This article is part one of the feature. I’m going to review the video streaming platforms I use to watch horror movies. One of these three services is free, you can watch movies on it without creating an account on the site.
In the last section of the article, I’m going to give a verdict on how each of those platforms helps horror movie fans fulfill their horror movie watching needs.
Notice that the bulk of each section is a case study of my usage of said services, and you can skip to the horror part if you like. Still, I urge you to read it and comment if you have a different take on them.
I think I wrote a long lament about how disappointed by Netflix I grew after a year, or a year and a half of using it.
I thought I had written it in this blog, but I couldn’t find it. I guess it was hard enough to delete it.
I don’t remember what I wrote, but I guess it boiled down to vitriol.
Cursing the platform because to have a high quality of streaming service at the bandwidth level doesn’t make for the two wrongs of the user interface and the user experience.
I think it’s an outdated, self-serving, corporation-oriented stone or rock with 0 usabilities. Let’s go by parts and see if you think like I do about its user interface and my user experience with it.
I can understand that it’s made to be usable on a TV or phone. But to not make an alternate interface for desktop users that can deal with a more complex and powerful interface, to me, it’s retarded.
To give an example of things well done (for once) by an equivalent to Netflix: Retroarch. It’s not a streamer, but it’s a software intended to be used across several different devices like this streamer is.
Retroarch is an integrated video game launcher designed to work with gaming setups and builds as well as on a computer’s desktop.
It has an option, Desktop Menu, by which you switch from the minimalist, visual interface, to a windowed one that has much more power for use, organization, and customization.
The only alternative to that that Netflix has is to change the view of the queue. It’s accessed by going to https://www.netflix.com/MyListOrder and saving it as “Manual Ordering”.
The homepage’s visual queue doesn’t change when we do this. To access the changed queue we must click on the “My List” option of the main menu.
I think the minimal functionality of this mode of seeing one’s queue is laziness from their part, in not developing more sophisticated views or disregard for their userbase or a combination of both shortcomings.
In the user-ordered queue page, each movie is presented in ribbon form. You can move them around to re-order the queue.
That’s all there’s to this view mode of Netflix’s queue. You can’t sort them by year, title, or any other metrics.
I don’t understand, why if the ribbon shows data about the movie, why there isn’t an option to sort the movies by more categories.
I qualify my personal user experience of Netflix negative; as in a -4/5.
The only positive qualities I see in the interface are, one, that if you click the movie you intend to watch to get more info, you get pertinent details and recommendations for similar movies.
Two, if you want to see a complete list of everything you watched since the day you created the profile you’re using, you can do it.
It Doesn’t Pay Much Attention to Your Needs
I have been searching for old and classic movies since the first day I accessed the service. Years later my signals should have told them something.
Apparently, my needs, if they don’t tally with the rest of the users, aren’t of much consequence and Netflix will not do anything about it.
Squalid Navigation Feature
To go through the catalog, and through one’s own queue is a chore more than a little pleasure as it should be. Some may see the recommendation system as the best thing next to sliced bread. I beg to differ.
To be able to sort the movies would make Netflix much more flexible and satisfactory for those that aim at optimizing their leisure time.
But as things stand now, it’s a time-wasting, artificial-intelligence-powered annoyance more than simple fun. I can’t count the hours I lost trying to find something to watch that matched my mood.
The interface is detrimental to the optimal use of one’s leisure time.
If someone is an aspirant to someday becoming a certified patron of the arts like me, who needs every minute and seconds of the day more than anyone else, then Netflix is something not to be taken very seriously.
Image Over User Satisfaction
How they showcase their content is okay but it gets in the way of an optimized media-consumption experience. For the things already enumerated and a few more.
One thing I want to point out. Many users of the service might have noticed this. It is something that may seem inconsequential until it isn’t anymore.
And then is when it becomes an annoyance.
I’m talking about how Netflix changes periodically the posters of the movie that the users see in the queue.
It happened to me because I said no a long time ago to everything Netflix has to offer in the interface sense, so it follows that I had to find coping mechanisms for the unusability of the service.
The automatic recommendations are usable, but I try to flow with it as little as possible and find manually the content I want to watch every time.
Example of a problem: It occurred to me that I had identified a movie I wanted to see by its cover, only to come back the day after and find that it was not around anymore.
It Discriminates by Country
U.S. Based subscription gets a decent selection and the rest of the world 85%-90% ordure. I know that it’s possible to unlock other Netflix libraries using a VPN service, but to do that is not the point.
Netflix’s Horror Content
At least Netflix’s horror content is abundant, generally fresh and it draws from sources all around the world. Another thing to consider in its favor is its Netflix Original horror movies and their offer of horror series.
More or less of a Netflix ripoff. The interface is very similar. I, personally, can’t say the same about the performance.
This is the streamer I use the less. I just want some relaxation and fun when I lie on my back to enjoy some audiovisual media. Not an anxiety attack, like many times, happened to me while watching something on HBO GO.
If I don’t pay attention to what hour of the day it is, I end up having buffering problems. Definitely, in my case, not a streamer to use during prime times of the day and the week.
Disappointing HBO GO Interface
A thing I particularly dislike of HBO GO is the four bundles of genres they have in the localization I use: Action and Science Fiction, Comedy and Romance, Drama, Horror, and Suspense.
It’s okay if you want to be original and roll several genres together to hide the fact of your smaller-than-average catalog. Still, if I were responsible for designed the user interface of a streaming service I never would that.
I would it something like Netflix does. I’d divide the genres into sections, the more, the merrier. In the version of Netflix I use, there are 24 movie genres, as opposed to HBO GO’s four bundles of just six genres.
If one chooses one of the bundled genres sections in the pull-down menu, one’s presented with the list of movies.
The organization of movies is simpler than Netflix’s but not very useful. The movies are listed using landscape tiles like on Netflix, but they’re arranged alphabetically.
That is especially useless for those that use a localization of the platform.
When HBO GO localizes movies, they change the titles of the movies to something that, almost always, has nothing to do with the movie’s original title.
While they could simply translate the title of the movie, they seldom do so. They just rechristen most of the movies with retarded, unrelated names. This is something that I hate that, sadly, is going on like forever.
It’s a carry-over of the unreasonable practice (stupidity) of changing foreign movie names that local film industries have always indulged upon.
The homepage of the site is similar to Netflix’s recommendation system. I don’t know if it’s a software that learns from the usage to dish out different movies, or if it’s just a list of twenty sections curated by them.
If I have to make an educated guess, I would say it’s the latter. The titles of the lists and how the content is arranged makes me think that it isn’t usage-powered, automatic customization like Netflix’s.
Two important shortcomings of this service. One, it doesn’t give the option of having different profiles. Not having different profiles compounds with not providing a list or log of everything one watched.
I have a feature called “Continue Watching” but it doesn’t last forever, it keeps a list of the things one watched in the last 30 days only.
HBO GO’s Live Feature
A section of the website is the live feed. It’s not really live, but here they post things that are a few hours to one day old. From which of all the HBO channels? That’s a tough question to find out, I couldn’t.
Sill this feature doesn’t have much value for those looking just for horror media.
HBO GO Horror Content
On the positive side, it’s easy to find relatively new horror movies on it.
While I was writing this article the main page of the site recommended “It Chapter Two” to me, only eight months after it was released.
This service was kind of a surprise to find. I found it like one year ago when it didn’t belong to Fox yet.
They made an effort to not look like Netflix of HBO GO in several aspects of their user interface.
The movie’s posters are portrait-oriented. More like I expected them to look the first time I used a video streaming service ever.
In Tubi, the movies’ catalog uses (most of the time) the actual movie posters, not some artistic custom-made posters like Netflix.
Tubi is Free
I knew there existed video streaming services that were free. Still, I never used them but knew that they had a performance problem and were not for prime time or weekends.
Still, after 7-8 years of knowing that there existed free video streaming services I haven’t yet used any.
One day, fed up with the lack of horror movies to watch (that I hadn’t already seen) on HBO GO and Netflix I started to look for a free streaming service and, for once, give them a try. Tubi was the first one I found.
It captured my attention because it has a ton of horror movies.
They unbundled the common movie genres to 32 different niches. Still, we must take on account that they make very niche distinctions in their unbundling of genres.
For instance, splitting documentaries between documentaries and docuseries.
They also did think the service out in a way that, as I see it, is way more considerate for the user. They developed the curation of movies further than genres. This is something that the others don’t do.
I mean, it’s okay to curate movies to separate them in lists with different themes. But Tubi created further separate sections on the site that could be exploited by the platform and at the same time benefit the user.
I’ve read an article that said that Tubi doesn’t have anything new or exclusive. The exclusive part of that statement may be true, but to say that it has nothing new is a gross generalization.
It does have relatively recent stuff in most of the genres it offers if I remember correctly.
Before listing the disappointments of Tubi, one could argue that it’s supported by advertisements. Still, that doesn’t mean the service is crappy. In my personal experience, the ads are a non-issue.
The advertisements I saw in one year were both more persistent and more unobtrusive than, say, how YouTube delivers ads. I couldn’t close them, but they didn’t distract from or mutilate the movie I was watching.
Like just a little ad in a corner of the screen.
As of now, they don’t produce movies or TV shows, as Netflix does.
Also, their unbundling of genres makes it difficult to separate TV things from movies and one may feel their TV shows offering is underwhelming.
Other than that, the pros of Tubi outweigh the cons. The history of things one watched is visual, but the entries don’t have time-stamps.
About the Further curated sections with subsections: Collections and Channels. They could use some work, and they seem kind of abandoned and underdeveloped yet.
Collections is not very innovative. HBO GO has it, specifically stating the motive of the collection, and curated collections are pretty much one of the main gears of Netflix’s recommendation system.
Tubi’s Horror Content
Now, the selection of horror movies. Even if some movies might appear to be below average movies that nobody knows, to think and say something in this regard is relative and the topic stays subjective.
For someone who watched around one thousand of horror movies, as I did, Tubi has a richer horror movie selection than HBO GO and Netflix combined.
Netflix 16/25 stars
Quality of Service *****
HBO GO 8/25 stars
Quality of Service **
TubiTV 17/25 stars
Quality of Service ****
Best Services for New Horror Fans
- HBO GO
Best Services for Intermediate Horror Fans
- HBO GO
Best Services for Seasoned Horror Fans
Stay tuned for the next parts of this feature, in which I’ll review the other services I used.
“Stranger Things: A Tribute to Netflix Latest Smash Hit” by Poster Posse is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0