Netflix cuts back on expiration dates after 'streamaggedon'
Company says that to combat confusion, it has altered its API to prevent third-party tools from broadcasting potentially inaccurate expiration dates for streaming movies.
In the wake of disappointment and confusion caused by Netflix's "streamaggedon" movie purge, the rental service has made changes to its API that will make it harder for third-party tools to determine when titles will expire.
The revelation late last month that hundreds of classic movies, including Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories" and the James Bond hits "Dr. No" and "Goldfinger," would soon vanish from movie fans' instant streaming queues caused a minor uproar that some in the media dubbed "streamaggedon." A Netflix spokesperson said that both the number of titles and the level of studio involvement were inaccurate and instead said that the purge was part of a normal ebb and flow on the streaming service due to licensing contracts for exclusive content.
To prevent such confusion in the future, Netflix announced late Monday that it will alter the programming interface to prevent the movie expiration dates from showing up in third-party tools such as InstantWatcher.com, which provides a searchable listing of the on-demand Netflix movies. The change means that one of InstantWatcher.com's most popular features, known as "Expiring Soon," will no longer work.
Information listed in such tools is often inaccurate due to short-notice changes in content availability, Netflix said late Monday on its developers blog:
Starting today, we will no longer provide expiration dates for any of our titles in the public API. We will continue to publish the field to the REST API and the catalog index file to minimize the likelihood of breaking applications that use it, although all titles will now have "1/1/2100" as the date value.
We are making this change because the expiration date can be inaccurate as a result of frequent, often last minute, changes in content flow.
However, the service promises that users will still have access to each movie's streaming expiration date via each individual title's page.