The streaming landscape is an increasingly complicated place. There are more services than ever, each with a selection of streaming tiers, and of course with a different choice of TV shows and movies.
But whether you’re on Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video or somewhere else entirely, you also have to contend with the fact streaming content doesn’t always last forever: just because a film, documentary or TV series is available to watch today, doesn’t mean it will still be there next week.
Complex rights issues around content, as well as each service’s desire to keep things fresh, mean your options of what to watch really are changing every week. And that’s not always a good thing. Shows will come and go and it's easy to discover a new (old) favourite only to find yourself running out of time to watch it all before it’s wiped from the schedules.
Case in point: I’d just begun to re-immerse myself in the amazing world of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on Netflix. The show has won 12 Primetime Emmys and is rightly heralded as one of the best documentary series ever made. The much-missed Bourdain, who found fame as a chef and writer, travelled the world revealing not just great dishes but the stories of the people and places that produced them. Equal parts tasty food and social commentary, and with as good a guide and host as you could wish for.
With 12 seasons to enjoy, I’ve been dipping in and out as long as they’ve been on Netflix, but with plenty still to watch, I was sad - and somewhat panicked - to see the appearance of the infamous “Last chance to watch” notice on Netflix. And sure enough, as of 1st June, the show has vanished (in the UK, at least). Inevitably, just as I’d watched the fascinating West Virginia episode, and mentally circled a few more episodes to enjoy.
So now what? Well, Just Watch - the website that tracks how to watch every show and film you can think of - to the rescue. And good news. The content-juggling Gods have come up trumps and it seems I can now divide my loyalties and head over to Amazon Prime Video, where I can not only watch the show, but watch it for free, with ads, courtesy of Freevee (more on that here).
Great! This streaming game isn't so bad after all... ah but hang on. Of course, there’s a catch. And I don’t just mean the ads.
In yet another example of the serendipitous nature of streaming content, only the first seven seasons are available on Amazon. And the five most recent seasons, and those episodes I’d earmarked, remain out of reach. Damn.
The lesson? Well, you could binge shows even harder, though that may not be healthy. Or you could buy more Blu-rays, which won't disappear before your eyes. But when it comes to streaming, remember that if it has vanished from one platform, it may have popped up on another one. Some of it, at least. For everything else? Like so much in life, enjoy it while it lasts.
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