The other day I got an email from Netflix, subject line: "It's here! The Walking Dead Season 2 is now on Netflix." I tried to get excited about the fact that Netflix had something new for me to watch, but the problem is I really wanted to watch Season Two of The Walking Dead, so I paid 20-some dollars like two months ago to watch it on Google Play.
Google Play: $22.99 Netflix: Another reminder that that Netfilx's catalog is stagnant
Now, I'm not the most self-disciplined guy you've ever met, but I suspect that a lot of people consume media in a similar fashion. That's why people flock to theaters rather than wait to watch films in the comfort of their own homes; it's the same reason your Netflix DVDs have been sitting next to your television for the last month. When you want to watch something, you want to watch it now, not two months later or even two days later when it arrives in the mail because you got so sick of not watching Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol that you finally sent it back in order to get what you actually want to watch because it's not available to stream.
This is by design. Netflix sees itself as a "legacy service," something meant to supplement outlets that acquire content faster and for more money. And here's the thing, content distributors are multiplying like fruit flies in an unkempt dive bar. Redbox and Verizon are working on a streaming service that expected by the end of the year. That's in addition to the heavies—Google, Apple, Amazon, general theft. Did you know Walmart has its own streaming service?
It'll be interesting to see how this market unfolds, especially as the services go international and battle it out in other markets. I think it would be wise for Netflix to acquire at least some popular content earlier in the game back here on the homefront.
Then again, who am I? Just some guy who complains too much. Netflix has people who make lots of money to crunch numbers.