I’m sure many of you received the email from Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix, this morning. If you did not, essentially, what was put across is a fairly sincere apology for the little notice given in regards to the price hike that cost the company 1 million subscribers over the past few months and the announcement that streaming and DVD services will now be completely split. Streaming will continue with the Netflix name, whereas DVD services will go by the name Qwikster. Furthermore, the the two entities will have separate Web sites and NOT be integrated in their directory content lists.
When the substantial price hike and billing split between Netflix services occurred a few months ago, I didn’t get too upset. I merely reduced my DVD intake from three DVDs to two, which I could have stood to do earlier since I have some DVDs that sit on the counter for months at a time. Another reason you can’t get too mad at Netflix for this price hike is that it really isn’t their fault. They are trying to provide the best content to the general public and, to do so, they have to work with the studios and distribution legs of the television companies that produce the content. For those of you who don’t know, distribution companies do not like services like Netflix; services that provide content the way a consumer enjoys, cheaply and easily. Why, you ask? Because services like Hulu, Netflix, On Demand, etc. cut into their DVD sales which is a huge profit maker for film and television production companies. So, to remedy their “loss”, they push the licensing fees up regularly to companies like Netflix, making it almost impossible for them to provide all the content consumers want at a low price. The same problems hit cable companies as well and that’s a large part of the reason our cable bills go up and up and up. So, if you really want someone to bitch to concerning the price hike, call one of five major media entities that control 98% of your content, those being: Viacom, Disney, NBC/Universal, NewsCorps and Time Warner.
Now, for the second part of Reed Hastings’s letter. The separation of streaming and DVD seems a little silly to me. Isn’t Netflix supposed to be a company that provides Media Content in general? Why they have to specify this and separate divisions of the company is beyond me. It’s like buying a a DVD and the cover art/case being sold separately; it just makes no sense! But, if you can get past the illogical point of contention in this decision and just accept it, then you get to the real problem. That being, why are they not going to integrate the sites? In the new format, Netflix.com and Qwikster.com will be COMPLETELY separate. So, if you want to look up if they have a certain movie, you will have to first check their streaming site and then check their DVD site for the title. Why kill the ease of use for a consumer? As consumers, we care about two things: cost and ease of usability. I can understand and accept the cost issue being out of Netflix’s hands, but to give us one more step to go through when we want to watch or find content to watch is preposterous.
Reed Hastings was brave enough to open the blog posting that mirrored his email to comments, and I admire him for that. I just hope he will listen to these comments. I love Netflix and its service and I hope they will be around for a long time to come, but in short, the only companies that survive the test of time are those that listen, communicate and deliver to their customers’ desires and concerns. We are making ourselves heard Netflix, please listen to us!