Have you ever watched a movie and wished for the past 90 minutes of your life back? There have been countless times where that has happened to me, and at times you can’t help but blame your preferred streaming platform for suggesting such an awful movie to you. It may seem as if the platform pushes forward the newest releases to increase views (and ultimately profit), instead of actually recommending a delighter. Streaming platforms try to excel in their user design and experience, yet they tend to fall flat in some aspects. In this blog, I’ll explore the pros and cons of several platforms that I use to find some ideas for the ultimate streaming experience.
Pros: original content, popularity
Cons: lack of content, poor recommendations
If we’re talking honestly here about Netflix, I would say that its only redeeming qualities are their original documentaries and docuseries, and their worldwide reach. As one of the most popular streaming platforms, Netflix was one of the first of its kind to offer videos on demand on multiple platforms like web browsers and apps. However, the issue with Netflix lies within their available content. While the movies and television shows vary by region, it appears that most of the time Netflix never has what you’re looking for.
Netflix does have a match feature based on your previous viewing history, but it is criminally flawed.
Take a look at the two screenshots below from my Netflix account as an example:
As you can see, the first movie I only made it about halfway through before turning it off out of boredom and disinterest. Mind you, this was also about three years ago that I sat down to watch this movie, yet Netflix still concludes that it’s about a 72% match to my taste, meaning I (theoretically) should enjoy it. The second image shows the loading page for the new Netflix series Bridegerton, which I genuinely have no interest in watching as I normally indulge myself in horror movies or true crime shows. Yet, Netflix still affirms that Bridgerton is almost a 100% match for me relating to my past viewing history. To further my point, here is a quick view of my most recent Netflix viewing activity, where I will let you judge to whether Bridgerton would actually be a 98% match:
Pros: nostalgia, new content
Cons: no suggestions, slow loading times
Disney+ definitely beats out all other platforms when it comes to major franchised content available to watch (think Star Wars and Marvel). Essentially every film or televsion show that Walt Disney or Pixar has ever made is available to watch, which drives home the idea of childhood nostalgia at a time when we didn’t have anything else to worry about except Nemo finding his way home. On top of that, any new movies that Disney creates are available almost instantaneously on the platform, meaning you can watch the newest theatrical releases from the comfort of your own home (this, of course, comes at an extra charge though).
My qualms with Disney+ lies in the fact that there’s no way to find new movies you may like except through trial and error, reiterating that you may end up watching something you hate or not finding anything to watch at all. Furthermore – while this may be nitpicking – when watching a TV series on Disney+, the full screen minimises itself to reload the next episode, a feature that Netflix seems to have resolved on their platform. Additionally, loading Disney+ on a web browser takes longer than one may like, leaving the viewer to stare at a loading circle for up to several minutes (quite possibly due to server lag). An incident like this may leave many to abandon the platform and opt for another streaming site.
Pros: Included in AmazonPrime for students, IMDB scores
Cons: Confusing interface
I rarely frequent Amazon’s streaming service, Prime Video, but occasionally I venture over there just to see what’s available. To be fair, the only reason I have Prime Video is because it is included with my monthly student Amazon Prime membership, but if it were not for this I probably wouldn’t bother.
Aside from that, one thing I do really like about Prime Video is that they include the IMDB rating next to the movie title, so that one can determine whether the movie is good or not before watching it. This is an inherent risk for the show or movie’s producer but provides a real metric curated by votes from actual viewers and critics. Still, personal taste is objective, and like Disney+, Prime Video does not offer a matching feature so one must rely on the IMDB scores alone.
Prime Video is slightly confusing as they offer both ‘Free with Prime’ movies and television shows, but also other media that you have to pay for. When searching for a title, you are unable to categorise whether you want to only view the free or pay-per-view content. Moreover, while Prime does have a button you can press to only view free content, you can’t filter the search any further; meaning you have to look through every single movie and television show, whether you like that genre or not. On top of that, the free options on Prime Video are usually much smaller and unheard of movies and television shows whereas everything else needs to be paid for.
Pros: horror movies, internal rating system
Cons: original content, false advertising, uncategorized content
I’ve been using Shudder since it launched. Horror movies are by far my favourite genre of film, so when I heard that for only $5 per month you can have access to the largest database of horror movies on the internet, I was sold!
What I love most about Shudder is that it has its own internal rating system where viewers can rate movies out of five skulls and add their own comments. The skull ratings from watchers are then taken into account to give the movie an overall skull rating. This has been beneficial in so many ways as there’s a lot of terrible horror movies out there and the rating and comment system saves me from wasting my time.
Unfortunately, unlike Netflix, Shudder’s original content never seems to be that good. Sure, there are a couple outstanding Shudder exclusives like Host (genuinely one of the scariest movies I’ve seen in a long time), their own content only seems to garner around three out of five skulls. I put faith and trust in the comment and rating system, meaning most of the time I choose to opt out of their original content as it seems to be a bad movie.
When searching for movies to watch on Shudder, you can either look through categories or just through the ‘all movies’ page, which both have their flaws. The categories page is not updated as frequently as movies are uploaded to Shudder, leaving a lot of the films out of each section. Furthermore, the category pages often feature films that Shudder doesn’t even have. For example, for the longest time their “Haunted Habitations” section featured a still from the movie The Innkeepers, a movie that Shudder has never had available on their platform. This leads to confusion on the audience’s part as the image may peak their interest but they are unable to watch it.
If you choose to search for a movie through the “all movies” section, you can scroll through for hours, but if you decide on a movie, read the ratings and decide its not for you and try to go back, it brings you all the way back to the top of the list and leaves you to scroll through it all over again.
The Ultimate Streaming Platform
So what would my ideal streaming platform look like? In an ideal world we would be able to watch every movie and television show ever made all for free at the click of a button. However, I realise this isn’t realistic so here is my proposal.
The streaming service should have an internal rating and comment system so that users can input their own thoughts. Similarly, the platform should also include either IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes ratings for a more conclusive and professional opinion. In tandem, the platform should offer a matching system based off your viewing history, instead of just pushing forward bigger names that aren’t relatable to the viewer at all.
Furthermore, the platform should have the ability to work seamlessly on all devices – whether a web browser or app.