Netflix came to Russia. To me nothing has changed really. I tried to check and immediately said “nyet” (“no” in Russian).
It is no secret that American television has won the world with its numerous series. Hey, American television is beating American cinema, it might sometimes seem. There are many reasons for that. Quality scripts, gripping action, good acting, ability to watch it from the comfort of your couch and pyjamas, no need to say goodbye to your favourite characters after an hour and a half.
I am no exception still spending costly dollars on next seasons of a number of shows. Well, I haven’t even watched all of those I already bought. Good old DVDs, Amazon, region-free DVD-player, 5.1 system to enjoy all the benefits of surround sound and sound effects.
Most of my friends have long abandoned any physical discs in favour of torrents. Some people might even pay for some kind of free or paid streaming services. Internet speed nowadays allows for both options. American television comes free of charge and fresh off the camera to Russian homes to the majority of viewers. Sometimes they wait for the Russian dubbing and subtitles, but the advanced public is quite able to consume the original soundtrack whenever a new episode comes out.
Not me. Not that I am scared much of being caught downloading anything illegally. Not that original soundtrack is unavailable (I do not watch anything in Russian on principle). Not that the quality is bad. It is just a matter of habit and principle. Consider me the last standing fortress of legality and old media types. I have my reasons. For one, DVDs do not eat traffic, burn electricity on having a computer work 24/7, do not hook me to possibly unreliable Internet services or connection. They allow me to watch and re-watch any episode with a few clicks from a remote. I can actually go back to any shows any number of times without having to re-download or re-connect. It certainly comes at a cost of space eaten by physical discs and at a cost of slight inconvenience of having to deal with physical media. I would probably go with all my film and TV library compacted to a single external hard drive. But on the other hand, physical media gives some sort of connection to the content, albeit subjective.
I order DVDs from both US and British Amazon depending on the origin of shows and price. Plus I sometimes buy films in Russia. This means that I have DVDs with various regional codes. I don’t even understand how anti-trust authorities worldwide let corporations instill those regional coding in the first place. Corruption, I guess, with huge bribes and not-giving-a-shit-attitude. If you think of it, geoblocking is worse than piracy. Anyway, I can survive only with region-free player.
But here comes Netflix. As I’ve said connection is getting better, TV-sets allow for all types of connections. Maybe this is the solution for the space and price issues? Why not try to make a shift towards streaming, especially a legal one if I still want to hold the fortress?
The reason the switch is impossible is akin to the issue of DVD geoblocking. Netflix doesn’t let you watch their entire library, it all depends on the country you are in. You can use VPN and whatever else is there to circumvent the limitations, you’d say. Yes, but why should I bother and fool the system just because it fools me?
If Netflix doesn’t want to show me everything they’ve got, I don’t want to sign up and pay for the limited service. If Netflix doesn’t even want me to see what’s in their catalogue before signing, I don’t even want to sign up for a free month. I’ll continue to be quite happy with region-free DVD player that doesn’t limit the DVDs I can watch on it. A vivid example is House of Cards that you cannot legally watch on Netflix in Russia. Fortunately I have first three seasons on DVDs. Besides, I am sure that the range of shows I buy is much wider than the range offered in even the entire Netflix library.
Hence come the limitations of such services to public in general, not just me. For one, Netflix limits you to the shows it has (which is not all shows). Further on, Netflix limits you to even a smaller amount of content just because you happen to be from the wrong country. Is it customer-friendly? Certainly not, double times not. If Netflix says “nyet” to me, I say “nyet” to Nyetflix.