The announcement concerning Facebook's content partnership with Warner Brothers not only caused a dip in the Netflix stock as investors panicked at the idea of competition, it's also caught the notice of perhaps the most famous movie critic ever, and it's safe to say Roger Ebert won't be hitting the "Like" button for Facebook's fledgling service anytime soon.
In fact, Ebert did just the opposite; he gave the service a verbal beating, or, a thumbs down, if you will. Keep in mind, Ebert is not opposed to online movie streaming. Actually, he acts as if he's quite fond of the technology and admits to also taking advantage of the technology from time to time. While Ebert believes Netflix is the best of these services, especially for mainstream movie watching, he also details other, lesser-known streaming companies others might not be aware of:
Mubi.com calls itself an "online art theater," and specializes in indie, foreign, classic and festival films. Asia Pacific Films.com streams an enormous variety of films from the Pacific Rim that are not available anywhere else; for example, it currently lists 199 films from South Korea, whose film industry has been so fertile in the last 20 years. Fandor.com streams indie, offbeat and non-mainstream films, and has Facebook plans. Hulu.com matches Netflix at $7.99 a month, and has a ton of TV but seems weaker on films. It also arrives on your TV through Roku and game devices. All of these sites have active communities.
However, concerning Facebook, one of the movie critic's main concerns focuses on security, naturally. Facebook's track record of privacy breaches give him pause, but more than that, Ebert simply isn't that impressed with the user interface. In fact, Ebert believes it's easier to manipulate Apple's computer operating system as a first-time user than it is managing a Facebook account.
More than that, however, is the Ebert's belief that Facebook's movie streaming service will not be as robust or user-friendly as Netflix or Amazon.
These details lead up to Ebert's main point about how exponential growth isn't the best indicator of quality, while calling out those that oversee the social media platform:
There's a philosophical issue here. I'm in favor of choice. I can envision a future in which half of the web has been vacuumed up by Facebook. It's big enough already. Growth is not excellence. It's so enormous not because of programming genius but because of a mass compulsion to be part of the crowd. But since Zuckerberg or the twins had the great original stroke of insight, do you think the site has been particularly well-managed? If it's not making money, I'm in favor of monetizing it. Sell ads. But don't cannibalize sophisticated sites that do what they do perfectly well. And what kind of a streaming platform insists that you can only "Like" a movie?
It's hard not to wonder, however, if Ebert would be more open to a Facebook movie streaming service if they built a stand-alone platform, offering users tons of feedback options, much like Netflix offers? Would he be inclined to use it if their platform had better security protocols in place, or was his post simply a "I'm a Netflix fan" reaction?