Canada feeds off American culture — the history of Canadian media can be read, in part, as a nationalistic defence against American influence (which in turn can be explained by the events 199 years ago). In the digital age however, with geo-fencing thriving, access to Hollywood is being limited in the Great White North. No Pandora. No Hulu. And until recently, no Netflix.
As a recent American resident, I became a immediate Netflix junkie. In less than three years, I watched more than 500 movies (and rated another 2,020 and had 3,573 suggestions). There were nearly 400 more in my DVD and Instant Viewing queue.
My move back to Canada coincided, coincidentally, with Netflix unveiling a Canadian streaming-only service. And the results have suggested Netflix is struggling to understand its customer base.
The first example, not including the unnecessarily astroturfed launch, is that Netflix has no way to import U.S. account history into a Canadian account. This despite the fact many Canadians retain U.S. residency for part of the year and others pretend to do so.
More bizarrely, there is no way to queue movies.
Each time a Canadian wants to view a movie on Netflix, he needs to search for it and hit play — and that is a powerful disincentive. In the U.S., my curated list of movies was the reason I returned to the site. That queue made it so simple to find those movies I’d discovered by using Netflix. In turn, it was the reason I renewed my service month in and month out.
Netflix allegedly thinks queuing isn’ for streaming movies. The lack of the feature in Canada suggests similar changes may be coming to the U.S. as well. (Already, the add to DVD queue functionality was removed from the connected devices on the U.S. service.)
For a company famous for iterative improvements to its user experience, I still am having a hard-time understanding the business justification for removing a tool that justified for customers a reason to keep watching movies.