Thursday, September 22, 2011

Netflix thoughts

Someone shared the Dear Netflix page in my Facebook stream, and for those of you that cannot read it don't worry I'm going to summarize here shortly.  The gist of this open letter is that Netflix is changing their business model, and the changes themselves could have been swallowed (with one exception) had the company been earnest with what they are doing and upfront about why they where doing it.  This is a company that has enjoyed enormous goodwill from its customers, their growth over the last few years is a testament to how much it users told their friends about how great Netflix was.  You simply cannot buy that mind-share and marketing.  Users loved that it was affordable, and easy to use.  We felt like it was good bang for our buck and we used it, oh did we use it.  When it was just a DVD by mail service it was still miles ahead of Blockbuster.  I basically stopped going there because Netflix was so convenient, you can see the affect that had on Blockbuster in the real world.

The changes to the streaming policy make a deal of sense because that move was really more about fairness, we got away with working the system for a long time and that was not a dick move on Netflix's part.  The dick move was saying that it had always been that way, when everyone knows that was not the case.  We did multiple simultaneous streams to our houses, we know it used to work.  I think that Netflix could have easily justified this saying that you are not paying for multiple streams and the ramping up of streaming is affecting the cost structure, they needed to make these changes to keep it fair for both parties.  If you want multiple streams all you have to do is choose a plan with more, or open accounts for the just streaming users.  It happens, and this wasn't so unfair that I would complain had it been handled better.  It would have been a grumble grumble thing, but a you took away my streaming (they 'ook our 'treaming as a side note to a side note damn South Park for making this type of thing pop into my head).

Just jacking up the prices was bad enough for several customers, but again all by itself the move wasn't the worst news ever. They way they communicated it as giving us more value when they didn't announce a slew of new content at the same time as the price increase was announced made the "value" doublespeak hard to swallow and I believe a large part of the backlash against the price hike was related to Netflix speaking out the side of it's mouth and not being upfront about hey the costs of this business are increasing and we are not going to be able to deliver this service at this price. People don't like to be lied to, much less about things that are pretty easy for them to suss out. You raised the price and didn't give me anything for it, that isn't value. Pretty simple, even people that didn't go to college can do the arithmetic on this. The more important arithmetic was how the street reacted to their announcement, or how wallstreet reacted to the customer reaction maybe, it's hard to differentiate the two.

The final bone to pick here is the incomprehensible decision to increase the burden of use for the users by separating their queues into separate sites. Enter the clusterfuck known as Qwikster. A few people that I have talked to that are in the tech world also find this mindnumbingly stupid. You are taking a vertically integrated company and spinning a chunk of that company out, ok fine. Now you are saying they will be so separate that you cannot manage you queue from the same website? Have you worked in code, you could collaborate some you know? In an era where companies are constantly trying to make it easier to use their services Netflix cum Qwikster thinks bollocks to user experience bring on the cash train, oh but we can do a single invoice because accounting (that must be in charge of software development to make this make sense) knows how to do cash transfers from one company to another. Then buried in that apology for being an ass is Reed Hastings continuing to be an ass saying this will be better for you.

Fuck you Reed, this isn't better. It really makes me sad to watch a service that I have been with for quite some time now tearing itself to pieces in an effort to do something. So they won't become Barnes and Noble or some such shit. Someone else is going to have to enter this market and unify the experience, I don't know who but you've made a cock-up of it and I hope your board sees it that way too. Stop fucking with something that was working beautifully, something we where happy to pay for month after month. In spite of how long the DVD's sit on our tables waiting for us to watch them, streaming is easy and we do it often DVD's seem like a lot of work for some reason and we don't watch them as often. To bad they are the only way to watch way too large a percentage of your catalogue.


  1. Anonymous10:28 AM

    I'm the first one who is going to pay for view a movie in high quality when I want to watch it and not spend half night looking for a good version without people biting popcorn and laughing their asses of.

    Is the future.

  2. Yeah this whole netflix thing is ridiculous. I was just about to sign up...then they changed their model. Homeboy aint playin that game.