Tuesday, 19 March 2013

07:50 – The other day, I was using IMDB to look up a cast member from a British TV series I was considering adding to our queue to see what other series that actress had been in. The name of one of those other series reminded me of a one-hit wonder I hadn’t thought about in more than 40 years. It was back in the summer of 1970, when I was between my junior and senior years in high school. The performer was Freda Payne, and the track was Band of Gold. Technically, I suppose Payne didn’t qualify as a one-hit wonder. IIRC, she had one or two other top-40 tracks after that, but nowadays no one remembers her for anything other than Band of Gold.

Speaking of our queue, I finally got around to signing up for the Acorn TV 30-day free trial the other night. Much of what they offer is already available on Netflix streaming, but by no means all. Acorn carries many series that Netflix doesn’t, and they also have more recent episodes of many of the series that Netflix does carry. For example, Netflix has only series 1 through 13 of Midsomer Murders, while Acorn has the first half of series 14, which we’re watching now. Netflix has only the first three series of George Gently. Acorn is currently running series five. And so on. Acorn charges only $3/month or $30/year, so we may sign up once the free trial expires. But only may.

I just wish Acorn’s business model wasn’t so weird. Acorn definitely doesn’t cater to binge watchers, which we are. With other streaming services, we can pick what we want to watch when we want to watch it. We can start with the first episode of a new-to-us series and watch it straight through until we’ve finished all of the episodes they have available. With Acorn, we can watch only the episodes they choose to make available during a particular month. So, if we decide to watch series 5 of George Gently on Acorn, we’ll have to skip series 4 because it’s not on offer this month. If we decide to wait and watch series 4 first, we have no idea when that’ll be available, and by then series 5 may no longer be available. I think Acorn is afraid that with their limited catalog people will sign up for a couple of months, watch everything they’re interested in watching and then drop their memberships. They may even be right, but I still think they’re making a big mistake. The essence of streaming is to give people what they want to watch when they want to watch it, not to make them wait until you’re ready to let them watch it. We may end up not subscribing to Acorn TV for just this reason. As Barbara said, we have tons of stuff in our Netflix queue. We can wait until Netflix gets new episodes rather than playing Acorn’s game.


12:41 – I just got a welcome email from Acorn Online. When I clicked through to their web page, one of the options was to submit a review. So I submitted the following:

For $30/year, subscribing would be a no-brainer, except…

My wife and I are binge-watchers. When we discover a new-to-us series or rewatch a series, we strongly prefer to start at S1E1 and watch our way straight through until we’ve finished it. We actually sometimes wait years until a series has been canceled before we start watching it. We can’t do that with your service, because your entire catalog is not available at all times.

If we could do that, we wouldn’t have even used the 30-day free trial. We’d have just subscribed for a year. As it is, we’re on the fence about subscribing, simply because it’s a pain in the butt to try to keep track of what we’ve watched and what we have to wait for.

I understand that because your catalog is very small compared to, say, Netflix Instant, you’re probably afraid that people would sign up for a couple or three months, watch what they wanted to watch, and then drop their subscription. I don’t think that would happen often enough to worry about. Thirty bucks a year isn’t worth worrying about; having to keep track of what’s available when and not being able to watch what we want to watch when we want to watch it gives us serious pause.