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.