Netflix Watch Now Borked for the Second Saturday Night in a Row, Maybe Netflix is Not Ready for Prime Time

Netflix Watch Now Borked for the 2nd Saturday in a Row

Earlier this week I wrote a blog post about Netflix’s new Watch Now service being, well, out of service, last Saturday night. A couple of folks called me a cry baby for being a bit worked up over having my Friday Night Lights episode pulled out from underneath my eyes right at a very tense part of the show (ok, so how tense can Friday Night Lights get right?). In the post though I worried that Netflix’s Watch Now technical difficulties last weekend might be a harbinger of things to come.

Unfortunately it looks like this Saturday night Netflix’s Watch Now service is dead once again. Note to Netflix, if you want to screw around with your servers, do it on a Monday afternoon when nobody’s watching TV anyways. Saturday night is of course probably just about the worst time for Netflix’s service to go down.

The photograph above is what my screen looks like right now. On the plus side Netflix does seem to offer a toll-free number to contact them (866-579-7113). On the negative side that toll-free number has been busy for the past 20 minutes. Netflix’s customer service number on their website has also been busy for the past 20 minutes as well. Of course nowhere on Netflix’s site is any indication that they are having these technical difficulties but a quick Twitter search confirms that I’m not the only one who’s not going to be able to watch my Friday Night Light’s tonight.

As much as I love me my Netflix Watch Now, I’m beginning to worry a bit that their service may end up being a whole lot worst than your cable or satellite provider. At a bear minimum Netflix ought to post on their website that they are having problems with their service. Or if this is going to be an every Saturday night sort of problem, maybe they ought to think about hiring that Frank Cares Twitter guy from over at Comcast so he can get chummy with all the people complaining on Twitter about this outage right now.

Update: I was finally able to get through on the customer service number. I just spoke with Benjamin over at Netflix after being on hold for a bit and he told me that in fact the service is down for most of Netflix’s customers right now. He said that they are working on the problem but has no ETA. He said that he wasn’t able to offer a credit rebate for the down service because Watch Now is a bonus feature for Netflix subscribers.

Netflix Watch Now Outages Hit Saturday Night

Netflix Watch Now Outages Hit Saturday Night

I was disappointed last night to spend over two hours, including three customer service calls (holding up to 20 minutes in one case), in order to try and get Netflix’s “Watch Now” service to work on my XBox 360.

On the first customer service call the rep suggested that my internet connection wasn’t fast enough. But with a UVerse fiber connection (and a speed test to verify) this was not the problem. On the second customer service call, the rep had me uninstall my XBox 360 memory files on my XBox 360 and reinstall them.

After about an hour and a half of trying to troubleshoot why my programming would just stop, I went to Twitter and searched for Netflix and found that there were several other people Twittering about having problems with “Watch Now” last night as well.

When I called Netflix the third time they confirmed that they were having problems with their watch now servers last night.

Overall I’ve been pretty happy with the Netflix Watch Now service so far. Fast forwarding and rewinding are a bit of a chore, but other than that, once you’re watching your show it’s seemed to work pretty well.

Having their service go out for much of last night (and a Saturday night at that) is a huge fail though. If Netflix wants people to seriously consider their service as an alternative to cable/satellite (and the market for Netflix is huge if you think about them that way), then they need to do a better job both with their main streaming service as well as their customer service when their service fails. Particularly being 20 minutes into a TV show and at a very tense point of the show, to have Netflix hang for two hours and fail (finally giving up in frustration) doesn’t score any points with trying to convince the wife on why this service is better than cable/satellite service.

Hopefully last night’s experience won’t be a repeated one for Netflix and hopefully it’s not just the tip of the iceberg in terms of their problems in meeting viewer demand for streaming content.