Netflix is great. Better than great - it's terrifyingly good. The destroyer of weekend plans, the killer of spontaneous nights out, the creator of countless overnight addictions and lost sleep.
And yet... while we're still happy to hand over the modest subscription fee each month, we think there's room for improvement.
Following speculation that a new offline feature is set to arrive in the near future, we've drawn up a wish list of all the features we'd like to see come to the service to push our binge addiction into unhealthy territory...
An Incognito mode
Netflix suggests titles to you based on your viewing habits - a brilliant feature when you're eager to find another brain-expanding documentary like Blackfish that would otherwise remain undiscovered in the depths of Netflix's vaults.
It becomes a royal pain in the arse when that one guilty click on The Last Airbender results in your suggested shows list transforming into a nightmarish reel of dodgy anime and live action Disney films.
What we need is an 'Incognito' mode; got a guilty obsession with the works of Adam Sandler you don't want your other half knowing about? Just switch Netflix to Incognito, switch your brain off and sit back safe in the knowledge that none of the next 87-gag-free minutes are going to be discovered by anyone else.
Netflix has been adding director's commentaries to some of its own titles for a while now (the House of Cards effort is worth checking out), with the dulcet observations of the director hiding away in the audio options.
We get it, buying the licences for audio commentaries for every film listed on Netflix must be one long contract headache - but we guarantee you'll have a heck of a lot more people spending time on the service if you added director's commentaries to the newest films, or any classic titles that have the recordings kicking about on their DVD extras menu.
"What sort of thing are you in the mood for?"
It's a question uttered in thousands of households across the country every Friday night as plans to go "Out out" are booted in favour of a night on the sofa with Netflix and food that arrives on the back of a moped. But gosh darn it, if you can't find a single thing you're in the mood for - despite knowing full well there was something you were keen to watch just last week.
We propose that in addition to the "My List" feature, Netflix gives us the option to create Playlists: Only want to put together a list of your favourite episodes of that long running US sitcom, skipping over the ones you know were crap? Make a playlist. Want to binge on the best action episodes of the various Marvel TV shows on Netflix? Make a playlist. Fancy watching your favourite eighties blockbusters in one glorious six-hour sofa session? You get the idea...
You don't care if it's bad for your sleep habits, you love nothing more than sticking on your favourite sitcom and letting it play you to sleep with a lullaby of canned laughter.
But you hate getting woken up three hours later when one particularly loud episode rips you from your slumber, causing you to slam your laptop closed and kick it off the bed, right?
In Sleep Mode, only a preset number of minutes or episodes would play before the screen and volume gently fade to nothing, switching your device off and allowing you to get a full 40 winks.
No one can decide what they want to put on. No democratic process devised by humanity is adequate to select a show that everyone is going to agree on. So why not create some sort of mode that does it for you?
You select five or six shows or films that you can't pick between, hit 'Shuffle' or 'Roulette' and Netflix will spit out the winner. Peace is restored to the living room.
Additional review systems
At present, Netflix stars are based on a clever little algorithm that currently takes the following factors into consideration:
- The genres of movies and TV shows available
- Your streaming history, and previous ratings you’ve made
- The combined ratings of all Netflix members who have similar tastes in titles to you
Which is a bit of a mess if we're honest. Why can't it line these reviews up alongside existing review bodies, such as IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes? Or create a "Critics corner" in which proper film critics give their own star ratings on film selections. It's just that, we know our mate Chris watches a lot of the same stuff as us, but he gave Making A Murderer two stars, and thus we can't trust Chris's opinion on any form of entertainment ever again.
The aforementioned mode offered by the likes of Amazon Prime that's still yet to arrive on Netflix.
Netflix's chief product officer Neil Hunt previously had this to say about why they hadn't got the feature yet:
"I think it’s something that lots of people ask for. We’ll see if it’s something lots of people will use. Undoubtedly it adds considerable complexity to your life with Amazon Prime – you have to remember that you want to download this thing. It’s not going to be instant, you have to have the right storage on your device, you have to manage it, and I’m just not sure people are actually that compelled to do that, and that it’s worth providing that level of complexity."
Which is tosh. We can live with these complexities if it means we're able to watch Stranger Things season two on our commute rather than having to stay up until 3am to finish it at home. Give us a break, Hunt. Make it happen.