How good is Netflix as a replacement for LoveFilm?

So LoveFilm is over. DVDs and (later) Blu-Rays in the post, bought then later culled by Amazon on the altar of streaming services.

I’ve been using the service for years. When it came out it was like having a rental service which has loads of art-house, international and indie movies available. When Amazon bought it, I knew it was the start of the end.

The way my wife and I used it was to watch film review shows or get a recommendation from a friend or colleague and stick it on the list, or add things from a genre like the time I added all of the Mandarin Chinese speaking movies on LoveFilm. At some point in the future, we’d get a random disc in the post. Sometimes, the films would be terrible and I’d wonder why we put it on the list, sometimes it would be great.

The best thing was that if the film wasn’t out on DVD yet, or LoveFilm didn’t carry it, you could add it for later.

Amazon Prime and Netflix seem to be focussed on “I want to watch something now, what can I watch?”, rather than “I want to watch this thing at some point in the future.”. Also, if you search for something, you’re likely to get “no search results” or they’ll try to charge you £50 for a series of 80’s kids TV show Inspector Gadget (Amazon, I’m looking at you).

I’ve tried Netflix and Amazon Prime a few times, but can never find anything to watch. (I get access to NowTV every time a new season of Silicon Valley starts, then I cancel it when it’s over.) People can’t believe me when I say this, so I thought I’d do a quick bit of analysis.

Amazon LoveFilm provides a list of the last 200 films you rented on Amazon, and is kind enough to provide an API so I squished them together and hacked together a script to extract the names of the films from the Amazon web page and a Node.js script to run against the API. It’s not going to be 100% accurate, of course.

Don’t judge my family’s terrible taste, but the end results were that only 21% of the last 200 films we’ve watched are on Netflix, all the Hollywood, all the kids stuff etc. The best stuff just isn’t available on Netflix.

I’d better start looking for somewhere else to get good movies. Is Bittorrent still a thing?