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"I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation."
September 19, 2011 6:46 AM   Subscribe

"I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation." Netflix has lost 26% of its value after raising prices and splitting their DVD and streaming services (previously); they'll lose lose 600,000 subscribers by September 30 instead of gaining the 400,000 they predicted. Now Netflix is spinning off their DVD-by-mail service into a separate web site, Qwikster.

Reed Hastings, Netflix Co-Founder and CEO:
A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated. So if you subscribe to both services, and if you need to change your credit card or email address, you would need to do it in two places. Similarly, if you rate or review a movie on Qwikster, it doesn’t show up on Netflix, and vice-versa.”.
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos: "the DVD business has a long life in middle America, it’s just not part of our future."
posted by kirkaracha (407 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm fine with the price increase. Don't like it, but it makes sense.

But splitting and starting a new company? That just seems silly.
posted by theichibun at 6:48 AM on September 19, 2011 [35 favorites]


Ok, let's place our bets.

Amazon buys Netflix and Coinstar buys Qwikster.
posted by michaelh at 6:48 AM on September 19, 2011 [20 favorites]


I got the friendly email this morning. "Good news! That service that we took from you? Now you can't even access it on the same website! Why would you want to do that?"

Absolutely baffling.
posted by Think_Long at 6:49 AM on September 19, 2011 [76 favorites]


Because that was my biggest complaint with the new plans, that I'd have to go to the same website for both DVDs and streaming!
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:49 AM on September 19, 2011 [51 favorites]


Maybe they named the DVD service "Qwikster" so people would be too embarrassed to join.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:49 AM on September 19, 2011 [82 favorites]


This is so odd it's not even wrong.
posted by odinsdream at 6:51 AM on September 19, 2011 [32 favorites]


Greed? Not really. More like "realizing their current model is not going to continue to be profitable." It's well documented that they got amazingly good deals for their original streaming contracts because content owners didn't really understand the value of the proposition. Now they've had to renew a lot of those contracts, and they're either paying more than they were or simply failing to reach a deal, e.g. Starz. They were going to have to raise rates at some point if they wanted to continue to operate in the black. No two ways about it.

I think what they really underestimated here is how tight a lot of family budgets are these days. Netflix has never been anything but a luxury good, and there are lots of people who are looking for an excuse to cancel luxury goods. And cancelling Netflix is, for a lot of people, easier than cancelling cable. So the price increase was probably at least as much a prompt for people to be reminded that they're shelling out a dozen-odd bucks a month they they could probably stand to keep as much as it was a protest against the price increase as such.

But splitting the company into two? The hell? Exactly what do they think will be accomplished by this? I see absolutely no reason why this is good for anyone.
posted by valkyryn at 6:51 AM on September 19, 2011 [29 favorites]


I let my subscription to Netflix lapse a couple months ago; my credit card details had changed, but I"d forgotten to update it on the account, and instead of sending me the usual "we tried to access your card, but couldn't, can you update your account?" they sent a "we tried to access your card but couldn't, we're cancelling your account, let us know if you ever want to come back." I was annoyed, but have been intending to sign up again; now I think I escaped just in time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am so glad I dumped NF. It continues to be the service that isn't.

Not worth the effort to try to navigate their convoluted business model(s).
posted by lampshade at 6:52 AM on September 19, 2011


I can't help thinking that everybody snarking here would be snarking 5x harder in 3 years when DVDs are completely dead and Netflix would have held onto them as a core business.

Cannibalizing is the only way forward.
posted by victors at 6:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [21 favorites]


So, the feature that made Netflix useful -- the ability to use past viewing habits to rate the likelihood of enjoying another film -- is going to get shredded in order to break off a less-profitable portion of the business? And, that primarily affects the biggest users of the service, those people who watch so many movies that having both streaming and DVDs makes financial sense?

Baffling is right -- his apology is "I messed up, so I'm going to mess it up even worse to show how sorry I am". I don't know how any of this is supposed to make a Netflix user feel better about the things they were angry about recently.

I think this is more about Netflix losing 20% in share value, and the stockholders are screaming for money -- so they branch off the DVDs and sell it, thus showing profit this quarter.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [34 favorites]


Dammit!

I saw the subject line and hoped it was an apology for the horribly bad "redesign" they implemented a few months ago. You know the one that makes the site worse in every way possible.
posted by jeremias at 6:53 AM on September 19, 2011 [15 favorites]


They're taking on GameFly? Ballsy. A single-disc GameFly account is $16/month. Assuming NetFlix isn't going to be charging a 100% premium, they've got the distribution network and capital to squash them (building a library would be trivial.) I wonder how GameFly will up the ante on this.

Also, the "greed" here is just, well, business on behalf of NetFlix and the content holders both. The days of cheap streaming content contracts is over now that they've proven that the System Works.
posted by griphus at 6:54 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I saw the subject line this morning I thought I had a stalker.
posted by swift at 6:54 AM on September 19, 2011 [22 favorites]


It's about margin and the scalability of streaming media versus shipping DVDs.

Qwikster will be sold off.
posted by nickrussell at 6:55 AM on September 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


And this is why we should all just go back to torrents.
posted by astapasta24 at 6:55 AM on September 19, 2011 [51 favorites]


First World Problem.

I think the problem here is that netflix need to do something in order to stay profitable and whatever they do causes the netflix base to start carrying on and jumping base. On account of the netflix base being whiners, mac owners and hipsters.

People should just admit that they prefer hulu and get on with moving to that service.

I wish netflix all the best. Whatever they do now is going to hurt, but it's not going to hurt as much as not changing.
posted by seanyboy at 6:55 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Up here in Canuckistan they're the best thing since EVER. We love them. Because it just works. Yes, discovery is a pain in the ass on the mobile/tv sites but they have so much long tail and esoteric stuff we're just thrilled all to pieces.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:56 AM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


the ability to use past viewing habits to rate the likelihood of enjoying another film

This never worked anyways. It was always good at finding obscure bad movies that I didn't want to watch, though they might have been perfectly aligned with my interests, and it was terrible at finding good movies that might not be identical to the movies I've watched in the past.

horribly bad "redesign" they implemented a few months ago.

So, so true. I've never seen a site become so rapidly less-usable. "Oh, that functionality you wanted to use before, like seeing critics ratings, or scrolling through movies in a normal fashion? We got rid of that for you, you can thank us later."
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:57 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think this is more about Netflix losing 20% in share value, and the stockholders are screaming for money -- so they branch off the DVDs and sell it, thus showing profit this quarter.

This is an interesting idea, I think you might be on to something.

They moved too fast and didn't make their customer base a part of the process until the point where they said HEY PAY UP. That's why their CEO is embarrassing himself in public.

But streaming can only be a good business to bet everything on if people can't get what they want for free, and Netflix's streaming videos have always been pretty iffy in terms of quality anyway. This doesn't seem entirely like a prudent business move.
posted by clockzero at 6:57 AM on September 19, 2011


On account of the netflix base being whiners, mac owners and hipsters. ...People should just admit that they prefer hulu and get on with moving to that service.

Wow, hulu's guerilla marketing budget is awful, apparently.
posted by griphus at 6:57 AM on September 19, 2011 [71 favorites]


And, that primarily affects the biggest users of the service, those people who watch so many movies that having both streaming and DVDs makes financial sense?

You aren't the user who makes NetFlix profitable, so they don't care so much about you. It's the casual watchers who sign up for Netflix on impulse, enter their CC info, and then hardly ever watch anything - but still autopay their monthly bill - who make Netflix profitable.
posted by aught at 6:57 AM on September 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


Honestly, it seems like they are doing a pretty good job of transitioning their brand from DVDs to streaming. Sure that will piss of the the DVD customers they've had for years, but if they valued them so much, they wouldn't be doing the transition in the first place.
posted by smackfu at 6:57 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


People should just admit that they prefer hulu and get on with moving to that service.

I prefer hulu for the TV shows available on Hulu. I prefer Netflix for a rather sizeable library of streaming video and TV *and* a massive library of DVDs (basically, if it's in print, they usually have it). I don't particularly like the idea of having two hulus, one of which becomes incrementally more expensive.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:59 AM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


The company had projected it would have 3 million DVD-only subscribers at the end of the third quarter, but now says it expects 2.2 million. Its estimate for streaming-only customers fell slightly to 9.8 million from 10 million. The company still expects 12 million people to pay for both services.

So, 12 million people are now paying double what they used to. It seems to me that subscribers went down but revenue per subscriber went up... so was it really a bad idea?
posted by smackfu at 7:00 AM on September 19, 2011


Netflix is making a bet that negotiating licensing fees with content creators is going to cost less than shipping items via mail. Either they are a bit naive about how hollywood is going to price their content going forward or they think that there is going to be a new content making class that is going to make it easy to get content of slightly less than professional grade. I for one think that the costs of shipping are going to go up but not as fast as netflix thinks and I think that fundamentally the content creating oligarchs are fundamentally divorced from reality in terms of pricing their content. I would not base a business on the willingness of the entertainment companies to be reasonable. I think the competition for independent content is going to be hot. Very hot.

I hope they spin off Qwikster, I'd invest in it.
posted by Rubbstone at 7:00 AM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


Pre-Existing Qwikster Twitter account featuring Stoned Elmo

Sample tweet: Don't bother telling me who my ex is now dating ! Cuzz now I feel bad for the bitch that has my sloppy seconds :)

http://quikster.com/
http://quickster.com/
http://kwikster.com
http://kwickster.com/
http://quikstar.com/
http://kwikstar.com/
http://quickstar.com/
http://kwickstar.com/
^ all domain squatters

1) Spin-off dying physical media website targeted at older Americans
2) Make up nonsense name they can't spell
3) ????
4) At least the headlines will be "Qwikster is dying" instead of "Netflix is dying". Maybe that's what they are going for
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:00 AM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


I see this as a way to degrade the DVD service without ruining the Netflix name. Because when the USPS degrades THEIR service, Qwikster will be out (or become a Redbox competitor if it hasn't been bought by Coinstar), and Netflix will be the brand you've always loved and wished you could subscribe to.
posted by hanoixan at 7:00 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Netflix streaming is pretty much the only thing that keeps me sane right now, as I spend all day in front of my computer doing largely mindless Photoshop work. I was glad to be able to have a streaming-only account as I went through DVDs too fast for them to really be worth the trouble. I hope that a small price increase and splitting the company is enough to keep them in the black for a long time, yet.

Ah, anyway....back to work! I have six more seasons of All Creatures Great And Small to devour and two hundred comic pages to revise.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:00 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Engadget article ("Editorial: Reed Hastings' Netflix spinoff isn't about DVD success, it's about hedging the stream") is interesting. Not sure I buy all of it, but it brings up possibilities I hadn't thought of.
posted by theredpen at 7:01 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Because when the USPS degrades THEIR service, Qwikster will be out ...

No, no. It'll be like that scene in Eyes Wide Shut when Tom Cruise has the cabbie wait outside for him. They'll send you half a DVD one month, then you wait, then they send you the other half.
posted by griphus at 7:02 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Huh. I just signed up for NetFlix because the new Blu-Ray player I bought had it bundled.

Very much like the streaming service for my kid, documentaries, cartoons, etc. Never even considered renting physical DVD's from them. Partially because I don't have time for watching movies much anymore (because I've got the kid).

The price hike I was annoyed with, and I can see how for folks who use it the DVD aspect getting spun off and your account no longer syncing would be one of those things that could completely drive you from the service.

I do, however, agree with the people who suggest it was an effort to save the NetFlix brand from the inevitable death of the mail DVD rental business. Whether it'll alienate too many users to be worthwhile is an interesting question.
posted by sotonohito at 7:03 AM on September 19, 2011


Perhaps this is a "Hudsucker Proxy" situation where the Netflix owners are trying to drive the stock down so they could buy more of it.

Of course, that seems unlikely, because they don't seem to be movie fans.
posted by ColdChef at 7:03 AM on September 19, 2011 [18 favorites]


I thought the split sounded silly, and didn't love the price hike, but I think that Hastings makes a great case for it in his letter. They really are two separate businesses (although I seriously do hope that they establish some sort of synergy between the two and possibly offer a discount for signing up to both). It makes sense to brand them differently.

I also suspect (not mentioned in the letter) that movie studios were attempting to hold Netflix's DVD business hostage while negotiating terms for streaming movies. If Netflix can hard hold and fast to the fact that the DVD business is separate from the streaming service, they may be able to negotiate better contracts.

Seriously. Read the letter before you start hating. I've been a Netflix subscriber for a loooong time, and they've always been a fantastic business (and even cut my rate a few times). They don't do contracts, don't care how often you cancel your subscription or put your account on hold, and don't treat you like a criminal if you report a missing DVD -- they're flat-out great about addressing shipping problems.

Frankly, Netflix have built up a lot of credibility in my mind, and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here. Considering just how slimy the rest of the entertainment and motion picture industry is, I'm frankly a little disappointed that we're directing our rage at the one company who acted in good faith and made things better for the consumer.
posted by schmod at 7:04 AM on September 19, 2011 [68 favorites]


People should just admit that they prefer hulu and get on with moving to that service.

I really want to like Hulu, but I've got a Roku and I've got XBMC, and neither play nicely with Hulu. Roku has Hulu+, which is missing nearly all of the current TV shows; 90% of the rest of what I can get are "clips", little 2-minute useless snippets. The movies on Hulu and Hulu+ are largely already on Netflix. If the only way to watch Hulu's valuable content is while sitting at that computer, I can't use it.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:05 AM on September 19, 2011


I'm really really excited about the video games part!
posted by Brainy at 7:06 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't quite understand all the hate towards Netflix -- $8.00 a month for unlimited streaming is certainly a great deal. I'd be much happier if I never again have to deal with DVDs or other physical media for enjoying digital media.

I'd pay more if they allowed some limited number of shows/ movies to be cached on portable devices like iPAD. I.e. allow me to watch movies on airplanes with strong time-expiring DRM and get more of my money.

The growth has been in digital distribution for them and that's the future of the company. They are being pro-active about spinning off the DVD business, so some doesn't do to them what they did to Blockbuster.
posted by zeikka at 7:06 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


So let me get this straight: God said unto Abraham, "I command you to kill your son Isaac" and Abraham said, "Right on, God, turns out that Isaac has this fused/conjoined fraternal twin who we're gonna cut out and toss up on the pyre. That cool with you? Great. Thought so. Let's do this."
posted by jph at 7:07 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


It occurs to me that unless there really is a plan to get bought out by Amazon in the next few months, it really is a terrible time to undifferentiate themselves from a larger, more profitable competitor.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:08 AM on September 19, 2011


I'd be totally down with the streaming only Netflix if the selection wasn't so dire. And it's only going to get worse since they're losing the Starz content.
posted by octothorpe at 7:08 AM on September 19, 2011 [16 favorites]


Basically, it's about the movie history/ratings to me. If I lose that from the service, I lose a tremendous amount of the value Netflix used to bring. Also, the branding schism is just bizarre.
posted by cavalier at 7:08 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


griphus wrote: Wow, hulu's guerilla marketing budget is awful, apparently.

Having both (and many illicit sources of video content, varying in easy from "click here on your TV" to "pain in the ass"), I tend to find myself watching more stuff on Hulu than Netflix. The only reason I keep NF is for the Blu-Rays. Which reminds me, I still haven't canceled the streaming.

I knew I was being dumb when I re-subscribed after a several year absence (they backdoored a price hike onto my account by canceling it rather than sending me an email about my credit card expiring some years back), but Redbox didn't have Blu-Rays yet.

It's always sad to see a company burn good will like that. I had been with them from essentially the beginning, after all. (TiVo is similarly hobbled by MBAs)
posted by wierdo at 7:08 AM on September 19, 2011


I subscribe to both netflix (and I guess now Quikster) as well as Gamefly. I for see one of those 3 being cancelled in the near future.
Curious to see how Netflix/Quikster handles the game rentals. I only hope the turn around time is quicker the Gamefly
posted by ShawnString at 7:09 AM on September 19, 2011


I've got to agree with Schmod. I've had a couple of DVDs over the years never make it back to Netflix. I really have no idea if I was a fault, they were, or it was lost in transit. Each time, they simply wrote it off and life went on. And I've got a few years worth of stuff queued up on streaming right now as it is, even if they never add anything new. I like the service and I hope they continue to be successful.
posted by COD at 7:09 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Netflix is making a bet that negotiating licensing fees with content creators is going to cost less than shipping items via mail.

The comparisons they made to dial up and brick and mortar book stores in the blog post are pretty clear in showing that Netflix thinks the entire media-by-mail business model is going to be non-existent soon, or is at least winding down. Netflix is a growth company, their stock value mostly hinges on how big they will be in 5-10 years. It seems extremely unlikely that the by-mail business is going to grow significantly from where it is now, whereas streaming could theoretically overtake a lot of other existing content delivery platforms like cable TV, which could make result in Netflix gaining a huge amount of value as a company. Splitting off the by-mail business is not the only way of moving in that direction, but it is definitely reasonable that Netflix doesn't see the by-mail service as being a big part of their future.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:10 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't quite understand all the hate towards Netflix -- $8.00 a month for unlimited streaming is certainly a great deal. I'd be much happier if I never again have to deal with DVDs or other physical media for enjoying digital media.

I happily pay for this streaming service that was just a pipe dream for me 5 years ago. However, I increasingly worry about the content they are able to offer. If a guy like me who doesn't even watch that much television (maybe an hour a night) is running out of stuff to watch, then we've got problems.
posted by Think_Long at 7:10 AM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


We hit streaming so hard it's more than worth what we pay, and if cutting off the dying arm that is physical DVD rental means more/better/higher quality streaming content, I'll take that tradeoff all day and twice on Sunday.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:11 AM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


I remain glad that I dropped them when they wanted to drop multi-user accounts. They obviously have no idea what the public wants.

I'd be willing to pay probably $20/month for a "guaranteed to have full seasons and quality rips of all shows/movies" torrent site. Just let me know where to send my money, MPAA.
posted by DU at 7:11 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


As someone who only has a streaming account, I'm a little confused. Just recently, they started restricting streams so you can only use one device at a time (so if I'm watching a show on my xbox, my husband can't watch something else on his ipad). The official solution to get more streams is to add a DVD plan; 2 DVDs at a time = able to stream 2 shows at a time. So now if I want to stream 2 different things concurrently, I need to subscribe to a second service, with a different company, and be billed separately?
posted by specialagentwebb at 7:12 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just let me know where to send my money, MPAA.

Just throw it in that bag marked "Children's Letters to Santa."
posted by griphus at 7:12 AM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Qwikster is a great name if you want people to confuse you with that shitty amway clone.
posted by dr_dank at 7:13 AM on September 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


Dang, I was really hoping Netflix would survive long enough for me to laugh maniacally at the last, final, this-is-it liquidation of Blockbuster, which is the evil company that actually screwed up the way movies are made for decades. With luck, that's already a foregone conclusion, but you know...you sort of want to see things through.

I had a lot of good times with Netflix (was a subscriber almost from the very beginning), then wasn't in a financial position to afford Netflix, then was out of the movie watching habit, and when my interest returned sometime last year, the subscription model I liked (discs in my mailbox) went away in favor of something where I'd need to buy some fancy player and endure Youtubey glitches and pauses for my trouble. I don't mind email in the cloud, or Google docs in the cloud, but I want either a disc or a file at my house, independent on whether my ex in the apartment upstairs is using all the bandwidth to download porn for his bug-out bag.

You kids these days. Now I wish I hadn't thrown out all my hundreds of Beta tapes a couple weeks back (though the kiddie porn selections would have still gone out). Ah, this modern world.
posted by sonascope at 7:13 AM on September 19, 2011


i for one am glad about Qwikster. There hasn't been a site where chocolate milk enthusiasts could share their views since they shut down Yoohootube.
posted by Bromius at 7:13 AM on September 19, 2011 [85 favorites]


I think the government needs to take control of Netflix. It is clear that the netting of flix is too crucial a part of American infrastructure to be left to the whims of the market.
posted by Legomancer at 7:14 AM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


Qwikster will be sold off.

Soon, and like it's nobody's business, too.

It still confuses me that people don't understand the whole physical media vs. streaming scenario. Did they not notice the closure of many Blockbuster stores or the outright disappearance of the neighborhood mom & pop video stores? DVD's are going away. Permanently. And using the USPS as a distribution partner may be disappearing as well.

In the case of Netflix's business model, for years the were guaranteed to pay a steady price for DVD copy, guaranteed to pay a nominal price for shipping and subsequently made their money by signing up more customers and improving their turnaround time, both internal revenue streams with no interference from the content producers, who could only idly sit by as their titles were rented and re-rented ad nauseum.

Now, with streaming becoming the most popular and attractive distribution model, the studios/content creators/content owners have two choices: license their content to third-party providers like Netflix and charge them by the size of their user-base ($X/month/user) or create their own distribution channels and handle subscriptions themselves. Netflix would prefer to negotiate on favorable terms that would generate profits for the content providers based on the number of customers actually viewing a title, but Hollywood is having none of that, and I suspect that one player rarely mentioned, YouTube, is having a lot of say in how future media streaming deals are configured.

Netflix, as we know it, is over. That, and some stoner kid has found himself at the center of some new attention.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:14 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Honestly, it seems like they are doing a pretty good job of transitioning their brand from DVDs to streaming.

They're slitting their own throats.

When they were primarily about sending DVDs through the mail, there was nothing stopping them -- if they got in a fight with a particular studio -- from going to a distributor and buying a bunch of copies of the DVD and renting them out. With streaming, they'll be endlessly and completely beholden to the studios.

They just became a value-add on top of whatever the movie studios decide to charge them for the streaming rights. The studios are going to squeeze every last drop out of them on one side, and ISPs are going to threaten to throttle their content if they don't get kickbacks on the other.

Also, they moved from a space that's very hard to get into and very difficult to do right (all those distribution centers, the proprietary envelopes, the processing machines, etc.) into a space where practically anybody with a bunch of servers can compete, or try to. Just think of how many competitors they have in DVDs-by-mail versus streaming: they killed their only DVD-by-mail competitor (Blockbuster) a few years ago, but in streaming they're in direct competition with Hulu and Amazon and a bunch of niche services. Those competitors are going to get better, and increase in number, over time, and all of them are going to be trying to cut deals with studios for content, driving up prices and fragmenting selection. The studios are never going to let one company achieve the kind of dominance in the streaming space that Netflix achieved with DVDs-by-mail.

It's unfortunate that American business culture doesn't permit companies to be content doing one thing and doing that thing really well, but instead encourages them to bet the farm repeatedly on growth opportunities, even when they don't make a whole lot of sense.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:15 AM on September 19, 2011 [71 favorites]


AzraelBrown wrote: I really want to like Hulu, but I've got a Roku and I've got XBMC, and neither play nicely with Hulu. Roku has Hulu+, which is missing nearly all of the current TV shows; 90% of the rest of what I can get are "clips", little 2-minute useless snippets. The movies on Hulu and Hulu+ are largely already on Netflix. If the only way to watch Hulu's valuable content is while sitting at that computer, I can't use it.

There is a Hulu plugin (and Amazon!) for XBMC which works a treat. It may only work if you're running the latest Git code, though, I don't know, since that's what I always run. Not that you really need it if you just want TV from the last few weeks since plugins for almost all of the networks' websites work.

Also, all this "disks are dead" shit makes me sad. Once again, the mass market spits on quality and moves right to "who gives a shit about quality, can't I just be lazzzzzyyyyyy???!!!". Talk to me when there's a streaming service that even comes close to Blu-Ray. Or has lossless audio at all. Oh, one condition: It has to actually work over the real-world Internet. Very few CDNs will actually push 20Mbps to me. Most top out around 15, and then only if I'm lucky.

Discs aren't going anywhere for a large segment of the population. Redbox, unlike the starry eyed idiots at Netflix, gets this.
posted by wierdo at 7:16 AM on September 19, 2011 [17 favorites]


locusts.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:16 AM on September 19, 2011


When they first created the streaming-only accounts, I switched my account to that, as I had been almost completely streaming ever since they first started streaming. This had several unexpected side effects, the worst two of which were that it threw away every queued movie that I had on my DVD queue but not on my streaming queue, and that it no longer allows me to add non-streaming movies to my queue.

Previously, I could add them to my DVD queue, and if they ever became available for streaming, they would automatically be added to my streaming queue. I found this very useful. It just seems utterly bizarre that they took this away, without giving you any other way to save a non-streaming movie.

If this move increases the chance that they'll give us back that ability, I'm all for it. Otherwise, eh, I don't care one way or the other.
posted by Flunkie at 7:17 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


It still confuses me that people don't understand the whole physical media vs. streaming scenario.

The scenario is fine. The libraries do not compare.
posted by Big_B at 7:17 AM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


I should elaborate. Discs aren't going anywhere because a large segment of the population would puke if their Internet bill were $60 a month. Most people are annoyed when they have to pay $30. Why pay $20 a month to pay another $10 a month when you can get the one DVD a week you want for $4 a month with no prerequisites except a $20 DVD player?
posted by wierdo at 7:18 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The -ster suffix in a company name brings nothing bud bad luck, heartbreak, and disease.
posted by swift at 7:19 AM on September 19, 2011 [16 favorites]


I cancelled Hulu a while ago. It is fucking horrible. How many times do I have to rate Family Guy and its 17 spinoffs as one star before they stop recommending me every new episode?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:20 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would not base a business on the willingness of the entertainment companies to be reasonable.

ding ding ding ding WINNAH! WINNAH!

Yeah, every one of those media companies wants to "own the customer," and there's no way in hell they're going to let Netflix own them. Especially not cheaply.

The exact same thing happened 20 years ago. The only difference was that online movie distribution happened over coax and you didn't get to watch what you wanted when you wanted but had programming executives make those choices for you.

Every major media company created their own cable network(s) based on their own copyright holdings, either mass market channels based on them having inherited some classic studio, or more specialized channels based on them having inherited particularly valuable franchises.

Turner Classic Movies existed because Turner had the old MGM catalog.

UPN existed (briefly) because Paramount owned Star Trek and thought (incorrectly) that it could build a network on top of it.

The Battlestar Galactica reboot happened because (Ron Moore told me this himself when I interviewed him about the upcoming mini-series pilot) Universal Studios owned an SF franchise called Battlestar Galactica that it was seeking to monetize, and then as part of the whole NBC deal, Universal also ended up owning a network dedicated to showing SF programming. (And wrestling, obviously. Can't have Sci-Fi without wrestling.)

The online distribution market is going to balkanize more or less exactly like cable TV did, and for the exact same reasons. Because everyone wants to own the customer and thinks they have enough accumulated awesome content that you'll have to come to them. HBO's already doing it. Sony will have its own online service (it kind of already does for the PS3). So will Disney. So will all of them. And Netflix will probably end up like the original incarnation of American Movie Classics, streaming old RKO movies that nobody's ever heard of because that's all that's left.
posted by Naberius at 7:20 AM on September 19, 2011 [43 favorites]


Guess I'm one of the hold-outs... I only use Netflix for the blu-ray discs. The few times I tried watching a streaming movie, it was horrible - the picture quality is nowhere near the same as blu-ray. Maybe it's fine if you're watching on an iPad, or in a 6" window on your computer, but not on a 42" flat-screen...

Anyway, I'm really disappointed about this, and wtf is with the "Qwickster" name? Sounds horrible. (Couldn't they at least get "Qwikflix" or some such?) Sigh.
posted by kira at 7:21 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mr. TiVo just runs up to Netflix on the road, shouting "Beware! Beware! As you are now, so once was I! As I am now, so shall you beeeee!" Neflix then gallops over the bridge and the running water prevents TiVo from following.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:21 AM on September 19, 2011 [40 favorites]


The main problem is the streaming selection has always been subpar, and now they're set to lose Starz, which was probably somethign like 50% of thier backcatalog. They have to improve the streaming selection drastically, and rapidly at that. Which is a real problem, as now that they've proven that the streaming is a viable model, everyone else is going to try to create thier own streaming service. Without vastly superior selection, there's very little to reccomend Netflix streaming over say Showtime Direct or HBO In Home or Sony Streamflix by Amazon or whatever else is going to be out there. That selection advantage is not currently there.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:22 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


From a PR point of view, NetFlix needs to bite the bullet and take a big loss-leader hit and make a big deal with a studio to get some highly visible A-list movies very soon. Even if it's only creating the illusion of having more current hits it would make it easier for the average consumer to accept the changes. This is a crucial time where their subscribers are reevaluating the service and having more a-list titles on that front page could distract them enough to keep them from jumping ship.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:23 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love how everybody analyzing this split is doing so under the assumption that broadband is going to improve.
posted by fetamelter at 7:24 AM on September 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


Honestly, I was okay with the previous change. But I find it really near-sighted that Hastings is pretty much saying that this is really a problem with branding.
posted by inturnaround at 7:24 AM on September 19, 2011


I resent getting an email that purports to be an apology and instead announces the writer's intent to compound the original error many times. Reed Hastings, if you're listening, that was a dick move, dude.

If Netflix throws away my queue, ratings, and history with their move to whateverthefuck.com I'm going to be substantially annoyed.

I only use Netflix for the blu-ray discs. The few times I tried watching a streaming movie, it was horrible - the picture quality is nowhere near the same as blu-ray.

This. IMO streaming visual quality is not even up to par with the average US-domestic DVD.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:24 AM on September 19, 2011 [14 favorites]


I decided to bring myself up to speed on movie classics before Netflix came around. The selection at all the (now dead) local video rental places was junk. I tried buying DVDs, but back then they were about $40.00 each.

Then Netflix came, and DVDs by mail. In a few years I had seen more great movies than I had seen in the entire previous 40 years of my life. I came to appreciate movies from all over the world, from forgotten Spaghetti westerns (Corbucci!) to foreign films I never would have been exposed to (Jab We Met, Hana and Alice). This, in addition to wonderful old classics (The Awful Truth, I Was a Mail War Bride, etc.)

I feel like they are definitely killing DVD by mail, which equates to the end of the golden age of access to classic movies *and* TV shows (Gilligan's Island, I Dream of Jeannie are not on instant viewing last I checked).

This makes me sad. And the CEO tried to do a Steve Jobs with his open letter. Didn't work.
posted by jabah at 7:25 AM on September 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


I loved Netflix for the streaming. It's how I became a huge fan of Doctor Who. However, I do like physical disc delivery for the special features that aren't available (and seemingly never will be) via a streaming type service.

So, I start getting the NuWho discs in the mail. Right off the bat, the first disc of the batch is cracked in half. So I return it and request a replacement. The replacement disc is so badly scratched its unplayable. So I return it and request a replacement for the replacement. I got the same goddamn cracked in half disc.

When calling to complain, I was told by a very snotty man on the phone that, well, Doctor Who was a very popular series and what did I expect from them? All the episodes I wanted on the discs were available via streaming, after all. He didn't seem to understand that I wanted to watch the special features, and even implied that I probably was going to pirate the discs.

Of course I went orbital and cancelled my subscription. Neither snotty guy nor his supervisor tried to do anything to keep me as a subscriber. The hubris they exhibited was unbelievable. I closed the call saying, "I think I'm one of the first rats to desert your sinking ship. Hollywood hates you. Soon your customers will as well."

That was nine months ago. God, I feel vindicated.
posted by PapaLobo at 7:25 AM on September 19, 2011 [17 favorites]


Can anyone think of a letter to customers from a CEO that's actually honest about what they're doing?
posted by odinsdream at 7:25 AM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


UPN existed (briefly) because Paramount owned Star Trek and thought (incorrectly) that it could build a network on top of it.

Are you 100% on this? AFAIK UPN existed because FOX was maturing as a network, gaining a larger audience and no longer had to concentrate on strictly filling the black entertainment void on network television. That left an audience gap for UPN to fit nicely into. Much like Fox, all of their early programming was black-centered to a pretty significant degree.
posted by griphus at 7:25 AM on September 19, 2011


If DVDs are dead, why is Redbox succeeding?
posted by girlmightlive at 7:26 AM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


wierdo: There is a Hulu plugin (and Amazon!) for XBMC which works a treat. It may only work if you're running the latest Git code, though, I don't know, since that's what I always run.

I installed the newest XMBCLive Cd on the hard drive, got the Hulu plugin, and anything I try and play it gives a "an unknown error has occured; check the logs that you don't have easy access to for information that is generally useless to fixing the problem." Or something like that, I may be paraphrasing. My Linux experience is in servers, so all this video/audio stuff is new to me. I did find a plugin called "Free Cable" which looks like it solves a bunch of my needs...but it's not Hulu, and that's what Hulu claims it's supposed to do. Between that and Torrents and Netflix, I can get all the stuff I want.....which is what I thought Hulu was supposed to fulfill the needs of and prevent the illegal stuff, but, well, that's the way the ball bounces.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:26 AM on September 19, 2011


This makes no sense for me. Because the selection in streaming is so bad, I'll probably ditch the netflix part and stick with the dvds. When I read that letter at breakfast I just started laughing. If there is logic in what they are doing, I can't see it.
posted by Forktine at 7:27 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


IMO streaming visual quality is not even up to par with the average US-domestic DVD.

This really depends on your broadband provider. I watched a DVD for the first time in a very long time yesterday (on my 42" 1080p TV) and the quality was pretty inferior to just about any non-Starz film I've watched on streaming recently.
posted by griphus at 7:27 AM on September 19, 2011


Are you 100% on this? AFAIK UPN existed because FOX was maturing as a network, gaining a larger audience and no longer had to concentrate on strictly filling the black entertainment void on network television. That left an audience gap for UPN to fit nicely into. Much like Fox, all of their early programming was black-centered to a pretty significant degree.

I think you're thinking of The WB. UPN was built on science fiction (Star Trek: Voyager, Deadly Games, Legend) and sitcoms (Platypus Man).
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:28 AM on September 19, 2011


I think they just dug their hole deeper.
posted by homeless Visigoth at 7:28 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw this coming and went to dvd only. I don't have reliable high-speed so streaming doesn't work. I now expect the dvd business to degrade and collapse.

The big problem for me is that after all these years of watching films, it's getting harder and harder to find ones I want to watch.
posted by warbaby at 7:28 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Honest question as I analyze how we're moving forward with our accounts:

What is the library overlap between Netflix DVDs and Amazon Instant Video? We currently have both streaming and DVDs, but use the DVDs only for what's not available on Netflix streaming. A quick poke around Amazon seems to confirm that we could chuck this Qwickster fiasco but I don't know Amazon's depth. Anyone?
posted by librarianamy at 7:29 AM on September 19, 2011


If you read that letter it's transparent that the author has no confidence in what he's saying, and probably actively opposes it.

"It’s hard for me to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary and best: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”.

We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery."


hahahaha. Sure it does, Reed.

"The new envelope is still that distinctive red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard.""

Awesome logo, Kwikster graphic design team! Why don't you knock off for a few days? Oh, sorry, that's actually a Netflix policy.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:31 AM on September 19, 2011


Amazon Instant Video, the free kind you get with Prime? It has basically nothing in it.
The for-pay variety has multitudes, but I don't think can touch Netflix's DVDs.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:32 AM on September 19, 2011


I think you're thinking of The WB. UPN was built on science fiction (Star Trek: Voyager, Deadly Games, Legend) and sitcoms (Platypus Man).

Moesha (and its spinoff, The Parkers), Homeboys in Outer Space, Malcolm and Eddie, Sparks, Good News, Girlfriends (amongst others)...UPN had a lot of programming that was targeted to African-Americans.
posted by inturnaround at 7:32 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I, for one, would find it hilarious if qwickster ended up being the profitable branch and Netflix just flailed around like a beached whale.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:34 AM on September 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


wierdo: "Discs aren't going anywhere for a large segment of the population. Redbox, unlike the starry eyed idiots at Netflix, gets this."

Yes, but ultimately, Redbox turned out to be like the old video stores of yore. Lots of movies, and nothing good. (I mean, seriously. Do you see the dreck that they stock those machines with?)

On the other hand, Netfilx - will ship me any move that was ever released on DVD. That's a pretty big distinction. It's all about the content -- and Netflix's streaming business needs to keep that in mind.

This makes me sad. And the CEO tried to do a Steve Jobs with his open letter. Didn't work.

Nah. Reed Hastings has always been like this. He stepped onto the scene shortly after Jobs returned to Apple in the 1990s. I'm sure that he's been influenced by Jobs, but he's always had a candid, pro-consumer style. It's one of the reasons why Netflix was viewed in a fairly positive light before this announcement. (And, keeping in with my previous comment, is why I think we should be cutting them a lot more slack than we currently are)
posted by schmod at 7:34 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation." ... Now Netflix is spinning off their DVD-by-mail service into a separate web site, Qwikster.
WHAAAAAT? They admit they screwed up and their followup is to double down on their bad decision and lose even more customers?

I went to a friends house a while back and he had netflix streaming. We wanted to watch an action movie or something, we ended up watching Sphere, and action movie made in 1998. Obviously with the disk subscription service, you can get all the major action movies and soforth.

Who wants to subscribe to a service where they can only get old, crappy movies?

I realize they got screwed on their streaming deals. But really, they should have simply let it go. Trying to hang on to a business that won't work is a bad idea.

Studios can stream movies from their own servers. They don't need netflix. What's the point of having a middleman?
And, that primarily affects the biggest users of the service, those people who watch so many movies that having both streaming and DVDs makes financial sense?
Think about it though, Netflix is a subscription service, so the "biggest users" are actually the least profitable.
The online distribution market is going to balkanize more or less exactly like cable TV did, and for the exact same reasons. Because everyone wants to own the customer and thinks they have enough accumulated awesome content that you'll have to come to them. HBO's already doing it. Sony will have its own online service (it kind of already does for the PS3). So will Disney. So will all of them. And Netflix will probably end up like the original incarnation of American Movie Classics, streaming old RKO movies that nobody's ever heard of because that's all that's left
Exactly. There's no need for an intermediary 3rd party to handle streaming. It might be slightly more annoying for the customer, but ultimately there's no reason for the content companies not to do it. They've shown pretty clearly they have no problem pissing off customers (see, non-skippable adverts at the start of a DVD you paid for)
Guess I'm one of the hold-outs... I only use Netflix for the blu-ray discs. The few times I tried watching a streaming movie, it was horrible - the picture quality is nowhere near the same as blu-ray. Maybe it's fine if you're watching on an iPad, or in a 6" window on your computer, but not on a 42" flat-screen...
The quality is terrible, of course. But most people just don't care.
Perhaps this is a "Hudsucker Proxy" situation where the Netflix owners are trying to drive the stock down so they could buy more of it.
Or sell it short.
posted by delmoi at 7:35 AM on September 19, 2011


I've never had a problem with the quality of the streaming video from Netflix. Of course, I'm also OK with MP3 quality, which drives many people nuts. Regarding my acceptance of low bit rate MP3s one of my friends once told me "I'm jealous of your inability to distinguish good audio quality from bad - I would have so much more money if I had your shitty fidelity standards". Perhaps growing up with cheap speakers and antenna TV reception caused me to forever have low audio and video quality expectations.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:35 AM on September 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


Did they not notice the closure of many Blockbuster stores or the outright disappearance of the neighborhood mom & pop video stores? DVD's are going away.

Rental DVDs in general make a lot less sense when you can buy any movie on DVD new for $25, and a lot of movies for $10, and a surprising amount of movies for $5. Walmart selling cheap DVDs is what killed the $5 Blockbuster rental, not online streaming. Netflix's 20 million subscribers using online streaming are just a drop in the bucket, compared to the number of people who still buy DVD's every week.
posted by smackfu at 7:35 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you're thinking of The WB. UPN was built on science fiction (Star Trek: Voyager, Deadly Games, Legend) and sitcoms (Platypus Man).

Hm, it looks like the WB was doing that as well, but check out UPN's sitcom offerings. The dramas may have been leaning to SF stuff -- p.s. hi other person who remembers Deadly Games -- but the comedy was picking up Fox's slack.
posted by griphus at 7:36 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where does that link get 26% down from? Based on google stocks, they're down a solid 50%. $295/share in July, $155 now.
posted by Buckt at 7:36 AM on September 19, 2011


Lots of movies, and nothing good. (I mean, seriously. Do you see the dreck that they stock those machines with?)

The money is in the mass market. They stock the machines with stuff that rents.
posted by smackfu at 7:36 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This note is from an idiot who lacked the foresight to see unhappy customers in his future when he decided to raise prices by 60%.

I don't care how *smart* the reasoning behind it might be, this guy gets a D- for execution and deserves to lose 800,000 customers over this.
posted by FunkyStar at 7:36 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


If this letter was sent on April 1, it would make sense.

As is... Quickster? Really?! Someone in corporate actually approved that name?!?

This is exactly what I would do if I wanted to ensure failure of a business -- give it some stupid ass name that would make it sound lame and that people would be embarassed to say out loud.

Fail.
posted by eas98 at 7:37 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


It still confuses me that people don't understand the whole physical media vs. streaming scenario. Did they not notice the closure of many Blockbuster stores or the outright disappearance of the neighborhood mom & pop video stores?

DVD by mail and Redbox killed Blockbuster, not streaming.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:40 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am annoyed with Netflix for pushing the streaming so hard when the streaming catalog is so poor where movies are concerned. We use the streaming almost entirely for background noise while we're doing other things because it's teevee we like without commercials. But when we actually want to pay attention to what's on the screen, there's almost nothing in the streaming catalog (aside from the odd documentary) that's appealing. I should stop paying for both--because I use the streaming almost every day but watch only a couple DVDs a month at most--but I won't because I like being able to watch movies at home now and again.

But goddamn is the website/playstation navigation impossible to use.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:40 AM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


valkyryn: "But splitting the company into two? The hell? Exactly what do they think will be accomplished by this? I see absolutely no reason why this is good for anyone."

It makes a bit of sense when you don't have six billion dollars in cash to sit on like Amazon. My father used to work for Sprint, which had many internally competing businesses. The data suggested that many people were going cellular only, which meant they were substituting cellular for their old land lines. Beyond that, there were all kinds of policy position problems along the cellular/landline split. Each side lobbied for better regulatory treatment than the other. And even the landline division was split between "incumbent" and "competitor" local exchange carrier polices. Internally the firm is organized in a hierarchy and whoever's at the top has an innate bias in favor of their lineage. A CEO who came from mobile promotes more mobile people he knows and trusts, for example. And that means more projects on one side than the other, even if it's not bringing in the revenue to support itself let alone growth.

So they eventually parcelled up Sprint and their mobile division is slowly falling apart. Last I heard the landline was bought up by another landline company. Seems obvious you'd rather have twice as many customers in one market vs splitting them between two. Similarly, you could see hulu buy 'netflix' and the various disc-mailer systems merge. Not cheap for customers but neither is the copyright policy that fuels the whole dance.

You can see the internal politics laid out in the Netflix letter, where pet projects on each side are canceled. Firms like Google and Amazon, with large and apparently stable streams of income can afford to fund all these sorts of pet projects -- I've heard Google say their biggest cost is opportunity cost. I think the key difference between Google/Amazon and Sprint/Netflix is that Google and Amazon's outgrowth is complimentary to existing revenue while Sprint's mobile and netflix's streaming projects are competitive with it. Amazon streaming might seem competitive with their DVD sales but IIRC most of their revenue is in market making fees. Plus, you'd actually have to have things in the catalog to entice customers to switch behavior (maybe there's internal politics after all).
posted by pwnguin at 7:40 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Loss-cutting is the mother of Contrition.
posted by Danf at 7:41 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think netflix has a lot of well-deserved residual good will, but they're really working hard to destroy that. The movie companies are trying to destroy netflix, too, so I think they're pretty much screwed.
posted by empath at 7:42 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, I did not get this email that everyone is saying they are getting about the change. What the hell, Netquikflixster? Don't you care about me?!

Personally, I use both the streaming and the discs. I like that I can watch any of 100 different old eps of MST3k whenever I want. And the discs supplement what they don't have streaming. I'd be fine with just streaming if they were able to put their entire catalog online. It isn't perfect, but it is usually more than watchable, IMHO.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:42 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Netflix streaming has always sucked for me. Even if I wait for movies to load completely, 10-20 minutes into the movie, it needs to reload or whatever because my internet connection has slowed. And god help me if I want to rewind or fastfoward. This never happens when I'm watching streaming stuff on sites like putlocker or megavideo. Once the video loads I'm good to go. I don't understand how an illegal streaming site can have better quality than Netflix. Anyway, this is the last nail in the coffin. I'm done with them.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:42 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


This sounds like a very reasonable explanation of why they are splitting off the DVD only users into a separate company.

Basically, Hollywood is forcing Netflix to the cable model, where they pay for every subscriber, regardless of if they ever stream anything. By splitting off the DVD business, they no longer get charged for those users.
posted by COD at 7:43 AM on September 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


Why doesn't anybody get mad at "Hollywood" for making things like utopian Netflix impossible?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:45 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


What just leaves me utterly baffled is that they must know they're performing open-heart surgery on their business, but they're acting like a mom'n'pop shop in how they handle it: Why on earth would they announce the price hikes without any apparent plan to spin the resulting blowback, and then come along 2 months later to announce a confusing name (was that quick? qwik? kwik?) where domain squatters have most of the variants, and random guy has the twitter, and announce it with an amatuerish video? They're just winging it aren't they?

I'm still OK with the service, I guess, as still the least objectionable alternative, but jeez, I wouldn't be OK as a shareholder.
posted by tyllwin at 7:46 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


The movie studios want to destroy netflix. Everything they do in the internet space makes sense when you understand that they don't want your money, and are offended when you try to pay them. They want you to torrent and seed, seed, seed those movies. If you do insist on paying them, they punish you by charging offensively high prices in hopes that you'll learn your lesson and become a good seeder.
posted by mullingitover at 7:47 AM on September 19, 2011 [29 favorites]


Qwixter and Quixtar are way too similar. Mefites, please don't go looking for dvds and get suckered into selling Amway.
posted by Gary at 7:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why on earth would they announce the price hikes without any apparent plan to spin the resulting blowback,

They did spin it, but for a new media company they sure don't act like it. This note has much more of the tone they should have gone for, something along the lines of: our costs have gone up, we don't want to raise the prices on everyone, so we are forcing you to pick either streaming or DVD. Sucks, but that's life. Instead it was more like "this is a good thing for you!" when it obviously wasn't.
posted by smackfu at 7:52 AM on September 19, 2011


We're sorry for punching you. Please accept this kick in the groin as evidence of our sincerity.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:54 AM on September 19, 2011 [32 favorites]


But the issue is my queue -- I have had a netflix queue and ratings for ten years. Do I have to re-rate everything on the new site or the old site? Does my queue carry over? Do I have to re-rate 3000 movies?
posted by freshwater at 7:56 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


A personal side effect of NetFlix streaming is that now I've become a Pay Per View consumer, which I had never been previously. I got used to streaming movies via NetFlix, but once I ran through much of the stuff in their library I wanted to watch I started going to Amazon's on-demand service to supplement the very limited NetFlix selection. Ideally I could everything from one place, but I'm hooked on the convenience now and am apparently willing to juggle a few different services at once.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:56 AM on September 19, 2011


Why doesn't anybody get mad at "Hollywood" for making things like utopian Netflix impossible?

I don't know a single person who doesn't hate Hollywood.
posted by odinsdream at 7:56 AM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


The movie studios want to destroy netflix.

People, hello, Netflix is so fucked. In the period of a couple of months, they've pushed two major rounds of changes on their users an their stock has fallen 50%. Kiss it goodbye. They produce nothing. Their business is wholly reliant on licensing content which will not be licensed to them for streaming purposes. They brought a knife to a gunfight on that one. Oh, and they just destroyed their identity.
posted by phaedon at 7:56 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, I guess my family's going to be cancelling our streaming subscription. My brother just yesterday asked me if I wanted to cancel it, and I hemmed and hawed and said no, because I liked having the streaming library available for those times I want to idly watch something or check out an older tv show. Sure, the streaming selection isn't so great, but there are enough full seasons of tv shows to make it worthwhile. But with separate services, and the likelihood that Netflix is going to lose a lot of content...that $8 just isn't worth it anymore.

And I'm surprised so many people are heralding the death of the DVD by mail plan. A big reason why my family subscribed to Netflix ten years ago was the availability of foreign movies (especially Bollywood!) that we otherwise couldn't find at Blockbuster or the local mom and pop. The streaming selection for those movies is astonishingly shitty, with some movies seemingly being available one week, and not the next. We frankly don't have another (easy and cheap) option for watching those movies other than getting the DVDs by mail.
posted by yasaman at 7:58 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Imho, surfthechannel.com has a much snappier and easier to remember name.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:58 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


If DVDs are dead, why is Redbox succeeding?

The price. You can sell *anything* for a buck. I mean, you could put cat turds in small plastic containers and if they only cost a buck, some people would buy them.
posted by aught at 7:59 AM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


When do people on the old Netflix plans (disc + instant) get switched over to one or the other? I
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:00 AM on September 19, 2011


From the mindset of the CEO running a publicly traded company, this make perfect sense.

taking over at the low end. Showing the market (stock investors) this decline makes your stock price. The role of the CEO in a public company is to increase the stock price and prepare the company for the future.

If the CEO believes that Streaming is the future and that physical discs are on the decline, he's faced with a choice.

Attempt to grow the streaming business so fast that it's gains eclipses decreases in discs.

Or

Disconnect the businesses so that the growing side of the business is not affected by the declining side of the business.

Obviously, Netflix has chosen the second option.

The best analogy I can come up with is carriage and wagon makers of the 19th century. Some decided to switch to automobiles and some stuck with what their customers asked for. Guess what the right decision was.

I don't think they've handled the delivery of the message well, but the reasoning is sound.

Of course, many people are going to stomp around in circles and yell and cancel memberships, but realistically, where are they going to get the same product and service at comparable level for less money? Torrents & newsgroups? Try finding a film or show more than a year old. Over your $3 cup of coffee, you can discuss how outrageous the $9/month price is.

The big media companies want Netflix and Hulu to fail. They want people locked into their services to ensure that you pay an even larger subscription to your cable or satellite company. So think about the big picture and put your money where you want the future to be. Who would you rather get your media from, Netflix or Verizon? Hulu or Time Warner?
posted by Argyle at 8:00 AM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


I miss Kozmo.
posted by nomisxid at 8:01 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


A lot of people seem to be thinking that first Netflix decided to split its subscriptions, THEN they decided to spin off DVD rentals. As if splitting off Qwikster is Netflix's response to all the customers they lost after the subscription split.

But big companies don't move that quickly. This is obviously two stages of the same plan.
posted by ErikaB at 8:02 AM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Netflix has been squandering so much goodwill so fast they're rapidly entering Lucasian realms.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:04 AM on September 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.

Jesus Christ dude, it's not like my mom died.

PS - I'll just download the movies I want to watch like I used to.
PPS - Don't email me again.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:04 AM on September 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


PPPS - p.s. I have a slightly longer explanation along with a video posted on our blog, where you can also post comments.

A LONGER explanation?
posted by nathancaswell at 8:05 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


The PeterInc Principle: Corporations rise to the level of their own incompetence.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:06 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Argyle: "but realistically, where are they going to get the same product and service at comparable level for less money? Torrents & newsgroups? Try finding a film or show more than a year old."

Absolutely not a problem. Overally, the torrent selection completely dominates Netflix' streaming selection, and download speeds are good enough that you can be watching a movie in half an hour (or less) on average.

This move, and the upcoming gutting of Netflix' streaming catalog, will only improve the selection, quality and speed of available torrents.
posted by mullingitover at 8:06 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I never understood why they killed their community forums and user lists on netflix? (maybe because they thought that would give them more control over guiding viewer habits?) for me, that was the first big red flag that all was not well at netflix
posted by Bwithh at 8:07 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Streaming came out of nowhere as an awesome perk to the original (and already pretty awesome) DVD-by-mail deal. It was too good to last.
posted by whuppy at 8:07 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I got two words for you: saucer separation.
posted by phaedon at 8:08 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


> they have so much long tail and esoteric stuff we're just thrilled all to pieces

Unless you're in Toronto, of course. Studios have exclusive deals with Rogers, and so Netflix's range is very limited in the Shining Turd.
posted by scruss at 8:08 AM on September 19, 2011


but realistically, where are they going to get the same product and service at comparable level for less money? Torrents & newsgroups? Try finding a film or show more than a year old.

Torrenting: You're doing it wrong.

Last Week I downloaded several Jack Benny specials.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:09 AM on September 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


I never understood why they killed their community forums and user lists on netflix? (maybe because they thought that would give them more control over guiding viewer habits?) for me, that was the first big red flag that all was not well at netflix

They were a classic case of a feature that required a moderate amount of effort to support, but were actually used by only a tiny fraction of their users. Yes, those users loved the feature, but it just wasn't worth the money to keep it going when so few actually used it, and those who did, were among the heaviest users - and so less likely to ditch the service if discontinued.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:10 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The biggest problem that Netflix's streaming service has is licensing content. They managed to score a good deal with Starz that brought them a lot of newer content (for not that much money, relatively speaking) but now that's up.

Now that streaming video is a practical thing, and Netflix has shown that there's demand for it, the studios are going to (and/or are already) clamor for a bigger share of the pie. This means that Netflix's costs to license content are going nowhere but up, and they're basically stuck in the situation where they either have to pay up or risk losing even more subscribers because there's even less stuff to watch.

There are huge gaps in what's available for streaming, and a bunch of stuff seems to come and go (or at least end up with a "through XX/XX" date until the agreement gets renewed). I never really liked that, but at least there was the fallback of having things in both queues. For stuff I didn't want to watch right away, but wanted to watch at some point, I could wait for it to come up in the DVD queue (or move it up to get it faster).

Splitting the site like this seems like a bad idea to me because it takes one super-useful thing and makes it two much-less-useful things. I was willing to pay for streaming plus a disc at a time of DVD (to cover the stuff not available through streaming) but I don't think it's worth it when I have to go through the trouble of maintaining lists in two places. The streaming-only site (which will be Netflix proper after the split) instantly loses a ton of options for stuff to watch.

I guess maybe it's a "win" for shareholders because Netflix can just dump all the losses into "Qwickster" and write that off, but it's a lose-lose for subscribers, and I think even their streaming revenue is going to take a hit.
posted by Godbert at 8:11 AM on September 19, 2011


AzraelBrown wrote: anything I try and play it gives a "an unknown error has occured; check the logs that you don't have easy access to for information that is generally useless to fixing the problem."

If you care to mess with it, you can try updating librtmp to the latest version. I believe there are instructions in the forums. I'm not positive that Hulu was the one that wouldn't work with the old librtmp (stupid Flash streaming!), but it may well have been. Certainly icefilms doesn't need any such frou frou stuff. ;)

Threeway Handshake wrote: Amazon Instant Video, the free kind you get with Prime? It has basically nothing in it.
The for-pay variety has multitudes, but I don't think can touch Netflix's DVDs


Well, if 2,312 films and 699 seasons of television is basically nothing, you're right.

schmod wrote: Yes, but ultimately, Redbox turned out to be like the old video stores of yore. Lots of movies, and nothing good. (I mean, seriously. Do you see the dreck that they stock those machines with?)

Funny, I've always been surprised at how they can fit obscure documentaries and arthouse films into the box along with all the popular dreck. It probably helps that I use the website so I can search for the films only a few machines have and have at least 10 machines reasonably convenient to my home. (Along with a BBX box, which surprisingly does get used..when it works)
posted by wierdo at 8:12 AM on September 19, 2011


girlmightlive: If DVDs are dead, why is Redbox succeeding?
aught: you could put cat turds in small plastic containers and if they only cost a buck, some people would buy them.

Would that service be called LitterBox?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:13 AM on September 19, 2011 [16 favorites]


Oh, and sending out an "Apology" that's really a "screw you even more" is a really crappy move. I wonder who initially thought that would be a good idea, and how many people signed off on it thinking "this is great!"
posted by Godbert at 8:14 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who would you rather get your media from, Netflix or Verizon? Hulu or Time Warner?

Isn't Hulu also big (TV network) media companies, and up for sale right now precisely because people like Verizon and Comcast and Time Warner are getting very uneasy that the networks have a service that could lead discovery of the fact that they're not needed as anything other than a commoditized data plumbing service?
posted by weston at 8:18 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Quitster would be a better name.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:19 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


but realistically, where are they going to get the same product and service at comparable level for less money? Torrents & newsgroups? Try finding a film or show more than a year old.

notsureifserious.jpg
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:24 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love how everybody analyzing this split is doing so under the assumption that broadband is going to improve.

Netflix is as much at the mercy of the local broadband monopoly as the rest of us, but their DVD service was also at the mercy of the financial situation of the USPS. Spinning the USPS-dependent service off into its own company makes sense, if only to reduce risk. At least a monopoly can theoretically be taken to court.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:24 AM on September 19, 2011


I only ever use streaming, so I don't really care about this. Sorry, nerds. Can't join your angst on this one.
posted by Eideteker at 8:25 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


RedBox: man, the selection these kiosks is awful. Qwikster will have no trouble being better than them.

Amazon: selection good, but most of what's here that Netflix doesn't have is PPV, so, how is that a win over the PPV the cable company offers? I have bought some movies for rental this way, but in the end renting something for $2.99 or $3.99 -- that piles up if I watch everything with them. I don't consider Amazon Instant a serious competitor to Netflix. I continue to have hopes, but they keep getting squashed.

Torrenting: man, torrenting is still a pain in the ass, the selection is not great if you care about long tail stuff (though that improves slowly but surely). Torrenting also being on the illegal side of legal will continue to be a blocker for most people.

"The Split" - I will bet a dollar that the ability to unify your movie ratings from service to service will be there in Netflix and Quikster. Additionally, I bet we're going to see a service that will allow you to easily look at a "Queue" from multiple services and see what your options for watching are. It remains SHOCKING to me that I can't easily look at a unified "what I want to watch" queue and show me if I can get it, how much it costs me, and such. I asked about such a service on AskMe a few weeks ago and got very nearly zilch effective answers.

For me, I will continue to pay money to both Netflix and this new thing, I like myself an obscure DVD, and I like being able to instantly watch 30 Rock (and a pile of other things) whenever I want.

Now Hulu has been mentioned several times, but when they started out they always included ads. That turned me off. Granted, it was free, but my primitive brain still thinks of them as a company that wants to pour ads down my throat. Hulu has a long way to convincing me any different.

Additionally, how is Blockbuster still alive at all? The fact that there is still a company called Blockbuster is sickening proof that this movie rental business makes no sense whatsoever anyway.
posted by artlung at 8:26 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


griphus: "They're taking on GameFly? Ballsy. A single-disc GameFly account is $16/month. Assuming NetFlix isn't going to be charging a 100% premium, they've got the distribution network and capital to squash them (building a library would be trivial.) I wonder how GameFly will up the ante on this."

In most things owning is usually cheaper than renting, if you have the spare capital. The spreadsheet math I've done on this suggests that games are no different. The depreciation rate is only steep the first month, and low after that. Especially at the trailing end, you can play games for roughly the cost of shipping them back and forth. And there seems to be a game among retailers to see who can effectively charge wholesale without losing their marketing kickbacks that require them to price at MSRP.

This article talks about some of the risks Netflix faces. While the bulk of depreciation occurs at release, it's no co-incidence that the bulk of consumer interest occurs at release as well.

tl;dr -- I don't think netflix brings anything to the table that will solve the fundamental issue, but I look forward to shopping their liquidation sales.
posted by pwnguin at 8:27 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


And this is why we should all just go back to torrents.

Go back?

I've got a few years worth of stuff queued up on streaming right now as it is, even if they never add anything new.

I did, but it seems like more and more stuff disappears every day. I'm inclined to drop Netflix and Qwikster and stick with the public library.

I'm surprised more movie studios and TV channels don't just stream their own content and sell their own stupid ads for Starburst and Starbucks. It seems like Netflix is trying to kill Hulu by taking over the new TV shows, but that's the shit that's most torrented, no? That's the market that's dying--look how many people are canceling their cable subscriptions because they can download the latest True Blood for free in 20 minutes or so.

A quality back catalog (heavily DVD focused for at least another decade) is going to be very valuable for a while, regardless of shipping issues. I think the hazy contractual aspects of streaming will eventually kill it for middlemen.

the networks have a service that could lead discovery of the fact that they're not needed as anything other than a commoditized data plumbing service?

I think it's the other way around. The networks might not produce all of their content (I think they are all producing more than they used to), but they are still the incubators for all of the content. It's Hulu/Netflix, etc. that's the plumbing service. Everyone can make a decent streaming video player.

Why would CBS give Netflix any of its shows when they can stream them on CBS.com? They will throw a few old bones (and 1 or 2 new bones), but it seems like content producers will eventually just stream their own content, leaving Netflix with a B catalog.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:27 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


@sonascope
kiddie porn selections
what
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:28 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Damn so manny cute ass gurl
posted by mrgrimm at 8:29 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, if 2,312 films and 699 seasons of television is basically nothing, you're right.

It's mostly old practically worthless back content. Movies that you don't watch on TCM, and reruns that you don't watch on Nick at Night. 11 of those seasons are Cheers.
posted by smackfu at 8:30 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


kiddie porn selections
what


Maybe he means Porn For Kids.
posted by crapmatic at 8:32 AM on September 19, 2011


wierdo: "Well, if 2,312 films and 699 seasons of television is basically nothing, you're right."

It wouldn't matter if they had 2 million films, and seven thousand seasons of television. I have Prime streaming, and I don't go within miles of it because their goddamn site navigation makes me want to stab myself in the face. It's fucking unusable.
posted by mullingitover at 8:34 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps this is a "Hudsucker Proxy" situation where the Netflix owners are trying to drive the stock down so they could buy more of it.

Except it looks like Reed Hastings sold all his NFLX stock this month. That sounds like a CEO who believes in the future of his company!
posted by fings at 8:36 AM on September 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


smackfu, I guess opinions differ as to the quality of their content. I don't use streaming services for new TV anyway, that's what Sick Beard is for.

mullingitover, you actually use the websites of any of these services? Until a few minutes ago, when I checked the website to see the film/tv count, I hadn't used Amazon's website (to browse streaming content, anyway) in several years. I think the last time was when I bought Murder One and The State a couple of weeks after Amazon rolled out their VOD service.

I went to hulu.com precisely one time: To sign up. Even Netflix gets almost zero page views from me because I set up a couple of years worth of queue at a time.
posted by wierdo at 8:38 AM on September 19, 2011


As Capn' Mal says, "About 50% of the human race is middlemen and they don’t take kindly to being eliminated."

Streaming will probably creep north to $30/month, if Netflix or Prime wants to keep their content competitive with cable... likewise, data plans from cable companies are going to get much pricier as their TV business loses customers to Netflix and Amazon Prime. Cable companies have been relying on bundling to bring down costs - now they're losing phone and TV business to the internet. The difference has to be made up someplace.

I'd also expect the major broadcasters to start offering plans - "NBC on Roku!" - where they offer on-demand episodes and live content like news and sports.

So, while internet-based TV will be much more convenient and offer far more variety - it's not going to get much cheaper than Cable as it matures.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:39 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I could point you to an interview I did with their corporate communication guy earlier this year. Specifically:

Reed Hastings and the other co-founders founded Netflix in 1997 and named it Netflix, not DVDs By Mail, which would have been a lot easier for consumers to understand 10 or 12 years ago.

DVDs were new in 1997 when the company launched. And so, not only was the company introducing a new service that was unknown, they were introducing a new format. I mean, DVDs were not ubiquitous until the mid-2000s really. It was a fast-growing consumer phenomenon. But the idea for Netflix was always going to be Internet delivery. It just took some time for the content to gel, for the technology to gel and for the consumer mindset to gel.

So the DVD was a way for the company to ramp up to get a big subscriber base and to be able to have the revenue generation to afford to invest in the infrastructure to ultimately stream. So now, we’re really a streaming company with some DVDs and that’s a pretty dramatic change in business but it was something that was anticipated all along.

posted by jbickers at 8:44 AM on September 19, 2011


>Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores

Are those really the two best examples he can think of? Isn't Borders like, kaput now? And I don't know anyone who has AOL dialup, not since like 1998.
posted by keithburgun at 8:49 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


NetFlix likes to boast about their unique performance management approach, i.e. "we're a pro-sports team, not a family", and how if you don't do a totally excellent job, you're fired. Looks like that really should have been applied to the CEO a while ago.
posted by w0mbat at 8:49 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's amusing about this is that as soon as people realise that NetFlix need to do this to survive, the anger moves from "That's not fair." to "I'm angry because of the angerying way you have notified us of this."

If the only reason you're chewing your pen on this is that netflix didn't pull some smooth-ass marketing way of announcing their intentions, then I really don't know what to say to you.
posted by seanyboy at 8:50 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


So now, we’re really a streaming company with some DVDs and that’s a pretty dramatic change in business but it was something that was anticipated all along.

Except there's a hitch: the streaming offering is pathetic compared to the DVD offering. And it's getting worse now that Starz has pulled out. I'm still waiting for any sign that something good is coming down the pike with Netflix streaming.

In fact, with all of these changes I don't see what actual new service they're offering other than what people already get from Gamefly. I see stuff being taken away but not added. In the next six weeks they need to announce some major new deal or acquisition with regard to the streaming content otherwise they may not be able to stop the bleeding. If they're putting all their eggs in that basket then it needs to be something worth buying.
posted by Danila at 8:51 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jeez, why didn't anyone warn me Netflix was such a mess before we dropped our cable a little over a week ago?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Except it looks like Reed Hastings sold all his NFLX stock this month. That sounds like a CEO who believes in the future of his company!


no - that report is formatted poorly. He still owns 1.147 million shares. Most of the sales part of planned sale program previously announced

still think they are doomed to fail, but lets be truthful at least.
posted by JPD at 8:52 AM on September 19, 2011


Torrenting has been around for longer than netflix has; if torrenting were so great, why was netflix ever successful?

"I want to watch everything ever and I want it to be cheap!" turns out not to be a profitable market segment-those guys will go torrenting. My guess is that the segment of the population that actually cares about a huge selection AND is willing to pay for content, while well-represented on Metafilter, is economically negligible, and that limited selection streaming services, whether it's Netflix or another, will carry the day.
posted by Kwine at 8:52 AM on September 19, 2011


If this is the way this guy apologizes for stuff, I feel sorry for his wife.

"I'm sorry that you're upset by my being a total asshole to you about helping with the housework, honey. Let me make it up to you by telling you how I'm rearranging my work schedule so as never to be able to do the dishes ever again. Sweetheart? Why are you throwing my clothes out the window?"
posted by gracedissolved at 8:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


NetFlix likes to boast about their unique performance management approach, i.e. "we're a pro-sports team, not a family", and how if you don't do a totally excellent job, you're fired. Looks like that really should have been applied to the CEO a while ago.

Is this really true? God, if I'd known that, I would never have signed up.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:53 AM on September 19, 2011


Did anyone else see and/or save Hastings' responses to the comments on the blog post? The email was already a bit bizarre — CEO, embarrassed by shares plummeting, doubles down on the initial decision with narcissistic, self-pitying faux-apology email to all customers — but the posts he was making there a few hours ago, before someone evidently came to their senses and reined him in, were verging on full-on insane or incompetent. He was live-brainstorming basic website features, like he hadn't yet thought of how bad a user experience Can'tspellster was going to be, or how hard it was to spell the domain. It made it seem like he sent the grandiose business-strategy non-apology email after thinking about it for maybe an hour.

And yeah, it's going to be funny when the current dot-com bubble collapses, and the studios starve Netflix of content, and streaming competitors proliferate, while Typoster continues to prosper (presumably in some other company's hands). Hastings called the company "Netflix" because he always saw the DVD-by-mail business as a Trojan horse for online streaming, but neither his customers nor the studios ever agreed. He obviously still thinks he's preparing Uglynamester to be quietly knifed at a lower-profile moment, but it might well outlive his streaming pet as a viable concern.
posted by RogerB at 8:54 AM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


What's amusing about this is that as soon as people realise that NetFlix need to do this to survive, the anger moves from "That's not fair." to "I'm angry because of the angerying way you have notified us of this."

For me I went from anger to sadness. I've been a Netflix customer for 10 years and I was one of those "brand loyal" people. I have always had a good feeling about Netflix. I loved their customer service and everything. And In like six months everything just completely fell apart. So they're not crazy, they're just cornered. And it's sad. I just cancelled because I can't justify this expense at all anymore, but it's sad.
posted by Danila at 8:56 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ok, so I'm going to cancel my subscription all together on Netflix not because I'm some whiny pop culture religious nut who feels Netflix somehow disappointed me. It is because I'm just confused as fuck on what is going on here. Like i seriously don't know what Netflix and the movie industry are doing so I think I should bow out until all the dust settles. I loved Netflix having both the DVD and streaming services in one website because that greatly curbed my tendency to download illegally. But it seems like Netflix and the entertainment industry are shooting themselves in the foot for making this difficult for everybody (especially the consumer).

I find this difficult because me and my partner were renting a room and didn't want to abuse the owner's broadband connection so I opted for DVD until we bought a house. I was eventually going to pay for both DVD and streaming services on Netflix but this really seems such a nuisance. I hope Qwikster will provide a great, affordable service (especially for video games), and I really don't mind paying for both Netflix and Qwikster. However, I feel like they will raise the prices on both websites where paying for both will be a huge hassle.
posted by LilSoulBrother85 at 8:57 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't say as I'm as meh-to-hostile about the streaming part of Netflixster (or whatever it's calling itself this week) as some of y'all are. I've seen some pretty good gems in among the shlock and the shit. You have to hunt to find them, but then again you have to hunt to find them anywhere, these days. I have no idea what losing Starz content will do to the streaming offerings, but if it's as much as 50% of the content as someone alluded above, they're going to lose even more customers fast.

As far as their evolving business model, I'm no MBA, but it appears to suck pretty hard.
posted by blucevalo at 8:58 AM on September 19, 2011


Are those really the two best examples he can think of? Isn't Borders like, kaput now? And I don't know anyone who has AOL dialup, not since like 1998.

Borders and AOL were examples of once-extremely successful companies that failed because they could not adapt to a changing marketplace (he could have put Blockbuster on that list, but maybe that's too pointed). Hasting's point was that he thinks Netflix needs to avoid those examples, not emulate them.

Ok, so I'm going to cancel my subscription all together on Netflix not because I'm some whiny pop culture religious nut who feels Netflix somehow disappointed me. It is because I'm just confused as fuck on what is going on here.

Ditto.
posted by muddgirl at 8:58 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


And yeah, it's going to be funny when the current dot-com bubble collapses, and the studios starve Netflix of content, and streaming competitors proliferate

I'm not sure this makes sense. If the studios stop the content to Netflix, how will other "streaming competitors" get rolling?

Already, the traditional cable and satellite companies are attempting to lock out net streaming from others. TV Anywhere and the recent decision of Fox to delay TV programming an extra week all point to an extremely tough environment for a new competitor to show up.

Many of you seem to be expecting a magic wand to be waved and all the old business contracts and agreements in media disappear to be replaced with all super-cheap content with no restrictions. I hope you enjoy waiting.
posted by Argyle at 9:01 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


yeah but i am a whiny pop culture religious nut

what the fuck am i gonna do
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:03 AM on September 19, 2011


I'm glad everything is going in the direction where every content producer has its own ad-supported streaming site where you watch half a TV show and then it plays the same commercial four times back to back and then crashes
posted by theodolite at 9:04 AM on September 19, 2011 [35 favorites]


I bought Netflix stock at $11 and sold at $220. It was only a small number of shares, but I think it still qualifies me as a genius on this subject ;)

I just don't see how Netflix can maintain a monopoly on streaming content like they had with DVDs. The barrier to entry is too low, and there's no incentive for the content providers to give them a good deal.

I'll keep my streaming subscription for now, but I'll be surprised if I haven't switched to something else within a year.
posted by diogenes at 9:08 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This, of course, alludes to you wrote: yeah but i am a whiny pop culture religious nut

what the fuck am i gonna do


You might be interested to know about this new service which streams ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox into your home somewhere between 16 and 24 hours a day, depending on your location. All you need is a TV and an antenna. No wires, even. It truly is amazing stuff. Oh, one other thing: It's comes at no cost to you!
posted by wierdo at 9:08 AM on September 19, 2011


s/It's/It/
posted by wierdo at 9:09 AM on September 19, 2011


Damn so manny cute ass gurl

Note: quoting Qwikster-twitter-account-not-owned-by-Netflix out of context may confuse and worry your fellow mefites.
posted by cortex at 9:10 AM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


wierdo's getting a PBS fund-a-thon piped directly into his dreams for a month.
posted by griphus at 9:10 AM on September 19, 2011


As a Netflix subscriber from way back, I spent years watching tons of their older catalog via DVDs and streaming. During this past year, I was down to two items of interest on Netflix:

1. Brand new movies, that only came out on DVD (at a rate of only one or two of those a month), and

2. D-list back-catalog offerings I could seriously just as well do without ever seeing. I mean, really, my queue of the old stuff was a bunch of junk.

When they raised their price, it was a wake-up call that I really didn't care about interest #2 enough to pay for it and interest #1 was serviced just as well by the Redbox kiosk at the drugstore a mile away from my home. So I canceled my subscription rather than pay the higher price.

Now I'm happily renting a couple of new DVDs a month from Redbox. All of the subsequent Netqwix flailing is incidental to that basic decision.
posted by darkstar at 9:13 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


How Netflix is getting easier.
posted by howling fantods at 9:13 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Regarding my acceptance of low bit rate MP3s one of my friends once told me "I'm jealous of your inability to distinguish good audio quality from bad - I would have so much more money if I had your shitty fidelity standards". Perhaps growing up with cheap speakers and antenna TV reception caused me to forever have low audio and video quality expectations.

Wow, you need less jerky friends.

I don't think that's an inevitable trajectory. I was once WAYYYYYY more into audio and video quality than I am now. Now I'm one of you - I'm fine with MP3s and streaming video. Not because I can't see the difference if you plop me in front of a bluray, but because (a) I have a billion more important things in my life to spend my money on and (2) I realized that the stuff that stuck with me as great was almost never that extra few percentage points of visual quality.

Audio's a little different - sometimes that difference in clarity can make the difference between okay and wow, but for the most part it's the same as with video - the baseline clarity now of the average stuff is almost always plenty good enough for day to day stuff. Old low-quality MP3s I notice but 192s are fine, just like old VHS vs DVDs.
posted by phearlez at 9:14 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everytime I try to cancel my membership it keeps giving me an error. I will not be held hostage Netflix.
posted by LilSoulBrother85 at 9:15 AM on September 19, 2011


Last week when the Post Master General announced his plan to close 300 of the 500 Main Processing plants he also said he could no longer guarantee over night delivery. My first thought (after checking to make sure my husband would still have a job) was "That's going to screw-up Netflix." The way things are now on my 1 DVD at a time I can usually see 2 movies a week or around 8 movies a month for $8.00. That's pretty damn cheap-- far, far cheaper than having cable.

Unfortunately I count 32 movies (mostly Documentaries) out of the 96 movies that are now in my queue. Plus, as so many of you have mentioned the streaming does not work well for me as in my area our internet service is crap. So bad choice plus poor performance means at this point I am not interested in Netflix. I'll be happy to subscribe to Qwickster (or Qwickstar or whatever the hell the name is) until that service becomes unavailable or so poor it is not worth the money.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:19 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is even worse than your handling of the original announcement. Price and cost structure adjustments I can understand, even if theyre handled a bit haphazardly. I understand that. But why would you dissociate the two services, throwing everyone's ongoing service into chaos? As I understand it, I'll now have to manage 2 separate rating systems and 2 separate queues, and when a DVD that is on my 'Quikster' queue becomes available on 'Netflix,' I'll have to then remember to log onto a separate site and add it to my queue? That is ridiculous. The thing I like most about Netflix is that it is a one-stop-shop for movie and TV ratings, DVD rental and downloads, and that its streamlined, easy to use, fast and seamless. I believe that more people will now further reevaluate their relationship with the company and realize that they can get the same streaming media that you offer elsewhere and cheaper (or free), and that they can live without mailorder DVD rentals. It seems to me that this will only go further in alienating their clientele, make life difficult for more people and most of all, pissing off their stockholders even further. Good luck, chumps.
posted by Capt Jingo at 9:22 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I'm going to ditch streaming because the writing is on the wall for it regarding price/quality and it makes it too easy to sit in front of the idiot box watching stuff you normally wouldn't. Once I finish watching the catalog titles in my queue, I'll probably switch to RedBox or maybe iTMS.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:22 AM on September 19, 2011


Unfortunately I count 32 movies (mostly Documentaries) available for streaming out of the 96 movies that are now in my queue.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:23 AM on September 19, 2011


You might be interested to know about this new service which streams ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox into your home somewhere between 16 and 24 hours a day, depending on your location.

Yeah, but almost all of what they offer is total crap. And let's face it, I don't watch TV because I want to, or even think it's a good idea, but because I'm addicted to it, so if I'm going to have to live with that monkey on my back, it'd be nice to have some decent options.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:25 AM on September 19, 2011


I am confused so I suspended my membership for three months. The streaming selection will be getting worse when the lose the Starz content. The DVD selection is great but slow. I mostly used the DVDs but liked to view the occasional streaming movie as part of the old 1x DVD $9.99 subscription. The new model (and now the separate companies) is a 60% price hike ($16/month) for what I liked. They didn't even offer a DVD plus limited streaming (maybe 4-6 hours a month?) for a smaller price hike. So DVD only was the way to go for $8 but I think I was paying around that amount a year ago for 1x unlimited DVDs plus unlimited streaming.

I will spend the next 3 months reviewing my options with Hulu (which I have only sampled) and Amazon (which I have never used for video). Without these changes Netflix would have had me for a long time. Maybe I will be back but I don't think I am the only one to stray...
posted by rjc3000 at 9:25 AM on September 19, 2011


Honestly, I have had 3 DVDs sitting here for over a year. I have since watched them on instant. I was going to get around to sending them back but maybe I'll just keep them as a memento, I'll see if quickster comes after me to get them back. I watch so much stuff on instant I probably would pay $30 a month, I would still come out ahead on that deal.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:26 AM on September 19, 2011


This guy must aspire to work at HP.
posted by nzero at 9:27 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


You might be interested to know about this new service which streams ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox into your home somewhere between 16 and 24 hours a day, depending on your location. All you need is a TV and an antenna. No wires, even. It truly is amazing stuff. Oh, one other thing: It's comes at no cost to you!

I've been using a low-budget antenna with a low-hi-def (720p) TV monitor for a few years now, and the quality is pretty great. The content, however, is another story. I enjoy PBS and Parks & Rec, and my wife occasionally watches Gossip Girl, Modern Family, or other such fluff, but there is very little else for us to watch. I spend much more time watching content from the computer (Youtube, torrents, etc.).

Actually, the biggest positive surprise for me has been NBC Universal, which kinda acts like ESPN from the 1980s, i.e the sports no one wants to watch. I watched a lot of the USA 7 rugby tournament last year, and there was a bevy of skiing, luge, curling, etc. on last winter. (But where's the cricket and field hockey?!?!)

If you do drop cable/satellite for local antenna, be prepared to give up on professional or college sports. It's amazing to me how much cable dominates. I don't even think the NCAA championship basketball or football games were on network TV last seasons. The majority of the MLB playoffs, including the whole first round, will be on cable only.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:32 AM on September 19, 2011


If they're putting all their eggs in that basket then it needs to be something worth buying.

Agreed. That Netflix views their streaming offering as a quality stand alone product is frankly baffling. "First world problem" jokes aside, Netflix's streaming selection is laughably bad - lots of "American Pie: Dorm Daze 27"-type offerings, with very little in the way of new movies, classic films you've actually heard of or recent TV shows (and even the few that it offers have their own issues, such as being able to view "Sons of Anarchy" Seasons 1-2 on streaming, but Season 3 has to be viewed on DVD?).

I accepted the recent price hike with the justification that $16 a month is still a pretty good deal for as many physical DVD's as I can get through in a month, with the added feature of streaming as a sort of bonus. But it feels at times as if Netflix is actively trying to drive me away by making sure the plan I use is as complicated and inconsistent as possible.
posted by The Gooch at 9:33 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else see and/or save Hastings' responses to the comments on the blog post? The email was already a bit bizarre — CEO, embarrassed by shares plummeting, doubles down on the initial decision with narcissistic, self-pitying faux-apology email to all customers — but the posts he was making there a few hours ago, before someone evidently came to their senses and reined him in, were verging on full-on insane or incompetent. He was live-brainstorming basic website features, like he hadn't yet thought of how bad a user experience Can'tspellster was going to be, or how hard it was to spell the domain. It made it seem like he sent the grandiose business-strategy non-apology email after thinking about it for maybe an hour.

I saved the first hour or two of the comment threads. I had wanted to save more, but they just kept multiplying. Between this and HP, with Yahoo's dumping of their CEO, not a great month for the PR staff of tech firms.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:36 AM on September 19, 2011


I’ve only read one article that seemed to understand the crux of the matter; customer inertia. Lots of people (including me) have had Netflix for a long time and don’t really use it much, but haven’t cancelled. Now I think I will cancel. Netflix is forcing people to think about why they are spending that money every month. I was a very enthusiastic fan of Netflix for a decade, I don’t know how many people I got to sign up, but much of what I liked about the service went away.

I knew someone who worked at Netflix and have seen this craziness coming for a while. I understand that they think streaming is the future, but they are giving up a market that they totally dominate for one that they could be forced out of in a matter of months. They are also counting on people having access to, and being able to afford, broadband AND their service in an economy that may be shrinking for a long time.

I finally got a Roku box a couple of months ago. Alright, now we have streaming. In that time we’ve watched Netflix streaming one time, a movie we already had on the DVR from TCM, just to see how it worked. Haven’t used it since, and now that it’s separate I’m wondering if I need it. We started going through a list of movies we wanted to see (and continue to check) and only 5-10% was available streaming. 90% more were available on DVD. Streaming is just not going to become part of our habits if that’s the norm. If you’re someone who just browses and watches whatever’s on I guess it would work, but I already have that on satellite.
posted by bongo_x at 9:37 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't mind paying a little more; price increases happen, and I know the studios are really hoping/trying to screw over Netflix. But there are so many things that are only on disc. (We just watched all the Harry Potter movies while on vacation.)

I don't know yet what I'm going to do...other than trim our plan back from six discs (boosted for aforementioned HP marathon) to two, with streaming.

Now I'm wondering if the release of all the Star Trek to streaming was an attempt to soften up the nerds before this announcement....
posted by epersonae at 9:38 AM on September 19, 2011


throwing everyone's ongoing service into chaos

Not everyone. Folks who dropped down to the DVD-only plan after the price increase won't see any change or need to do anything except adjust to the new name.

DVD's are going away. Permanently.

Not according to Netflix' chief content officer in the last link in kirkaracha's post: "the DVD business has a long life in middle America." Netflix has made the bizarre decision at a time of crisis to throw away that market as "not part of our future" but even they say DVDs will be around for a while. Seriously, how long do you think it'll be before the "permanent" going away of DVDs? 4 years? 8 years? 11 years?
posted by mediareport at 9:39 AM on September 19, 2011


saulgoodman wrote: Yeah, but almost all of what they offer is total crap. And let's face it, I don't watch TV because I want to, or even think it's a good idea, but because I'm addicted to it, so if I'm going to have to live with that monkey on my back, it'd be nice to have some decent options

I thought that the largest complaint was that whiny pop culture tv nuts are rapidly losing options for keeping up with pop culture tv without paying an arm and a leg.
posted by wierdo at 9:41 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


You just gotta dig a bit. Use Instantwatcher it is like expert mode. They have seasons and seasons of Star Trek, SG1, BSG. Awesome things from from the BBC, Wire in the Blood, Touch of Snow, Red Riding Trillogy, Doctor Who. All kinds of great older movies. I have over 100 items in my instant queue, and of course some of those are series with 10 seasons, all this stuff could keep me busy for years! Cheers alone would probably take a few months.

I got a billion and a half suggestions from this Recent Askme, I have just started scratching the surface.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:43 AM on September 19, 2011 [18 favorites]


Seriously, how long do you think it'll be before the "permanent" going away of DVDs? 4 years? 8 years? 11 years?

I guess we'll find out when Best Buy stops selling DVD players.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:47 AM on September 19, 2011


Ad hominem: Thanks for that. It's amazing that I can look at that page and immediately find several movies to watch, compared to the ton of crap I'd have to look through on netflix's own website.
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:48 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


"...apologize to those members who felt we treated them thoughtlessly..."

is no kind of apology at all.
posted by FunkyStar at 9:51 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saved the first hour or two of the comment threads.

ZeusHumms: Any way you could easily share what you captured? I'm finding it difficult to get back to the initial comments, and haven't seen any of Hastings' responses (which sound pretty interesting). Unless they've pulled them...
posted by avoision at 9:52 AM on September 19, 2011


Cheers alone would probably take a few months.

Huh. I just realized the advantage of being 20-something over being 50-something: there is a vast back catalog of TV for those who weren't alive to see it the first time around. I have no desire to see MASH or Cheers or Friends or Magnum P.I. or Rockford Files or West Wing ...etc, etc...again, but if you have never seen them, they are well worth watching.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only way that this is going to succeed is if the media companies let it. Netflix, as a streaming service, is in the crosshairs of the hate side of the love-hate relationship they have with the media companies. They love the exposure and the money the get from Netflix for the craptastic content that they get to shove into Netflix, but if big media decides that Netflix must die, Netflix will die. It will no longer have the dvd-rental unit to back it up.
posted by Revvy at 9:53 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


PS, I like that they have all 6 seasons of The Rockford Files. :) Or is it 7?
posted by FunkyStar at 9:57 AM on September 19, 2011


Well I am almost 40, but I was one of those "I don't even own a TV" jerkoffs. Much to my dismay they have no Magnum ( which I did watch when it was on) or West Wing.

Really, the British crime shows are just as good, or better than, The Wire. Yes, I said it. Red Riding Trilogy And Edge of Darkness are better than the wire. And you can watch them on Netflix.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:58 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just watched some Rockford Files for the first time in forever. It holds up really well. I wonder what that David Chase guy went on to do?
posted by whuppy at 9:59 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


but realistically, where are they going to get the same product and service at comparable level for less money? Torrents & newsgroups? Try finding a film or show more than a year old.

My experience has been just the opposite; I've been able to track down some extremely hard to find movies (stuff that never made it to DVD or if it did, it was only ever done so a foreign release) through obscure torrents.

I have Netflix for streaming, and I've liked it since the product first rolled out. I'll continue to use it for as long as it is available, but I don't have any illusions, it's a product that might go away.

I just want the distributors to understand that I prefer to pay for these movies, but I am more than capable of finding whatever I want without spending a dime other than my effort to search. The harder companies make it, the more people will turn to that which is free, but slightly more difficult.
posted by quin at 9:59 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Instant Netflix is a goldmine for those of us who are into obscure cult stuff or bad exploitation horror or whatever else mainstream America doesn't know exists and/or hates (Lars Von Trier's The Kingdom series, a bunch of Criterion arthouse classics, Hobo With a Shotgun, all of Twin Peaks, They Live, Italian giallo, etc etc). I'm sure this market segment is .001% of the userbase, though. I can imagine being utterly bewildered by the selection if I was your typical viewer looking for a Thor or Friends With Benefits. I don't really see how an entire business model can be built out of dudes excited to finally watch Birdemic: Shock and Terror.
posted by naju at 9:59 AM on September 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I'd love to see any of the comments Hastings made; RogerB makes them sound like essential reading. Did his comments get pulled or are they still there for viewing if you're willing to wade through thousands of others?
posted by mediareport at 10:01 AM on September 19, 2011


I saved the first hour or two of the comment threads.

Please post them somewhere — even if it's just the comments from Hastings. It seems like some PR person has tried to clean up Hastings' mess very quickly this morning; I can't find any of the comments anymore. And it's a fairly effective cleanup at that — none of the business press's initial stories on the faux-apology fiasco this morning even seems to be aware that his replies happened.
posted by RogerB at 10:04 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


You just gotta dig a bit. Use Instantwatcher it is like expert mode.

Wow, this actually may be what gets me to take our account off vacation mode. That, and free time magically becoming available.
posted by odinsdream at 10:06 AM on September 19, 2011


I have Netflix and have found some really interesting movies that otherwise I would never seen (as the system recommended them to me). I have to say that I wish Netflix the best of luck and I'll stick with them as long as they give me reasonable content. I have tried Hulu but I hate their commercials and the quality of the video is not as good as Netflix (or it maybe but I just prefer netflix). I also understand that even if DVD is not quite gone, history has shown time and time again that companies that refuse to adapt to the future die out (see AOL, Borders, etc). I am rooting hard for them, mostly because I hate hollywood, I am rooting hard for them because Netflix was the first one to tell me that I like "Quirky and funny" movies, but most importantly I am rooting hard for them because I think they are the good guys in this mess. Finally, I have seen the competition, they are not better, at least for my needs.
posted by The1andonly at 10:07 AM on September 19, 2011


Streaming is worthless to me. In my neighborhood neither cable nor DSL is reliable, due to an unfortunate combination of remoteness, trees, and tropical weather. So I have a 3G-Wifi bridge which I can toss in the kit when I evacuate.

Besides having the same basic bandwidth limitation as DSL, it's capped at the equivalent of about two streamed movies per month. I use most of that cap naturally without watching any online video at all.

Before finally giving up on the DSL, a couple of years ago I watched all of Stargate SG1 as it was released a season per month by Hulu. I was quite prepared to move on to Atlantis but they never got the rights, additionally they lost the rights to the series pilot somehow half-way through the SG1 release, and all those episodes are now gone anyway.

Meanwhile, in February I finally gave in and signed up for Netflix. As a result I have seen dozens of movies I probably would never have seen, and I've now jammed all of Stargate Atlantis alternating one TV disc with one movie. And the experience is far better. I am now working my way through the new Battlestar Galactica. When they jacked the price, I cancelled the useless streaming and went from one disc at a time to two. I am now watching a lot more video than I have in a long, long time and probably don't need any more sources.

I think this whole incident is an end result of the pathological religion of growth at all costs among economists and businessmen. Let's say Netflix DVD is at its zenith; they are probably pulling in around $100 million a month in subscriptions. Now just because they don't think that income stream will ever get bigger, they have essentially thrown what they did have away. It does seem obvious they are positioning to sell off the DVD operation and distance it from their brand; I hope whoever picks it up enjoys the billions of dollars remaining to be made from that established business, while the spiffy new streaming Netflix chokes on all the licensing bottlenecks.
posted by localroger at 10:09 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Netflix likes to hang out at the dive-ey ends of the long tail. Maybe they see a niche appealing to a long horizontal end of the tail, and competing where they can on the short vertical side?
posted by roboton666 at 10:12 AM on September 19, 2011


I totally understand the rationale -- it makes perfect sense to me. Hollywood wants to charge Netflix for streaming based on the number of Netflix subscribers. Of course they don't want DVD-only people to count. The combined entity has to accede to Hollywood's unilateral demands about holding things back for 30 days. Not so, the separate entities. Netflix sees streaming as the future and doesn't want the image or the hassle of the old tech.

But this is a pure case of "good for the company, bad for the consumer" situation. There's zero upside for the customer. Trying to sell that as anything like good news or even neutral news just adds insult to injury.

But, hmm. who will the new Qwikster try and merge with? Redbox or Blockbuster?
posted by tyllwin at 10:17 AM on September 19, 2011


Dear Mr. Hastings,

One of both of your companies needs a strategic communications leader. Not to mention an editor and a copyeditor. Lemme know -- I'll shoot you a rezzie.

Love,
thinkpiece
posted by thinkpiece at 10:22 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I actually think the smart move might be for Amazon to acquire Qwertyster's physical DVD distribution network, and just continue to compete with Netflix (and iTunes, probably today's biggest winner) on streaming. There's no reason the best extant DVD-by-mail company can't serve someone else as a springboard now that Netflix has decided to take its big leap of faith.
posted by RogerB at 10:23 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can imagine being utterly bewildered by the selection if I was your typical viewer looking for a Thor or Friends With Benefits.

Take a look at what they've got on Instant.

2008 Academy Award nominees (major categories): 0/21
2007: 2/19
2006: 3/18

2010 best picture nominees: 1/10
2011: 2/10

Netflix: 8/78
Qwikster: 78/78

Small sample, sure, but it's indicative of how much the streaming service is missing.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:30 AM on September 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


Seriously, how long do you think it'll be before the "permanent" going away of DVDs? 4 years? 8 years? 11 years?

I agree mediareport. I have no immediate plans to upgrade to BluRay and will stick with DVD as long as I can. If I'm honest I don't even like how the BluRays I've watched looked. It strikes me as an upgrade no one was asking for.
posted by Hoopo at 10:32 AM on September 19, 2011


I can imagine being utterly bewildered by the selection if I was your typical viewer looking for a Thor or Friends With Benefits.
...
Small sample, sure, but it's indicative of how much the streaming service is missing.

I believe that as far as najuu's groupings are concerned, the people who are watching movies because they have been nominated for an Oscar are the same people who are bewildered by the lack of Thor and FWB.
posted by griphus at 10:34 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


tyllwin: " There's zero upside for the customer."

Well, except:

tyllwin: "The combined entity has to accede to Hollywood's unilateral demands about holding things back for 30 days. Not so, the separate entities."

Combined-streaming-and-DVD Netflix means customers are stuck waiting 30 days for new releases. Separate companies means Quikster gives the studios the bird and goes back to release day availability for DVDs. That sounds like an upside to me.
posted by mullingitover at 10:35 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I use Netflix for watching TV shows (once in a great while I'll watch a movie), and to see the DVD extras. Sometimes I rent discs of shows I've already seen (but not enough to want to buy them) just for the extras. Streaming will not let me do this, plus as everyone else said, the selection stinks, so whatever.

I rarely use streaming. I was pleased to find one show's season on Netflix that doesn't exist anywhere else, and once in a great while I'd stream something, and I watched Party Down and Leverage when they were on, but that's about it. Why? 'Cause the selection sucks, duh. It's not worth choosing streaming over the DVD's.

I was debating getting rid of streaming access when this stuff came down because I rarely use it and just consider it a mild bonus once in a while rather than a main feature. So far I have lazily left it attached (it's an extra four bucks, whatever, I guess), but now that they are separating the two, it really kind of makes me think, "Why keep it?" So good on ya, Netquikster, for probably losing another customer by this stupid separating thing.

And while I can see why they think Streaming Is The Future, due to licensing issues and the like, it probably isn't so much The Future as they think it is. Dumb of them.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:36 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Atlantic: The Quikster and the Dead
So maybe the idea is that while customers are already mad, and analysts gloomy, you might as well make them as mad and gloomy as possible. The DVD business has to die eventually, so do what you can now to hasten the demise, even if it alienates a few more customers. Meanwhile, use the opportunity to herd Netflix customers into the streaming service, while creating a new brand eventually gives Netflix the psychological distance they need to shut the DVD business down. (We're not pulling a service! We're shutting down an unprofitable business unit. It's not even called Netflix!).
...
The thing feels like a panicked reaction to last week's stock gyrations, the product of my favorite Bryan Caplan syllogism:

1. Something must be done
2. This is something
3. Therefore, this must be done.
I disagree totally however that this has anything to do with the stock dip, public outcry or anything else. The rebranding process must have been in effect long before any of this became public. They're just choosing to bundle the announcement in the context of a mea culpa, just as they would have bundled it with a "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!" banner had stock prices somehow gone the other way.
posted by anazgnos at 10:36 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Instant Netflix is a goldmine for those of us who are into obscure cult stuff or bad exploitation horror or whatever else mainstream America doesn't know exists and/or hates (Lars Von Trier's The Kingdom series, a bunch of Criterion arthouse classics, Hobo With a Shotgun, all of Twin Peaks, They Live, Italian giallo, etc etc). I'm sure this market segment is .001% of the userbase, though. I can imagine being utterly bewildered by the selection if I was your typical viewer looking for a Thor or Friends With Benefits. I don't really see how an entire business model can be built out of dudes excited to finally watch Birdemic: Shock and Terror.

But the funny thing is that Hulu seems to be courting that same demographic, more or less, with the recent addition of 700+ Criterion films. I have no idea how much Criterion charges for that content, but it's funny that Criterion put so much of its catalog into a competitor of its own streaming service, Mubi.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:38 AM on September 19, 2011


I believe that as far as najuu's groupings are concerned, the people who are watching movies because they have been nominated for an Oscar are the same people who are bewildered by the lack of Thor and FWB.

1 vote for "not the same."

I don't pretend that the Oscar-nominated movies are the best movies of the year and I loathe the pomp and ceremony around the event, but I do use the nominee lists as guides for finding interesting movies that I've missed over the years.\

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is fantastic. Half Nelson is another good one (and available on Instant.) I doubt many here would argue against Pan's Labyrinth, etc.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:38 AM on September 19, 2011


Separate companies means Quikster gives the studios the bird and goes back to release day availability for DVDs. That sounds like an upside to me.

I'd like to hope so. I don't expect it. I actually expect them to continue using rental-only versions and waiting 30 days, but wringing some price concessions out of the studios for doing so.
posted by tyllwin at 10:39 AM on September 19, 2011


I don't have a broadband connection at all. I've only ever gotten DVDs from Netflix, and when the price change came along, I switched to DVD only.

Personally, I don't care what it's called, as long as it keeps working. If Qwikster (ugh) dies, then I'll figure something else out. So far, I've had wonderful service with Netflix, for a loooong time, and I'm going to stick with them, regardless of the name, based on my past experience with them.


But, I didn't get an email - does that mean my business matters less to them? I don't know. Do I care? Nah, not really, as long as I can still pay my small fee and get to watch all the old TV shows and foreign films I want.
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 10:41 AM on September 19, 2011


It's genuinely interesting (and makes me almost feel for Netflix and the minefield it is trying to negotiate) browsing through a thread like this and seeing all the different lenses people view Netflix through, and think about how incredibly diverse and fragmented "watching television" has become.

I grew up in the rural Midwest in the 70s and 80s, and television was this box you turned on and got 3 major network affiliates and a local public station. When my buddies and I talked about watching television that was what we were talking about and that was it. If one of them asked me what I'd watched the night before there were literally a handful of possibilities.

Pretty soon cable (for those who, unlike my family, lived "in town" - no cable 3 miles out in the country), home videotape players (I suppose I lived through the VHS/Betamax thing, but don't remember any of it - my family didn't buy a VHS player until well after I left home) and the (in that time and place) completely independent and strangely-associated-with-tanning tape rental businesses, and the briefly ubiquitous satellite dish (anyone else remember that Bloom County bit when they started scrambling the signals on Oliver Wendell Jones' father's dish?) started to broaden the horizon a bit. One weekends my family would sometimes rent a VHS player and a few tapes. The church (my father is a protestant minister) put one of those crazy complicated aerials you almost never see anymore up on the house and we started being able to pull the Twin Cities public television station (The Best of British Comedy!) and KTMA (where I was among those few to see the first, ultra-low-budget, unscripted episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000) and an upstart new Network contender called Fox (didja know the original Late Show was hosted by Joan Rivers? And eventually morphed into the Arsenio Hall Show?).

And now, damn. Streaming via Amazon, or your cable company, or your dish company, or Tivo, or your legitimate internet-based aggregator, or a specific show (or network's) own internet presence, or your not-so-legitimate internet-based-provider, or broadcast cable, or broadcast dish, and still yes regular broadcast television (does gramma still have that coupon for the converter box dear?), watched live or via the Tivo or the cable company's DVR, or downloaded via iTunes or the ever-discussed torrents, that ubiquitous stream of information that I just can't get around to figuring out... Not to mention the retail market of DVDs and Blu Ray or the quietly degrading VHS glut the not-so-quietly dying independent rental businesses are regurgitating into the second-hand retail stream (though VHS players seem to be going the way of cassette players, you can still buy one, and cheap, but it's inevitably a piece of crap). Honestly I don't envy any media company trying to carve and hold its niche in this hot mess.
posted by nanojath at 10:41 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


...but I do use the nominee lists as guides for finding interesting movies that I've missed over the years.

I'm not saying they're bad movies or not worth watching. What I am saying is that, as far as streaming is concerned, there's a lot more overlap between the people who actively seek out (and are dissapointed by the lack of) Thor and The King's Speech than those delighted with Netflix for their collection of low-budget Italian slashers from the 1960s. And the former will be disappointed by the streaming stuff while the latter will be delighted. It's not a judgement call. Pan's Labyrinth was huge. Hobo With a Shotgun, not so much.
posted by griphus at 10:46 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


My take is a bit different. I don't think this is the first step in killing DVDs ( unless they are planning 10 years out). They may sell it, but nobody is going to throw out that inventory and shut down those distro centers while there is still life in the business. I think they have done enough research to figure out that streaming and DVD are two different markets. People seem to use either/or, and there is no real reason the bind them to each other if there are advantages to be had from separating them.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:46 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This. IMO streaming visual quality is not even up to par with the average US-domestic DVD.


Here's what you do if you're on a PC/Mac.. go into manual streaming control and pick a nice high quality streaming rate. Let it buffer for a while, and voila.

Now, if someone figures out how to do this on a PS3 let me know because, yeah, it looks terrible. But the highest quality stream rate looks really, really good.
posted by starman at 10:49 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yep. Still don't know what anyone is complaining about. Netflix streaming is great. And my price for streaming actually went down from $9.99 to $7.99. Have fun with your physical media suckers.
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:49 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought the split sounded silly, and didn't love the price hike, but I think that Hastings makes a great case for it in his letter. They really are two separate businesses (although I seriously do hope that they establish some sort of synergy between the two and possibly offer a discount for signing up to both). It makes sense to brand them differently.

I also thought it silly at first, but I'm pretty happy about it now. I had very little interest and rarely used DVDs by mail. It almost seems a step back from simply going to blockbuster (I'm spontaneous, what I want to watch tonight will probably change by the morning). So I went streaming only after the price hike.

The old website was a mishmash of streaming and mail order DVDs. Is it available for streaming? No? Is it available on DVD? It was a mess and annoying. I only want to deal with streaming. If they don't have it available in that format, they don't have it. I'm also hoping this means they're serious about getting a larger streaming library, because without DVDs to fall back on the small streaming library is going to be all that more apparent.

On account of the netflix base being whiners, mac owners and hipsters.
posted by seanyboy


Wow, bringing your apple hate into an thread on netflix. You need therapy.
posted by justgary at 10:51 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the question on everyone's mind is, "How does this affect Alvy's ability to continue watching The Larry Sanders Show on Netflix Streaming in Manitoba?"

I know it's on mine.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:53 AM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don’t know about low budget Italian slashers, but the movies I look for are not the new blockbusters, mostly older films that might be on TCM, and smaller movies from the last couple of decades. They just weren’t available streaming.

I think the difference in people perception of what’s available is mostly to do with how you use the service. If you browse for things you might want to watch, I’m sure you find things. I tend to hear about things I want to see, then look to see if they’re available. I’ve had 500 items in my DVD queue for many years so I don’t need to browse.
posted by bongo_x at 10:54 AM on September 19, 2011


Have fun with your physical media suckers

Enjoy your limited selection and highly compressed audio/video, sucker!
posted by entropicamericana at 10:55 AM on September 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


tyllwin: "The combined entity has to accede to Hollywood's unilateral demands about holding things back for 30 days. Not so, the separate entities."

Then how do you explain Redbox acquiescing to the same demands? The studios are dug in on the 30 day thing and they're going to make it tough for everyone regardless. I think it's having an unintended consequence in simply diminishing interest overall for folks like me who aren't going to buy no matter how long you ask us to wait, but not like it's the first time studios have been penny-wise and pound-foolish.

There's a financial motive for Netflix to not have to pay for a streaming license for DVD-only users and that explains this sufficiently. But don't expect to see a return of day-one DVDs just because of the spin-off. Not gonna happen.
posted by phearlez at 10:55 AM on September 19, 2011


I disagree totally however that this has anything to do with the stock dip, public outcry or anything else. The rebranding process must have been in effect long before any of this became public.

Why must it, exactly? A well-thought-out, strategic rebranding would've been pre-planned for a long time, yes. But not much of the morning's evidence suggests this was a planned rebranding rather than a stock-plummet-induced desperation move. Or else why did they choose an impossible-to-(correctly mis-)spell name all of whose reasonable variants are domain-squatted, and whose Twitter account isn't theirs? And why was the CEO sending clearly un-PR-vetted faux-apology emails and leaving blog comments early this morning seemingly indicating that he had no idea or plan about how the split websites were going to work? Really, incompetent desperation seems like the most reasonable explanation at this point.
posted by RogerB at 10:57 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


First World Problem.

Having to suffer First World People's complaints about their First World Problems is the ultimate First World Problem. So people, think of all the starving children before you bring this up, kthx.

posted by Anything at 11:00 AM on September 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


Wow, bringing your apple hate into an thread on netflix. You need therapy.

Is there anything that can't be turned into an in-group/out-group hate-fest these days?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:02 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why must it, exactly? A well-thought-out, strategic rebranding would've been pre-planned for a long time, yes. But not much of the morning's evidence suggests this was a planned rebranding rather than a stock-plummet-induced desperation move.

They've got logos and infrastructure all ready to roll and the whole thing will be rolled out "in a few weeks"? Certainly there is desperation in the announcement, but the rebranding doesn't seem like it could be something that is literally being whipped up right now in real time. Seems like it would need more lead time, and must have been in the works before the stock dip flavored the whole enterprise with pants-shitting CEO panic.

The Atlantic article is good but it puzzles over how exactly the splitting/rebranding is a response to the customer outcry and stock dip, and it seems like the correct intuitive leap is to say "it's not".
posted by anazgnos at 11:03 AM on September 19, 2011


The Atlantic article is good but it puzzles over how exactly the splitting/rebranding is a response to the customer outcry and stock dip, and it seems like the correct intuitive leap is to say "it's not".

I agree. I just wish there was some sort of alternative reality where we could know what the qwikster pr campaign would have been without the CEO panic.
posted by Think_Long at 11:07 AM on September 19, 2011


Why didn’t they just do the repricing and the company split at the same time? Does this honestly seem like it worked better? If they had done that there wouldn’t be much complaining about the prices, of course you’d expect to pay two fees to two different companies. Just one more weird/bad decision in a long line of such.
posted by bongo_x at 11:07 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another thing about the streaming availability; since they used to add to both queues automatically, I had over 300 titles in my streaming queue. But fully half of those weren’t available anymore, things that had been available before. I noticed they just deleted all of the unavailable listings, obviously it looked pretty bad.
posted by bongo_x at 11:10 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best I can come up with is that this is a version of what analysts used to call "Big Bath Accounting": if you have to release bad news, try to release all your bad news in the same quarter. People are already hammering your stock, so you might as well pile on every conceivable problem that could beset your company; later, you can get a nice stock bump by reversing any excessively pessimistic charges and having an upside earnings "surprise".

So maybe the idea is that while customers are already mad, and analysts gloomy, you might as well make them as mad and gloomy as possible. The DVD business has to die eventually, so do what you can now to hasten the demise, even if it alienates a few more customers. Meanwhile, use the opportunity to herd Netflix customers into the streaming service, while creating a new brand eventually gives Netflix the psychological distance they need to shut the DVD business down. (We're not pulling a service! We're shutting down an unprofitable business unit. It's not even called Netflix!).
The Qwikster and the Dead
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 11:12 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


To clarify I do think they're incompetent, I just don't also think they're so nimble that they could actually accomplish the splitting/rebranding in this short a time frame. If it's being done badly it's just because they're doing it badly, and they're doing it in the slow lumbering manner befitting a giant company.
posted by anazgnos at 11:13 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate the "oh well, back to torrenting it then" comments. It is not as if you have a deity-given right to someone else's content.

Anyways, Qwikster? Seriously? It would be difficult to choose a worse name that still sounded like a company came up with it.
posted by andreaazure at 11:14 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


What an absolute mess. I started with netflix mostly because of the massive library. Everything ever published on DVD is a pretty damn big selection. I would love, love, love to see the same kind of library available via streaming, but it looks like we're headed for some years of fragmentation. Trying to figure out what I can get where for how much just makes me want to pull my hair out. Example: I wanted to watch 2001 in high def. I could find the movie on iTunes to rent or buy, but the HD version is only available for iPad or AppleTV. So that doesn't work. Similarly, Amazon had it, but only for "Amazon Instant Video on Your TV." OK. I guess this is a DRM thing? Is this where I point out that there's no DRM on torrents?

I guess I'll keep getting physical media? Eh, I don't know. This is all very confusing to me, which is weird, because I'm usually pretty good at keeping on top of this stuff. I can't imagine what it's like for your typical non-technical consumer...
posted by mr_roboto at 11:14 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have a very large DVD collection and I continue to add to it. Why?
Number #1. When I'm done viewing I have something to show for it.
Number #2. My wife and son primarily speak Spanish and I can call up the subtitles.
Number #3. I can buy them used and smartly for about $5. Buying video streaming package deals can get around extra costs, but buying individual for $1.99 and then not having anything to show for it afterwards sucks. Especially with TV shows that have often 20 or more for their season set.
Number #4. My son is four years old and will watch the same movie 20 times.
Number #5. I like the feeling of having a library. I'm the freaking Library at Alexandria. You will be coming to me, post-apocalypse.
Number #6. I can follow up my Harold Lloyd flick with Harold Lloyd shorts.
Number #7. Netflix and Amazon treat Puerto Rico strangely.
Number #8. The movement to everything being ethereal is destroying civilization.

There are a lot of movies that mainstream services don't care about making available. Documentaries, etc. I read they have 5,000 available or 20,000 available. The same 5,000 you find anywhere and they don't seem to have many I am interested in.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:22 AM on September 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


I can't imagine what it's like for your typical non-technical consumer...

*PLUNK loses another dvd down the VHS slot*
posted by Think_Long at 11:22 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dear Reed,

Thinking it's totally cool to call you "Reed," as you're calling me by my first name in your email this morning as if we're besties and stuff.

Okay Reed, on to my point: You should call it "Throttlester" rather than "Qwickster," because that's what happened when I cut out streaming and switched from one to two-out last month. Throttling. It's that old habit of yours in which you punish people who rent more DVDs with a longer wait time. Suddenly, my one-day turnaround is a two-day turnaround. And that ain't cool.

Also, in your email you say that:

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD.

I don't mean nitpick, but this is Metafilter, and we love us some nits. You do realize that the "nearly every movie ever made" part of this sentence is batshit crazy, don't you? Even if we say that you're only talking about commercial films, and remove movies made by amateurs wielding a Super 8 camera, only a tiny, nit-sized fraction of movies ever made have been published on DVD. Hell, most movies made during the silent era were trashed after their theatrical run. And many of the rest burned up in silver nitrate fires. That's a shitload of films. And there's still a lot of movies that were made in the Bollywood or Nigerian cinemas back in the day that never made it to DVD.

Throttling and this stupid statement. Jesus.

Sincerely,

Gordion
posted by Gordion Knott at 11:30 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I noticed they just deleted all of the unavailable listings, obviously it looked pretty bad.

Yeah, my queue is down to about 30 titles, and my "saved instant queue" (i.e. titles that were available and are no longer) had gotten up well over 100 when they nuked it.

It is not as if you have a deity-given right to someone else's content.

It's not like the content as a deity-given right not to be copied and distributed willy-nilly (if it's good enough).

Number #8. The movement to everything being ethereal is destroying civilization.

The movement to pump out petroleum-based products as fast as possible isn't helping much either.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:32 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


He meant nearly ever movie Christopher Walken ever made.
posted by anazgnos at 11:32 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm willing to pay a PREMIUM fee for a streaming selection of movies equivalent to their DVD catalog. But they won't give it to me. Until that day comes, I won't be subscribing.

Do you hear me Netflix? I'd happily pay $50 to $70/month to have your entire DVD catalog streaming.

Stop mickey mousing around with that garbage selection of B-movies and GIVE ME THE GOODS!
posted by secondhand pho at 11:34 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think Netflix was caught in a no-win situation here that is causing some frantic scrambling in a hope to retain some market advantage. They are looking at two realities, neither of which is good:

1. DVD is going to be a dying medium soon in terms of increasing profitability, so they had to branch out to streaming.

2. But they know that the writing is on the wall for streaming, if the movie studios raise licensing rates during the next contract period, which is very expected. The online world is definitely embracing online streaming, but are probably moving to do it on their own terms instead of using Netflix as a distributor.

My guess, then, is that they are doing this: If they keep both services together, and one distribution service fails miserably, they believe that it would lose more customers over a perceived loss of value in the service than if they were to run both sides independently and cater to individuals who primiarly only use one service anyway. The are probably banking on the fact that more people predominantly use one service over the other, and would gladly embrace only one half of the service, as it enables them to actually pay less rather than more based on the original repricing plan.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:37 AM on September 19, 2011


On the upside, Netflix's shrinking instant catalog is forcing me to watch things I otherwise wouldn't, like Time Bandits back to back with Power Rangers: The Movie. Have you ever noticed that David Warner's portrayal of Evil in Time Bandits bears a striking resemblance (in both personality and headgear) to Power Rangers villain Ivan Ooze? I did, last night.
posted by theodolite at 11:38 AM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Honestly at some point it's just a better deal to take the $200 you would have spend on NetFlix and Qwikster this year and just buy a few HBO or BBC series on DVD. Plus you can, you know, lend them to your IRL friends and family.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:39 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Number #1. When I'm done viewing I have something to show for it.

I'm picturing you constantly covered with new slashes because you're still figuring out how to swim in your DVDs like Scrooge McDuck.
posted by griphus at 11:42 AM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm willing to pay a PREMIUM fee for a streaming selection of movies equivalent to their DVD catalog. But they won't give it to me. Until that day comes, I won't be subscribing.

Do you hear me Netflix? I'd happily pay $50 to $70/month to have your entire DVD catalog streaming.

Stop mickey mousing around with that garbage selection of B-movies and GIVE ME THE GOODS!


It's not up to Netflix, it's up to the movie companies, and they will never allow it.
posted by empath at 11:43 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let me give one more reason. When I retire, I am going to start an ongoing film festival. Post the monthly schedule, plug in my projector. Each night I'll have over whoever cares about movies and brings their own six pack.

And the college chicks will dig me.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:43 AM on September 19, 2011


The fact that they chose to rebrand the DVD side rather than the streaming side is what makes it feel like a kick in the teeth to those who have been using their service for so long. For 8 years I've been an ardent fan of their company, in total awe over their customer service, but now they hand me a cheezy name and tell me they can't be bothered to make it easier to integrate the two services: that if I choose to use both Netflix and Qwitflix I will have to deal with two searches, two rating sites, two queues, two review sites. I really get the strong feeling that they are washing their hands of me, the DVD renter.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:44 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's not up to Netflix, it's up to the movie companies, and they will never allow it.

I'm sure we will see this option somewhere in our lifetime. Not soon enough for Netflix to benefit from it, however.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:47 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why in fuck's name Netflix's stock skyrocketed as much as it did this year, possibly because of "consumer confidence," but I think it's fair to say they've been fucked for a while now. I mean, they don't have the resources, the technology, the market share, or the vision to make any major moves in the entertainment world, or apply a lot of pressure on any of the studios. This combination of news of subscriber loss followed by CEO misstep is a massive body blow. They're a distributor and they play angles. They buy something from someone else and turn around and sell it to you. The surrounding economic conditions have to be right. The company itself, it's inner operations, matter less. No matter how good Netflix runs, ain't shit it can't do if the studios don't way to play ball. The only company that has managed to crack some skulls in entertainment in general has been Apple, and that has been done through nothing short of a stunning performance on their part. Equipment, applications, operating systems, accessories, and branding. The full fuck you.

So who is going to give the guy bleeding in the corner an affordable licensing deal, of the "give me $8/mo and I'll give you access to my entire catalogue" variety? If Starz is showing you the door, it's time to pack up.

Big picture, Netflix did DVD-by-mail exceptionally well, they saw the future of streaming coming like a freight train, they took some progressive steps, like bringing their services to the 360 way ahead of the curve, but ultimately, their content just died out. They used their reputation and customer base to push for some new deals and create some new possibilities, but there is no future in the streaming of shit. This at least to me has proven poisonous to their company, and it's been running through their veins for a while now. So they shot themselves in the face.

What's impressive is how quickly this has happened. I was at a comedy club only a couple of weeks ago and heard someone joking about marriage saying, "Marriage is like choosing your movie rental company. Imagine if you're 30 and you married Blockbuster, and ten years later, Netflix comes out. How would you feel then? Huh?" Now the question is who is going to fill this vaccuum for now?
posted by phaedon at 11:47 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like the feeling of having a library. I'm the freaking Library at Alexandria. You will be coming to me, post-apocalypse.

That's exactly how I feel except that I expect the electricity to be gone then, so it'll be a classic case of Time Enough at Last.

The price hike made me pay more attention to how and how much I actually use streaming vs. discs from Netflix. As a result, I cancelled streaming this morning. Every time I spontaneously think of something I don't have that I'd like to see and wonder if it's on Instant, it isn't. It's a weak, spotty selection that changes all too quickly. I frequently decide to watch something from my modest Instant queue only to find that it's been removed. As others have mentioned, the broadband issue is a huge one too. For that reason alone I can't believe that streaming can or will kill DVD everywhere. The infrastructure just isn't there yet.
posted by heatvision at 11:49 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I noticed they just deleted all of the unavailable listings, obviously it looked pretty bad.

That infuriated me: I had about 80 things in my "Saved Instant" queue, and they didn't even tell consumers before they nuked it. Might've been nice to move those over to the DVD queue if I had known, but that just typifies Netflix lately. No question: after I wrap up Mad Men and Breaking Bad on streaming, I'll be moving the rest of my instant queue over to the DVD section, then canceling Netflix and hoping the disk-side of things is better run, while all the geniuses who do this kind of thing are off "improving" the streaming end.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:52 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sure we will see this option somewhere in our lifetime. Not soon enough for Netflix to benefit from it, however.

It's called bittorrent.
posted by empath at 11:55 AM on September 19, 2011


I'd feel a lot better about their future if they'd chosen the brand name "Quonsar."
posted by kimota at 11:56 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Secret Life of Gravy: "The fact that they chose to rebrand the DVD side rather than the streaming side is what makes it feel like a kick in the teeth to those who have been using their service for so long."

I understand the despair, especially since Qwikster has absolutely no clear association. But if we're going to decide which service gets the Netflix brand, surely it's the one delivering movies over the internet?
posted by pwnguin at 11:59 AM on September 19, 2011


Combined-streaming-and-DVD Netflix means customers are stuck waiting 30 days for new releases. Separate companies means Quikster gives the studios the bird and goes back to release day availability for DVDs. That sounds like an upside to me.

Redbox is also under this restriction. It has nothing to do with streaming and everything to do with the studios wanting to eek out more DVD sales and higher rental income from PPV. The PPV ads on cable make a big deal that they get new releases before Netflix and Redbox. But that's $5/each vs. $8/mth for Netflix or $1/each for Redbox. What they don't seem to get is some of us won't buy the DVD and feel that $5 is too much when there are other, cheaper options available. So rather than get a piece of the $1 or streaming fee, they get nothing.
posted by birdherder at 12:00 PM on September 19, 2011


Redbox is also under this restriction.

Well, more like Redbox agreed to this restriction, probably in exchange for not having to buy retail copies of the DVDs. The studios can't just create rental restrictions out of thin air.
posted by smackfu at 12:04 PM on September 19, 2011


It's not up to Netflix, it's up to the movie companies, and they will never allow it.

Wrong. It is up to Netflix, they just aren't willing to pay up yet. There is a price tag on that business model, and they're dragging their feet, trying to find ways around it.

I'd gladly pay $100/month to have that entire streaming catalog. You can't tell me a couple million people paying that wouldn't cover the licensing fees.
posted by secondhand pho at 12:07 PM on September 19, 2011


It's so sad, really. Netflix used to be known as the site that was built around community, and did cool things like sponsor a million dollar competition for which team could best optimize their recommendation engine. I have a feeling now that they don't much care about these things that made them beloved in the first place. It's as if they are going for good enough now, rather than the best. And part of that might simply be the desperation of trying to hang on while in one's death throes.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:10 PM on September 19, 2011


A couple million people paying $100/mo? In this economy? That seems... improbable. I mean, some people would pay that. But it's just not an option for a lot of us.
posted by gracedissolved at 12:10 PM on September 19, 2011


gradedissolved, you could cancel cable entirely with that catalog.
posted by secondhand pho at 12:11 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is up to Netflix, they just aren't willing to pay up yet.

Starz has made it pretty clear that they're unwilling to let Netflix stream their movies for any price. Same for HBO. These are premium cable channels who are bound and determined to use the same "customer pays extra to us to see our content" model for streaming over the Internet.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:20 PM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd gladly pay $100/month to have that entire streaming catalog. You can't tell me a couple million people paying that wouldn't cover the licensing fees.

There's 0 chance that you can get that many people to agree to pay $100 a month -- do you think the convenience of streaming over DVDs is worth $90 a month? Ridiculous.
posted by empath at 12:23 PM on September 19, 2011


Starz has made it pretty clear that they're unwilling to let Netflix stream their movies for any price

That's actually not true. Starz was willing, but they wanted to be an add-on premium, rather than being included with the rest of their content.

Personally, I just want to be able to buy HBO streaming without having to get cable. I'm currently just bittorrenting all their shit, but I'd be happy to pay for it, given the option to just buy HBO.
posted by empath at 12:25 PM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


I actually think the smart move might be for Amazon to acquire Qwertyster's physical DVD distribution network, and just continue to compete with Netflix (and iTunes, probably today's biggest winner) on streaming. There's no reason the best extant DVD-by-mail company can't serve someone else as a springboard now that Netflix has decided to take its big leap of faith.

I think Amazon would have to tread very carefully here, to avoid having a physical presence in every state that would require it to pay sales taxes in every state.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:25 PM on September 19, 2011


Redbox is also under this restriction.

Well, more like Redbox agreed to this restriction, probably in exchange for not having to buy retail copies of the DVDs. The studios can't just create rental restrictions out of thin air.


As I recall, Redbox was blocked from getting DVD's via traditional means, and resorted to buying at Walmart.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:27 PM on September 19, 2011


you could cancel cable entirely with that catalog.

I don't know about that, no cable for me = no internet connection = no streaming nothing. So that $100 is in addition to paying for an ISP.
posted by jamaro at 12:29 PM on September 19, 2011


As I recall, Redbox was blocked from getting DVD's via traditional means, and resorted to buying at Walmart.

Yep. The studios also disliked Redbox selling off their used DVDs. They were involved in legal battles over it but plenty of people have found themselves broke after winning in court, if not before.

So they cut as good a deal as they could and dealt with it.
posted by phearlez at 12:36 PM on September 19, 2011


premium cable channels who are bound and determined to use the same "customer pays extra to us to see our content" model for streaming

The problem is that the consumer doesn't want to manage a dozen accounts to stream their media. Most times, I will go without (or wait for DVD) rather than deal with yet another subscription, hence the need for a consolidator such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or even Tivo.

The movie studios and content delivery companies can't be blind to this. I expect that common sense and profit motive will encourage them to reach license deals.
posted by exogenous at 12:39 PM on September 19, 2011


The problem is that the consumer doesn't want to manage a dozen accounts to stream their media.

And we want it simple and easy to watch on our TVs. I don't torrent because it would be a hassle to set it up so I can watch them on my TV from the comfort of my couch. With Netflx (and even Hulu), it's just a few plonk-plonk-plonks away on my Xbox.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:42 PM on September 19, 2011


Is Qwikster quicksand for Netflix?
posted by ericb at 12:46 PM on September 19, 2011


"There are already more than 10,000 comments on the blog announcing this latest move, and for the most part, it looks like Netflix has stumbled. Again."*
posted by ericb at 12:48 PM on September 19, 2011


secondhand pho, I got rid of cable TV a long time ago because I couldn't afford it and I could afford Netflix. A lot of people who do still have cable aren't paying for all the premium channels anymore, that kind of thing. There's just a vast swath of the population who does not have $100/mo for just a portion of entertainment expenses.
posted by gracedissolved at 12:53 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Note the subtitle under "Qwikster" on their web page, which reads "A Netflix Company." I wonder is the new company a wholly-owned subsidiary? If so, some of the supposed advantages may not actually be there.
posted by tyllwin at 1:00 PM on September 19, 2011


Someday Netflix and Qwikster will merge to form an incredibly useful service!
posted by dgran at 1:06 PM on September 19, 2011 [21 favorites]


So, I have a big, expensive network of distribution facilities sending out and pulling back DVDs, and I have to pay the postage, and I have to buy/replace physical media. And a whole bunch of my customers don't care about DVDs, so much so that a $2 price hike to keep 'em was rejected by a huge number of my customers.

Which means I'm spending most of my money to make the least amount of it. And I already knew this, and was hoping that so few people would want the DVDs that I could kill those distribution centers etc., and remove that cost -- freeing up money to pay for these increasingly higher-cost streaming deals.

So now I'll spin off the business! Looks like a dumb move, sure, but this quarter already sucks, but if I do it now when it looks foolish, and I pick a crap name, and I piss off my DVD base, then they'll all bail on me -- justifying the shutdown of those distribution centers etc., and removing that cost -- freeing up money blah blah blah.

Sounds like he's making a big move for a good reason. Whether the outcome will be as he predicts remains to be seen, but I'll wager that a lot of money is going to be freed up by shutting down the DVD side of things, and so the crap name approach is a wise one. Plus, now they can have a website that makes it extremely difficult/unpleasant to sign up, to prevent their DVD numbers from going up.
posted by davejay at 1:09 PM on September 19, 2011


then again, the whole "DVD distribution is nosediving" meme -- accurate or not -- is certainly something the studios want to encourage, because their distribution costs will also get cheaper, and as more and more people stream, fewer and fewer will have the capacity to pirate. ultimately that's the end-game here; by giving up physical media, we give up options for controlling our access to that physical media. i find myself wondering if we care.
posted by davejay at 1:11 PM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


love this thread. read every comment. that's a lot to get thru. just wanted to post my 2¢ here, which is more of an echo than anything groundbreaking... stuck with dvd side due to satisfyingly massive library. stuck with streaming side due to tv shows, and overall making apple tv worth owning. if the streaming library can show signs of growth, that would do a lot for perceptions.

also... i certainly agree with comments re: having a physical movie (on dvd, or a digital version stored locally), for watching over and over, or when disconnected, or etc. i imagine that some day that may not be an issue, and the cloud is truly always on, and always available, but for now, i'm all about the locally stored media library, and that's another significant drawback to streaming, for me.
posted by rude.boy at 1:17 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


When Netflix first came out with their new pricing and packaging model, I resigned myself to the $16/month for the 1-DVD mailer and unlimited streaming. This is because I prefer to watch films in their original language with subtitling, something that streaming has not been very consistent with. Perhaps if/when Netflix streaming gives me the option to choose dubbed or subtitled shows, I might drop the DVD option.
posted by CancerMan at 1:18 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder is the new company a wholly-owned subsidiary? If so, some of the supposed advantages may not actually be there.

It has to be a wholly-owned subsidiary. Otherwise you would just be taking a large chunk of a public company and giving it away with no recompense for the shareholders. Given that, that's only today. In a few months, they can sell it off.
posted by smackfu at 1:28 PM on September 19, 2011


I'm repeating what everyone else in the thread is saying, but Netflix-by-mail was worthwhile for the awesome selection. All Netflix-streaming had going for it was "less hassle than bittorrent".
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 1:31 PM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Instant Netflix is a goldmine for those of us who are into obscure cult stuff or bad exploitation horror or whatever else mainstream America doesn't know exists and/or hates (Lars Von Trier's The Kingdom series, a bunch of Criterion arthouse classics, Hobo With a Shotgun, all of Twin Peaks, They Live, Italian giallo, etc etc).

I think what's driving a lot of the streaming vs. DVDs debate is that while there's a huge amount of stuff available via streaming, there's even more available via DVDs. So while you can always find a movie to watch via streaming, even if you have esoteric tastes, your chance of finding a specific movie via streaming is pretty low (again, even if you have esoteric tastes.)

For example, let's take a sample of every fifth movie in my queue: "Network", "Heathers", "Russian Ark", "Requiem for a Dream", "Apocalypse Now", "Watchmen", "In the Company of Men", "A History of Violence", "Sita Sings the Blues", "Wordplay", "Spider-Man", "Slap Shot", "Starship Troopers", "Andrei Rublev", "Diva", "Full Metal Jacket", "Triangle", "Say Anything", "True Grit" (2010), "Josie and the Pussycats", and "Catfish". That's twenty movies, of which precisely three are available via streaming — and that list isn't all "Thor" and "Friends with Benefits", either.

One of the reasons that I liked the original Netflix model was that I had this opportunity to watch all these movies that I had always been meaning to see but had never gotten around to. Streaming is nice, but if I'm forced to choose I'm going to stick with the service that allows me to read an article on MetaFilter or the AV Club about a Swedish movie from the early '90s, say to myself "Oh, I've always meant to see that" or "That sounds really interesting", and stand a reasonable chance of being able to access it. If that means clinging desperately to a doomed medium, so be it.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:35 PM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Having never used the DVD service, Netflix announcing that it's now split into a completely separate company that has no integration with the other reduces my desire to ever use it to... zero.

It seems like it is almost... scientifically designed to be the most unappealing option possible. Count me in on this being a play to sell it off to whomever just wants their hands on the library and warehouses.

I love how everybody analyzing this split is doing so under the assumption that broadband is going to improve.

This times a thousand. The most upsetting shortsightedness of this is how the streaming end of Netflix is so unbelievably more endangered in the long term than the DVD service based on the multitude of large corporations they have to work with. Netflix is now reducing itself to a service that must negotiate with BOTH Hollywood studios and telecom companies. Yeah... good luck with that one guys.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:39 PM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Redbox is also under this [28-day-delay] restriction.

Interestingly, your local video rental store is not.
posted by mediareport at 1:39 PM on September 19, 2011


DVDs are "old" economy. They digital streaming business scales much better. A few years ago streaming was a dream. Let's face it: renting DVDs will be a declining business in the long run Netflix just cashes out.

Also, Netflix is going international, e.g. Brazil. Mail is much less reliable in such countries. For they international plans, going digital only is the way to go. Shipping DVDs has just become a liability.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 1:56 PM on September 19, 2011


Number #8. The movement to everything being ethereal is destroying civilization.

Having billions of pounds of plastic goddamn garbage being created daily is keeping civilization totally afloat, eh.
posted by xmutex at 2:03 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, Netflix is going international,

Netflix employees are popping up over on HN saying this move has been planned for a while, and to them it seems perfectly rational. They point to the fact that they are introducing instant in South America but are not going to ship DVDs to brazil.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:05 PM on September 19, 2011


This sort of thing has been said before above but, at least for me, this move will backfire on Netflix's part. Because I'll probably cancel Netflix but keep Quicks...Kwicks... whatever. Because I can get new releases AND old stuff on DVD, but only mostly old stuff streaming. I'm not paying a monthly fee to anyone if I can't see relatively new films.
posted by Justinian at 2:14 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


DVDs are "old" economy. They digital streaming business scales much better. A few years ago streaming was a dream.

Streaming video is the future of media delivery, and it always will be.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:19 PM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Redbox is also under this [28-day-delay] restriction.

Interestingly, your local video rental store is not.


Assuming you have one. I mean, I guess I do, sort of. They're all genre places where I am. I can even walk to one but unless I learn arabic it's not going to do me any good.

Do most folks still have mom&pop video rental joints? All the chains that were in my area are gone but I suppose there could be some that just aren't here. Do any still exist?
posted by phearlez at 2:20 PM on September 19, 2011


Link for what Ad hominem references at Hacker News (it looks like just one person claiming to be an employee):

Disclaimer: Netflix employee here

The main reason for the split is the realization that streaming service and DVD service are two completely different businesses that need to grow in completely different ways. For example, in case of streaming service, we've just expanded to Latin America and the Caribbean (to 43 new countries). In case of the DVD service, we're adding a new video games catalog.

DVD service is still growing - it probably won't grow at the same rate for very long, but right now, it's growing. Streaming, on the other hand, is growing at a phenomenal rate. Therefore it makes sense to not hold up the growth of one service for the other to catch up.

In the time (about 6 months) I've been at Netflix, the one thing I'll have to call out is the absolute, undeterred focus that the company has. Simply put, Netflix fundamentally believes that it's best to do one thing really, really, really well, than to do many things reasonably well. Splitting the streaming and DVD service isn't so much due to lack of ability to design the website to suit both options, but really as an indication that they are turning out to be different businesses altogether.


Emphasis added for the "DVDs are dying" crowd. Also, I'm not sure where folks are getting the "Hollywood wanted to charge Netflix for DVD-only subscribers" certainty. The idea seems to be coming from this link posted above, where the writer specifically begins that section with "I have no inside data here, this is just an educated guess." Does anyone have specific information that Hollywood was forcing Netflix to count DVD-only subscribers in "per-user" charges?
posted by mediareport at 2:23 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


"per-user" streaming charges, I mean
posted by mediareport at 2:26 PM on September 19, 2011


Does anyone have specific information that Hollywood was forcing Netflix to count DVD-only subscribers in "per-user" charges?

Well, before the latest set of pricing changes, there was no such thing as a DVD-only subscriber. You were either streaming-only, or DVD + streaming (and before that, the only option was DVD + streaming, no streaming-only). So any streaming pricing scheme based on subscribers rather than views was pretty painful
posted by smackfu at 2:34 PM on September 19, 2011


All Netflix-streaming had going for it was "less hassle than bittorrent".

I basically said this in the previous Netflix conversation: as a parent, Netflix streaming is all that and a bag of chips: Thomas the Tank Engine, Caloiou, Yo Gabba Gabba, Wonderpets, Dora, Blue's Clues, Sesame Street -- all the kid hits are there, in full catalog, My kid can watch them until he ages out of them and then move on to some other obsession. Streaming has saved me probably a thousand dollars in DVD purchases (even at resale prices) which I would just have to turn around and resell back. So, at least for the parent market, streaming is doing something right.

That being said, I'm very hard pressed to find something on streaming that I actually want to watch, although them having the new Dr Who has saved me from having to subscribe to BBC America, so I guess there's that.

But, yeah, shot themselves in the foot.
posted by anastasiav at 2:45 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Netflix can't afford a streaming content war
Netflix's move to rebrand its DVD-by-mail service as Qwikster sets that business up for a spin-off and underscores Netflix's longtime desire to go all-in on streaming. But it's a high-risk strategy: Streaming video has become a very expensive game.
posted by ericb at 2:46 PM on September 19, 2011


Who snatched 
Netflix's mojo?
First it was the new pricing fiasco. Now the corporate mea culpa and company split is taking a pounding. Something's wrong here.
posted by ericb at 2:47 PM on September 19, 2011


anastasiav . . . what!?!?!
There's no Muppet Show!

My son's education is incomplete due to this horrible oversight.
posted by Seamus at 2:48 PM on September 19, 2011


The case for the Netflix split
Reed Hastings doesn't want to be AOL or Yahoo. Here's why his radical plan should be applauded.
posted by ericb at 2:48 PM on September 19, 2011


So any streaming pricing scheme based on subscribers rather than views was pretty painful

Right, I guess I was wondering if we know for sure that Hollywood studios had gotten or were pushing for a "price/subscriber" deal with Netflix that included subscribers who didn't stream at all, or if Netflix had arranged some other sort of deal.
posted by mediareport at 3:04 PM on September 19, 2011


Here is where I saw it:
The disappearance of Sony’s movies resulted from a clause in the Starz agreement. According to people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because contract terms are confidential, it includes an undisclosed cap, which has recently been exceeded, on the number of people who can watch Sony movies online.
posted by smackfu at 3:11 PM on September 19, 2011


Oops, this link.
posted by smackfu at 3:12 PM on September 19, 2011


Rental DVDs in general make a lot less sense when you can buy any movie on DVD new for $25, and a lot of movies for $10, and a surprising amount of movies for $5.

I've never understood buying DVDs. The number of DVDs I would want to watch more than once is absolutely tiny. $25 is way too much. I can get two months of Netflix Qwikster for that much.

I did used to buy and re-sell used DVDs on a community newsgroup at one point. That was a pretty good deal and I usually broke even, except for all the extra time and inconvenience involved in trading the DVDs.
posted by grouse at 3:20 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The company had projected it would have 3 million DVD-only subscribers at the end of the third quarter, but now says it expects 2.2 million. Its estimate for streaming-only customers fell slightly to 9.8 million from 10 million. The company still expects 12 million people to pay for both services.

So, 12 million people are now paying double what they used to. It seems to me that subscribers went down but revenue per subscriber went up... so was it really a bad idea?


Company grows quickly and goes public. EPS are good, but profits are not great. P/E is sky high, based upon growth. User base begins to level off and company's new innovations are now based upon squeezing more money out of each subscriber; the "don't worry about the $$$, worry about the marketshare" mantra is gone. Company is then surprised that subscribers flee.

Grow or die. Welcome to the future, where every company is it's own bubble.
posted by roquetuen at 3:22 PM on September 19, 2011


an undisclosed cap, which has recently been exceeded, on the number of people who can watch Sony movies online

Maybe I'm being unclear or missing something, but the idea that Sony would have a cap on the number of people who can watch movies online appears to only count users who actually stream those movies. What I'm asking about is the assumption in some comments above that studios like Sony demanded that Netflix count users who *don't* stream at all, in some sort of payment scheme to the studios for streamed content.

That's what seems to be driving the "breaking up the two branches makes financial sense" argument in some comments above, and I'd like to know if there's any truth to it.
posted by mediareport at 3:30 PM on September 19, 2011


I've never understood buying DVDs. The number of DVDs I would want to watch more than once is absolutely tiny. $25 is way too much.

I actually overstated the costs there. First-run new DVD's on Amazon are $15-18, which is less than the ticket price to see a movie once in the theater as a couple.
posted by smackfu at 3:32 PM on September 19, 2011


but the idea that Sony would have a cap on the number of people who can watch movies online appears to only count users who actually stream those movies.

Isn't it the difference between "can watch" and "do watch"? "Can watch" is the number of subscribers total, "do watch" is the number of viewers.
posted by smackfu at 3:33 PM on September 19, 2011


First-run new DVD's on Amazon are $15-18, which is less than the ticket price to see a movie once in the theater as a couple.

Yeah, but it's more than getting the rental from Qwikster.
posted by grouse at 3:39 PM on September 19, 2011


Qwikster sounds like a spoon made out of delicious chocolate or strawberry or banana and you put it in your glass of milk and you stir it until it dissolves and you have chocolate milk and one less bit of washing up and you drink it and mmm, chocolate milk!
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:51 PM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Isn't it the difference between "can watch" and "do watch"?

Ok, there I was being unclear. I meant "The idea that Sony would have a cap on the number of people who watch its movies online only counts users who actually do watch." Again, what I'm wondering about is if Netflix ever had a contract with a studio that made it pay the studio for "subscribers" who didn't actually stream the films.

I haven't seen that yet and kind of doubt it's true, which significantly weakens for me the "splitting Netflix into two companies makes obvious, immediate financial sense" argument.
posted by mediareport at 4:01 PM on September 19, 2011


"Perhaps if/when Netflix streaming gives me the option to choose dubbed or subtitled shows, I might drop the DVD option."

There is that. On the one hand, I like (English) subtitles on English-language films so I don't have to turn the volume way up for dialogue and then way down again during action. On the other, I like dubbing on non-English-language films so I don't have to stare intently at the screen while watching a movie; I can actually look at other things in the room for a minute (or get up and get a drink of water) and not totally miss what's going on.

There's some subtitles on some streaming videos, but it's erratic, and occasionally much worse than the disc subtitling. (Watching Thunderball last night on streaming, the word "Right." appeared on screen through the whole underwater-frogmen-battle scene. WTF?)
posted by epersonae at 4:30 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I won't pretend to have read this whole thread. But I just want to mention that I am real happy with GreenCine.
posted by charlesminus at 5:54 PM on September 19, 2011


Wow, that's a word I haven't heard in a while.
posted by box at 6:23 PM on September 19, 2011


And Netflix will probably end up like the original incarnation of American Movie Classics, streaming old RKO movies that nobody's ever heard of because that's all that's left.

Just an interesting aside. My parents and sister came to visit recently, and apparently they've been pretty much exclusively using netflix streaming for movies. So when we watched a movie together, it was an independent film, Wristcutters. In fact, all of the recent movies they'd seen were independents.

There's no doubt that the large content producers want to own the consumer as much as possible. However, the difference between now and 20 years ago is there's a great deal more people able and willing to create their own films, and netflix is an attractive distribution option for them.

Plus, I don't think Big Media will be able to create a streaming infrastructure to compete with netflix or hulu. Remember last year when Viacom pulled the daily show and colbert off of hulu and made them only available on their own sites? Must not have worked out for them, since I see they're both back on Hulu now.
posted by heathkit at 7:04 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am real happy with GreenCine.

I just tried typing a few titles into the search box on Greencine's main page and got nothing except the main page again. Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but the search doesn't seem to do anything.

I also had trouble with long wait times for the few films I wanted to see (I joined because Netflix didn't have Sunrise, one of the greatest silent films ever, then quit when I kept getting told it was unavailable), but I realize that was because I was only at Greencine for fairly obscure titles, so I don't hold that against them. I was wondering if someone would mention them here. I'm willing to try again if I can figure out how their search works. Right now, "seventh seal" and "wristcutters" and "station agent" appear to do nothing.
posted by mediareport at 7:33 PM on September 19, 2011


What is the advantage of Quikster over Blockbuster? Blockbuster is much cheaper, blu-rays and games are included (not an add-on like with Quikster), and of course you can usually take the movies to a physical location if you want. When was the last time Blockbuster actually offered more than "A Netflix Company"?

It all hinges on whether or not the streaming product can get significantly better. One of the problems with this announcement is the last I heard about their streaming service they were losing a massive amount of content (Starz, and with it Sony and Disney). So it seems like an odd time to try to act as if "Netflix streaming is the future" when in the public perception it's just regressed.

Speaking of public perception, this is the worst pr mishap I've ever seen from Netflix. It's not an apology, it's "I'm sorry if you misunderstood/were offended". Rather than offering good to go along with the bad and sweeten things, they compound the negative changes. Repeatedly Hastings says this is better for the customers but does not give any reasons why, when all of the reasons it is worse are readily apparent.
posted by Danila at 7:35 PM on September 19, 2011


It is all about raising a ton of cash to develop content or buy it from studios and others. Spin off the portion of the business that they perceive as a cash cow to get money now. Then use this money to build subscribers and buy content. Publishers have huge stocks of content. They will license it to Hulu for a widow of time and then Netflix. They will put some on their own networks. This is similar to the model we have today in cable and network tv.

Another reason for doing this is to simplify the accounting and financial models. The DVD content acquisition cost model is going to be very different from content development an distribution rights licensing model. It has been my experience tha management can really only handle one financial model at a time. Otherwise each division tries for special treatment on their COGS and SGA.
posted by humanfont at 7:37 PM on September 19, 2011


nanojath said: It's genuinely interesting (and makes me almost feel for Netflix and the minefield it is trying to negotiate) browsing through a thread like this and seeing all the different lenses people view Netflix through

+1. This thread really is a fascinating view of how everyone uses streaming/DVD services.

Another few thoughts:

1. I also use the public library to get a hold of DVDs. I can pick them online, and while it takes several days, I can get a DVD sent to my local branch, all gratis. I live in a metro area and while they may not have many new releases, they have a fair amount of stuff wanted to see.

2. Blockbuster may in fact be better at this point, but the truth is that for some of us, Blockbuster stores have built up an astonishing history (~14 years in my case) of terrible service, gouging late fees, terrible selection, and editing for content that has pissed us off to the extent that the visage of a still-in-service Blockbuster store is ENRAGING. Seriously, there's one near my work and it makes me angry if I let it.

3. Yes, there are Mom and Pop video stores out there, but they tend to be so specific geographically that if you're not close to it, it's not an option. Here in San Diego Kensington Video used to be awesome, but I don't live close enough to it for it to be practical.

4. Netflix really will show you every direct to DVD piece of crap on the instant view. The key is to ban that crap at every opportunity. If there's some stupid rom-com you don't want to see, you have to train Netflix you don't want to see that stuff. It seems like work but it's really worth it. My parents used Netflix and watched a lot of dreck, but I did maybe 100 ratings reflecting their taste and instantly started to get better suggestions for them. Took a few minutes, and reaped great benefits.
posted by artlung at 7:51 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fact that Blockbuster is still around at all in some form is a small miracle.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:53 PM on September 19, 2011


NetFlix likes to boast about their unique performance management approach, i.e. "we're a pro-sports team, not a family", and how if you don't do a totally excellent job, you're fired. Looks like that really should have been applied to the CEO a while ago.

This is true. I have a close friend who interviewed there around June and was given an offer.

Several things they did set off alarm bells. First, they gave a presentation during the interview where they bragged about firing the bottom performing 20% each year. Online posts such as Netflix: A Culture of Fear back this up.

Second, they initially didn't give a salary quote on the job offer, since "that's the way we do things" (paraphrasing) and only after a strong request was one given. Salary negotiation was also frowned upon, with their excuse being, "we don't want people who don't really want to work here."

No real point behind this, just an overview of their corporate culture. But you're right, sounds like it doesn't really apply to the CEO though.
posted by formless at 8:08 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what is the best choice if I want a Netflix-like service for Blu Ray quality movies (which likely means Blu Ray discs in the mail) assuming that I want access to all of independent and smaller films, television, and blockbuster new releases.

For example, someone above mentioned streaming Wristcutters from Netflix. I streamed Wristcutters two weeks ago too! But I also got Tron: Legacy and Black Swan, neither of which can be streamed, and I'm not going to subscribe to a service where I can only get the former and neither of the latter. I can always get stuff like Wristcutters on Blu Ray or DVD but I can't stream the big pictures.

I keep getting shit from Amazon and so forth but I haven't bothered reading the ad copy nor look back at Blockbuster or the like. Which I guess is Netflix's real problem. These changes, necessary or otherwise, mean that people like me who had enough goodwill towards Netflix that we weren't even bothering to look at alternatives are now at least open to the idea of switching because of all this drama.

So what's my best choice now price and selection wise?
posted by Justinian at 8:15 PM on September 19, 2011


There's an AskMe on streaming alternatives.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:24 PM on September 19, 2011


None of the answers so far include both new releases and legality but we'll see how it goes.
posted by Justinian at 8:41 PM on September 19, 2011


I've been a Netflix member since July 2000. (It's my longest-standing online relationship, antedating my joining MetaFilter in August 2001.) I've rated 3,255 movies. I used to rate movies more often, but after the first couple thousand I realized my new ratings weren't making any difference in the recommendations I was getting.

Back in the day before everyone caught on I was basically an evangelist for Netflix, solely based on being a very satisfied customer. It makes me sad to see a company I once admired so much essentially conduct a graduate-level class this summer on how to destroy your company's reputation.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:11 PM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


>It makes me sad to see a company I once admired so much essentially conduct a graduate-level class this summer on how to destroy your company's reputation.<

Yeah, we had a lot of trouble with the Borders closing too.
posted by bongo_x at 9:26 PM on September 19, 2011


None of the answers so far include both new releases and legality but we'll see how it goes.

I don't know how these hold up, quality and reputationwise, but two DVD by mail rental sites I know of are:

Facets Multimedia, of Chicago (users must live in the US - terms of usage)

Green Cine, which I know nothing of, save that it pops up every now and then when talking about services.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:49 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


And Blockbuster also has a rental by mail plan, with some additional extras that Netflix has yet to implement.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:52 PM on September 19, 2011


Green Cine, which I know nothing of, save that it pops up every now and then when talking about services.

I used Green Cine for a year or so in the mid-UhOhs. Compared to the Netflix of the time it had more obscure movies, but a longer turn-around time.

Of course, that was over half a decade ago.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:11 PM on September 19, 2011


So I read this whole thread throughout the day and I think one important thing that has only been mentioned lightly is the global potential of streaming vs. the much more limited mailing of DVDs (especially considering region restrictions!). Maybe Netflix is betting on a growing consumer class outside of the US or perhaps betting against a failing one inside it. I think there is truth to many of the analyses and the decision to proceed as they did probably encompassed many of these things. Yes the streaming and DVD models have different management structures and growth potentials so it makes sense to separate them (it could even be a branding hedge in case one tanks). Also, yes, the execs of netflix probably have been a bit blinded by their original vision of internet-provided movies, considering it takes some devotion to name your company "net"flix before most people even have access to the internet... maybe they feel so close they want to jump forward and grasp their original vision and that makes them think they can overcome the problems of prevalent competition, shrewd content providers, poor internet access for many people (not to mention bandwidth caps), and the general economic turmoil lots of people are in.

Personally I think netflix has an ace up its sleeve, a reason for doing this otherwise questionable series of decisions, a reason for betting all its chips on the newer, less stable form of its service and giving up the dominant position in holds in DVD by mail. Maybe it has already made a slick deal and is biding its time for the big reveal. Maybe its DVD distribution costs are higher than it lets on or will be soon. But really, netflix has been a pretty decent company for quite a long time and I don't see them making a sloppy, quick move just because they want to move faster than we think they should. There is something they know... or think they know. I am skeptical, but I won't write them off yet.
posted by Wyatt at 12:12 AM on September 20, 2011


The Oatmeal weighed in on this as well. For me, I was primarily using Netflix disc + streaming just for the Bluray shipments. I might fit into a small niche I suppose, but while the DVD market is dying, there's really no thrifty way to watch high quality HD other than through Bluray. Streaming simply doesn't cut it. Oh well...
posted by samsara at 5:52 AM on September 20, 2011


what!?!?!
There's no Muppet Show!


Well, true, however I'd already bought those for me before my kid was even born, so it didn't occur to me that was a problem. :-)
posted by anastasiav at 7:56 AM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


D-': Goddamnit. I actually make a point to watch those weird B and D movies that some of you have complained about (but then, I'm weird).
Gotta say though, popular movies might be played more but, at least from my observation, it's the odd, weird, off-the-wall, cult classic, often SciFi type movies that are the most fun and most replayed in my group of friends.

I guess it's time to start slowing buying the oddball DVDs I enjoy, so I'm not left out in the cold soon, eh? I'll give Qwikster (wtf?) a chance, but I might also subscribe to some indie movie mail service...

(Damn damn damn damn damn.)
posted by DisreputableDog at 8:34 AM on September 20, 2011


Green Cine, which I know nothing of, save that it pops up every now and then when talking about services.

I used GreenCine a lot when I lived in San Francisco. The library is great, and includes "adult" (NFSW) films (unfortunately useless if you live in any of these 7,881 zip codes), but often times I couldn't get a lot of the more recent, bigger independent movies. However, turnaround time for movies was about the same (new movie arrives 2 days after mailing last one out.)

Starz has made it pretty clear that they're unwilling to let Netflix stream their movies for any price. Same for HBO. These are premium cable channels who are bound and determined to use the same "customer pays extra to us to see our content" model for streaming over the Internet.

That's what I kinda see as the problem for Netflix. It's not simple, but it seems like movie/TV studios could stream their own movies on their own sites, with ads for free, older content, and tiered subscription services (genres, years, etc.) for newer stuff. A bit of a commitment, but maybe more money (and less hassle) than licensing.

Whether the outcome will be as he predicts remains to be seen, but I'll wager that a lot of money is going to be freed up by shutting down the DVD side of things, and so the crap name approach is a wise one. Plus, now they can have a website that makes it extremely difficult/unpleasant to sign up, to prevent their DVD numbers from going up.

This might be a stupid question, but why not just shut it down then?

do you think the convenience of streaming over DVDs is worth $90 a month?

Depends on how good the pornography (SFW) is.

popular movies might be played more but, at least from my observation, it's the odd, weird, off-the-wall, cult classic, often SciFi type movies that are the most fun and most replayed in my group of friends.

Aphrodisiac! The Sexual Secret Of Marijuana
posted by mrgrimm at 8:42 AM on September 20, 2011


It's interesting to see hardly anyone mention Apple. Seems like they're in the best negotiating position against the studios, and they have a working pay per view implementation (that is supposedly the way the studios want to go). I've been wondering, though, if Apple's relationship with studios is going to deteriorate after Steve Jobs has stepped down. He's just one guy, and Apple is more than Steve--but I just can't help thinking that a major Disney/Pixar shareholder gets listened to than "just" a CEO of a company that buys content. Sort of a more equal footing, if you will.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 12:29 PM on September 20, 2011


... a major Disney/Pixar shareholder gets listened to ...

Even more so, since he is its largest individual shareholder (7.3%).
posted by ericb at 12:59 PM on September 20, 2011


Imagine how amazing Netflix Instant View will be when it exceeds the quality of the box of VHS tapes I have out in the garage.

Netflix's DVD service far exceeds, in selection or value, anything else on the market. If they sell that portion off, I hope my queue is intact, because I'm picking DVDs.

Streaming may be the future, but that picture quality and constant rebuffering over here on the business end of a Comcast cable connection means that the future still isn't here. The selection on the Instant View portion is a microscopic percentage of the DVD collection. I can wait two days for a new DVD.
posted by phoebus at 1:35 PM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sure on the "DVDs, at least for now" end of the spectrum. Linux compatibility, selection, subtitles or CC on almost every title, and the ability to alter the playback speed (vlc/mplayer) are among the killer features that streaming doesn't have. (don't knock watching at 120% speed until you've tried it—knock 7 minutes of wall time off a 42-minute tv episode without losing anything! vlc and mplayer can do this while preserving the pitch of the audio, too!)

Combine it with the fact that streaming quality and reliability on 1.5Mb/s DSL (to wii) stinks. In streaming, you can't seek back 5 seconds to re-hear a line of dialog without a (sometimes minutes long!) wait!

I did entertain the idea of upgrading my net connection, but when I realized I'm otherwise satisfied with the speed of the internet and looked at the increased cost as all netflix streaming cost, it was obviously a nutty idea.

And when DVDs go out of style, and streaming on Linux is still vaporware, and I cancel my subscriptions: yay! I look forward to being one of those people who says "is this something I'd have to have a Streamololo.com subscription to understand?" in popular entertainment threads.
posted by jepler at 2:04 PM on September 20, 2011


Netflix streaming is pretty great on an Apple TV. No complaints about quaity.
posted by smackfu at 2:45 PM on September 20, 2011


That's what I kinda see as the problem for Netflix. It's not simple, but it seems like movie/TV studios could stream their own movies on their own sites, with ads for free, older content, and tiered subscription services (genres, years, etc.) for newer stuff. A bit of a commitment, but maybe more money (and less hassle) than licensing.

Sony is, via Crackle.com. Selection's small, and the commercial breaks are numerous. Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM are behind epix, which is a cable channel that comes bundled with a streaming service. The streaming service can be sampled for a couple of weeks.

The promise of Netflix and Hulu to the consumer is one location through which all TV and movies as most think of them are easily and cheaply accessed online and on one's TV. Instead, we're watching everyone retreat into established business models because fear of the unknown and lust for known short term profit models. The balkanization can only increase.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:19 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem is that the consumer doesn't want to manage a dozen accounts to stream their media. Most times, I will go without (or wait for DVD) rather than deal with yet another subscription, hence the need for a consolidator such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or even Tivo.

Which is why the assorted members of the MPAA should get there heads out of their asses and make it happen already. As it stands now they are missing out on millions of dollars. Netflix was collecting all that money falling from the sky for them but they got greedy and shortly that stream will dry up or at least be severely restricted. Each company will set up there own system that will cost them a lot of money to run and probably won't garner them significant additional revenue.

The movie studios and content delivery companies can't be blind to this. I expect that common sense and profit motive will encourage them to reach license deals.

Good luck with that if the history of media companies is anything to go by. Cripes historically the hardware side of Sony can't even get the media side of Sony to unclench enough to help the umbrella company. Some one will have to step up and put a gun to their heads the way Apple did to the RIAA members before things will get better rather than worse.
posted by Mitheral at 3:29 PM on September 20, 2011


The problem is that the consumer doesn't want to manage a dozen accounts to stream their media.

And we want it simple and easy to watch on our TVs.


Now that things like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and South Park Studios exist, it seems like there's a whole new market for a WebTV/ComputerTV analogue. (I remember taking about 8 hours to download a 50MB file of The Spirit of Christmas @ work ... 13-15 years ago?) Or has the notebook/mac mini market taken that market share?

I use a standard Windows desktop + TV; it's pretty simple to hook/unhook. And even my fairly cheap TV has a robust set of standard/digital video inputs (though I'm sure any MacBook would need a $20 converter ;) Do people forget that most PCs also play DVDs?

The promise of Netflix and Hulu to the consumer is one location through which all TV and movies as most think of them are easily and cheaply accessed online and on one's TV. Instead, we're watching everyone retreat into established business models because fear of the unknown and lust for known short term profit models. The balkanization can only increase.

So our options are monopolization or balkanization? How can we expect consumers to get all their TV and movies from one location?

I don't even understand how Hulu or Netflix can market themselves as the "one stop shop for all your streaming video needs" when competitors have different content? No one will be able to compete with YouTube for breadth of coverage anyway.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:18 PM on September 20, 2011


10 things to remember about Netflix while scratching your head about Qwikster.
posted by ericb at 10:13 PM on September 20, 2011


This tweet is pure genius:

I'm thinking Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, was the victim of an "Inception" plot.
posted by baejoseph at 11:52 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


From ericb's link:

As before, Netflix’s biggest challenge is now to get more streaming content to make the service better, while preserving its value. Part of that means it needs to convince studios to stream more of their best content through Netflix. (Some of that content is still only available on a plastic disc.)

Emphasis mine. That last sentence is why this is change is a big pain in the ass for me. Movie-wise, I'm pretty much a "long tail" kind of person. I watch a big hollywood movie once in a while, but at least 90 percent of what I watch is obscure art house and foreign movies that never get theater showings outside of film festivals. Right now, most of those films are dvd only; a streaming service that doesn't go deep into those kinds of films is worthless to me.

Having the streaming and dvd queues linked works well, though, as others have said. When a dvd becomes available by streaming, it magically shows up in the other queue, and I'm a happy camper. There is no chance of me maintaining two separate services and running searches every few weeks for a couple hundred films in the hopes that one or two might have become available.

For someone in my particular situation, this is a very premature move, to split the services before the streaming catalog is deep enough to work as a primary source. For someone with very different movie interests, though, I can see it working a lot better.
posted by Forktine at 5:37 AM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes, what forktine said!

The lure of Netflix was "essentially everything on DVD". Accurate or not, that is the image that they presented, and I bought into it. Of course, the reality has always been that there are gaps—you probably won't have to look too hard to find something that is "in print" on DVD, but only has a "save" button for DVD customers. Still, 95% of what I could buy on new optical media is there on Netflix for that fixed cost per month.

But this new, streaming-only netflix, what does it have? 5% of everything on DVD? 10%? 1%? It's more about what netflix doesn't have than what it does.
posted by jepler at 7:04 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here’s where Netflix screwed up this whole Qwikster thing - I think that some of the people who are scratching their heads about the response to Hasting's post are focusing on the content, and missing the medium.
posted by muddgirl at 7:11 AM on September 21, 2011


"I watch a big hollywood movie once in a while, but at least 90 percent of what I watch is obscure [stuff]"

Thing is, though: even the big hollywood movies aren't all that well represented on Netflix. Monday I looked up the top 10 grossing movies of 2010 and then checked which were on streaming. Three of those movies are available on streaming, the other eight are disc only. So even people with fairly mainstream taste in movies are likely to be disappointed.
posted by epersonae at 7:49 AM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


How Netflix Is Losing Its Evangelists.
posted by ericb at 11:48 AM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Netflix has lost $7 billion in stock value in 1 month... my theory why they are breaking up into 2 brands Quikster/Netflix is so that they can finally integrate with stupid old facebook. Hastings the CEO of Netflix is on Facebook (and Microsofts) Board of Directors and b/c of a law involving movie rentals from the 1980s they aren't able to publicly disclose movie rental histories... which means legally they can't have a cheesie login with facebook or share with friends on Netflix. With the 2 brands I don't think streaming counts as rentals and finally Hastings will have his way of marrying the 2 services. = FAIL (are people saying that b/c calling him a dumbfuck works as well)
posted by matimer at 2:03 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


So even people with fairly mainstream taste in movies are likely to be disappointed.

Even old TBS movie mainstream stuff is underrepresented. Ghostbusters? No. Pretty Woman? No. Ghost? No. Footloose, Flashdance? No, no. Sixteen Candles, Breakfast, Pretty in Pink? No, no, no.
posted by smackfu at 6:05 AM on September 22, 2011


I now find myself wondering what other names were being kicked around if Qwikster is the one they picked.... SpeeDVD? Discus? Did some kind of Zitzlers/Tasticles/Popplers situation lead to this awful name?
posted by heatvision at 10:48 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


They've got Ghostbusters 2.

Wait I think I screwed this up...
posted by griphus at 10:49 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I now find myself wondering what other names were being kicked around if Qwikster is the one they picked.... SpeeDVD? Discus? Did some kind of Zitzlers/Tasticles/Popplers situation lead to this awful name?

One of the articles linked here mentioned that they probably wanted to pick a name that didn't suggest movies (because they are going to start including games), DVDs (because they may use other formats), or mailing (because who knows they may stop mailing out stuff). Which means they can only use the most vague, random sounding names possible. Something non-stupid sounding like Netflix DVD would make a lot more sense and probably would have been received a lot better, but it doesn't fit those requirements.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:28 AM on September 22, 2011


I now find myself wondering what other names were being kicked around ...

As mentioned in the How Netflix Is Losing Its Evangelists article (above), 'Netflix DVD' would have been appropriate.
"Qwikster. This is a difficult name to like. It doesn't come with positive emotional connotation, does it? According to [The company's vice president of corporate communications, Steve] Swasey, 'It's still a wholly owned Netflix company. It's a subsidiary. It's branded Qwikster, A Netflix Company, so everybody knows. It's got the same red envelope, only with a different name on it. It's Qwikster instead of Netflix.'

Why not call the new business Netflix DVD? Same red envelopes, same red Netflix! We don't see Apple trying spin off its iPhone or Mac business. We also don't see Amazon looking to remove the Kindle from its core retail business. Rather, these companies are rightfully leveraging their success in one category into results in others. With this move Netflix forces distance between its two units, as well as between itself and its customers."
posted by ericb at 12:28 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the name Qwikster, for what it's worth. For some reason, it reminds me of Kozmo, so it accomplishes the delivery connotation at least.

Would you prefer MailedMedia? No.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:30 PM on September 22, 2011


ericb, that was the article that made me start thinking of it that way.

Would you prefer MailedMedia?

Personally, yes. That sounds dignified and serious, and like it might have porn in it someday. Qwikster sounds like a creature from Pokemon.
posted by heatvision at 1:49 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


USPS would probably have a pretty strong anti-trademark (Media Mail) suit for that name though.
posted by Mitheral at 2:01 PM on September 22, 2011


Netflix has lost $7 billion in stock value in 1 month... my theory why they are breaking up into 2 brands Quikster/Netflix is so that they can finally integrate with stupid old facebook. Hastings the CEO of Netflix is on Facebook (and Microsofts) Board of Directors and b/c of a law involving movie rentals from the 1980s they aren't able to publicly disclose movie rental histories... which means legally they can't have a cheesie login with facebook or share with friends on Netflix. With the 2 brands I don't think streaming counts as rentals and finally Hastings will have his way of marrying the 2 services. = FAIL (are people saying that b/c calling him a dumbfuck works as well)

Wow. Way to call that one.

Help us Bring Facebook Sharing to Netflix USA
posted by Big_B at 2:15 PM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ha that was some quick turnaround ... obviously I won't be contacting my congressman about this grave injustice.
posted by matimer at 4:15 PM on September 22, 2011


Former Netflixer describes how the split might be evidence of Netflix's focus
posted by artlung at 8:22 AM on September 28, 2011


Well, I dumped both Netflix AND Facebook in the past couple of weeks, not to mention cleaned out my garage. September's shaping up to be a pretty good month for making life progress.
posted by darkstar at 7:55 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So maybe not: Netflix Abandons Plans to Rent DVDs on Qwikster. Or, um, are we talking about this somewhere else now?
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:25 AM on October 10, 2011


So maybe not: Netflix Abandons Plans to Rent DVDs on Qwikster. Or, um, are we talking about this somewhere else now?

Dumbasses.
posted by odinsdream at 5:58 AM on October 10, 2011


It's so weird to see a major corporation just reeling around all confused and lost like this. Since we've been talking about Steve Jobs so much lately, try to imagine Apple handling a controversial change like this, and seeming this hasty, off-balance, and unsure of itself.

are we talking about this somewhere else now?

Open thread is open.

posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:14 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm glad they changed their minds, because it was a fantastically dumb idea and would have made my life a tiny bit more headachy. But like HR says, it is very strange to see them stumbling around like this, apparently totally clueless. Apple has had its own failures, but they usually managed to give a public impression of decisiveness, at least, instead of this lurching and thrashing around.
posted by Forktine at 6:20 AM on October 10, 2011


Reed keeps it short and sweet this time; I particularly enjoy the "our streaming selection doesn't suck as bad as you think it does" bit towards the end:

Monday, October 10, 2011

DVDs will be staying at netflix.com

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password… in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.

We’re constantly improving our streaming selection. We’ve recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we’ve added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

We value our members, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get movies & TV shows.

Thank you.

-Reed


I feel bad for all the Netflix drones who've been working on Quikster-specific projects over the past three weeks. So much excitement! So much change! So much never mind!
posted by mediareport at 6:33 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, and the first comment is golden:

Couldn't pry the "Qwikster" Twitter account away from that stoner, eh?
posted by mediareport at 6:35 AM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Makes me wonder how much they spent on the new labels.

Here, have some Coke, it is sweeter than the Classic Coke in fact it is more like Pepsi.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:24 AM on October 10, 2011


Sometimes not announcing your shit idea to the rest of the world is a good idea.
posted by ob at 7:26 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, it would have been a much better process to spend millions of dollars and workyears bringing up Qwikster infrastructure and ad campaigns at which point change is inevitable because of sunken costs.
posted by pwnguin at 9:18 AM on October 10, 2011


I think it's time Reed Hastings was shown the door. I get that he co-founded the company, and that shouldn't be overlooked, but he's made some real bonehead moves lately. Bring in some new blood before it's too late. Preferably somebody who groks the web and Netflix's place in it, and not a starchy old suit.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:20 AM on October 10, 2011


Email from Netflix this morning:

Dear Joe,

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.

We're constantly improving our streaming selection. We've recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we've added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

We value you as a member, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get your movies & TV shows.

Respectfully,

The Netflix Team
posted by artlung at 9:43 AM on October 10, 2011


Doh! Missed that someone posted that already.

As to whether this means Netflix is confused, yes, well, they are. They're in the end a middleman, and beholden to other interests. I think that makes it harder for them to truly control their own destiny.
posted by artlung at 9:45 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


They are "done with price changes"? Like, forever? That doesn't sound sustainable.
posted by muddgirl at 9:45 AM on October 10, 2011


Done with price changes until the next "oops, I messed up" letter from Hastings.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:49 AM on October 10, 2011


Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we've added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

It sounds like they negotiated a bunch of agreements in these few weeks since Qwikster was announced? Were those agreements predicated on the split between streaming and DVD-by-mail? Are those contracts now in question?

Jesus, what a mess...
posted by naju at 9:50 AM on October 10, 2011


And to insinuate some conspiracy stuff - was Qwikster announced JUST so that some favorable agreements could happen? And they knew it wouldn't be permanent all along?
posted by naju at 9:53 AM on October 10, 2011


Well there is still a clear separation between customers who opt into streaming and customers who only want DVDs. They should be able to disclose those numbers without having to make two completely different companies.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:53 AM on October 10, 2011


Let's give credit for this victory where victory is due. Way to go, #occupywallstreet!
posted by piratebowling at 10:10 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ugh. What a disaster. I think maybe I'll burn through my DVD queue and cancel everything until this shit gets straightened out.
posted by Justinian at 12:44 PM on October 10, 2011


Doesn't bode well. This uncoordinated lurching and backpaddling will make decent streaming license deals from the majors even harder to get, now that they smell blood.

Here's hoping I can still get DVDs by mail in three years.
posted by echo target at 12:54 PM on October 10, 2011


Hm, and at this moment the Netflix Blog seems to not have comments. Don't I remember people mentioning mocking comments as recently as mediareport's comment a few short hours ago?
posted by jepler at 1:03 PM on October 10, 2011


Next up for reeling Netflix: Damage control.
posted by ericb at 1:09 PM on October 10, 2011


If I was into conspiracies, I'd say that there's one hell of a stock pumping scam going on somewhere. Reminds me of some of the more inventive Gilded Age insider stock manipulation rings, like the Erie Railroad under Fisk and Gould.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:35 PM on October 10, 2011


"When they split the company, they did it in such a way that nobody understood precisely how it was going to work, and that confusion led to a degradation in terms of the brand," Passikoff says.
I agree with this exactly. Putting aside the name (which is a problem unto itself), something as drastic as splitting apart two related-in-our-mind-services shouldn't be casually announced via an apologetic email. The corporate response to questions should make it clear that all contingencies have been thought out, and that the company (at least pretends) to care about customers. The most troublesome comment from Hastings (which was later deleted) made it clear that he hadn't considered the fact that people would have to search both netflix and qwickster separately for the same movie! Isn't "customer experience" supposed to be a fundamental part of the Netflix brand?

The way it was announced made it seem like Qwickster was a hasty and thoughtless decision to segregate their DVD operation before killing it off - that's not something that can go over well with consumers. Netflix insiders have insisted that it wasn't hasty or thoughtless, so why wasn't the announcement withheld until it could be presented in a consumer-empowering way? The message should have been, "Quickster will do a better job at renting DVDs by mail," not "people who rent DVDs are obsolete and don't deserve our attention."
posted by muddgirl at 1:51 PM on October 10, 2011


Dear Warbaby,

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.

We're constantly improving our streaming selection. We've recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we've added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

We value you as a member, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get your movies & TV shows.

Respectfully,

The Netflix Team
posted by warbaby at 2:36 PM on October 10, 2011


hit post too soon: I'm still waiting for the explanation of the first explanation explaining why they made this blunder in the first place.
posted by warbaby at 2:39 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those responsible for the explanation of the explanation have been sacked.
posted by Justinian at 2:57 PM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hm, and at this moment the Netflix Blog seems to not have comments. Don't I remember people mentioning mocking comments as recently as mediareport's comment a few short hours ago?

I thought that was odd too, but chocked it up to a heavily modified and restricted browser on my work comp. No one else sees comments either?
posted by Big_B at 3:35 PM on October 10, 2011


I have only had Netflix since February and I was a bit upset that they were going to screw up something that's working so surprisingly well for me. Since the only reliable broadband I can get is wireless, and every available plan is capped, I can get 10x the video on little plastic disks in the mail than I could dare try to stream, and it's higher quality. The price hike was a price drop for me, and made it much more reasonable to splurge on 2 disks out at a time.

Back when this first broke someone posted an article (which I can't find right now) explaining that this was in character for Reed, as when they decided to stop selling DVD's (even though sales were 90% of their income at the time) and focus on the future, which was rentals. This allowed them to streamline everything and ultimately led to the no late fee model they use today.

So this was meant to be a similar move, only now the future is streaming. The problem is that Netflix doesn't control the streaming license situation and isn't going to soon. Half the fun of the DVD service is that they can get almost anything. When the MeFi thread about Dogtooth popped up, I was watching the movie within a couple of days. That sort of thing is never going to be possible with streaming; it would require all of the studios and their other customers to sort out a many-layered interwoven complex of license terms that also involve the theatre, cable, physical DVD, and broadcast TV industries.

Netflix could become what it is in DVD's because once you create a DVD it's a physical object that is owned, and you can't take it back. Licenses expire, fees change, and exclusivity clauses must be honored. Netflix isn't nearly powerful enough to force all those diverse entities to the bargaining table and make them play nice. Streaming might be a better way to satisfy a client's sudden desire to see a particular movie, but it will be a long time before it can offer anything resembling the universal catalog available on DVD.
posted by localroger at 3:56 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Big_B, I can see comments at the Netflix blog - 618 showing now, first one is still the one quoted abovethread, can you see it from the direct link?
posted by oh yeah! at 5:11 PM on October 10, 2011


Oh duh. I had the facebook plugins blocked....
posted by Big_B at 7:35 PM on October 10, 2011


Oh, yeah, apparently ghostery is blocking the facebook comments. I had tried deactivating adblock on that page, and when I still didn't have comments I assumed there weren't any.
posted by jepler at 7:00 AM on October 11, 2011


Netflix sold DVDs? I remember when they rented DVDs a week at a time. I also remember their early web 0.9 pages. I don't remember them selling DVDs.
posted by wierdo at 11:44 AM on October 11, 2011


I remember netflix selling used DVDs, but that was a feature that came and went during my time as a customer (which was already into the 'unlimited dvds, no late fees' stage of the game)
posted by jepler at 11:54 AM on October 11, 2011


Yes ... they sold used DVDs. I bought some from them.
posted by ericb at 2:10 PM on October 11, 2011


jepler wrote: I remember netflix selling used DVDs, but that was a feature that came and went during my time as a customer (which was already into the 'unlimited dvds, no late fees' stage of the game

Ah, they probably started doing it after I ditched them the first time.
posted by wierdo at 3:57 PM on October 11, 2011


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