Well as some of you have heard Netflix finally reached Scandinavia this last week. Fellow LAMB and Swede Emil from A Swede Talks Movies was kind enough to let us know what his first impression of it. If you are Netflix veterans I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the Swedish opening so far. Check out Emil’s text after the jump!
Netflix was launched here in Sweden earlier this week. Only the streaming service, however; the DVD-through-mail rental system is not part of what they’re offering here. While Netflix’ presence in Sweden is welcome, it does not arrive at a starving market. There are other services here that offer streaming of content, such as Lovefilm, Viaplay and Voddler, and HBO Nordic is set to join the fray soon too, although their focus will be on TV series.
What Netflix offers is a selection of movies and TV shows available for streaming on a variety of platforms. The first month is free, and there’s a special offer floating around from music service Spotify that lets you try Netflix for free until the end of the year. After this opening trial, the price will be 79 SEK per month, which is what you might pay for a decent lunch here. The price is fairly reasonable, considering that it gives you unlimited streaming.
Netflix can stream to a number of different systems. Computers, TVs, gaming consoles, media players, smart phones and more. A notable omission is Linux, which Netflix does not support. Another thing to keep in mind is that streaming to Xbox 360 requires subscribtion to Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold service, which costs an additional 50-69 SEK per month. I myself have tried it out for iMac, Xbox 360 and PS3, and all three worked perfectly fine quality-wise. No hiccups, loading issues or anything.
The vast majority of the content available for streaming comes with Swedish subtitles, and often other language options as well, primarily those of the other Nordic countries. Due to licensing issues, however, there are instances where subtitles can’t be turned off at all, which might be annoying to some, particularly as the subs are in a bright yellow color. I’d have preferred the more neutral white, but yellow works too. I have heard some rumblings from others that some of the shows and films aimed at kids aren’t dubbed in Swedish, only subtitled, which is of course an issue for those with younger children.
So what’s there to watch, then? The selection is a little thin in these early goings. There is a variety of movies available, from older stuff like Gone with the Wind and To Catch a Thief to 2011 releases like Horrible Bosses and Contagion, but the gaps are plentiful. For instance, To Catch a Thief is the only Hitchcock film available. Kubrick ethusiasts can watch 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut, but no The Shining or Dr Strangelove. The only David Fincher film on Netflix is Seven. Batman Begins is available, but The Dark Knight isn’t. Their section of Asian films consists of only 18 titles. Odds are that you’ll still be able to find plenty of stuff you might find interesting – I stumbled upon a couple of cool documentaries I hadn’t heard of before, for instance – but if you’re looking for that one film in particular you want to see, you might come up empty-handed.
I don’t watch TV series at all, so I can’t say too much about that section. From what I’ve gathered, the selection is not particularly up to date. An example: Netflix has four seasons of Dexter available for your viewing pleasure, but it’s currently on its seventh season on TV in the US. Many shows aren’t available at all, particularly those belonging to HBO, like the popular Game of Thrones. If you want to be all caught up on your shows, Netflix might not be your best option at this point in time.
Both the issues of available platforms and content selection will be alleviated with time. Netflix promises to keep adding support for other platforms and to expand their library as soon as they can. Time will tell to what degree.
Having run their service in USA and other parts of the world for years already, the framework of Netflix is impressive. The interface is very uncluttered and functional, allowing easy access to various genres and subsets. You can rate movies you’ve seen, and based on these scores, Netflix will offer recommendations for on new stuff for you to watch. The whole system seems robust and will no doubt be very useful once they’ve expanded their library. You can also connect your Netflix account to your Facebook account, which allows you to share your viewings with your Facebook friends, as well as get recommendations on Netflix for things your fellow Netflix-using Facebook friends have enjoyed.
All things considered, I’m happy with my first few days with Netflix. Everything has worked smoothly for me. I have found plenty of films on there that I want to check out at some point, and the 79 SEK monthly subscribtion fee makes it a pretty nice deal. To keep me – and others, I suspect – on as a paying customer in the longterm, however, the key for Netflix is to expand their library. They need to keep adding more stuff of all kinds: more new mainstream titles, more modern classics, more oldies, more foreign films, more TV shows. More, more, more. It needs to eventually reach the point where you can sit down in your sofa, think to yourself: “Hmm, I feel like watching [Movie X] this evening”, and have a good probability of finding it on Netflix. The next few months will be very telling, I reckon.
A Swede Talks Movies