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Netflix and Other Home-Video Vendors [was: DVD-by-Mail]


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#241 Jason Panella

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 08:49 AM

Qwikster sounds an awful lot like Quixtar, the Amway scam.


I thought the same thing, just with the words "online version" in place of "scam."*

EDIT: I'm wondering if all of this is a way for Netflix to let their DVD side of things die slowly — by giving it a stupid name and sending it off into a corner.

*FURTHER EDIT OFF TOPIC: And no, I'm not a huge Amway defender, but my parents have been low-level distributors for years, and have always provided a nice, un-pyramid-schemy alternative to how some folks do things.

Edited by Jason Panella, 19 September 2011 - 09:10 AM.


#242 opus

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:04 AM

Compared to the boilerplate, uber-generic correspondence that I get from Hulu re. my problems with their service (which have been mounting in recent weeks), the letter from Netflix was nice, but had a feeling of "too little, too late" in light of the huge exodus of customers they've experience in the last few weeks.

That being said, it doesn't seem to bode well for the DVD service. I still think that a lot of people identify Netflix with those red envelopes, and that's a huge amount of branding and marketing to overcome. I really hope Netflix/Qwikster continues to succeed, but between this announcement and the huge licensing hurdles that Netflix is beginning to face, I'm starting to worry.

#243 Tyler

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:06 AM

The additional streaming content we have coming in the next few months is substantial, and we are always working to improve our service further.



Given that Criterion and Starz have both jumped ship in the last few months, and that their streaming rights re-negotiations are going to be a nightmare, I have a hard time believing this statement.

#244 Jason Panella

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:08 AM

Given that Criterion and Starz have both jumped ship in the last few months, and that their streaming rights re-negotiations are going to be a nightmare, I have a hard time believing this statement.


I have a feeling it's going to a whole mess of History Channel shows or seasons of WWE, or something similar.

#245 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 01:35 PM

opus wrote:
: . . . the letter from Netflix was nice, but had a feeling of "too little, too late" in light of the huge exodus of customers they've experience in the last few weeks.

Nice? Interesting. One of my Facebook friends linked to a story about this and wrote:

Netflix chief apologizes... and, by way of apology, announces changes that consumers will only hate even more. What he's basically apologizing for, then, is not having made people sign up for two separate services and pay two separate bills earlier. Wow.

I also like how he writes, "There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!)." The exclamation point, apparently, anticipating the consumer's relief at still not being offered a make-good discount on the combined services.

And David Poland sums up its bullet points thusly:

• We should have explained more clearly why we were making changes that some of you felt were the equivalent of a friend assaulting you.
• Oh… we were right to “assault you,” as you would put it. We should have warned your better about it coming.
• Since you’re already upset and leaving us in big numbers, we might as well tell you now… not that it matters… because the first punch wasn’t really a punch… but just in case this softens the blow… we LOVE the DVD business, but it’s unsustainable, so we’re spinning it off, giving it a new name, and separating the two parts of the company so they will no longer be fully integrated for maximum ease of use.
* But, hey, pal, we’re not charging you more for our choice to separate the companies. Aren’t you lucky?
• The envelope will still be red. Isn’t that GREAT?!?!

This is just so tone deaf… which is not the norm for Hastings. It’s like they are still trying to be your pal, Sheriff Andy, even though Andy and Barney just went and opened a strip club in Mayberry and turned out Thelma Lou and set up Aunt Bea as the madame of the whore house. “Aw, shucks, that’s good sex… and Opie has your credit card on file!”

Wouldn’t an honest explanation make more sense for Netflix? Do they assume their members are stupid just because Wall Street and media have been so easily suckered? . . .

I see this as a much bigger mistake, in terms of perception, than the first change to pricing. Maybe Wall Street will like it and feel Netflix is being proactive about getting the DVD drain off of their books. But I don’t really see why Wall Street would be bullish on The New Netflix. It’s a new business and they are already getting into content cost problems that are not minor. They are lowering their game to Hulu’s, getting smaller, not bigger. DVD was the one real differentiator, other than being first in the marketplace. Now it’s not only diminished… it’s all but spun off completely… all but gone.

I’m not surprised by the move, on a business level, at all. This is about the survival of Netflix… about avoiding being the next Blockbuster. But in the game of perception, I am kinda shocked. After years of explaining Netflix spin and being told that Netflix’s public position is reality, the one thing I don’t expect from the company – which I still use and like – is self-inflicted wounds, one after the other.

None of this matters to me much, of course, because Netflix never offered DVDs in Canada in the first place. But I must say I am mildly bugged by how frequently movies and shows that my family and I came to know and love via Netflix Canada (which is only one year old) have already evaporated into thin air.

People keep saying that streaming is "the future", but I really, really hope not.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 19 September 2011 - 01:37 PM.


#246 Darryl A. Armstrong

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 02:00 PM

Yeah, the backlash from this seems to be huge if my Twitter and Facebook streams are any indication of general consensus. This bums me out because I've always been a big Netflix proponent. Now I'm getting the feeling with them I did when I was working at Movie Gallery back in '05: it looks like the beginning of the end.

#247 opus

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 02:01 PM

opus wrote:
: . . . the letter from Netflix was nice, but had a feeling of "too little, too late" in light of the huge exodus of customers they've experience in the last few weeks.

Nice, I said, when "compared to the boilerplate, uber-generic correspondence that I get from Hulu". But that might just be my frustration with Hulu, which has been growing quite a bit.

Some good points to remember here: "10 things to remember about Netflix while scratching your head about Qwikster"

Edited by opus, 19 September 2011 - 02:01 PM.


#248 J.R.

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 03:00 PM

Seems like they're trying to kill off the DVD business as fast they can. Someday the streaming library may catch up, but until then it is an end of an era for film buffs. We've had access to what may be one of the biggest video libraries in the world, and they're choosing to shrink it down to a fraction of that.

#249 Tyler

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 03:19 PM

Someone else already has the @Qwikster Twitter handle. (From Wired.)

#250 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 08:35 AM

opus wrote:
: Nice, I said, when "compared to the boilerplate, uber-generic correspondence that I get from Hulu".

Fair point. As a Canadian, Hulu isn't even on my radar. Nor was Netflix, until they introduced streaming here a year ago.

: Some good points to remember here: "10 things to remember about Netflix while scratching your head about Qwikster"

Point #3 had actually occurred to me before I read that piece. In addition to Canada, Netflix has also launched in Latin America, I believe -- and I doubt they ever had a DVD-by-mail business there, either. So the company's global brand really WILL be all about the streaming now. It is only Americans who are being inconvenienced by all this other business, because it is only Americans who have ever rented DVDs by mail through Netflix. And it isn't all about them any more.

It's kinda sorta like how 3D is still enormously popular overseas, but we keep seeing articles on "the death of 3D" simply because American audiences have soured on it lately.

The question is, Is Netflix handling this transition in a way that will actually HURT their brand globally?

#251 Thom Wade

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 10:01 AM

I feel that to a certain extent people have overreacted. I've seen more than a few people point out that Netflix is still cheaper than most of what is out there, outside of Red Box. But then, with Red Box, you have a pretty limited selection. I do agree that this new developement is crazy...splitting into two companies feels more desperate than well thought out.

#252 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 08:50 AM


Edited by Persiflage, 21 September 2011 - 08:53 AM.


#253 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 11:54 AM

That satire would be funny if it had anything to do with the thing being satirized.

Is streaming really just an add-on to DVD rentals, the way popcorn is just an add-on to video rentals? Or, to come at this from another angle, is popcorn emerging as a replacement for video rentals, the way streaming is emerging as a replacement for DVD rentals?

And wouldn't it be the video rentals, rather than the popcorn, that got the goofy-sounding new name?

Of course, all this talk of "price increases" sounds rather funny to Netflix customers who don't live in the United States. Our prices have stayed the same, because our services have stayed the same. And what you guys seem to regard as the add-on to Netflix's core business is, in the rest of the world, not just the Core business but the Entire business. (And you guys STILL get a much wider selection of videos to stream than we do!)

#254 NBooth

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 01:53 PM

McSweeny's: Netflix would like to apologize for the inadvertent apocalypse

With a nod to our hard working lawyers, we will neither confirm nor deny certain rumors.

So it may or may not be true that the idea to create Qwikster came from a sentient Nazi algorithm found in a World War II era IBM by the founders of Netflix right as they were to wage war on the video store chains and eventually cable itself. Said evil algorithm may or may not have had a hand in creating the business model that has put Netflix in almost every household in America. It might, though equally might not, have been this very formula that suggested we split the companies and create Qwikster, which for its part it was happy to run human-free and which in turn made all the humans very happy because the evil equation was creeping them out.

Had we known that the new Qwikster discs would come with a virus that would infect the home networks of our subscribers (allegedly), or that with all your addresses Qwikster could formulate a networked consciousness not unlike the one found in some of the films in your very queue (allegedly), or that with this super-network it could break into secure military databases and put on line robotic factories, which could produce unstoppable killing machines (allegedly), we might have had second thoughts.



#255 Thom Wade

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 02:02 PM

That satire would be funny if it had anything to do with the thing being satirized.

Is streaming really just an add-on to DVD rentals, the way popcorn is just an add-on to video rentals? Or, to come at this from another angle, is popcorn emerging as a replacement for video rentals, the way streaming is emerging as a replacement for DVD rentals?



But it is an add on. The core market for Netflix was DVDs for it's entire career.

What I have been wondering though...how can this be good for streaming. I suspec it is only a matter of time before Netflix creates a tiered pricing format to replace unlimited streaming. I mean, I cannot see how $8.99 unlimited streaming can last if it is the bread and butter of Netflix. No, I suspect we will see a setup to get "more" if you pay more. $8.99 will get you up to 40 videos a month, $13.99 for 85 videos a months and so on.

#256 Ryan H.

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 02:07 PM

What I have been wondering though...how can this be good for streaming. I suspec it is only a matter of time before Netflix creates a tiered pricing format to replace unlimited streaming. I mean, I cannot see how $8.99 unlimited streaming can last if it is the bread and butter of Netflix. No, I suspect we will see a setup to get "more" if you pay more. $8.99 will get you up to 40 videos a month, $13.99 for 85 videos a months and so on.

I think you're right-on about this.

#257 Jason Panella

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 02:45 PM

What I have been wondering though...how can this be good for streaming. I suspec it is only a matter of time before Netflix creates a tiered pricing format to replace unlimited streaming. I mean, I cannot see how $8.99 unlimited streaming can last if it is the bread and butter of Netflix. No, I suspect we will see a setup to get "more" if you pay more. $8.99 will get you up to 40 videos a month, $13.99 for 85 videos a months and so on.

I think you're right-on about this.


I'm also wondering if they're planning on adding "premium" content for an additional price (stuff from some premium cable channels, etc.)

In other news, Netflix co-founder (and former Netflix employee) Marc Randolph asks if Netflix messed up (and answers, "no"): http://t.co/eUQ9NPh3.

#258 Thom Wade

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 03:16 PM

I had a thought of that myself. I could even see a split between older and newer films, along with "premium content." I also wonder if they would split between standard and HD.

#259 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:00 PM

Nezpop wrote:
: But it is an add on.

Was, but not is. Not is. Not now. In the world outside the U.S., streaming is the only thing Netflix has ever offered. And clearly that is where Netflix sees the future in the U.S., too.

: I suspec it is only a matter of time before Netflix creates a tiered pricing format to replace unlimited streaming.

Perhaps, but they're going to be competing with all sorts of other online streaming sites.

#260 Thom Wade

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 02:49 PM

Perhaps, but they're going to be competing with all sorts of other online streaming sites.


True. But soon they will need to offer more than Hulu Plus, among others. Under the old system, you had an option for new movies. Now, the latest movies are not available to viewers. They have more movies than Hulu Plus, but they don't have many newer movies-especially once the deal with Starz ends. They have lots of tv seasons, but cross paths there with Hulu Plus who have next day availability of new shows for many major networks (this is not really relevant outside the U.S. tho). It seems like they went full digital without much of a pitch to stay with them.