Netflix Removes Titles From Instant Queue To Hide The Fact They Are Expiring

Over the weekend, without telling users, Netflix decided to stop displaying all titles from users instant watch queue if the rights to stream the content has expired. In the past, these titles remained in the queue and if they were to expire soon, they would also list the date when they would no longer be available for streaming. While Netflix took to their blog on Saturday saying they made this change to, "make the instant Queue easier to manage", clearly all they are trying to do is hide the fact that so many titles are expiring.

Even though Netflix says they didn't actually remove any of the titles from the queue and that they will reappear once again if they get the rights to stream the title, the fact is users can no longer see them, or manage them. And since most of us probably don't remember what all those titles were, how are we suppose to add them to our DVD queue since they are no longer available for streaming? Not to mention, the titles that we can longer see in our queue, count towards the limit of 500 titles you can have in your queue at any one time. So if we can't see them, how are we suppose to delete them so that we can add more titles to our queue?

What Netflix has done is take the problem of too many streaming movies becoming unavailable and turned it into two problems; we can't keep track of them to add them to the DVD queue and hidden movies count toward our queue count but we can't see them to delete them. How dumb. Not to mention, Netflix says while it "looks like some titles are gone", they didn't "remove" them. Really? So we can no longer see them and we have no way to manage them yet Netflix says it only "looks like" the titles are gone? The titles are gone if w can't see them! I am getting so tired of Netflix's blog posts lately which are starting to sound like they are written by a bunch of lawyers being creative with words.

Netflix can try and spin this any way they want but the bottom line is that the Starz contract is due to expire in about five months and at that time, a lot of users would have a bunch of titles showing up in their saved queue and would starting realizing just how many movies are becoming unavailable for streaming. And some Netflix users would reconsider keeping their account active or not. This is simply Netflix's way of trying to make sure we don't notice what's expiring, by not letting us see all the movies in our queue. Brilliant job Netflix. You just made your service harder to use and you announced the change only after people noticed it and started complaining. You may be in the driver's seat now, but I can't wait till Amazon eats your lunch.

If I didn't have to review Netflix's streaming service across all the different platforms and devices for blogs and articles, I would have already cancelled my Netflix subscription.

  • Phyllis

    I did notice that over the weekend but just thought it was another of their now often computer glitches. If Netflix is trying to get more customers to cancel their service, they are doing a bang-up job. I already switched to streaming only, and am considering suspending my account. Thanks for the info.

  • Doug Hilmes

    Thanks for the post Dan. I just read an email from Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, saying they “messed up”. Boy did they ever – separating DVDs and streaming along with price increases, followed by the Starz expiration was incredibly poor execution. Over the weekend they mess with the Instant Queue operation, and today they write they are going to rename the DVD service “Qwikster” and will have separate non-integrated DVD and Streaming websites? I love OTT video and understand they have to move people to streaming, however these changes are too soon for the mass market. It will be interesting to see how competitors react and to read the Harvard Business Case Study in a few years!

  • http://www.tagteamtech.com Tom Streeter

    So I wonder what you’re writing about today?

  • Chris

    Canceling all subscriptions this week.

  • Dave

    The customer relations over at Netflix is a little suspect, but I actually like what they are planning on doing. Separating out the DVD side from the streaming side will makes things a little easier to handle as far as browsing and finding content. The addition of games make the Qwikster side of things still very attractive for the casual gamer and movie enthusiast, I stayed away from Gamefly because I game so infrequently that the price seemed too high. All that being said, all of the things I like are actually being delivered half-baked to the customer. Seems like there are a few solutions to help:
    1.) Keep the raised prices, let the cheapskates move over to some other service as they will find most pricing is comparable.
    2.) Easy linking of accounts between Netflix and Qwikster – Unless you have to have things completely separated there is no reason that you can’t control two different websites with one set of credentials.
    3.) Give some options in the user account for how “expiring titles” behave, if I could go into my account and set my expiring titles to be automatically added to my DVD queue once Netflix removes them I think that would help the transition.
    4.) Don’t count the “removed” title against my queue limit
    I have no plans to kill my Netflix accounts but the way they are executing their plan sure makes me wonder if it might come down to that someday soon.

  • Rob

    This is a pretty interesting potential explanation. http://abovethecrowd.com/2011/09/18/understanding-why-netflix-changed-pricing/

  • no qwikstars

    I went searching for this when I noticed that more than HALF my queue poofed. Netflix has destroyed the brand and I’m done.

  • Phil

    I think what we are seeing is an example of how to run a company into the ground as quickly as possible. Their stock was a “buy” before November 2010. Now it is a definite “sell”!
    CEO should be fired immediately. After all, he is the Captain of that sinking ship.

  • Jeremy

    It’s hard to believe Netflix is making moves like recent ones just to ruin everything. I somehow hope that the moves they’re making at this moment will show some kind of a solid business meaning in the future.

  • Steve

    Thanks for this blog post. I am over the limit with too many titles in my instant queue and I cannot add any more. However, over 50% of them are in the saved queue which I cannot access to manage. I am so fed up with netflix it is becoming not worth the ongoing bs they are attempting to feed us. I did get rid of the monthly “3 DVD service” when they were going to change that in October. I feel a lot better for doing so; no more queue mgt issues, no more post office runs, no more scratched disk, etc. I wonder what I would feel like if I got rid of streaming… hmmm, no more frustration with the streaming failures, Internet issues, constant bs netflix changes…

  • dave

    I noticed this too. Also on the Instant-Watcher app, I saw lots of A-Movies expiring on 1/1/2012, while not being replaced by similar titles. I guess I have my New Years Eve cut out for me!

  • Rob

    Last night we noticed a pile of British comedies have all vanished from Netflix. Chef, Black Adder, Vicar of Dibley, Manchild, Waiting for God, to name a few…. poof! I watched a couple of these just a few days ago.
    No notice anywhere as to why. I have other sources to choose from now. I think NetFlix has cheesed me off for the last time.

  • ben

    these guys made it my show of 300+ hours of streaming go to dvd only and ive barely scratched the surface of the TV series..im mad. no more netflix for me.

  • Jan McClurg

    I have been trying for over an hour to add Downton Abbey series 2 Disc 1 to my queue. But have had nothing but problems with this simple task. I will probably cancel my subscription soon because of this annoying frustration.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Max-Abel/100003362079655 Max Abel

    I got netflix a few months back, and at first I was quite impressed. They even had shows like the Adventures of Brisco County JR! which was amazing to see again, but then it disappeared, recently Ancient Aliens has disappeared, along with many other shows that USE to be there. They are very obscure about thing “expiring” I dont remember seeing an expiration date ANYWHERE. I will go to Amazon if this continues.

  • michael Rowley

    Far too many of the classic movies which Netflix should have been streaming were already missing. Many of the Hitchcock movies like Nirt by Northwest and Rear Window. What bugged me most was when the Big Lewbowski was removed a couple of months ago.

    All but one Charlie Chan move was cut this round and as far as I know none of the Thin Man movies was ever there.

    I heard WalMart dropped streaming in some kind of under the table deal with Netflix.

    Like Blockbuster perhaps it is time for a new leader in streaming.