Why I Cancelled My Netflix Subscription 📺
After a couple years of consistently paying for (my entire family’s) Netflix, I’ve just had enough.
It was surprisingly easy to cut the proverbial digital cord. When I went to cancel my membership, Netflix didn’t even try to keep me. I was expecting some sort of incentive — either in the form of a discount or some sort of ad for a show I hadn’t finished — but I got nothing but this multiple choice exit survey:
EDIT: Netflix did try to keep me — by sending me an offer to renew my membership at a discounted rate a week after I cut the imaginary cord.
At the time I cancelled, I honestly wasn’t exactly sure why I did it. But, seeing as Netflix prompted me to ask myself why, I’ll tell you exactly why. Hint: no, I’m not still bitter that they lost The Office to Peacock — and even The Office isn’t going to make me subscribe to Peacock Premium!
I will replace Netflix with another video service: ✅️
While I’ve made an active commitment to spending less time in front of screens over the last few years, I still enjoy turning on my old 36’’ Toshiba, booting up my Apple TV, and putting something on while I eat my takeout dinner. There are even days where I like to keep something on the in the background while I’m doing some mundane tasks like formatting spreadsheets or re-organizing my inbox.
So, even though I’m cancelling Netflix, I will be “replacing” Netflix with other streaming options. To be more accurate, I will be rebalancing my screentime to other streaming video on-demand apps on my devices (e.g. Amazon Prime and Apple TV+) and increasing my consumption of ad-supported video on-demand (e.g. YouTube and PlutoTV) as well. Overall, I don’t foresee myself watching less TV than I alraedy do.
I have an internet usage limit or slow internet connection: ❌
According to an FCC report in 2019, roughly 21 million Americans lack access to high-speed broadband. Most of those living in internet deserts are in rural or remote parts of the country. Similar disparities in rural-urban divide with respect to access to high-speed internet are also prevalent in other parts of the G20 including the United Kingdom, Canada, and other parts of the European Union.
Thankfully, I live in a large metropolitan area where broadband access is readily accessible and can support my streaming, gaming, and other internet habits. I also have an unlimited bandwidth plan so usage isn’t a big deal for me.
There aren’t enough good TV shows on Netflix: ❌
According to Just Watch, Netflix has over 1,800 TV shows in its library. That’s enough content to keep most people occupied for a very long time. Netflix has also taken strides to developing very high quality original shows, a number of which have won Emmy’s and received critical acclaim all over the world.
For me, it’s not that there aren’t enough good TV shows on Netflix; it’s quite literally the opposite. Netflix has more TV shows on its platform (roughly 1,800) than all but one SVOD platform in the US!
There are too many good TV shows on Netflix but Netflix (or, more precisely, its algorithm) hasn’t done a good enough job of convincing me to watch any of them!
Why is the algorithm leading me to stray away from Netflix? I think it just doesn’t — or can’t — make sense of my (read: the account that I share with my partner) rather odd tastes. For one, my partner and I were obsessed with watching Israeli dramas as well as the French thriller show, Lupin, (don’t worry, we put subtitles on). She then binged through older seasons of Too Hot To Handle and I put on some WWII documentaries after that. Intersperse some random watching of kids shows like Chip & Potato and I think we managed to completely stump Netflix with our completely random search and watch patterns. As a result, we didn’t receive any recommendations that had a higher than 90% match rate.
And, as much as I love scrolling for half-an-hour at a time to figure out what to watch, the poverty of riches of Netflix TV shows was just — dare I say — too hot for me to handle. The optionality of a massive catalog of titles to go through sounds great at first but, for someone who sees their TV time as an investment, gambling away twenty minutes on something Netflix recommended is just not a risk I’m willing to take. I would much more readily watch a series of YouTube videos, which, in aggregate, take up more than the time I’d spend looking for a new Netflix show and completing the first episode. It seems completely irrational but I can’t exactly explain why I’m wired to watch (or not watch) things the way that I do.
When I turn on Amazon Prime or Apple TV +, on the other hand, I’m given a limited number of options. For whatever reason, my mind seems most content with less content. The lack of optionality, in other words, seems to force me to choose something and, so far, those choices on both Amazon Prime or Apple TV+ have worked out well for me.
There aren’t enough good movies on Netflix: ️️✅️
I have come to grips with the reality that I have the attention span of a toddler. I just can’t sit still and always need to be either fidgeting with something or — more often — scrolling through my phone. My inability to focus on basic tasks like doing my day job without distracting myself prevents me from fully dedicating myself to anything that requires my semi-full attention. Movies are a casualty of my neurosis.
I just do not have the patience to watch movies anymore. Is that Netflix’s fault? Maybe; maybe not. Perhaps if the movie offerings on Netflix were compelling enough, I’d set aside a couple hours once a week once every few weeks to sit through a full screening but I just haven’t found anything that has caught my eye.
When it comes to movies, Netflix has the second most options of any US AVOD provider.
For whatever reason, I can’t seem to find many in that massive catalog that interests me enough to justify keeping my subscription!
Too much buffering or poor video quality: ❌
While buffering at times can get annoying, I’m not too hung up about Netflix’s video quality. In fact, I think it’s good for what I can get out of it. As someone who still uses a 32’’ Toshiba plasma TV from the early 2000s, it’s hard to pretend like I care about video quality. I have to admit thata I can’t tell the difference between 720p, 1080p, or 4K. I’m sure audiogeeks and video editors have a very technical reason for caring but I just can’t bring myself to care about it to the point where it would be a reason to cancel my Netflix subscription.
I am also a realist who understands that buffering likely has less to do with Netflix than it does with the hardware I’ve got at home. I’ve noticed buffering issues most often arise whenever I’m using my old 2nd generation Google Chromecast. When I use my Apple TV, on the other hand, buffering is a non-issue.
I don’t have time to watch Netflix: ✅
Call me old fashioned but I think we could all do with less time mindlessly streaming content. Speaking for my own circumstances, I spend most of my day on my laptop for work and for blogging afterwards so I can’t really afford to add more screentime to my life. In fact, I’ve had to put screentime limits on my devices (thanks for that, Apple!), which I often have to turn off in order to get a couple more minutes of work in.
On average, I watch about 1 to 1.5hrs of TV per day, not including video content that I consume as part of my job or through casually scrolling through social media apps — the latter of which probably adds at least a half-hour of video time per day. Let’s say I do indeed watch only two hours of content a day, if I added that on top of the time I spent working on my computer and blogging afterwards, I’m looking at close to a full 14 hours — or more — spent in front of screens! That’s almost every waking hour of my day!
Netflix is too expensive for me: ❌
Netflix recently rose the cost of its basic plan by a dollar; its premium plan went up two dollars. As the chart below illustrates, however, Netflix has been consistently upping its pricing and doing so more frequently over the last few years:
Given all the money that Netflix is spending on content, it’s no surprise that the company needs to find ways to boost its revenue per user. In fact, Netflix has more than doubled its annual content spend over the last 4 years, from $8.9 billion in 2017 to over $17 billion by 2021. Over this same period, its US ARPU grew modestly from just over $11 to around $13.50. At some point, Netflix has to either up its prices or look to other potential revenue streams.
Whether the rate hikes will lead to higher churn is a matter for debate. Historically, the higher prices haven’t led to noticeable churn. In fact, if you were to overlay the pricing changes against quarterly revenues and North American subscriber numbers, you’d notice little to no subscriber churn in quarters following pricing hikes and an almost negligible impact on revenues.
In my case, the price hikes aren’t my reason for cancelling. I can certainly afford to pay it but don’t feel like there’s any need to given the fact that I have other alternatives, there aren’t enough movies that suit my liking, and I just don’t have time to watch it anymore!
Are you still subscribed? Am I being too rash or too reactionary with my decision-making here? Let me know in the comments what you think!