Industry challenger. Waste of time. Entertainment hub. Internet killer. Lifeline. Since its Australian launch in March this year, Netflix has become many things to many people.
Regardless of what the streaming service means to you, there’s no doubt more and more of us are spending our Friday nights tuning in to what the American behemoth has to offer.
Over the last three months alone the service has added more than 3 million streaming subscribers, bringing its global member tally to a total of 65.55 million.
A large portion of those recent sign-ups have come from Down Under, with the notoriously tight-lipped company merely describing its Australian-New Zealand launch as “successful”.
Thanks to an ever-changing catalogue of thousands of movies and television shows, plus a massive investment in original content (approaching $5 billion in 2016), it’s unsurprising the company is leading the charge in the streaming world.
However, if you’re merely binge-watching Gossip Girl and shutting off your television, you’re doing it wrong.
Here are several ways to make the most of your monthly subscription fee.
Manage your buffering rate
Hate that grainy buffering thing that happens at pivotal moments in House of Cards? You can get rid of it.
“Netflix can stream buffer-free with even the weakest of Internet connections. Also you can set Netflix to stream different qualities to help manage your data usage,” a Netflix spokesperson told The New Daily.
To do this, log in to the service on your desktop computer and on the drop-down menu at the top right, click Your Account and select Playback Settings. You can then opt for video to stream at Low, Medium or High quality. Select Low to save data and improve streaming speed.
Netflix has a heap of sub-categories for its content that aren’t readily available. To access movies from weird sub-genres or super-specific areas, type the following into the search bar on your desktop.
First, copy and paste this into your browser bar: http://www.netflix.com/WiAltGenre?agid=
After the “=” sign, add a code from this page. There’s a code for everything from “Tearjerkers” to “Deep Sea Horror Movies”.
Tell them what you want
The more movies and shows you rate, the more precise your suggested content will be.
The site’s algorithm will narrow down your specific tastes based on what you enjoy (or don’t).
You can also help them do this by selecting Taste Preferences in the Your Account menu.
Create custom profiles
“If you don’t want your significant other or family member messing up your personalisfed Netflix suggestions, make sure to create your own profile. You can have up to 5 different profiles, including a safe section for kids,” a Netflix spokesperson said.
“Likewise, do you have a special someone you watch Netflix with a lot? Make a separate profile just for ‘date night’ so you get suggestions on titles that are suited to both your tastes for when you watch together.”
To do this, select Manage Profiles on the drop-down menu. Click Add Profile and name it something that makes sense to you (e.g. the name you’ve always wished you had). Ensure you only use it when watching content relevant to that specific purpose.
Let someone else decide for you
Let’s face it, being overwhelmed by choices is a very real struggle.
Take the guesswork out of it with Netflix Roulette which chooses a TV show or movie for you.
You can filter it by actor name, director name or keyword. Just be aware it also includes titles from the American catalogue, so it might take you a couple of rolls of the die to find something suitable.
Embarrass your loved ones
If you share your Netflix account with family, your significant other or even just a housemate, you have the power.
You can monitor viewing habits on a particular profile by going to Your Account and selecting Viewing Activity. This will reveal all of their guilty viewing pleasures to you, which you can then rub in their face and bring up at social events (e.g. “I didn’t know you were such a big Katherine Heigl fan!”).
This also has security benefits too. On the Viewing Activity page, select See recent account access. This can show you where your account has been accessed from. If you haven’t been to Puerto Rico recently and it pops up, be concerned.
As long as you exercise caution when posting (it’s a jungle out there), Reddit is your best friend when it comes to Netflix advice.
The Best of Netflix thread offers answers to questions like, “just broke up with a long-term girlfriend, looking for some TV shows or movies that will cheer me up” or “looking for a spooky family-friendly movie, appropriate for pre-teens”.
It also provides honest, detailed descriptions of movies that cut to the chase. If you want a laugh, visit the Worst of Netflix thread. It contains gems like this description of 2011 Nicholas Cage film Trespass: “Nick Cage screams himself hoarse to make up for the writer’s inability to write a logical home invasion story.”
Find out what’s new
The Netflix library changes all the time and, while you can sign up to a newsletter which tells you the highlights each month, some of the less notable content gets lost.
To stay abreast of everything that’s coming, use iStreamGuide which can be filtered by release date, arrival date, title and HD capability.
If you’re lazy (we all are), skip the hard stuff and use these helpful shortcuts:
• Type ‘Netflix’ into the search bar to find all the Netflix Original content.
• Click the row names on the homepage to see a full gallery of TV shows and films within that genre (browser only).
• Visit this page for a full list of desktop keyboard shortcuts to help you rewind, change the volume or get more info easily.
Don’t be held back by your location
Netflix is pretty much everywhere these days, but the content library changes from country to country. If you’re travelling abroad and want access to stuff from home, or if you can’t watch a certain movie because you’re not in the US, there are ways around it.
Sites like MediaHint allow you to circumvent location restrictions for free.