With the end of the month approaching, I didn’t want anyone who was halfway through a series or had a certain movie on her queue to find out, come Friday, that those titles will no longer be available. After last month’s Streampocalypse — which saw the removal of over 1800 titles (including, sadly, Sports Night) — we have every reason to be concerned about purged titles from their catalogue. After all, their recent movie choices are fairly limited.
What I found out, however, is that after the Streampocalypse on May 1st, Netflix changed their policy. They will no longer make expiring titles available on their public API, so Instant Watcher — which keeps track of new and expiring titles — will no longer have access. What was Netflix’s reasoning behind the move?
According to their official statement:
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.
I get that, on the one hand, although if they keep the API up to date, the inaccuracies wouldn’t be a huge issue. The reality is, not that many people even availed themselves of the information. What’s more likely at plays is that Netflix doesn’t want us knowing about the dwindling number of titles in their library. The shrinking number of titles become painfully obvious — at least on the movie side — but as long as the streaming service keeps pumping out titles like Arrested Development and House of Cards, we are willing to overlook the lack of options. But the days when we could rely on Netflix to provide nightly entertainment for months and months is long gone, and for obvious reasons, Netflix doesn’t want to be too transparent about that.
So, if you’re in the middle of a series come Friday, you’re just going to have to cross your fingers and hope that it’s not pulled. The likelihood is low, but it does kind of suck that the only way we’re going to know, now, if a title has expired or not is by searching for it, crossing our fingers, and hoping that it’s available. Of course, now those who have cut the cord and rely exclusively on Netflix for their television watching needs, may get to feel that sting of cancelation that the rest of us feel now. There’s nothing worse than having a cancelled too soon series yanked away before you could even finish what’s available.
Update: Per a tweet from Netflix, the date of expiration is actually on each title so you will know when each individual title is expiring. However, it is still cumbersome in that, rather than provide us with a list of expiring titles, we would have to browse through every title individually to discover its expiration date. It does, however, at least alert us to the expiration date to certain series we may be currently watching.