The Ultimate Streaming Showdown Pt 2: Netflix

Welcome to part 2 of Pop Philtre’s Ultimate Streaming Showdown. In part 1, I explained the parameters and the point system that I will use in evaluating each SVOD. Part 2 will focus on the big kahuna of SVODs – Netflix. Just to be clear: the score and evaluation that I will be detailing are based on my experience of NETFLIX PHILIPPINES. Catalog and Pricing may be different in other territories. 

You can check out Part 1 here

NETFLIX CUPVAL TOTALS

CATALOG

Right after its launch last year, Filipino users noticed that majority of Netflix’s library was missing. Content licensing is a mess to deal with so I was not surprised by the lack of movies and TV shows. To counter this, Netflix ramped up its Netflix Originals production this year, offering new and exclusive content almost every week.

A year removed from launch, Netflix Philippines still only has 7% of Netflix US’s library. But, I’m not sure how accurate this information is even though it is verified. The list from Finder doesn’t include the two series of Terrace House as well as Hibana – Spark.

Be as it may, the lack of quantity is more than compensated by its quality. Netflix PH boasts a strong TV library, having a substantial percentage of the top shows of all-time and of last year. It also has a substantial portion of the top 20 films of all-time but needs to improve on the best of last year’s movies.

Netflix’s focus on original content paid off as five out of the 20 best shows of 2016 were Netflix Originals. Moreover, it has become a dominant force during awards season as the outfit received 54 nominations and won 9 Primetime Emmy awards last year. On the other hand, Netflix Original films have not been as successful as its TV counterpart. The continued thrust of getting big-name actors, like Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and directors such as, Ava DuVernay and Cary Fukunaga will eventually pay-off.

True to its #NetflixEverywhere initiative, Netflix sports a wide variety of content from around the world. Netflix has Mexican (Club de Cuervos), Japanese (Terrace House, Hibana (Spark)), Norwegian (Lilyhammer) and British (Paranoid, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency) programming available in all territories. And based on reviews, most are also quite good.

Its Kids catalog is also stacked with big-name kid brands like A Series of Unfortunate Events, Angry Birds, Peppa Pig, My Little Pony, Skylanders, even He-Man and She-Ra. More than its catalog, Netflix also focused on the user experience of kids; having a separate interface that brings child-friendly programming at forefront and hides all of its adult programming.

Netflix often updates its library, launching Netflix Original content on a weekly basis. They also offer same-day airing for certain US shows. Currently, it has Shooter and Riverdale on this format. Netflix isn’t slowing down with its production as the company aims to create 1,000 hours of content this year. To top it off, users have the option of receiving content alerts via email or app notifications.

Netflix’s biggest weakness however is its lack of Filipino content. There's not a single trace of Filipino content in the service. And without any news of Filipino content getting distributed by Netflix anytime soon, it seems that it is still not compelling enough to cut your cable subscription.

USABILITY

Netflix main strength lies in its usability. For starters, Netflix went beyond the basic browser and mobile app expectations. The company invested on big-screen viewing, by creating Netflix applications for smart TVs and video game consoles. Not to mention, it also has seamless Google Chromecast support in case you want to project what you’re watching on your phone to your TV. I personally spend most of my Netflix viewing between its PS4 app and via Chromecast and have encountered no problems with it. Basically, it’s easy to watch Netflix on a small screen and a big screen.

Yet, the biggest advantage Netflix has with usability is its profile creation system. When you first sign-up for an account, Netflix will ask you a few questions about your age and content preferences. Your answers to these questions will help the system know what content to recommend and promote on your homepage. And it doesn’t stop there, the more you use the service, the better the recommendations it will offer. This makes Netflix seem like some SkyNet AI out to profile you but it does help a lot in the viewing experience. Lastly, Netflix allows an individual account to create up to five profiles. This means you can share your Netflix account to your family and have a separate profile for each member. That’s an invaluable feature to have since it means that you only need one Netflix subscription for your entire family.

Another important usability advantage is its superior search feature. You can search its catalog by title, actor, director, studio or genre. If you can’t find the specific title you are looking for, Netflix will be ready to provide suggestions. This becomes a handy feature when you’re unsure of what to watch.

Its menu bar is clear and simple. Content is categorized by genre and subgenre. Netflix also lets users flag shows or films that they want alerts on via its “My List” feature. 

The mobile app follows the same design as the desktop version for uniformity and easier use. I did experience a bug wherein the iOS app shuts down immediately after opening. Online playback lets you choose between auto, low, medium or high quality—perfect when you’re using mobile data. Offline playback also lets you choose the quality of the video you want to download. However, howtogeek has reported that Netflix has limitations with its Offline Playback. For one, the number of gadgets with the Offline Playback feature are limited to the plan that you have. Two, Netflix will only keep a certain video in your storage for a maximum of seven days. It will delete the content after seven days. Lastly, you have 48hrs to finish watching a certain video after the first time you press the play button. Netflix will delete the stored content whether you’re finished or not finished watching it.

“Binge-watch” is a term that Netflix popularized. Based on its profile system, search engine and recommendations feature, it is clear that the SVOD designed the app with usability in mind.

PRICING

Netflix offers subscription with three tiers. Content and features are the same across, but higher tiers have more flexibility with its features. For example, a premium subscription will allow you to use four screens simultaneously as opposed to the basic subscription’s one screen limit. Based on my experience, the basic subscription is fine. I’ve been on it since I started using Netflix and have not yet found the urge to upgrade my plan.

Subscription fee is its biggest weakness. A basic subscription will cost PhP 370, Standard PhP 460 and PhP 550 for Premium. Subscription is charged to your credit card every 30 days. It currently doesn’t have an annual subscription, so no 1-year discount. Credit card is the only mode of payment currently available.

To Netflix PH’s defense, they do have lower subscription fees compared to Netflix US. Moreover, Netflix PH subscription prices did not increase even when Netflix announced subscription will go up this year.

I’d also like to point out that for PhP 370, you can already get a basic cable subscription from SkyCable (Postpaid HD 299) or Cignal (FOX Plan 390). You may need to evaluate things more if you’re planning to cut your cable for Netflix.

Note: Globe Broadband currently offers free Netflix for 6 months when you apply for a new Globe Broadband postpaid plan.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Netflix Philippines may not have a vast catalog as its other international versions but it still has the same smart and solid service. The price can be a turn off but can still prove to be worth it if you’re into their exclusive content.