The only reason I can think of Netflix not wanting to share expiration dates is for competitive reasons -- I don't think they really want to upset any customers after last year. If Amazon, Apple, Redbox or other competitor knew that a title like Mad Men was expiring in 3 months, they could try to out-bid Netflix for the title or just drive up the renewal price. By hiding this data Netflix is making it harder for competitors to know the length of contracts or the expiration dates of agrements.
I proposed to a contact at Netflix that they warn customers with expiring series in their queue a month or more in advance, which could give them time to finish watching it, and was told that they would take it under consideration.
I wanted to get developer feedback on the changes, so I contacted the publishers of two popular Netflix-related websites and applications:
Raghu Srinivasan from Feedfliks had this to say about the changes, "I am disappointed, of course. I think it's a bad move wrt developer relations. To an extent, I can see that their private API so far outstrips the public API in usage that they need to assign resources and attention appropriately but with this, I think they have swung the pendulum too far. Back when they announced that they were going to remove all DVD related info from the API, it was at least consistent with the company structure to become streaming only and leaving DVDs to Qwikster. This move makes even less sense than that - and that's saying something! It's a great API and the folks on the team and awesome but it's a pity that so much of the effort has gone to cutting back what's available (first reviews, then expiry dates and now this) and so little to actually making more information available. I hope they change their mind but I am not optimistic that they will."
Daniel Choi from Instantwatcher: "The API changes don't affect the operation of Instantwatcher, with the possible exception of the change in future expiration dates. Most of the upcoming API changes will only require us to change a few lines of code, to point our API querying code to a different URL, and minor things like that. The structure of the API data is staying the same, so our API data parsers won't have to be rewritten. Instantwatcher also doesn't use the parts of the API that going to be deprecated, since Instantwatcher doesn't query anyone's rental history. In the past instant streaming titles had expiration dates sometimes several months into the future. But now they won't have specific expiration dates unless they are due to expire within the next two weeks. I don't think most users will be too upset by this change."
Thanks to everyone that sent this in (there are too many to list).