Why Netflix Tightened Its Grip on Content Discovery and Shut Down Its Public API

By Adam Flomenbaum 

netflix-logoIn June, Netflix announced that it was shutting down its public API. Late last week it finally happened.

In some ways this is major news – another large internet company granting access to only a select fe partners; in other ways it isn’t. As noted by Gigaom, the company’s VP of Edge Engineering Daniel Jacobson pointed out recently that less than .3% of total API traffic were public requests.

Natan Edelsburg, a leading social TV expert and Senior Supervising Producer of the Shorty Awards thinks that the move is a matter of control. “I can guess that Netflix won’t always or ever want to be included in the same discovery ecosystem as their competitors to both strengthen their brand and to prevent lesser discovery experiences than they provide on their native apps.”

Netflix has opted to allow certain app developers to continue using the API. These, according to Engadget, include InstantWatcherFeedFliksCan I Stream It?, NextGuide, Flixster, Fanhattan, Yidio and Instant Watch Browser for Netflix.

I asked Edelsburg whether this move represents anything significant about the direction in which Netflix is heading: “This represents a challenge for social TV companies looking to make search and discovery experiences that are network, brand, and streaming platform agnostic,” he told me. “It’s going to be harder than ever to find one really good search engine where you can type in any show or movie and instantly see when or where it’s available across Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, Hulu, or one of the other popular streaming platforms. The good news is that Netflix will start investing more in making their already amazing discovery experience even more amazing.”