News & Analysis

As Netflix shuts down its API, startup A Better Queue is taken down with it

- November 17, 2014 2 MIN READ

Building a startup based around and wholly dependant on another business’ API is a risky journey, and one that should be tread carefully as depending on a sole supplier in order for you to be able to deliver your service can backfire.

That is what happened today with startup A Better Queue when streaming content service Netflix decided to completely kill its public API.

A Better Queue, founded by Dave Jachimiak enabled users to find ‘movies worth watching’ on Netflix by tapping into the ratings given by movie review website Rotten Tomatoes. It was a pretty straight forward to use application – users would just need to set their filter to exclude movies rated under a certain value, and then select the year the movie was released as well as the genre. Then once you clicked the filter button, the site would tell users the movies that were currently available to watch on Netflix. Users could also go straight through to the Netflix site by clicking the movie thumbnail.

Jachimiak, who started A Better Queue in 2012, has always referred to the startup as more of a ‘project’ he was pursuing as opposed to a business. It should, however, be noted that aggregation style startups have enormous potential if the industry they are working within is supportive of outside technology assisting in driving its metrics. Content aggregators such as Upworthy and Australia’s Tagroom are examples of how finding viral content around the web can highlight and drive viewers to new media players. In the travel space, aggregators like Hipmunk and Expedia are prime examples of how successful aggregation can be.

Sadly though, Netflix’s decision has meant the demise of sites like A Better Queue and put a halt to anyone that may have been thinking about building anything that could have ‘piggy-backed’ off the platform. There are some exceptions it seems, with other technology players like Flixster, Yidio and CanIStreamIt? still operating. Given this, it would be fair to make an assumption that these three companies along with maybe a few select others have been given access to a private API.

Jachimiak has chosen to move on and not pursue things any further, posting the following statement on the now deceased A Better Queue homepage.

End of the Road for A Better Queue

Sadly, it’s the end of the road for A Better Queue. It relied on Netflix’s public API, andNetflix retired the API on November 14th, 2014 .

Thanks to everyone who sent feature requests over the past couple of years. I had more plans for A Better Queue, but once I realized that the Netflix API retirement was imminent, it became clear that putting more effort into the project wasn’t worth the time.

Thanks to all who wrote to say they found A Better Queue valuable.



In retrospect, the change was pretty clearly coming. Netflix began to limit API access in March 2013 in a move that wasn’t too dissimilar to that of Twitter, which began focusing on controlling the user experience by choosing key partners and developing its own applications. Given one of the key features within Netflix now is a well-functioning ‘personal’ recommendation and rating engine for users, it’s not surprising that A Better Queue didn’t fit into the overall growth plans moving forward.

The news comes as rumours fill the Australian media industry about the arrival of Kathy O’Dowd, Netflix Senior Director for Programmatic Buying, who allegedly touched down in Australia last week. Presumably, this is ahead of a 2015 localised Netflix launch.