For those of you who don’t know, Netflix launched in the UK yesterday and Jon and I went along to an event to find out all about Netflix, what it exactly we can expect from the streaming service and primarily to find out what it can offer over other services like LOVEFiLM which has been established in the UK for a fair few years now.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Netflix before, it’s been around in the US since 1997 and, just like LOVEFiLM, deliver DVDs and Blu-rays to homes through a subscription service (in the US only). They are huge players and on 25th February 2007, celebrated their 1 billionth DVD to be delivered to a US home.
The difference here in the UK is that they have decided not to go down the home delivery rental service but keep it completely online putting much faith into home broadband connections which are ever improving, but are they ready yet?
Netflix arrival to the UK is extremely good for us as consumers, only yesterday when Netflix launched, LOVEFiLM reduced the price of their streaming only service from £5.99 to £4.99 to undercut the £5.99 price tag that Netflix is charging however that offer ends tomorrow, 11th January so get in there quick before it goes back up to the usual price of £5.99.
There are however many differences between the two services and I’ll detail some of them here.
I’ve broken this article into various different sections details below. You can skip to the page you’re interested in by clicking here:
- Intelligence (scroll down)
- Social Media (scroll down)
- Home Rental (scroll down)
- Available Platforms
- Quality and Speed
Netflix has a rather intelligent system that will basically look at what you watch and then customise your homepage to your own likes meaning that you may get to find and watch films that you may not have heard of before simply because you have watched something else. LOVEFiLM doesn’t offer anything quite so bespoke as this and relies more on your finding movies within categories that you think you might like e.g. Action Adventure.
The Netflix system will also change organically with the way its users interact with the system. When we spoke with Ted Sarandos (Netflix Chief Content Officer) yesterday , he told us that the system has started off using American ratings simply because they had to start somewhere but already the system will be changing to cater for a more British taste. That said, it could be the system will remain the same as us Brits love a good US TV show anyway!
Another rather nice little feature from Netflix is the ability to remember where you left off while watching your movie. Imagine that you’re in the middle of Bravehart and you need to stop the movie to leave to go out. You then find yourself on a wifi-enabled train or at a friend’s house and you want to continue the movie where you left off but carry on watching it on your iPhone or Android enabled phone. Your Netflix account will remember where you were so when you click Play, the film will recommence from exactly where you left off. Genius!
I saw various reports yesterday of people complaining that they had to connect their Facebook account to Netflix to make the system work but this isn’t the case. If you don’t want to connect Netflix to your Facebook, you don’t have to. Simply sign out of Facebook and then sign up to the Netflix system for your month trial but from what we saw yesterday, having your Facebook connected to your Netflix is rather a fun idea as on the user interface, I can see my friends who also have Netflix to see what they like and what they recommend.
If you don’t want to share a particular movie with a friend, when the film starts you can click a ‘Do Not Share on Facebook’ button which will keep it private to you so no one will ever know that you’re a mad Mamma Mia fan!
LOVEFiLM does offer connections to social media but it’s very much more a manual process with clicking the Facebook ‘like’ button or ‘Tweet’ button to say that you like something rather than running through an automated process which may suit some people more.
This is where LOVEFiLM is the 100% winner here as Netflix have decided not to go down the DVD / Blu-ray and hope that home broadband connections are up to the task. I have a very fast 50mb cable connection here so I am good to go when it comes to all things streaming. The problems will come when people in rural areas who don’t have access to a broadband connection capable of delivering services like streaming movies. However, I saw a feature on The Gadget Show last week which gave us a look at the new 4G services that the main mobile phone operators will be delivering from next year and the speeds that were achieved were simply phenomenal. While out and about, the presenter was able to pull in speeds well above the average broadband speeds that we’re used to although these devices won’t be coming in until 2013 at the earliest so a little while to wait.
For now, LOVEFiLM will be the place for most people to get their movies if they want them in the home via a rental service as no other service comes close to what they offer.