Blame It on Roku

Well, well, well. Netflix has had a busy week. First they announced they are raising their rates by 60%. In my humble opinion, in a single stroke, they went well out of their way to create ill will where previously there had been none.

Smooth move, Ex-lax. You just pissed off a lot of people and made them start thinking about taking their business elsewhere.

I don’t want to bury the lead (like I usually do) so I’ll interject this right now: Netflix has been down all day.

Worse, they advise you to visit a page on their website. When you do, they claim that their systems are completely operational and then tell me to call the company that make my Roku device.

“Don’t call us! Call that other company. You know, the company that makes it possible for us to run our business and deliver our primary product. Yeah, fuck them. We’re clever that way. Our Netflix scientists have discovered that pushing our problems onto innocent third parties seriously saves us a lot of money.”

Come to think of it, the Netflix service on the Roku has been sucking some majorly serious ass for a couple of months now. I’m talking about lots and lots of errors. Lots of little images that don’t load. Entire categories that remain blank and won’t let you select anything. And even when the system is working, the service is sluggish as hell, like when adding or removing a series from our instant queue. The refresh time is unbelievable.

Another problem: The streaming service almost never has the movies that we want.

The most recent example of this was yesterday we saw Jennifer Aniston on the Actor’s Studio. They mentioned a movie called The Good Girl. I’d never seen it. So we flipped on the Netflix, did a search and got nada. Another buttfucking courtesy of the Netflix. I think that is like ten searches in a row where search for streaming content has failed.

So what are the primary problems with Netflix right now:

  • Useless “service status” accountability
  • Buggy app on the Roku device
  • Sluggish performance on the Roku device
  • Streaming content library is underwhelming
  • Downtime is becoming unacceptable (and they don’t compensate for this AFAIK)

And this is when they choose to raise prices? Wow.

I’ll say this. Until now I’ve been a loyal fan. I would have absorbed a $1/month rate increase without complaint. That would have been a 10 percent jump which is still pretty amazing in this economy and with an unemployment rate of 9.2%. I may not have graduated with a degree in business from Harvard, but something tells me the current economic climate may not be the best when it comes to jacking the rates on an entertainment product that competes for increasingly scarce disposable dollars in a budget that is shrinking or under threat in most households.

So today I explored the other channels on my Roku device. Unlike Netflix they all worked just fine. And I got to watch something extremely interesting and unusual.

By the way, if you want to find the status of the Netflix service, there is a way to do it even though Netflix provides none. Go to a website called “Down Right Now” which uses “crowd-powered service monitoring.” Sadly this a website like this fills an important niche as service providers fall woefully short.

I’m not quite ready to give Netflix my lowest possible rating but they had better watch it, because they are getting very close.

14 responses

  1. Great stuff, Shouts!

    I’d rather watch paint dry than sign up with NetFlix. For one…it’s cheaper. And two…I can watch any color I want…IN COLOR. 🙂


    1. You’re in for a treat, then! I know the Paint Dry Channel has been out for a while, but hang on. Up next, I’m launching my very own channel, too. You know me. I’m a renaissance man. I want in on all the angles.

      So stay tuned for my Watching Toenails Grow Channel!


  2. I only have the instant streaming with netflix and I struggle with canceling it all the time because there isn’t shit to watch but yet it comes in handy on the ‘rainy days’. If I was one that had my rate hiked I would cancel..period.


    1. I believe they are flirting with disaster. Yeah, Wall Street responded to the price hike with glee, but if they don’t fix their long-standing and existing problems, I think they may see their position change from greatness to mediocrity.


  3. We got a Roku a couple months ago and love it! We haven’t been having any errors streaming Netflix through the box, but maybe the outages are regional. I do hate that Netflix doesn’t seem to be updating their catalog of instant content. Really bad move increasing their DVD rates before they have the instant content to justify the hike.
    Have you tried the Amazon streaming service? We’re thinking of subscribing cause they seem to have more current current movies, but we don’t know how reliable the service is.


    1. The Netflix errors I spoke about aren’t limited to only outages, but there have been two recent outages in the last two months or so. There is also a problem with their “app” on the Roku not working correctly. That has been an ongoing problem, although it is mostly an inconvenience.

      We tried Hulu Plus earlier this year for two months. That was one month of free trial and one month of “oops, we forgot to cancel.” We didn’t feel it compared to Netflix.

      We also got a $5 credit with the Amazon streaming service. It worked just fine. You can “buy” movies, which we have never done, or pay a one-time rental fee for a 24-hour period. The prices are comparable to the “on demand” feature with our cable company.


  4. Roku? I’m so out of it, I have never even heard of it. It sounds like a Japanese pottery glaze.

    Gosh, who has time to watch movies when the greatest show on earth right now is watching our country fall part right in front of our eyes! Free show! (Except for internet and cable fees.) We’ll pay the price later. There are no free shows.

    My daughter used to subscribe to Netflix, and she and her now-husband were glued glassy-eyed to the television screen when their movies came in, trying to watch as many as they could to get their “money’s worth.” My daughter fussed over her movie queue as if it were a sacred document.

    My husband and I get our movies from the public library. Checking out movies from the library is free although usually they are at least a year old. I seldom even watch them. Maybe, because it cost me nothing (other than our very high property taxes) to procure them? Maybe you will value these higher priced-rental-Netflix movies more? Just kidding. I think Netflix is a dying concept, and these higher charges are a last gasp at remaining solvent. I predict it won’t work. It’s like charging higher and higher taxes, sometimes you actually get less tax revenue. See, I can’t stop with the politics.

    As for a Harvard business degree. You don’t need it. You have more smarts than these Harvard sissies. Harvard is so over-rated. George W. Bush has an M.B.A. from Harvard. The current president has a law degree from Harvard. I rest my case. 😉


    1. Ooh. Sounds like someone is itching for more political content. I’ll see what I can do. 🙂

      What is the Roku? It’s the Japanese word for “six.” It’s also a little device you hook into your home theater system that allows you to play things like Pandora and Netflix (and much more) using only your existing WiFi.

      I previously wrote a post about the Roku you can find here.

      You’re lucky to have a library. I happen to live in “Deliverance territory” where the locals won’t approve taxes for things like libraries. They were cut from the budget and all closed down. We also don’t have 24/7 law enforcement patrols, either. I maintained my library card and used to go back in the good old days when they were still open.

      While debating Netflix with my boss he said that $16/month is still about what it costs for two people to go out to a movie these days. For that you get 2-4 DVD rentals a month plus a large library of streaming content. The price isn’t the end of the world, although I do feel they handled it badly.

      I think the Roku has a channel that offers university courses for free. Perhaps I can still get that Harvard M.B.A., eh? 🙂


      1. It’s very sad that you don’t have a library. There are a lot of government services that might be expendable, but a library isn’t one of them. I live in a fairly prosperous county, so it can afford a good library system — so far. We pay a lot in property taxes. We have excellent public schools, too — so far. However, property values are down, as they are everywhere, so tax money is dropping, so who knows when services will be cut?


  5. I’m so glad now that I never subscribed to Netflix while at school during the past six months. Now I don’t have to get all pissed off about them becoming greedy motherfuckers like every other company.

    By the way, The Good Girl is a really good film. It just goes to show that Jennifer Aniston is actually really talented and has just been in some pretty shitty movies.


    1. At this point, I think Netflix is still recommendable. They do have a lot of content on streaming. We’ve just been unlucky in that the last 10 movies we looked up were DVD only.

      If you were to consider it, I’d recommend visiting their website to see if they have enough to make you happy. Currently we’re digging through complete series (all seasons) of Cheers, Wings, The Tudors and Star Trek. (We rotate through ’em.) I hope to move on to other Star Trek series like The Next Generation, Voyager and Enterprise. (For some reason, no Deep Space Nine.)

      The Good Girl will have to be on DVD. Movies at the bottom of the queue could take years to come around, though.


  6. To maintain my present level of Netflix service (unlimited DVDs, with four out at once, and unlimited streaming), I’m only seeing a $2/month increase, which I can easily cope with. I’ve had some difficulty with audio on streaming, but only on a few titles, and really haven’t had any other problems with Netflix streaming. To me, they’re still well worth the money (and our streaming queue is close to 100, disc-only queue routinely bumping 150).

    As for limited content on streaming, scream at studios desperate to grab every possible penny and totally unable to cope with modern content delivery methods. As far as I can tell, Netflix is trying to expand that (cheaper for them, really, what with postage and handling costs for discs).


    1. I agree. A $2 price increase is a bit more palatable. Judging by the social media reaction, 60% didn’t sit well with a lot of people. And I understand about “Hollywood” driving up the price. They are the really greedy ones. Thanks for the comment!


  7. Catherine, yeah, it is sad. The “locals” (to put it kindly) don’t much cotton to fancy things like like libraries and law enforcement. Happiness is a warm gun and that’s all they need. So they reject all forms of property taxes. The county rate is about 50 to 60 cents per thousand of assessed value. Yep, that’s right. That is not a typo.

    All the politicians say we need jobs, yet no jobs (other than retail, of course) will come here. The area courts doctors but they always opt for elsewhere, too.

    Personally I think it’s the perfect place for the Abyss! I couldn’t have chosen any better if I had actually tried.


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