Netflix is Blockbuster from 2012

April 22, 2022

Blockbuster sign “Distressed Blockbuster Video Sign” by trebomb1

I joined Netflix when it was Blockbuster in your mailbox, and it did exactly what it advertised: it allowed me to rent any movie available on DVD regardless of publisher.

As Netflix pivoted to streaming, I was excited at the prospect of being able to watch any movie ever made. I was convinced movie makers would cash in on the long tail of their obscure catalog that sat unplayed, because they would cheaply make a couple bucks off each movie. But the opposite happened: movie owners withdrew their catalogs from Netflix and into their own silos, and I found myself finding fewer and fewer movies on the platform. It got to the point where I didn’t bother searching any more, because odds were, the movie wouldn’t be available.

Yes, Netflix countered this trend by financing their own shows—some are very good and successful! But the idea that Netflix failed to fulfill their mission to bring every movie available on a single platform somehow seems…more salient to a long-time customer like me.

I suppose newcomers to the platform won’t have the same nostalgia that I do, and will accept Netflix as yet another self-producing streaming platform. Who knows? All I know is that I wanted Netflix to be 2005 Blockbuster in my browser, but now all I have is the one from 2012.

  1. “Distressed Blockbuster Video Sign” by trebomb, licensed under CC BY 2.0