Netflix makes changes to public API after “Streamageddon” backlash

8 Comments

Netflix (s NFLX) made some changes to its public API Monday night that make it harder to figure out which movies are going to be taken off the service. The company will no longer provide the expiration date of movies through its API, which will mean that third-party tools like Instantwatcher.com’s Expiring Soon on Instant list will stop working.

“With the frequent, often last minute, changes in content flow the title expiration data available through our API has been inaccurate, so we have decided to no longer publish this information,” a Netflix spokesperson said via email. The company’s Director of Engineering – API Daniel Jacobson reiterated this point in a post on the company’s developer blog, adding that members will still be able to find the expiration date for each movie or TV show episode on the title’s web page.

The move will likely impact a number of third-party services, and comes two months after Netflix essentially closed its public API to all newcomers. Back in March, Netflix said that it was no longer issuing new API keys because the way the company was changing the API had changed: Initially meant to enable third-party apps, Netflix’s API has been playing a key component for the technology behind the company’s streaming service.

Restrictions to public APIs have been a common pattern for companies like Netflix and Twitter in recent months, but it looks like there may have been another reason for Monday’s changes: Netflix took a number of titles off its catalog in early May, leading some publications to write about “the great Netflix Instant vanishing of 2013” or even a “Streamageddon purge.”

Not all of those stories were completely accurate. Some reported a number of 2000 titles disappearing, but Deadline put the number close to 1000. And reports that Warner was pulling titles off of Netflix to power its own streaming service were quickly denied by the studio.

Netflix clearly wasn’t happy about all that streamageddon talk. Now it looks like it pulled the plug on another part of its API to prevent us from freaking out in the future — like at the end of the month, when a number of Viacom shows are set to disappear from the service.

8 Comments

istreamguide

I’ve created a couple blogs that use numerous methods to show what is expiring on Netflix Canada and Netflix USA…updated daily! Even though Netflix discontinued the API access to expiry/expiring soon dates, they still show the expiring dates within their website. Take a look at NetflixUSAExpiring.blogspot.com and NetflixCanadaExpiring.blogspot.ca

Watcher

And still more changes–here is a clip from a email sent to a family member’s Netflix account:

We wanted to inform you of an important upcoming change to your Netflix membership. As of August 1, 2013, we will no longer offer a limited (5 hours per month) streaming plan.
Your DVD plan will continue at $4.99 a month, however, it will no longer include 5 hours of streaming per month as of your first billing date on or after August 1, 2013.

Random Guest

Stuff like the API change make me think Netflix is scrambling to hide its weaknesses. The problem with that is that making it a worse service is never going to help it retain members.

Murphy Belle

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FrankM

Netflix needs to stop being like a cable company “all programming and pricing subject to change at anytime” and more like Disney “Lion King and Lady & the Tramp go back into the vault April 30th”.

Largely, people hate their cable companies. Most people like Disney. Maybe try aligning yourself with the better liked company?

Byron M. G. Sanford, Esq.

@Morgan: I agree completely. The lack of transparency as to what is going on with Netflix’s collection is likely to cause me not to continue my subscription. I get less value from Netflix if I cannot plan my viewing. As a busy professional, my time is both valuable and limited. I have to plan time to watch shows and movies. If I don’t feel confident they will be there when I want them, then Netflix (and the same for competitors both present and future) hold far less interest for me. I seriously doubt I’m alone in this.

Morgan

Well, I suppose they have their policies and I have mine. I dropped Netflix for this very reason. After watching several episodes of A Touch Of Frost it disappeared. If I had known they were losing this series I would have increased my viewing frequency. Instead they lost me along with the series.

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