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I've been a customer since April 2002
Published on September 24, 2011 By Philocthetes In Everything Else

So, last Monday, along with all of you who are also customers, I received a truly annoying (pathetic?) mass email from Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. Mr. Hastings called it an "explanation," but I'm still waiting for an apology for this message that had the word "apology" tucked into the bottom, snugly wrapped in an overall tone of arrogance.

My concern is not really about the price hikes. They vexed me because I hadn't been interested in streaming and was suddenly told it was part of my plan and a reason for a price hike. But I gave it a try and found it to be an OK supplement to the disc service.

During the months when I tried to get with the program and accept 'the future,' I watched a steady series of changes to the site reduce usability for those of us who still have no use for touch interfaces. I also watched a ridiculous amount of churn in the availability of a still-underwhelming catalog. Never once have I seen a Netflix streamed title come close to the audio and video quality of the average disc from their service, and I've watched stuff coming over ludicrous bandwidth in other households. Streaming burps and outright network failures far outnumber the times I've had to report an unplayable disc, and a couple of thousand discs have moved through my household since 2002.

But they had a large reserve of 'customer loyalty capital' to burn though, so I kept on trying to look for the positives and adapt to changes in the site UI. Then comes this "explanation" from Hastings, announcing the plan to dump the original customer base into a re-branding that sounds like a breakfast beverage and spackle the Netflix name onto a new, separate streaming service. 

I'm not a business person, but I've read plenty about business successes and failures, particularly IT-based endeavors. This reads to me like yet another case where common sense has been trumped by PowerPoint-addled marketing people. The name change alone will keep reminding me to check competitors, and I'll jump ship the first time I find another decent catalog that can also match the delivery efficiency of 'roots' Netflix. The only reason for the change I've read that makes sense to me is the rumour that they are planning to sell the new Twitster division after they complete the separation. If that actually happens, I suggest that the new owner ditch the upcoming stupid brand and call itself something like Realflix or Betterflix. If their lawyers can defend it...


Comments
on Sep 24, 2011

The rebranding seemed a bit backwards since DVD-by-mail was their primary service. I've subbed for streaming off and on over the past few years they've had it but they have yet to get serious about improving their selection, so I just dropped it again. Hulu, Youtube, and Crunchyroll have everything I care to watch anyway.

on Sep 24, 2011

I will adopt a wait and see attitude myself.

on Sep 25, 2011

I was in wait-and-see mode from the time I first read PR stuff about Netflix deciding that streaming was 'the future.' This recent business of splitting the business has pushed me to finally start thinking about life after Netflix as I once knew and loved it. 

I'm certainly not going back to broadcast, or even to a DVR-based addiction to the latest content on 'my own schedule.' I don't care whether something was just released or whether it was made before sound was an option for filmmakers. 

The idea of a subscription library is hardly new, but the technology behind the rise of Netflix was new and their original notion of a USPS-based digital video subscription library was brilliant. Now, an even newer class of technology seems poised to put quantity first at the expense of both quality and variety, which is also sadly a far from new thing. So maybe I'm still fully in wait-and-see mode, but I've shifted to deeply pessimistic expectations. It's a technological determinist thing, and hence usually a bit depressing.

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