2010-09-29

Netflix Says Yes Minister and Hej Lesbiska

The entire series of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister is available on-demand for your viewing pleasure via Internet streaming on your Mac, PC, PS3, Nintendo Wii, iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and on many Internet enabled Blu-Ray players and HD TVs. Wow.

A waste of technology? Perhaps. Still, if you like politics (or had the misfortune of working in government) you will love these two series. The Yes Minister sitcom may have started on the BBC 30 years ago, but it remains true today. Don't let the laugh track fool you, this is could be a documentary.

Oh, Netflix also throws in a bunch of other TV series and movies. First month free, then C$8/month. Plus tax?

I also recommend Frozen River (a sad but gripping story about survival and greed set in the Ontario-Quebec-NY State border area) and Slum Dog Millionaire (ditto, but less sad and set in India). Both are currently available for streaming on Netflix.ca

Netflix Canada has been criticised for the lack of fresh content. That is certainly legitimate. However, if you don't mind movies that are at least a year old, then the recommendation engine will come up with some gems. Although after liking a couple of lesbian movies, it thinks I might be gay (I'm not sure why they put "Gay" and "Lesbian" in the same category). I just like to watch naked women kiss, honest! :)

Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister were filmed in standard definition (not 35 mm like movies), so are only available in standard definition. However, many movies, even older ones, are viewable in HD (but you can opt out). Unless you are with a no cap Internet provider like BellAliant, viewing enough HD content could quickly eat up your monthly bandwidth allowance. Something to consider. However, most people are nowhere near their monthly allowance and, in terms of the number of GBs, streaming uses less than torrents because there is no upload (plus, you know, it is legal).

So far, the technology has worked great. There doesn't seem to be any peek periods where everything slows down, there are no annoying commercials like on RogersOnDemand and there is no need for multiple downloads or tedious moving of content from one device to the other (although, be sure to understand your monthly mobile bandwidth allowance before streaming HD movies on the 3G networks of your iPhone or iPad). On a computer or PS3, you can easily skip ahead, not fast forward, to the interesting parts thanks to 15 second interval screen caps. On an iPad or iPhone, you can just as easily skip ahead, but you don't have the benefit of screen caps (those foreign lesbians sure do talk a lot).

Is Netflix the future? Well, not for prime time TV. Even with large Netflix data centres and fibred Internet backbones, few ISPs could handle large jumps of HD streaming during the evenings. But if you are a shift worker with the misfortune of being awake during the infomertial hours or, gasp, being at work on dead Saturday nights, then this is perfect. I also look forwards to the death of daytime television, but maybe that is just me.

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