point is that Netflix can’t justify its existence in my life and therefore can’t command a place in my living room.
Let me explain.
I was as excited as anyone to great the gift of Netflix on the Apple TV during the last couple days of my holiday. My daughter and I took up our positions on the couch to then watch me go through the set up and finally unleash 100 per cent legal and direct Netflix into our eyeballs. Two hours of Peppa Pig and My Little Pony and Friends later the kid needed her afternoon nap and I could spend some alone time with the fabled service.
Suits was my first port of call. Then I realised it stopped at season four. I’ve seen that already. Then I watched a well-filmed documentary on the father of the Segway which was let down by poor directing decisions. Then I tried some Daredevil which was great, but the puppy woke up and wanted attention.
The next morning was more Peppa Pig, a bit of Julius Jr and I entertained my daughter with Madagascar 3 before bedtime that evening. My wife wasn’t impressed with the cooking show offering and the sporadic quality of my WiFi connection started to erode the experience.
Speaking with friends I heard a lot of rage about the incomplete Netflix package we have in South Africa. People were bemoaning the lack of House of Cards and while I can understand their frustration, I also own a DSTV Explora decoder and recorded the first season. And that’s kind of the problem I have with the streaming services. DSTV has really raised its game, along with its prices, over the last year and a bit. I watched the Game of Thrones season finale in real time at 3 AM when it was broadcast in the USA and my wife and I watch Suits as soon as our life allows on DSTV Catch Up.
I don’t get time to watch a lot of TV and the few shows I do watch are all served on DSTV and in time with the original international broadcast. I can get an episode on-demand for a week on the Catch Up service or I can record it to watch in my leisure (which doesn’t always work out well if a broadcast is delayed or the Superbowl goes into over time). There isn’t a particularly compelling show that warrants a Netflix subscription, and if there is then I can always find a download later.
That said, I refuse to cable my Explora decoder to the internet and pay an extra R75 for Catch Up Plus because I believe that I should have access to that service free of charge by virtue of it being a product that only works if you have an Explora.
While I’ve become accustomed to paying for my media through Apple Music, Google Play Music and iTunes, I’m not a serial series watcher and therefore don’t see the value in streaming TV. Also, Netflix doesn’t carry HBO, Disney or Amazon content, which leaves much to be desired in terms of the shows that my family does watch. And it doesn’t have sport, which constitutes more than half of my viewing.
Netflix is a great supplemental service. It won’t give you everything and, crucially, doesn’t function when the internet is down or if you reach your data cap. And you definitely need a minimum 4 mbps line for it to work properly.
The perfect solution for me would be if Google finally got its act together in SA and released YouTube Red so I can have ad-free videos and my daughter can still enjoy endless loops of Peppa Pig.