Free Advice for Netflix

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

My wife and I have had Netflix streaming since August 2011, and overall we’re pretty happy with it. After having used it for over a year, I’ve thought of a few modest improvements that would add significant value to the service. If anyone from Netflix sees this, please feel free to implement these ideas!

I should point out that I use the service on my PlayStation 3 most of the time, but also sometimes on the computer, and surprisingly frequently on my iPhone. On the PS3, there’s an option called “Kids Mode” that my wife and I think is pretty great. It pulls together a bunch of kid-friendly shows, while restricting certain abilities (for example, while in Kids Mode you cannot add or remove shows from the Instant Queue). Kids Mode also provides our 2-year-old with many options of shows to watch, without Morah and I having to know about them. With that said, there are some shows that we don’t want Tommy to watch (mostly because they drive us nuts. For example, Barney & Friends). It would be nice to have the ability to hide certain shows from Kids Mode. I imagine an additional option in “regular” mode that acts as a toggle. While visible, it would say, “Hide in Kids Mode,” and while hidden, it would say, “Show in Kids Mode.”

Tommy likes to imitate Morah and I, and that means he wants to hold the controller and pick which show to watch. The problem is, he sometimes presses the “select” key, which exits out of Kids Mode (he also presses the PS button, which takes him to the system menu, but I doubt that’s something Netflix can change). A button combination would make it much more difficult for children to get out of Kids Mode, and wouldn’t be much of an obstacle for an adult. To my mind, simultaneously pressing both the “select” and circle buttons would be a logical choice.

My other two ideas have nothing to do with Kids Mode. The first is to simply list the total number of seasons a T.V. show has. I recently started watching Archer (which is hilarious, you should definitely watch it), and Netflix has 2 seasons available for streaming. There are 3 that exist, and a fourth is due to come out next year. I didn’t know anything about Archer before Netflix suggested it to me, so I had no idea how many seasons there were. Are there only 2 and Netflix has them both? Or are there other seasons that Netflix is missing? It would be great if Netflix could convey that information to me somehow.

The last idea is to have what I call the “Dream Queue.” Netflix has a huge streaming catalog, but it pales in comparison to their DVD offering. I have a list of movies that I’d like to see, and which Netflix has available as DVDs, but not through their streaming service. Unfortunately, if you only have streaming (like me), Netflix restricts your search results to shows available through streaming. So even though they have Black Swan, Half Baked, and Frenemy in their DVD library, the films aren’t available for streaming, so when I search for them, they don’t appear in the results.

This is a folly for two reasons: First, sometimes shows are temporarily not available for streaming. I’ve personally seen movies “expire” out of my streaming queue before I could watch them, only to reappear when they’re once again available for streaming. So if films are sometimes available for streaming and sometimes not, why not let me add every film to a “Dream Queue” in the hopes that it eventually becomes available for streaming? And when/if it does, send me an email to let me know!

More than that, however, Netflix is missing out on a huge marketing opportunity. I already assume that they have nearly every movie in their DVD catalog, but a “Dream Queue” of movies and T.V. shows I can’t watch might just entice to me to pay the extra $8 a month for their DVD service.

Update: Since I wrote this post, Netflix made a change to their service.

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