21st Oct2013

The encouraging advancement of Netflix UK

by Chris Cummings

Netflix-browse

In January, 2012, Netflix launched in the UK as an exclusive streaming service, offering film and television at the simple click of a button for the low price of £6 per month, with the first month usually being offered for free as a trial.

In the UK, Lovefilm had been the predominant service for rentals for a while and offers a streaming service of its own, a direct competitor to Netflix, to this day. The UK, unlike the US, didn’t receive the option of hard-copy rentals from Netflix though, meaning Lovefilm would still hold much of the market for people who wanted DVD’s or Blu-ray’s through the post, to watch on their media player of choice. Blockbuster Video offers a similar service, though the stores are becoming less and less commonplace in the UK today.

Netflix, back when it launched in the UK, was a sight for sore eyes, offering plenty of well-known television and movies on first glance and appealing to movie lovers of all kinds. I for one subscribed at the launch and have remained a subscriber to the service ever since, but its not all good news.

After a few months it became apparent than the UK Netflix wasn’t having new content added very frequently and new releases were fairly uncommon. The US and Canada’s streaming services offered much more recent and big-deal television and film and had a much, much deeper level of content. It was a shame for British movie and TV fans, being offered a service that was so definitively inferior to the ones offered Stateside.

There are reasons that the UK’s service was so different to the one offered elsewhere, including the fact that it was a brand new facility that needed time to develop, certain companies weren’t able to offer certain titles in Europe for whatever reason and the UK service was required to include a lot of British television and film, leaving less space for well-known non-UK made releases. These facts still didn’t make up for an inferior product though and many initial supporters of Netflix UK took their custom elsewhere, some to the competition, Lovefilm.

We are now two and a half years down the line from when the service was launched and things are quite different now. The comparison to the Netflix services offered elsewhere is not as vividly dissimilar as it was a year ago, with new releases being added much more regularly and bigger, more popular titles finding their way to the inflating list of content now on offer. The UK Netflix has improved, quite considerably, since its inception and this only increases chances that the service will continue to grow, advance and gain more subscribers in the process.

There are still issues to be found but it is plain to see that the people in charge are doing a good job at providing positive steps in the journey to make the UK service just as good as other countries’. Last month the “Netflix List” was added, a simple yet popular feature that allows users to add any title to their own personal “list” to watch later. A way to keep track of titles so the user doesn’t forget about them, the list has been a facet used stateside for a long while, so it’s nice to see it added to the UK’s edition.

As for content, well, it just keeps getting better. There are “New Releases” and “Recently Added” sections which allow users to see the newest content that’s been made available, though it is hit and miss at the moment with what it shows, sometimes seemingly not including major additions right away, meaning the use of websites offering lists of newly added titles is still a necessity for many. Hopefully this small, yet frustrating, issue will be worked out soon.

Netflix UK is certainly the best streaming service that we have in this country, having tried the others on offer and considering cost, ease of use, quality of content and other elements when coming to that conclusion. Its obvious improvements and vast array of great film and television shows make it a great way to watch old favourites, discover new favourites and see titles that otherwise you might be blind to.

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