Thursday, January 10, 2008

This Weekend's Release

I'm only going to address some of the smaller items that the Community team has opportunistically tweaked on the site.

The first is simply a very prominently presented link to the blog (the link is on the far right):




The second is a simple re-ordering of the movies in actors/director's filmographies. It may not seem like much, but this has been somewhat irksome to many of us here for some time. On the left/top is the presentation today (movies sorted alphabetically), on the right/bottom is the new presentation (sorted by release date).



We've cleaned up some of the logic on the Movie Lists page, which should make this more useful -- although the improvements may not be so obvious. Most of the work in Community these days is behind-the-scenes: a larger effort that will take some time to roll out. I promise to alert you to what is coming as it approaches release later this quarter. In the meantime, my team will only be releasing smaller tweaks (some might not even be noticable) to the site you use.

These changes were live on the site beginning at 6pm Friday evening, Jan 11. Check 'em out.

(I will let some others around here blog post news about the New Release pages, which i believe will be shortly.)
UPDATE 1/11/08 - I've just been told that the more official update won't be posted to the blog until mid-next week, I'm sorry to report.
UPDATE 1/17/08 3pm - All the teams here continue to read your comments and work on this issue, but there is nothing new to report.

89 comments:

  1. Woo hoo, I have noticed a lot of weirdos getting really mad that it wasn't easy to find the blog. Now we can truly have a community experience. I truly await comment spam from the worst of the worst.

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  2. It's good to get back to Community stuff! But when you said "I'm only going to address some of the smaller items that we have opportunistically tweaked on the site." Did you mean have already tweaked or are going to tweak? I don't see the blog link on the community home page.

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  3. The second is a simple re-ordering of the movies in actors/director's filmographies. It may not seem like much, but this has been somewhat irksome to many of us here for some time. On the left/top is the presentation today (movies sorted alphabetically), on the right/bottom is the new presentation (sorted by release date).

    This is great. I hope this will eventually get extended to all movies in your database, so that we can sort movies by release date when browsing or looking films up by genre.

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  4. Thank you Michael! I really like that the blog will be back where it belongs.

    The neat new addition of being able to sort movies by date (albeit only under actor/director) is a really subtle segue into another DATE matter...

    (I will let some others around here present the plan for the New Release pages; I'm assured it will be addressed shortly.)

    Yeah, especially since you wrote that it would be "adressed" this week and it's now Thursday...

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  5. anonymous wrote:
    I hope this will eventually get extended to all movies in your database, so that we can sort movies by release date when browsing or looking films up by genre.

    That would be a really cool feature, but since Netflix thinks something as simple as the RTW page is too much trouble (RTW's basically a search on a release date), I don't think such an addition is going to happen... But I really would love if it did.

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  6. Agreed Knaldskalle... I'm the person who already wrote about that in the previous thread. I realize that we probably won't get to sort everything by date site-wide because of the same reasons they took away the RTW page. But I can dream right?! Or at least, I can keep requesting the obvious features that are missing and hope for the best.

    I know that you (and myself as well) were very critical of their decision to remove the blog link from the easy to find spot on the website, and now, months later they're finally realizing it was a mistake and putting it back. Good to know that someone, somewhere is paying attention and making some good choices. Hopefully that will continue and they'll do the right thing with RTW as well (or at least give us second best and allow all the movies to be sorted by release date).

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  7. I'm the person who already wrote about that in the previous thread.

    Oh, that anonymous. :-)

    Good to know that someone, somewhere is paying attention and making some good choices. Hopefully that will continue and they'll do the right thing with RTW as well (or at least give us second best and allow all the movies to be sorted by release date).

    You're right, but it would be so much easier for us all if Netflix just listened to us in the first place. They could eliminate that 6 month delay and not anger anyone.

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  8. Keep up the good work, Michael. The Community page continues to get better over time (though I still long for a few of the older features to return).

    Now I have a question for the blog Community or Michael:
    Do secondary profiles not see % Similarity across Netflix or is it just my account?

    From my wife's profile I can see similarity % to Friends, but not to any of the reviewers and the "Similar Tastes to You" box does not populate. Perhaps that would be something to add to the wish list so that more community can be built.

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  9. About that RTW page-- It seems a bit louche to make a second comment on the same issue, but it’s been a week and I’m taking a bit of a different approach, so here I go.

    First, a user hint for quicker turnarounds. Did you get a disc shipped in from a different warehouse than your regular one? Watch out! The return envelope is addressed to that other shipping center! Throw the return envelope away, and return the disc by doubling up in one of the envelopes from your regular shipping center. Otherwise it’ll take one or two extra business days in the mail for your return to make it to that other warehouse. You can plan ahead by doubling up when you don’t need to, and saving out a couple of extra return envelopes.

    Now, my main point: Of the four screens under the old New Releases heading, the one that I used the most and miss the most was the New On DVD section. You’ll find it hidden away at http://www.netflix.com/MoreNowOnDVD?lnkctr=NavNowOnDVD . It’s longer than the Releasing This Week page and doesn’t all fit on one page, but:
    --it includes star ratings
    --it is sortable by star rating, by title, and even by MPAA rating
    --it includes the year of original release (or broadcast) and the number of discs in the series
    --you can even apply your own star rating right from that screen.

    New On DVD has been a wonderfully useful tool for me. I use it nearly every visit to Netflix. I have found many more interesting discs through New on DVD than I have through Movie You’ll Love. Frankly, the Netflix recommendation process does not work for me.

    When I started my membership on Netflix (twice – I had a lapse of several years between memberships) I filled my queue through heavy browsing of the various genres and categories. That took a month or more of browsing and adding, both times, but I got to the point where I was reasonably familiar with what Netflix had to offer, and only really interested in finding out what was coming in new from the studios. That didn’t mean just films that were fresh out of theatrical runs, but it could mean quite old movies that were finally on DVD for the first time, or had gone out of print and were being reissued. It also included television series, made for TV movies, and various direct-to-video projects. I have eclectic tastes.

    My membership includes a one-disc queue for my son, and his tastes are very typical of a 10 year old boy. He wants to watch lots of Scooby Doo and SpongeBob Squarepants and even Tom and Jerry – and he doesn’t care if they are old or new, he just fills he queue up with them. But he is also very influenced by the commercials he sees on tv for new films. “No, we won’t take you to Alvin and the Chipmunks,” I tell him. “I couldn’t stand to see it with you or waste my money on it. Add it to your Netflix queue now, and when it comes out on video it’ll work its way up to the top.”

    And that’s what he does. Sometimes he’ll move a movie to the top of the queue when it finally releases on DVD, and if he does I’ll warn him that there will be a wait, and suggest other movies to put ahead of it. But usually he is content to leave his queue alone and let it rise up at the natural pace.

    There are other tools I use. When I read a movie review in the Washington Post, or the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, or in the City Paper, and the movie sounds interesting, I’ll add it to my queue, even if the movie hasn’t come out on disc yet. It’ll probably show up eventually.

    Every so often I’ll go to IMDB and click through their Now Showing titles for the past several months, find things there that look interesting, and add them to my queue in advance. I figure this has got to be useful to Netflix, too. By adding movies to the queue before they are released, Netflix will have some indication of future demand and adjust their purchasing accordingly.

    When I like a movie a lot, I’ll start exploring other movies from the same director, or the same actor, or the same writer. My queue is full of movies directed by Peter Greenaway and Ken Russell and John Waters and Tim Burton, movies written by Charlie Kaufman, movies starring Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci – and you’ll probably notice that there are connections between most of those people that bring me all over the map.

    So the New On DVD tool isn’t the only tool that I use, but it is an important tool. And yes, there are workarounds. I can go to other sites to get the information, but it takes longer and is more awkward, it requires more keystrokes to search the movie on Netflix and add it to my queue. And when I do all that, I feel a bit abused by Netflix.

    Repeating: I feel abused by Netflix. New On DVD is a great tool. The new business model of Netflix requires hiding New On DVD from most of the Netflix users in the hopes that they will put older releases in their queues instead of new ones. And the strategy relies on “well, if we don’t tell them, then they won’t know.” And that strategy is insulting and condescending. That strategy puts Netflix and the customers in an adversary position. That strategy is a horrid mistake because it makes customers feel frustrated, insulted, and abused.

    None of us are saying that Netflix should take away the new tool, the four-film slider that only shows movies in abundant supply. It is might be a very satisfactory tool to some of the customers. But put back the old tools too – the New Releases, More New Releases, Releasing This Week, and New on DVD, so those of us who use them can find them easily and without having to make extra bookmarks or extra trips through the menus.

    I picture a scared executive hiding away in an office somewhere. This plan was his baby – “just hide the information,” he said, “they won’t miss it, and they’ll cut way back on queuing new releases. We won’t have to lay out as much money on the new releases, and everyone will be happier because they won’t have waits for their discs.”

    And now the scared executive is fighting a holding battle. “Just give me a month. Just one month. The numbers will improve. The complaints will die down. We’ll be stronger. The new members won’t miss what they don’t have. Anyone who drops out will be replaced by people who don’t want new films.”

    Maybe that scared executive is reading the blog, shooting memos left and right to whoever he can, trying to calm them down. Maybe he is posting rebuttals to the blog every time a customer complains. Maybe is one of -those- guys.

    Or maybe not. I think that some of the zillion-post trolls on here are practicing reverse psychology. They’re taking the Netflix side of the argument, but doing so in such an obnoxious and insulting way that everyone will end up hating Netflix more. Defensive executive or devious troll, whichever, they’re just adding oil to the flames.

    Remember that we are your customers. We are upset because the service that we enjoy and pay for has changed in a bad way, in a condescending way, in an insulting way, and Netflix isn’t responding.

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  10. @*daha*: There's no way I could have put it as well as you. Thank you.

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  11. I'm looking forward to the new re-ordering of actors/director's filmographies. I like it for 2 reasons: 1) Increasing similarity to movies sites that present infomation in a chronological fashion, thus making it easier to locate and cross-reference and 2) Sometimes I'll get a recommendation for a particular actor or director but with the caveat along these lines-- "check out his early work, or everything after ____ is great." Now I can do that without irritation. Thanks!!!! :)

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  12. Wait, so apparently I'm bad for always having new releases or other out of stock movies at the top of my queue? I mean, I understand those ones are going to have waits and I don't get in a fuss over not getting my #1 film every time, it is just a convenience issue.

    Anyway, I really do hope they'll break the release year sorting to other areas, namely my rating archive. I use Netflix as my storage space for ratings so when I make an end of year top 10, it would be nice to be able to group the year's movies together.

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  13. What the heck is it with all these folks feeling guilty about what's at the top of their queue??! Load 'em up! It's all about what dvd's YOU want, and if everyone else want's it too, all the better.

    If you find you have a self-diagnosed case of throttling, then do yourself a favor and create a second and third profile. You will double or triple your chances for that "gottahaveit-gottahaveitnow" movie. As an added benefit, you'll be able to fave and freind and send notes to yourself.
    Don't knock it 'till you've tried it. Increase queue capacity to 1500 with three separate queues!

    I rarely wait. On tuesday night, "3:10 to Yuma" was spectacular, but I am still waiting for "Rattatouie"(sic).

    @priv8pete-
    when setting up additional profiles, you must select the option of allowing community access for those profiles (good to have that option for the younger kids's profiles).

    misc.:
    a.- soting by writer would be good, too.
    b.- old 3:10 or new 3:10 ? which wins?
    c.- eleni, those yer cupcakes?

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  14. Yipee! A good idea!
    "The second is a simple re-ordering of the movies in actors/director's filmographies. ... ..(sorted by release date). " If I'm looking at someone's body of work, it makes sense that it should show in chronological order. I can put the movie into a broader context: this is a young Michael Caine movie, or that is one of the later Hitchcock films, etc.
    However, since there are columns, wouldn't it be nice to be able to sort by the column headings? Date, Title, Stars.

    "(I will let some others around here blog post news about the New Release pages, which i believe will be shortly.)"
    I hope that the news is that they are bringing back the RTW page. Yes, I know, over a thousand comments last week beat the topic to death, but it was a resource page that I used to use every week.
    And I also hope that they will rename the Sliders page. "New Releases" does not accurately describe what you find on the page. It would also be good to have a "Not interested" button on the sliders page. The page stinks as it is, but it would be less bad if I could get rid of dvds that I don't want to ever watch.
    ~ Rusty

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  15. Ditto yipee! Not just for finally turning the page (YIPEE!!), but also for rationalizing those somewhat amorphous actor/director lists.

    And in the spirit of turning the page, Gang, please please please post all thoughts about u-no-wot down below in the Happy New Year thread.

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  16. Thanks Michael & gang, this will be a nice addition. Very useful for sorting long running series that aren't ordered by season, like MST3K and the original Doctor Who's.

    Though a lot of the MST3Ks still have dates for the original movies rather than when the MST3Ks were made.

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  17. Michael... MAC's are billed as being "built" for movie/music and video lovers.
    And in fact the advertisements state they are for overall entertainment. So, my question- when can I benefit from the online experience (watch instantly) my friends with PC's are enjoying? I think the Netflix team is doing a great service to the folks who for one reason or another chose not to rent or go to movie theaters... But, when can loyal MAC users have this added convenience?

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  18. These tweaks look great.

    I have one fervent request -- which I'm sure would be shared by many. If the blog is to become more visible again, particularly now, when hackles are raised, please have someone from Netflix monitor it from time to time, and admonish -- even eject -- any obvious troublemakers, agitators, flamers, etc.

    Thank you.

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  19. @MAC user:
    Come on guys... believe me or not ... this is an Apple issue. I'm a Mac user, so are many of us at Netflix. We are dying for Apple to release their DRM to us. But let's be serious -- and if you're a true Mac fanatic you know this without me saying it: Apple has NEVER been particularly open with the OS and other aspects of their strategy. We all love Apple, but they do this kind of thing from time to time. It clearly makes strategic sense for them to try to keep their DRM proprietary, and while we are anxious for them to change their mind, or for our own teams to develop a workaround, you've got to believe we're working as hard as we can at this. Steve (not Swasey) has written here a while back about what he was trying to do, and he'll tell you when something changes. I'm waiting for something to happen. I probably ask Steve once a week (okay, maybe once every few weeks) if anything has developed on this front and when we might expect a solution for the Mac. It's a thorny problem but he (and Netflix) are doing everything we can.

    I probably can't convince anyone there is no conspiracy (or stupidity) involved with this. But we all want a Mac solution. All of us.

    Now back to our previously scheduled thread. G'nite.

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  20. @JT:
    You know, even if i had the time to patrol these columns, I believe in an open exchange - warts and all. In the past 6 months I have only deleted a couple posts- always bad spam of some kind - and never stuff i find moronic, argumentative, or even sometimes flat out inaccurate.

    I have sometimes even seen (particularly recently) posts that are absolutely false about something netflix has been purported to have done or said -- which I check on, and verify is inaccurate -- (I suspect from competitors looking to stir up the angry mobs over here) -- and i still choose to leave all postings intact and unedited. It is a slippery slope to censor here, and I won't go down that path. Sorry if these columns get messy from time to time. It's the nature of the beast.

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  21. ang said:

    Did you mean have already tweaked or are going to tweak? I don't see the blog link on the community home page.

    according to michael's original post:

    Look for these changes to go into effect sometime this weekend, possibly as early as tomorrow (Friday) evening, but potentially as late as Monday...

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  22. Come on guys... believe me or not ... this is an Apple issue.

    I know nothing about DRM nor MAC's (I used one once in 1988(?). I couldn't even get my floppy disk back out...), but over at HackingNetflix.com the sentiment seems to be different, at least among the users who've commented on the post "Netflix blames Apple...".

    I have no idea who's right or wrong (if any), what's correct or not, I just thought I'd like to point out that there seems to be dissenting opinions on this issue. A "service announcement", if you like.

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  23. Forgive me if I misunderstood the initial post from Michael, but it would appear that the sorting of titles in filmographies has switched from one static choice to another. I don't have a problem with that, but wanted to ask if it might not be more useful to allow us to sort for ourselves...

    I usually move very quickly through the site, and trying to scan titles alphabetically is sometimes an easier method, and sometimes release date is. It depends on the length of the filmography or on my prior knowledge of the sequence of releases in question.

    Maybe the issue for me is that I prefer to have more control over the information in front of me...

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  24. It appears that your List page tweaks include hiding those that include large numbers of upcoming and unreleased movies. Twice since the page's inception, lists of this type have appeared among the most popular and have disappeared within hours never to be seen again.

    Additionally I notice new and unreleased movies don't provide information linking them to lists that they are included in... I see this as further suppression of ways to access lists that provide info as to what is coming to Netflix in the future.

    The company is going way out of its way to hide this information. Most of what I watch are newer foreign and independent films, which are difficult to find information on out on the web. By suppressing all means of stumbling upon them on the Netflix site you will reduce the rentals of these films... but also marginalize the reasons that many of us are passionate about your service. Lesser known films are the entire reason I choose you over Blockbuster.

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  25. @Anon,

    You are making an assumption that is simply not true. I have explained the algorithms i use to present lists, and while i do certain work to keep a somewhat fresh page, elements about what is new or not are not even in the calculation. The presented lists DO change, however. This is true. There are lots of popular lists and the selected ones are a dozen randomly selected from the top few dozen with close or equal scores of popularity; same for the "new" lists - there are hundreds made each day, and i do randomize which few you see when you look, to give everyone a fair shot at being "discovered."

    As for the "new and unreleased movies not having a link" - they'll have a link if they are included in a list. I'll go look at this code to see what might give you this impression, but nothing is being done to purposely hide these.

    It is fair for you to be critical of the decisions made about the RTW page, and that is being discussed on another posting; but don't conflate that issue with a broader one. The Top 10 Lists don't have any connection to that.

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  26. Michael, thanks for your reply. I will trust that you are correct in that you are not suppressing lists, I am sorry if I made an assumption that was wrong based on my observations.

    However, I am right in saying that new and upcoming movie pages don't link to lists. Check "No Country for Old Men" for instance, it appears on many people's lists yet if you go to its page you will not see any connections to lists its included in. This is true of all of pages for new and upcoming movies I have looked at.

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  27. Maybe the issue for me is that I prefer to have more control over the information in front of me...

    This is a very good and very serious thing you have brought up. This is the core of our jobs as PMs - when to add control and when to simplify. I've also written about this in earlier posts (somewhat in last july's "Product Tax", some in August's "Moving the Needle"), but maybe i'll add a new posting about "simplicity".

    It is nice to add power/control features for the advanced users (like us), but make them discoverable so as not to freak out the newbies/technophobes. That's what we try to do. But its always a balance, and I speak to this in the Product Tax and Needle postings.

    In this case, it was fairly nominal work for me to change the sort order. It would have been more work - and thus not of high enough importance to supercede some other work we are doing -- to make this more controlable. I think of the two presentations, reverse order of year released is the "traditional" filmography method.

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  28. @ e.
    Thanks for taking the time to respond to me. I went back to look at my secondary profile and I have checked the box next to "Allow this user to participate in community features" so I'm not sure why the Sim% does not populate for anyone other than Friends. The only thought I have is perhaps it is due to not having any slots allocated to the secondary profile, just using it as a rating center for my wife.

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  29. Hmmm... I just looked at No Country and you're right -- i see a link to add this to lists, but i don't see it in any lists. Since I believe you that someone probably has put this movie in a list by now (it's so friggin' good), i'll go see what's up. I'll let you know what i find.

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  30. I like that it is easier to find the blog...i like that....

    BUT WHERE IS THE RELEASING THIS WEEK PAGE????

    Stuff those 'studies' and bring it back!!!!

    i would pay a couple bucks MORE a month to get the RTW page back...seriously, i would!!!

    i do not mind, nor have ever minded, waiting for a movie!

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  31. Michael,

    I'm not sure where to post this, so I guess I'll stick it here. I have multiple Friends (12 or 13). One of them has disappeared off my Friend list. Talking to her, it seems I have disappeared from hers, too. I thought somehow it might have been deleted, so I went to invite her again. When I did, I got a message saying "This person is already your Friend" or something along those lines. If we are still Friends, why don't we show up on each others Friends pages?

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  32. It's also way too easy to accidentally remove freinds. I've done this 3 times with my only freind. shouldn't there be a pop-up asking if one really want's to delete that freind which has just been deleted? They're not like faves, which take all of 1 second to add back if mistakenly removed.

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  33. These new changes are just neato, but how about focusing a bit more effort on what people really want, LIKE THE RTW PAGE BACK!!

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  34. @nails
    RTW is not Michael's area of responsibility and there are two threads regarding those changes. Making a comment like "how about focusing a bit more effort on what people really want, LIKE THE RTW PAGE BACK!!" on this thread is rather like going to Sears and telling the Customer Service people that the local KMart needs to do a better job of stocking the shelves.

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  35. @Michael

    Looking forward to the new changes as well.

    This is a bit off-topic (but, at least, I won't be the first) but there is one title that I know of that I cannot submit a review on:

    Grindhouse: Planet Terror

    I can submit reviews for other titles, so I am not sure if it's just this one.

    You know, I just needed other to see what I thought of hottie Rose McGowan with a heavy metal leg :)

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  36. @Anon re: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

    You're right. There is a bug in the presentation of lists on the movie pages for some titles; thank you for pointing this out (it never would have occurred to me to look for this); i'll get this fixed in the next release -(live before the end of the month). Good catch!

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  37. @NetflixJunkie wrote: You know, I just needed other to see what I thought of hottie Rose McGowan with a heavy metal leg :)

    Don't need to let me know, I LOVED it!

    Sorry, couldn't resist, back to the original topic.

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  38. @Michael
    If you looking for other places where we can't add a title to a list, look at any title within the Watch Instantly section.

    And for the conspiracy theorists, the top list in the Most Popular box a few days ago was a list of movies being released in 2008. That list is no longer among the Most Popular either because other lists became more popular or because it was removed from contention.

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  39. Anonymous Anonymous said...
    Michael, thanks for your reply. I will trust that you are correct in that you are not suppressing lists, I am sorry if I made an assumption that was wrong based on my observations.

    However, I am right in saying that new and upcoming movie pages don't link to lists. Check "No Country for Old Men" for instance, it appears on many people's lists yet if you go to its page you will not see any connections to lists its included in. This is true of all of pages for new and upcoming movies I have looked at.


    Nice job Anon!!! I noticed this months ago and since it was always new movies that had no lists (even though I had added them to some) I, also, thought it was NF trying to not "promote" them. As the movies got older they began to appear on lists.

    Thank you Michael for fixing this!
    Yes No Country is awesome.

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  40. @priv8pete - I believe Michael said the Most Popular box shows a random selection of 20 of the 200 (?) most popular lists. It isn't showing the 20 most popular in order of popularity. So, if you come back later you might find that list on there again.

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  41. Michael didn't say they were selected from 200. But here is what he said:

    "looking only at the quantity of movies added to member's queues (and shipped), we come up with this set of lists. Clearly, being in this set will further make the lists popular - so we only look at popularity over the past week, and also (since the list is really longer than the 20 shown) we randomize which ones we present and the order."

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  42. @Michael

    "Come on guys... believe me or not ... this is an Apple issue."

    Didn't we see a demo of the watch now on the MAC already using Silverlight?

    Do you believe that Apple will introduce code that will disable the functionality of Silverlight?

    I currently use a PC and watch my movies there, but I would certainly love to be able to watch them on a Mac as well.

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  43. Apple has control over 1 possible solution. (yes, I have done my part by calling Apple and asking them to make it available to Netflix)

    Apple is not... making Netflix charge the same amount to people whether they can use Watch Now or not.

    Apple is not... preventing Netflix from writing their own DRM.

    Apple is not... preventing others from writing a DRM and selling it to Netflix.

    Yes, Apple plays a part in this, but blaming it all on them is just a cop-out.

    @Junkie - Netflix has said that they are waiting for Silverlight 1.1 which is expected around March (been about a month since I last looked into the release date.) Don't know how long it will take Netflix to make the switch once it is available (and actually, they haven't officially said that they even will, just that Silverlight was one of the options they were considering.)

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  44. "Apple is not... making Netflix charge the same amount to people whether they can use Watch Now or not."

    It's my guess that when the inventory becomes larger, the price plans will change.

    I do not see a large issue in letting people opt out of the "watch now" feature while receiving a lower subscription price.

    But I think they need to make the "watch now" worth a higher price first.

    "Apple is not... preventing Netflix from writing their own DRM."

    I doubt they will ever write their own DRM. Since they already have a relationship with MS, I think they'll lean on them to come up with a DRM (such as Silverlight) that has multi-browser support.

    "Apple is not... preventing others from writing a DRM and selling it to Netflix."

    I have wondered if Apple would introduce code that would break other's DRM schemes. Not sure they would do this, but if the Iphone is a lesson, I would not put it past them.

    "...and actually, they haven't officially said that they even will, just that Silverlight was one of the options they were considering."

    That's interesting. I did not know they hadn't made a commitment to this technology. I was banking on it. Guess we'll see after the march time frame where the direction leads.

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  45. I dont understand why Netflix is not improving Watch it Now's interface. It is extrememly difficult to find find the shows you want to watch

    Perhaps a Top 50 in watched and in stars for each genre would be a start. Also a Watch now queue would come in handy. Since that seems to be the future, it would be in Netflix's best interest to work on it.

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  46. "I have wondered if Apple would introduce code that would break other's DRM schemes."

    Possible, but I doubt it.

    "That's interesting. I did not know they hadn't made a commitment to this technology. I was banking on it. Guess we'll see after the march time frame where the direction leads."

    I'm not sure they really know yet. I think they are holding off to see what happens with Silverlight 1.1 and other programs. Originally Silverlight 1.1 was planned for this month, but got delayed (such is life in the software world). I don't blame Netflix for not making an official commitment to any 3rd party apps, since their release dates are completely out of the hands of Netflix. I do believe Michael that they would gladly support every computer on the planet today if they could do so easily.

    Netflix did the Silverlight demo last year at MIX'07. I just did a fresh look around and on Nov.30 Microsoft said they will will release a beta of Silverlight 2.0 (they renamed 1.1 as 2.0) in Q1 2008. The assumption is that this will happen at MIX'08 (March 5-7). Since that will only be a beta version, it will likely be at least May before Netflix can make that switch (if they do).

    This won't do anything for me though, since I own a PowerPC Mac which won't be supported by Silverlight 2.0. The best hope for me right now is the vague hint that they are working to get Watch Now on PS3 (and other consoles). I would actually prefer it on my PS3 since it is always plugged into my TV anyway.

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  47. "Netflix did the Silverlight demo last year at MIX'07."

    I remember seeing features such as joining a movie with a friend and chatting with them in real time while the movie plays.

    I not sure how much I would use that, but it seems like a cool idea.

    "The best hope for me right now is the vague hint that they are working to get Watch Now on PS3 (and other consoles)."

    Maybe I'll be able to talk my wife into getting a game console if they go this way. With the "Netflix Inside" idea, it certainly seems possible.

    That's what I need. DVDs, 300 cable channels, premium on-demand and "watch now" on a gaming console. And, oh yeah, it plays games, too :)

    I may need to re-check my priorities!

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  48. It's fair for consumers to blame Netflix for lack of Mac support of instant viewing, but only in the sense that Netflix could do it if they really wanted to. I.e. if they were willing to throw enough money, engineers, and even lawyers at the problem.

    But it's also fair for consumers (and Netflix) to blame Apple for not making it easy and cost-effective on the Mac.

    For now, there's not even a compelling reason for them to support the Mac. In these early stages of the technology they can do all the market research and work out other issues from the overwhelming number of PC users. Writing their own DRM and working out the details with the studios would be a waste of time.

    Mac users should get a discount on their memberships equal to what PC users pay for the extra service, that is, nothing. When Netflix starts charging for it or when users subscribe to Netflix primarily for streamed video, it will be a different story.

    Paradoxically, you could make an argument that they should charge Mac users more for not having instant viewing. A cynic might think that since Netflix DVD subscriptions are "unlimited", that offering a cheap internet download saves them money on fewer shipped discs to that member.

    I don't think this is the right thread for this topic, but Michael opened the door.

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  49. I'm pretty happy with my PS3 so far. Games (not the best selection yet, but its constantly getting better), Blu-Ray and it upscales DVDs very well. Sony is also adding the capability to transfer Blu-Ray movies onto PSPs (I don't own a PSP, but some might find that exciting)

    My biggest disappointment with it would be the wait times for Blu-Ray movies at Netflix. They are much longer than regular dvds. I currently have 15 Blu-Ray movies in my queue with wait times (7 very long wait, 7 long, 1 short). I can't completely blame Netflix on this either though since HD discs tend to cost much more than regular dvds (don't know what kinda deals they get on discs though).

    I'm hoping they decide to stop buying HD-DVD soon and invest that money in more Blu-Ray discs instead. (Sorry HD-DVD folks, but I think its just a matter of time.)

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  50. UPDATE 1/11/08 - I've just been told that the more official update won't be posted to the blog until mid-next week, I'm sorry to report.

    Sigh...

    Michael, suggest a little weekend literature for the responsible guys: http://tinyurl.com/3dvyyz

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  51. "When Netflix starts charging for it or when users subscribe to Netflix primarily for streamed video, it will be a different story."

    I agreed with most of your comments until they started using Watch Now as a main part of their advertising campaign 6 months ago.

    As much as I harp on some issues, I really am happy with Netflix on most things.

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  52. Ray Zynnex PektaschenzJanuary 11, 2008 at 6:21 PM

    @Knaldskalle

    ;-)

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  53. @Knaldskalle

    Touche. (And clearly i'm not in public relations.)

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  54. "And clearly i'm not in public relations."

    Thank God!

    You have created a place for the community to interact with each other and Netflix. That to me is far more valuable than 1000 sterile press releases filled with buzzwords and a few nuggets of info.

    And you have encouraged people to have fun.

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  55. I love this community blog almost as much as I love my iPhone. Keep it up!

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  56. Granville Harrington lllJanuary 11, 2008 at 11:09 PM

    I see that Knaldskalle also socked it to Reed on his tar pit of a Blog. Nice going! Let us know if your DVDs start being shipped from their warehouse in Bora Bora, and we'll petition vociferously on your behalf!

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  57. Granville Harrington III said: Let us know if your DVDs start being shipped from their warehouse in Bora Bora, and we'll petition vociferously on your behalf!

    I suspect they'll be giving me the royal treatment, with that kind of backing! :-)

    But I did once get a disc shipped from OH (I'm in CA), does that count?

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  58. Bleh... I'm not a fan of the new "New Releases" flash-only scroll design thing. I know everyone will have an opinion, but I liked it the old way.

    Seems all web designers think that the more flash and "gee whiz" effects, the better the page is. Not so.

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  59. @ Knaldskalle said... "But I did once get a disc shipped from OH (I'm in CA), does that count?"

    Heh Heh, I got that one beat. I once got a disk shipped to me from "Hawaii" and I live in Wisconsin!

    Received it on the 8th day after the notice it was shipped.

    Which is why (sorry I know this is off topic) I suggested in a previous thread that we should be given the option to "pass" on any movies that will ship from other states when they are not available from our local distribution center.

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  60. @2mcabre: Wow, I guess that Bora Bora distribution center wasn't too far off the mark. :-)

    I know that it probably isn't realistic to implement, but since having a movie shipped from another distribution center involves a delay of 24 hours, might it not be an idea to include a "cancel shipment" button on the top of the queue and in the email that notifies us about the delay. Then the next movie in the queue would get shipped instead. That replacement movie would of course still be shipped with a 24 hour delay, but it would spare us 8 days of wait for movies from HI.

    Just a thought.

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  61. Oh, another thing - this time on topic (shock!).

    I noticed that the chronological ordering of movies has the newest on top and the oldest on the bottom. It's no biggie, but I wold prefer it the other way around, the newest on the bottom and the old movies on top. I can easily get used to the way it is now, I just thought I'd let you know.

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  62. Oddly, I had 2 movies shipped to me from the same out of state distribution center on the same day this week. The movies were not related to each other. They are not recent high demand movies and not terribly uncommon movies, so I was rather surprised that they weren't available at any of the 4 distribution centers close to me.

    @Knaldskalle - Michael said "I think of the two presentations, reverse order of year released is the "traditional" filmography method." That is the way it is done at IMDB and many other places.

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  63. I didn't know it was the "traditional" order, only that imdb does it that way too. It's still no biggie to me. I missed Michael's explanation the first time around. Thanks for clarifying!

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  64. "...might it not be an idea to include a "cancel shipment" button on the top of the queue and in the email that notifies us about the delay."

    I once called CS to try and stop a movie that I'd just caught on TV from being sent, but apparently once it leaves the #1 spot and is 'in the shipping process, it's all pretty much automated and irreversible. You know, like 'Fail safe' and 'Dr Strangelove'. So what we need is an option in our accounts to either send 'the next DVD in our Q', or 'the next available from our local warehouse'. Unless it's Disc 3 of the sopranos, of course. HOLY MAKRAL, we're difficult!

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  65. Anon said
    once it leaves the #1 spot and is 'in the shipping process, it's all pretty much automated and irreversible.

    I know, but I figured that since there's a 24 hour delay when shipping from a different distribution center, there should be an opportunity to intervene. I did also start by saying that it probably wasn't realistic to implement. ;-)

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  66. Roseanne Roseanna DannerJanuary 12, 2008 at 3:01 PM

    "Never Mind". ;-)

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  67. Why waste your time on this when you still haven't fixed the new releases page? You might as well close your doors now since you are running the company into the ground. Blockbuster is really happy though.. keep up the good work getting folks to close their accounts and move to Blockbuster who is cheaper AND allows you to store trade movies.

    -Bob in Seattle

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  68. I admit that I am a little 'slow'.

    I am a subscriber and have been for about four years. While I understand the model of me having four DVDs out at a Time... I have tried to arrange my viewing so that I get more than four movies per week... LOTS OF LUCK with that...

    Then after the first of the year... the NTW was changed... I had almost decided to cancel my subscription because of this facotr...

    Finally I found it 'hidden' in the community area.

    Just took advantage of this this weekend.

    I have found a competitor that has a movie box at my local super market for a 1.00 per movie returnable next day.

    So there alternatives..

    Bob
    Cleveland

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  69. The director and actor lists are much clearer now. Thanks. For those that wear both hats (+ producer, as often as not), like Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard, I maybe would have added (act.), (drct.), (prod.) next to the movie or TV show, but I s'pose if you care, you'd know anyway.

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  70. someone said....

    "So what we need is an option in our accounts to either send 'the next DVD in our Q', or 'the next available from our local warehouse'. "

    WOW! I like this idea a lot! Most times I'd rather wait till it is available from the warehouse nearest me.

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  71. @ Yootoo -

    You can't imagine what this means to me. I've always wanted to be 'someone'. Thank you.

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  72. OK, it's definitely "mid-week". Where is the "OFFICIAL" word on the RTW page?

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  73. I did also start by saying that it probably wasn't realistic to implement.

    Actually knaldskalle, it should be pretty simple to implement. When Netflix ships from an out-of-area warehouse, they send a notice email. The next day, when the shipment is processed, they send a separate shipping notice. On the first notice, Netflix could rather simply add an Accept and a Deny button – Accept being the default if no response is received by the time the shipment is processed, and Deny canceling the shipment, moving that title to the bottom of your queue and processing the next title at the top.

    Oh, and if you do accept the out-of-area shipment, maybe they could begin the shipping process immediately instead of waiting the full 24 hours.

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  74. @Jack -- Great idea, but I still think it would be better to avoid that additional organizational stutter-step by having it clearly established that that particular member NEVER wants out of state shipping unless the disc is part of a series that needs to stay in sequence.

    But if your excellent idea were to be implemented (certainly much better than the current system), why move the out of state DVD to the bottom of the queue? Why not forward it to our local shipping centre, even as the next DVD in line is on its way to us.

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  75. @Michael: Okay, Michael, time to fess up. What's the official word concerning the elimination of the RTW-page and Netflix's decision to hide new acquisitions from its members? Remember? We were told we'd hear from someone last week, then post-poned to mid-this week. Or did you really think we'd forgotten?

    @jack: You're right, codewise it's easy to do, but I was thinking of what it takes to implement the "Accept/Reject" system behind the scenes. You'd need to give the distribution centers time to react to a rejection and then possibly time to send the rejected movie to someone else before the mail goes out. I think that would be tricky.

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  76. Okay that came out wrong: "Did you really thinnk we'd forgotten?" was aimed at Netflix, not you Michael. Pardon for any confusion this might've caused.

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  77. why move the out of state DVD to the bottom of the queue?

    You're right, it should simply be "skipped" for the next in line. I was just thinking about why most of my titles are out of State – because the titles I request are usually not stocked in my local distribution centers. I did not even consider that the local center might simply be temporarily out of that title. slaps head Duh! :p

    You'd need to give the distribution centers time to react to a rejection

    I think Netflix already has that time built into their current system. Maybe I'm giving NF too much credit for planning ahead, but I believe something like this was planned from the beginning. Why else have the 24 hour delay from notification of an out-of-area shipment, and processing that disk for shipment? Obviously the system knows where that disk is physically at, because the notification tells us so.

    Thinking about it a little more though, why doesn't NF simply ship the disk immediately instead of imposing that 24 hour delay? For me, when I get an out of State shipment, once the disk is actually shipped, three out of four times it still only takes one day for the disk to arrive at my house. It's that day between notification and shipping that really causes the delay in receipt.

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  78. I'd mentioned something similar on HackingNetflix a while back. I admit I'm a Widescreen Snob. I'd love to see some kind of filter in Netflix that would let me know, "Hey dude, this title is available in widescreen" when I accidentally add a Fullscreen title when wide is available.

    As for Mac users not being able to use Watch Now....

    I always thought the Mac vs. PC TV commercials were hilarious, but it always bothered me how they portrayed Mac as being 100% problem free and perfect. Sorry, but that's not accurate. Even more importantly, I always thought it was dishonesty by omission that they never mentioned that Mac users will have a limited catalog of software compared to PC users. It really irritated me because that has been a known fact in the "nerd community" for the last TWENTY YEARS!

    I hate that Mac users can't use Watch Now, but I'm angry that you might have been led to believe that Mac are perfect and everything is available. That's simply wrong.

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  79. "...Mac users will have a limited catalog of software compared to PC users."

    Kind of you to care, but thanks : we knew.

    It's just that when a company entices new subscribers to sign-up by suggesting that their potential viewing hours are virtually 'unlimited' without making it VERY clear up front that only those with certain very specific hardware and software will be able to take advantage of this, then one can't but wonder who's truly guilty of misleading advertising on this one, Brother Rick.

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  80. jack said: Thinking about it a little more though, why doesn't NF simply ship the disk immediately instead of imposing that 24 hour delay?

    I've been thinking about that one too. I think it has to do with shipping deadlines. Since the DC's can not possibly know which movies will come in on any given day they have to sort them all, then assign movies to new recipients - and that's where some come up short, the DC simply doesn't have a copy available for you. They send a request out to the nearest other DC to enquire if they have any available, but that DC can only respond to that after they've assigned all the discs they have to process (I suspect that the time from assigning to actually shipping is quite short), so even if the DC does have the disc, the movies have probably already shipped out and the next shipment won't happen until tomorrow. This is of course all speculation (I don't actually know how Netflix operates), but it might explain the delay.

    And it is of course this delay that I suggest we take advantage of. (Except the same deadline/shipping problem might apply, if we make it optional for each movie and not as a "fixed" option each user chooses, as a check-box in their profiles... I'm still thinking about this one.)

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  81. Whenever I clcik on "new releases" it shows old movies (like Spiderman 3 even though its 20 Jan 08) I'll refresh it and its still old news. If I log out and come in as a visitor I see new releases? What the heck!?!?

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  82. It's just that when a company entices new subscribers to sign-up by suggesting that their potential viewing hours are virtually 'unlimited' without making it VERY clear up front that only those with certain very specific hardware and software will be able to take advantage of this, then one can't but wonder who's truly guilty of misleading advertising on this one, Brother Rick.

    That's not misleading advertising, by any stretch of the imagination. If they had said "for all major platforms" then you might have a point, but they don't.

    At worst they are guilty of momentarily giving false hope to a handful of users. Every competent computer user understands that they need to check the operating system and minimum requirements (within reason).

    They also don't always mention that you need a DVD player for their service either. Imagine how pissed those LD users would be, assuming your premise were valid.

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  83. Sam spluttered somewhat unconvincingly : "That's not misleading advertising, by any stretch of the imagination."

    So, still on the payroll, eh?

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  84. The 'movies you might enjoy' on the browse page (far preferable to the silly and over-presumptuous 'movies you'll heart', btw) seem to be cycling much faster now; they often used to squat there for weeks. Excellent tweak, if that was one of them.

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  85. I'd like to know what happened to the "Not Interested" choice on new releases.

    This new style New Releases list is not better. This is the time to make it more user friendly. Please give me back the old style listing with "not interested."

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  86. About a year ago, someone on Hacking Netflix mentioned that he thought it would be fun to have a link to the "Netflix BOTTOM 100" to contrast the already existing "Top 100" link.

    Looks like he got his wish. The New "new releases" seems to be exactly that. I've never seen a bigger collection of 2 and 3 star movies on the site before now!

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  87. I recently saw an add for a newly release TV series, "Get Smart" (the original) and used to LOVE this series, but Netflix doesn't offer it yet. Is there a way that I might request Netflix include this series in their listings? I hope this question isn't too far off topic, I can't seem to find an answer anywhere. THANKS!!

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  88. Nona: The "Title Request" feature is available through the "Contact Us" link near the bottom of most Netflix pages. Go to http://www.netflix.com/ContactUs and click on Title Request

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  89. getting back to the issue at hand, and it seems to be LONG overdue, what is the final word on the RTW?

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