Change for the Sake of WTF

Netflix has decided to split their DVD and streaming operations into two sites, “Qwikster” and Netflix. Qwikster is going to get its own web site, and here’s the rub (from the email I got this morning from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings):

A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated.

That’s a pretty big negative, because right now on Netflix, when you search for a movie, you have a choice. If it’s available on streaming, you can add it to your streaming queue. If not, you can add it to your DVD queue. That’s one simple operation. Hastings thinks it’s somehow better that I’ll soon have to log into two different sites and launch two separate searches to accomplish the same task I can do today with one.

This weekend, I found out that my local, huge grocery store decided to rearrange the location of grocery items. My shopping trip took quite a bit longer, and I was surrounded by bewildered shoppers and clueless employees who didn’t know where the fucking pasta was, either. Like Qwikster, somebody decided that a different arbitrary arrangement of the same old offerings would somehow be better for consumers. Well, it wasn’t. It was confusing, frustrating and a waste of time. The only difference between Qwikster and my grocery store is that Netflix changed their name to a stupid, turn-of-the-millenium dot com handle. At least my grocery store is smart enough to keep the same name while they turned their user experience to shit.






171 replies
  1. 1
    bleh says:

    See, this is why you don’t have the MBA and the high six-figure salary. Because you just don’t realize that, with a thick enough layer of smooth talk, you really CAN shine shit into gold — or at least make it look that way long enough to cash out.

  2. 2
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Shut up. At least you *have* a Wegman’s (best supermaket there is, IMO.) I’d have to drive half the day to get to one.

  3. 3
    drkrick says:

    I can tell you why they rearranged the Wegman’s – people wandering around the store lost buy impulse items while searching for the pasta that they would never have seen if they could go straight to what they planned to buy.

    I used to work for a book chain that forbade employees to direct customers to the book or section they wanted based on this theory. They’re long out of business, of course (it wasn’t Borders). Wegman’s must have hired some MBAs, too.

  4. 4
    "Fair and Balanced" Dave says:

    I suspect this decision will be a disaster on par with “New Coke” and The Hindenburg.

  5. 5
    Alexandra says:

    Fucking pasta… perhaps cannelloni might do the trick.

  6. 6
    RSA says:

    A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated.

    I got that email message, too. In a good system redesign, the designers will be thinking, “How many people will feel screwed if we make this change?” I have to think that Netflix knows that number (they can figure it out from their logs) and judges that it’s not enough to offset whatever profits they hope to make. Or that the problem will not be enough to reduce users’ willingness to use the system(s). It does seem like the wrong choice to me.

  7. 7
    Foxhunter says:

    I don’t think it will be long before ‘Qwikster’ becomes ‘Spinoff’. There is much more cash to be had in streaming.

    Wonder how much of the failed negotiations with Starz had to do with this decision. Content fees are going to go through the roof at every contract renewal from all of the distro houses.

    ETA: By spinoff, I mean compeletely dumped. New board, mgmt, the works.

  8. 8
    terraformer says:

    As a new Netflix subscriber – just bought one of those “Smart TVs” from Samsung that has Apple-like “Apps” on it, one of which is Netflix – I enjoy the ability to pick something to watch and it comes on immediately in 1080p. Although it sometimes buffers back and forth. But I can see why this sucks for those who use both services. Now I have a library of about 500 DVDs that is going the way of the dinosaur…

  9. 9
    waratah says:

    This is one of my pet peeves. My husband thinks I do enough impulse buying without them moving stuff.
    And he is right!

  10. 10
    mistermix says:

    @drkrick: Amazon should adopt that theory and route every third search to a random page. Customer satisfaction would shoot through the roof! /sarcasm

  11. 11
    Mino says:

    That is so true! My 78 year old mother experienced the same, came home and said never again. I had to do all her shopping, thereafter.

  12. 12
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    There is nothing on Netflix streaming anymore.

  13. 13
    jayackroyd says:

    From the email:

    For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.

    He doesn’t mention that licensing arrangements are expiring for the DVD library. But it’s easy to envision a world where streaming is so routine that the DVD in the mailbox will seem as hoary as “You’ve got mail!”

    They’ve obviously botched the implementation–an unannounced big price increase really wasn’t the right way to introduce a new distribution model. But they have to do something. Most companies with a huge cash cow in a space they almost completely control very seldom are willing to recognize when the business model is starting to creak. See Blockbuster.

    It sucks to be a legacy customer. The only way I can finish watching the Wire is by DVD. The streaming library is way too small to be my only option. Splitting the queue is obviously a bad idea, as mistermix notes.

    But they do have to do something.

  14. 14
    Jim C says:

    Netflix has decided to split their DVD and streaming operations into two sites, Netflix and “Qwikster”.

    Minor editing nit: it’s actually “their streaming and DVD operations” respectively, as Qwikster will be the DVD arm.

    I think the whole idea is pretty dumb, but they really don’t care what I think. All their actions in the last year seem quite clearly designed to rid themselves of my business, and I’ve no idea why my money is no longer worth it to them. They were perfectly content with it for a decade.

  15. 15
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    Dish Network Corp. reportedly will announce plans for a Blockbuster streaming service Sept. 23 intended to compete directly with Netflix.

    Dish, which bought Blockbuster in April for $320 million, will reveal the subscription service, pricing and additional details in a press conference Friday, according to Bloomberg, which cited a person familiar with the deal.

  16. 16
    deep cap says:

    I just wish Netflix would give me an option to log in as a different person under the same account/subscription. I’m really tired of getting Thomas the Tank Engines “recommendations” when I’m trying to find my movies. And worse, I ‘m tired of my daughter seeing somewhat risque foreign films titles (which I’m not even interested in anyway) when I’m trying to find Dora the Explorer.

  17. 17
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @jayackroyd: You should watch the extras on the Wire anyway. The panel discussions are great.

  18. 18
    dmsilev says:

    It really sounds like they’re laying the groundwork to spin off the DVD side of the business entirely. Until and unless the streaming library improves its selection (which is more a legal/business issue than a technical one), that’s probably a recipe for disaster for them. I know that my DVD queue is typically 4x the size of my streaming queue, even though I opt for streaming whenever I have the choice.

    If they segregate the websites entirely, the incentive to browse the streaming side of it goes way down. For me, anyway.

  19. 19
    Bob L says:

    That email jayackroyd quoted

    For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.

    translated “we’re lazy and want to stick all our eggs in one basket” this something else MBA do, dumb size things.

    So from Netflix POV its a win. Less work for the execs, and they get to charge more. Of course they are also have only one revenue stream now.

  20. 20
    jayackroyd says:

    Interesting analysis by Timothy Lee: http://onforb.es/nBssQw

    The DVD-rental option gave Netflix a crucial fallback position at the negotiating table. Because Netflix has a complete catalog of movies available for rent by DVD, they don’t need any specific title in streaming format. So they could cut deals with the content creators that offered them reasonable terms, and stick with DVD rentals for the rest. That’s a little bit inconvenient for customers, but it’s better than agreeing to terms that would force Netflix to jack up its prices.

    And, of course, the total size of Netflix’s user base strengthens its bargaining position as well. There are many customers like us who primarily subscribe to Netflix for the DVDs, but we’re willing to pay a bit extra for the streaming option. A Netflix with 20 million customers—DVD and streaming—is going to be able to make bigger bids for streaming content than a streaming-only company with 10 million customers.

    Inexplicably, Reed Hastings seems determined to throw these advantages away, leaving streaming to fend for itself. There’s a real danger this will result in a death spiral: the new, smaller company will have trouble landing content deals, or will be forced to raise prices in order to cover the costs of content. This will make the service less attractive to customers, some of whom will cancel their subscriptions, making it even harder to get content.

  21. 21
    Social Outcast says:

    The stock market is not pleased with Netflix’s management. Share price down 50% over the past three months or so. I suppose the company will just rewrite management’s stock options to make sure they get the payout they expected.

  22. 22
    RossInDetroit says:

    A couple of related observations:

    There will always be a place for physical media rental as long as some people care about the higher picture quality of disk over streaming. Most do not care, but it’s there.

    The USPS may end Saturday home mail delivery, and will very probably raise prices soon. Both would disadvantage mail movie rentals.

  23. 23
    cleek says:

    sure, the business model we were using has gained us millions of loyal and happy customers, but, meh. fuck em.

  24. 24
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @RossInDetroit: I also need the subtitle option and, while they claim it’s available on streaming, I can’t get it to work. I dumped streaming after I busted my ass running a drop to the bluray player.

  25. 25
    JenJen says:

    As Atrios tweeted this morning:

    quixster’s dvd library will consist only of aol free trial discs

    Heh!

  26. 26
    Thymezone says:

    DVD rental is going to disappear. Once all the fights over licensing settle down, everything will be streaming. Unless you are still cleaning the capstan on your 8-track player, it’s time to start letting go of DVD rental as an entertainment alternative. I hate to break it to you this suddenly. Once the licensing dam breaks, and everything is streamed, DVDs become frisbees.

    Some people like cleek will cling to them forever, though.

  27. 27
    delphi_ote says:

    That email was so stupid, I actually just canceled my Netflix streaming service.

  28. 28
    daryljfontaine says:

    @deep cap: You should be able to, as long as your DVD subscription per month is more than one disc. It lets you configure a different queue under the secondary(/tertiary) account(s) and when a disc is sent back from one it sends the next from the originating queue (with a brief changeover once you’ve set it up). When we were still together, my wife and I had hers/mine/ours queues.

    D

  29. 29
    delphi_ote says:

    @Thymezone: Yes, yes. And once we have an infinite amount of food and resources, everyone will just dance under rainbows all day.

  30. 30
    JenJen says:

    Also hilarious? Quikster’s Twitter account is already taken… by a weed-smoking Elmo.

  31. 31
    Mino says:

    @JenJen: Captains of Industry at work. Heh, heh.

  32. 32

    @drkrick:
    I think Michael Pollan has the right general approach to this problem: avoid the center part of the store as much as possible. The healthy stuff tends to be around the edges because it’s fresh rather than processed and has a limited shelf-life. The middle part is mostly what he describes as “food-like substances” that should be avoided as much as possible. The big exceptions are the frozen foods (which are easy to spot) and a few dried foods like beans, rice, and flour. But if the store makes it impossible for you to find your favorite snack food, maybe you should consider it to be a favor.

  33. 33
    policomic says:

    See, this is why government should be run like a business.

  34. 34
    John X. says:

    DVD rentals are not going away. Redbox has a box in pretty much every grocery store, gas station and pharmacy in my town. That’s up from a handful a year ago.

    Netflix’s problem is that they offered a great service, but it’s becoming harder and more expensive to run. Their CEO prefers to run a company with a different, cheaper and easier service – streaming. The trouble is, early indications are showing that this isn’t the service his customers want.

    I predict that, five to 10 years from now, streaming will be at a place where this split could work. Or not. Right now, it looks like the monopoly players – studios, cable companies, governments – are hard at work trying to put the internet genie back in the bottle. With enough bandwidth capping, using copyright as a cudgel and general legal fuckwittery, they’ll probably kill all of this innovation.

    In the U.S., at least. The Chinese and Koreans will be watching our new releases on bootlegged HD streams over high-speed wireless.

  35. 35
    zmulls says:

    I was flabbergasted by the incompetence of the announcement. Gosh, a whole new company? With a stupid name?

    I was clinging to Netflix out of habit, but I’m dumping the DVD service (even though I understand that there will be hard-to-find DVDs that I won’t be able to get anymore). And I will look around at Vudu, and the upcoming Blockbuster services — at the very least I am going to comparison shop.

    Congratulations, Netflix! You had a somewhat-disgruntled-but-mostly-satisfied-with-the-status-quo customer, and turned me into a partial-cancel-and-I’d-like-to-try-dating-other-people customer.

  36. 36
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Thymezone:

    Don’t agree. Yes, most of the volume in rental video will be streamed by people who have broadband.
    But:
    1) not everyone has broadband. Everyone has mail.
    2) plenty of streamed films look like ass and the disk is much more watchable. Some people care.
    3) Pretty much everyone has a DVD or Blu-ray player and a TV. Not everyone has a comparable video setup for streaming.

  37. 37
    KyCole says:

    I only have streaming, and wish there were better movies. Not that I didn’t manage to waste most of yesterday watching The Tudors.

  38. 38
    bottyguy says:

    Your lucky that your grocery store just rearranged the products. I got an email yesterday from the manager of my grocery R.Hastings, they plan on separating the liquid and dry items and putting the dry items in one store and the liquid items in another store down the street. He says if I need both liquid and dry items I’ll have to travel to each store and get the items separately.

    He says that this just makes sense; since liquid items and dry items are not at all alike and you shouldn’t expect to buy them in one place. He thinks maybe if he does this he can get the makers of dry items to send him more dry items. He doesn’t think that there is much future in liquid items, and he’ll probably sell off that store later.

  39. 39
    RossInDetroit says:

    OT: TPM has a page up streaming the Pres’ 10:30 speech:

    http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/#396

  40. 40
    khead says:

    It was confusing, frustrating and a waste of time. The only difference between Qwikster and my grocery store is that Netflix changed their name to a stupid, turn-of-the-millenium dot com handle. At least my grocery store is smart enough to keep the same name while they turned their user experience to shit.

    Uh, you didn’t leave the grocery store…. they still got your $$$.

  41. 41
    DS says:

    Somebody submit this post to whitewhine.com, stat.

  42. 42

    Well that’s annoying, since my girlfriend almost exclusively uses the DVD part while I almost exclusively use the streaming.

  43. 43
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    Okay fellow BJers, if you’re the Netflix CEO, how do you make the transition from a DVD/streaming hybrid model to a streaming-only model without pissing off your customers?

  44. 44
    Montysano says:

    @Thymezone:

    Once the licensing dam breaks, and everything is streamed, DVDs become frisbees.

    Some people like cleek will cling to them forever, though.

    As Ross noted, DVDs deliver much higher quality than streaming, just as uncompressed audio files sound better than MP3s.

    Also this: I might pop in a DVD, watch an hour of the movie, then come back hours later to finish. Unless I’ve missed something, Netflix streaming forces you to start over.

  45. 45
    cleek says:

    @Thymezone:

    Some people like cleek will cling to them forever, though.

    is this a troll, or is there another cleek here who has professed some kind of undying love for DVDs?

  46. 46
    jayackroyd says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    I don’t know, but they really do have to do something. However, streaming only carries an implicit assumption about the quality and breadth of broadband access that may not be consistent with the actual plans of the telecom monopolies.

  47. 47
    jayackroyd says:

    @Montysano:

    You’ve missed something. You can pause, walk away, return. I use Roku for the teevee set, and that has full dvr controls–sucky ones–but pause, ff, rw etc. And when I stream on the laptop, the service remembers where I’ve left off.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Montysano: No, you can pick them up where you left.

  50. 50
    Winston Smith says:

    Beset with lawsuits, Amway went underground as Quickstar for a while, and it went even sleazier.

    So yeah, QUICKSTAR is a brand name associate with scams.

    Way to go, Netflix!

  51. 51
    bottyguy says:

    @Montysano: When I use Netflix streaming it remembers where I was in the movie. This is actually better than DVDs where I now have to sit through half a dozen non-fast-forwardable trailers before I can get to the top menu.

  52. 52
    RossInDetroit says:

    @bottyguy:

    This is actually better than DVDs where I now have to sit through half a dozen non-fast-forwardable trailers before I can get to the top menu.

    Oh, do I hate that. We actually returned one Harry Potter unwatched & complained to the video store manager when after 20 minutes of unskippable ads the movie still hadn’t started. Somehow they disable the ‘top menu’ function, which is evil.

  53. 53
    scav says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe: well, I wouldn’t want to attempt the whole thing, but I probably wouldn’t start by announcing the equivalent of shrinking the packaging size, hiking the price and mucking with the brandname all in close succession. Once was, one might accept a short-term drop in net profit to help the medicine go down initially but that tactic seems to have dropped out the toolkit at some point.
    Also, in MBAland, there is the received wisdom that technologies inevitably die off. So, people are arguing the immanent death of DVDs in a world that actually seems to still have followers of LPs and the paperless office has yet to make it’s grand entrance. I’ve even found anecdotal evidence that people still buy buggy whips: it’s a changed market for same and for sure but there are still companies swimming it it.

  54. 54
    KXB says:

    It is disheartening to finally come across a company you like, only to have them make one avoidable mistake after another. I’ve been a Netflix customer for six years. I loved the fact that in the middle of a long Chicago winter, I could just walk to my mailbox, and have a DVD waiting for me. I did not have to pay $30 a month for HBO shows like Generation Kill, Curb Your Enthusiasm, or The Wire. I could rent foreign films with ease. If I wanted to rent some junk, I could do so without some teenage video store clerk looking at me funny.

    When the price increase was announced, I actually benefited. None of my TVs have streaming capability, so I dropped that feature. I occasionally used it on my computer, but found myself getting restless sitting in front of my computer for more than 40 minutes. Plus, streaming does not include any of the bonus materials that are often on DVDs.

    But, if I were to upgrade my TV, or get a Blue-Ray player, I would not want the hassle of going to 2 websites and managing 2 separate lists. It’s lame that Netflix is treating its DVD customers as an afterthought, starting with the god-awful name of Qwickster. Even Qwickflix would be a better name. “Moland Spring” anyone? If they eventually stop DVD by mail altogether, I will probably just either rent movies for free from the library or shop around for something like Amazon Prime or Apple TV.

  55. 55
    Steeplejack says:

    @Montysano:

    No, you can “resume” watching something on Netflix streaming. I did that last night with Thirteen Assassins. Started it late one night a couple of weeks ago, had a (rare) problem with the stream and packed it in for the night. Went back to it last night and was able to pick up right where I had left off.

  56. 56
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @jayackroyd:

    I don’t think the telecom companies are going to have any choice. American businesses won’t be able to compete with Asian companies in the online space if broadband continues to develop at a snail’s pace.

  57. 57

    @RossInDetroit:

    1) not everyone has broadband. Everyone has mail.

    This, a thousand times this. We’re rural, and we will never — that’s NEVER — get hard-wired broadband. Our 1.6 Mbps Wi-fi connection (broadcast from the top of the water-tower 6 miles away!) is spotty at best, and I hesitate to click on YouTube links, never knowing if it’s going to play or just chug.

    Streaming HD video? I think not.

  58. 58
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @dmsilev: Same here, plus the quality of streaming has gone to shit, taking long time for the audio and video on the same stream. If Blockbuster/Dish can pull it off, I am going there.

  59. 59
    4tehlulz says:

    Qwikster

    Just shut down your DVD shipping already. This is stupid.

    Are they going to hire that motherfucking Quik bunny to sell the site?

  60. 60
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Neddie Jingo: ooooooo, livin in the country. . .

  61. 61
    KXB says:

    @bottyguy:

    To skip trailers on many DVDs, you cannot Speed Scan through them, but you can often just press the next chapter button on your remote.

  62. 62
    drkrick says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    Okay fellow BJers, if you’re the Netflix CEO, how do you make the transition from a DVD/streaming hybrid model to a streaming-only model without pissing off your customers?

    For starters, you wait until the selection on streaming is more than a tiny fraction of the selection on disk before pushing it.

    One of the things that sold me on Netflix was the broad selection (the same thing that sold me on Amazon years ago). They give up that selling point by transitioning to streaming too early.

  63. 63

    @Montysano:

    Unless I’ve missed something, Netflix streaming forces you to start over.

    You’ve missed something. When I do that, at least, Netflix offers me the option to resume where I left off. I also remembers which was the last episode I watched in a series.

  64. 64
    mistermix says:

    @Jim C: Thx, fixed the ordering.

  65. 65
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @KXB: often not

  66. 66
    rumpole says:

    Only one way to make up the shortfall. Five will get you ten they start renting pr0n.

  67. 67
    Eric says:

    Everyone seems to be missing the point here: This change has as much to do with content licenses as it does with a change in distribution. Currently, Netflix has licenses that allow them to stream content as well as provide physical, hard copies of that content. The difference is that the content providers ask for higher rates on the content that is streamed, while giving a discount on the content that is sent through the mail; this is mainly because the hard copy content licensing was grandfathered in from the Blockbuster-rental-store era, where the streaming is an entirely new model of distribution. By spinning the DVD arm off into it’s own company, Hastings is doing two things:

    1. Doubling down on a method of distribution that has much lower overhead and sunk costs.
    2. Allowing Netflix to license ONLY streaming content, and therefore negotiate for that content alone, rather then for both streaming content AND physical disc content in the same licensing agreement.

    It’s very similar to how content providers negotiate with cable companies: they take the one channel the cable provider actually wants (say ESPN) and packages that channel with 10 other channels of crap that few people watch (ESPN U, ESPN News, ESPN Classic, etc) so that content distributors and customers are then paying for all those networks just to get the one they really want. This was the reason for the price increase earlier in the year too: As Netflix’s streaming distribution gained more traffic the licenses it had negotiated (most likely in a world still dominated by the DVD-by-mail business) began to become more and more expensive, to the point where the company could no longer afford to keep it’s $9.99 unlimited service.

    Hastings is trying to flip this on it’s head by unbundling his DVD service from his steaming service, so that the price of one doesn’t influence the other when negotiating licenses. This will also allow Netflix to compete with companies like Starz, Showtime, and HBO in terms of content discovery and licensing. Currently, Netflix licenses from those content aggregators since that was how the movie-rental-store business was run. But what if Netflix went straight to the movie studios and television production companies and promised them immediate, unlimited streaming on their network for a fee and didn’t require an exclusivity window (since most people who use Netflix would use it rather than their cable On-Demand or PPV anyway due to cost and the ease of having only one content aggregator). Considering Netflix’s continually expanding global reach, this could be an EXCELLENT deal for studios in terms of overall distribution and revenue streams.

    In summary, this is a good move and will allow Netflix to run a much leaner streaming operation going forward. It’s just that there’s going to be some bumps in the road along the way. That’s no different from any other major company that’s changed their business model entirely in a short amount of time (IBM comes to mind).

    Oh, and let’s not fret about the stock price — it was tremendously overvalued the last 18 months anyway, to the point where multiple hedge funds were short on the stock. When that happens, the stock is going to fall at some point, it’s just a matter of when.

  68. 68
    debit says:

    I was going to stick with Netflix despite the rate hike. Now I’m thinking about Amazon’s streaming service.

  69. 69

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred):

    ooooooo, livin in the country. . .

    Heh. Luckily, (!) the place I work has a bitchen connection, so I can do my hardcore goofing off there.

  70. 70
    Drive By Wisdom says:

    All you democrats ever do is whine.

  71. 71
    burnspbesq says:

    @Thymezone:

    Don’t be so sure about that. When Comcast and Time Warner make load-based pricing for Internet access universal, and the fifth download of the month costs $59.99, DVD rental will be a very attractive alternative.

  72. 72

    @RossInDetroit:

    Somehow they disable the ‘top menu’ function, which is evil.

    This is part of the DVD standard. Disk makers are allowed to make some things unskippable. I think it was intended for things like the legal notices about copyright, but some DVD makers- and Disney is the worst- used it to force you to sit through the trailers. I think, though I’m not sure, that the BlueRay standard limits this to the legal notices only. At the very least, I don’t remember encountering unskippable trailers on BlueRay. Even the legal notices can be pretty awful, though. ISTR one disk that had them in at least 20 different languages.

  73. 73
    Montysano says:

    @RossInDetroit:

    Somehow they disable the ‘top menu’ function, which is evil.

    Evil, indeed.

  74. 74
    brent says:

    @Montysano:

    As others have already pointed out, this is incorrect. I will add that another nice feature of streaming is that you can see exactly where you are and how much is left before you start viewing. So I can just look at my viewing progress before I start the video again to know if I have enough time to finish viewing before the next thing I need to do.

  75. 75
    MikeJ says:

    @RossInDetroit: What you get when you pay v “piracy”.

  76. 76
  77. 77
    Thymezone says:

    @Neddie Jingo:

    The last time I looked, 80% of the US population was listed as living in urban areas. maybe 4G (WiMax) will save you?

  78. 78
    scav says:

    Hell, half the time I don’t even turn on the TV when I first start the DVD: I just wander away, wash the dishes, blah blah blah, and only then turn on the picture to either find the thing waiting for me or, worst case scenario, see a bit of the midstream before jumping back to the beginning (but there’s usually that front page gateway that stops things). But then I have a white hot hatred of ads and no dishwasher so it’s a win-win.

  79. 79
    MikeJ says:

    Last attempt to post a link on the subject of unskippability:
    http://www.managerleague.com/i.....ting_e.jpg

    FYWP ate it twice already.

  80. 80
    debit says:

    @brent: Another thing about streaming I love: if I leave home mid movie, I can pick up right where it left off on my iphone.

    There are so many things Netflix did right. I don’t understand why they are fucking around with success now.

  81. 81
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    Such harsh language! Remember, corporations are people too. You’ve hurt Qwikster’s feelings, now I want you two to shake hands and make up.

  82. 82
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Roger Moore:

    This is part of the DVD standard. Disk makers are allowed to make some things unskippable.

    Yeah, well boo to that. I often skip seeing a film in a theater because home video is more convenient. Now the mandatory advertising can follow me home.
    This is one of the reasons torrents exist.

  83. 83
    brent says:

    @debit:

    I use Amazon pretty often. I love it but its not an exact comparison. You are paying per rental there and the pay per view model is significantly more expensive. The free streaming that is included for its prime customers doesn’t have the same selection.

  84. 84
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Oh, it’s Wegman’s? Well, yeah, they have to rearrange things. I can’t find a bloody thing in that store, it takes me twice as long as the locals, and the damn food costs 30% more.

  85. 85
    Sarah in Brooklyn says:

    A lot of the movies I get on DVD from Netflix aren’t available anywhere else – I watch a lot of classic and indie films. If Netflix made them all available via streaming I wouldn’t need my DVD account, but as it is, I do. And I’m worried that those discs are going to disappear as streaming takes over.

  86. 86
    MikeJ says:

    @RossInDetroit: I tried three times to link to the flowchart of what you see when you torrent a dvd v what you see when you rent or even buy one. FYWP is being cranky with me this morning.

  87. 87
    KXB says:

    I expect Netflix to offer discounted streaming if you sign up for a plan that has commercials in it.

  88. 88
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    This whole “streaming is the future” overlooks, again, the sad fact that the cold hand of the marketplace has refused to bring broadband to rurl ‘Murka.

    Living here in red, rurl East Bumblefuck, we finally got a local company to provide wireless broadband with startup costs of $300. And don’t tell me HughsNet (or wtf it might be called now) or Wild Blue will help: both are some of the suckiest outfits alive. They make the asshats at Dish Network seem good.

    And our local, wireless guy is constantly bitching about bandwidth issues. We would have to double our monthly bill to get enough thruput that *might* allow us to stream. But then, the first rainstorm and there goes our bandwidth.

    If it weren’t for FDR’s Rural ‘Lectrification program, believe me, we’d still be without electricity out here in (un)Real ‘Murka.

    Netflix, the old fashioned “mail me a DVD” kind, has been a godsend for us. Streaming might as well be Total Fucking Magic (TFM, trademarked) as far a we’re concerned.

  89. 89

    @RossInDetroit:

    This is one of the reasons torrents exist.

    Pretty much. I don’t think the content providers really appreciate how much illegal sharing is mostly to get around their customer hostile policies. There’s still a lot of material out there that you can only get illegally. When getting the content people want is outlawed, only outlaws will get that content.

  90. 90
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    I’m sorta skeptical of netflix’s actions myself, but I think its interesting that everyone is arguing over a service that most people nowadays probably can’t afford because its such an optional luxury; I suppose its a nice way to try and forget about the shitty economy, but if netflix fucking up its plans is the worst thing you have to bitch about, they you’re probably doing a okay.

  91. 91

    …my local, huge grocery store decided to rearrange the location of grocery items.

    I think they do that intentionally every year or so. I think the idea is customers will wonder around aimlessly looking for the stuff they want to buy and in the process pick up stuff that’s not on their shopping list. It’s a way of encouraging spontaneous buying. I’ll find out if I’m right when “Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy” comes in the mail tomorrow. :-)

    I got that Netflix e-mail today. It struck me as stupid. They made a couple of mistakes, first of all being if you were a Netflix customer streaming was free. Then they started charging for streaming but they didn’t have a big streaming library because they weren’t signing the deals with production companies and studios, so they were charging extra for a sucky product. That pisses people off.

    And then this:

    Hastings thinks it’s somehow better that I’ll soon have to log into two different sites and launch two separate searches to accomplish the same task I can do today with one.

    Bingo. WTF? They may be separate businesses TO HIM but they aren’t for us customers! It’s the same thing: watching a fucking movie at home.

  92. 92
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @drkrick:

    To negotiate the lowest price with content providers for the streaming site, there actually has to BE a streaming site. The streaming offerings on Quikster aren’t going to improve by magic. There had to be a demonstrable commitment by Reid and Co. to build the infrastructure for this business model.

  93. 93
    KXB says:

    @Sarah in Brooklyn:

    This is what bugs me too. The other advantage of DVDs is that if you owned them, you could lend them out to friends, or you could borrow their DVDs. You cannot lend or borrow a streamed movie. Furthermore, if you have multiple TVs in your home, each one would require a separate connection for streaming – and you can be pretty sure that the hi-speed internet you are paying for is not the high-speed you are actually getting.

    OTOH, you could take your DVD to your bedroom TV, in case a relative was watching something on the main TV in the living room. Expect phone companies and cable companies to jack up their internet rates to deal with increased streaming of movies.

  94. 94
    Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac says:

    Netflix needs to have a better standing for streaming negotiations. Right now, They’re showing their hand with having dvd mailers as backup for content. If they no longer are tied to that service, pushing content providers to provide streaming becomes easier (or doesn’t happen at all, because content providers can’t see the forest for the trees). Either way, Netflix has to do this to survive or continue to drop subscribers due to better selection elsewhere.

  95. 95
    jayackroyd says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    I don’t understand that argument, Shawn. How does broadband penetration among consumers affect US business competition with Asia? IAC, if the relative quality and penetration of broadband matters, then it’s already over.

    http://bit.ly/ptm5bS

    The US monopoly model works considerably worse (as an Econ 101 graduate would predict) than the market competition model of Korea.

  96. 96

    @Thymezone:

    maybe 4G (WiMax) will save you?

    Perhaps. Verizon is putting up a 4G tower in Martinsburg WVA, and they claim we’ll be covered.

    When we were thinking of firing our ISP, we tested one of those 4G routers for a week or two. Down in town it was pretty great. Out here, it got about the same as our ISP.

    During our annual beach trip this summer, the house we rented had a great BB connection. I tried streaming a movie from Netflix for the first time ever on my laptop. And what magnificent production from the Hollywood Hit Factory did I choose to pop my streaming cherry?* Something uplifting, no doubt? Something that restores the soul and improves the mind?

    Yep.

    The Human Caterpillar.

    ——

    *On rereading, that’s perhaps not the image I really want.

  97. 97
    Thymezone says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I really doubt it. My hunch is that you will see something like a two-tier service situation, with cable on-demand and their proprietary box the source for top video quality, first run recent movies, and instant gratification, and Netflix-like streaming being the second tier, for cheapskates like me and people who don’t really fixate on video quality as long as it’s decent … also like me, who are fine watching tv shows, old movies, documentaries and such content in less than HD quality formats. Movies are not growing in revenue or ticket sales, and it’s not clear that movies as we know them and as we have become accustomed to distribution are the future. All the choices right now are either cheesy or overpriced. The entertainment market is going to change, but it’s hard to imagine the DVD having a strong position in that market 5-10 years from now. The access paths suck. You either pay a ridiculous price to buy a new movie, or a cheap price to rent it through the mail … and in both cases you end up with a fragile piece of plastic being the repository of your treasure. The mail isn’t even a reliable vector any more, the Post Office is making ugly noises about service reductions and cost increases. The DVD is becoming the mainstay of the crapola movie rental vending box at the gas station. Not the future of your media, I think.

  98. 98
    deep cap says:

    @daryljfontaine:

    You should be able to, as long as your DVD subscription per month is more than one disc. It lets you configure a different queue under the secondary(/tertiary) account(s) and when a disc is sent back from one it sends the next from the originating queue (with a brief changeover once you’ve set it up). When we were still together, my wife and I had hers/mine/ours queues.

    Ah. There the rub. I am only subscribed to their streaming service, so I don’t get any DVD’s.

  99. 99
    brent says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Netflix as well as most entertainment options are certainly optional luxuries as you put it, but most people, even in these tough economic times, do not make the decision to forego entertainment altogether. The fact is that even with the rate hikes on the DVD side, Netflix is among the cheapest options out there except for basically TV from an antennae. That is a major part of its success and now they seem determined to burn that down.

  100. 100
    Jim C says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:
    There already is a streaming site, Shawn. It’s called “Netflix.”

  101. 101
    KXB says:

    @brent:

    Add to the fact that both Wall Street and Main Street are complaining in unison on this – a rare event.

  102. 102
    scav says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: I can see your point, but if your ideal of conversation is unrelieved bitching about the absolute single worst thing happening in your life, it sounds a bit like a social disaster.

  103. 103
    Judas Escargot says:

    I have Netflix, the Amazon Prime “free” streamer service, and Hulu.

    Amazon streaming tends to have better picture quality, and the 5.1 audio (though a smaller title selection). Hulu has the more recent stuff from TV, albeit with ads. Netflix’ only real additional value to me was being able to manage DVDs and streaming with the same queue.

    Leave it to the MBA mindset to destroy a totally good business model.

  104. 104
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @jayackroyd:

    In a knowledge economy, the speed of communication is a critical issue. If you look at the leading business-to-consumer Internet companies, most of those are American. What do you think happens to that ratio as the broadband gap continues to widen?

  105. 105
    jayackroyd says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    the sad fact that the cold hand of the marketplace

    It always irks me to see monopolies created through government policy characterized as the “market.” Markets have to be encouraged, nurtured, protected by government, or that they captured by collaborating monopolists. See the link above to Korea to see how a the cold hand of the marketplace actually works.

  106. 106
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @Jim C:

    But the database schema for streaming is going to become more and more different from the DVD side as streaming evolves. The longer you wait to separate the two databases, the more of a logistical nightmare it becomes.

  107. 107
    Catsy says:

    @jayackroyd:

    But it’s easy to envision a world where streaming is so routine that the DVD in the mailbox will seem as hoary as “You’ve got mail!”

    This. We use our DVD queue very little. Almost everything on Netflix we watch, we watch on streaming. Having to plan what we’re going to watch two days in advance and waiting for the DVD to show up just feels archaic and unnecessary at this point. It was just handy to be able to manage everything through one interface.

    Despite the larger library available on DVD, this will probably end up getting us to cancel “Qwikster”. We have enough complication to deal with in our lives; anywhere we can shave time and simplify things has value to us.

  108. 108
    jayackroyd says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    You’re confusing me. The businesses will still have really fast broadband. The point here is that fast broadband will be far from universal for US consumers–which is going to get in the way of the universal streaming.

    (Also, know that they will throttle you. Or tier price you.)

  109. 109
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @scav:

    Meh, for a blog that normally covers class issues very well, its not too surprising-I think that’s par for the course with IT/tech/geekery-there’s a lot of unexamined class privilege there*.

    *Despite their humongeous salaries, IT/people aren’t class privileged/say/do boneheaded things cause they are social outcasts and geeks who got beat up in high school. Or something like that.

    ETA: seriously, there’s a lot of bitching about class warfare on this blog, I think tech is just a blind spot.

  110. 110
    jayackroyd says:

    @Catsy:

    Noting that I am cleverly arguing both sides here, there are still people on aol dial-up. I’d drop the streaming service before the disk service. The DVD is destination watching here, usually HBO series like Deadwood or The Wire.

  111. 111
    mike in dc says:

    With a high-speed RCN connect(20 megabit), plus Netflix, my bill comes out to about 90 bucks a month. With cable tv/movie channels added, and no Netflix, it’s more like 150 bucks a month.
    How much would people pay to be able to stream anything they wanted, and set their tv schedule any way they wanted? It seems like 20 to 40 bucks a month would be the sweet spot for a streaming system that had unlimited selection, HD quality, and good scheduling. The only thing you really need “live” is the news(and sporting events).

  112. 112
    dcdl says:

    That kind of sucks for my family since my kids watch the instant streaming and my husband and I normally get the DVDs. I’m also trying to indoctrinate the kids into the old kid movies from the 80’s and such like Time Bandits, Explorers, The Goonies, and such that are only available on DVD.

    Oh well. Only time will tell on the company’s decision and only time will tell on how long I stay with both.

    On another note, I really would like to get rid of my TV cable service. At the moment the only thing stopping me are the sports channels for my husband. Any ideas on ESPN and Fox Sports. I know there is ESPN360, but is that like ESPN in the sense of Sport talk shows and is it easy to figure out how to watch games. It has to be easy for my husband to use since he is not technology inclined.

    Thanks for any suggestions.

  113. 113
    KXB says:

    @jayackroyd:

    My boss still has an AOL account, from when he started his business in 1998. But he now has it forwarded to his GMail account. We keep it because it would be a huge pain to update all his bank, airline, phone company records to GMail. Also, his AOL account is much shorter and easier to say over the phone than the GMail address. When he replies, they will automatically be updated with his GMail info.

  114. 114
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @jayackroyd:

    Sure the Fortune 500 has fast broadband and they make more than enough money to offset the cost. But how fast is broadband for a small or medium sized American business compared to a small or medium sized Asian business?

    I know American telcos don’t care about American consumers but they don’t have the luxury of ignoring American business. Some of those guys will just relocate.

  115. 115
    Gilles de Rais says:

    Options:

    1. Keep successful product as it is.
    2. Set hair on fire.

    Looks like the MBA rocket scientist in charge has decided to go with option 2.

    Plus, “Quikster”? Really? Seriously?

    Might as well rename it “Fail Train”.

    I look forward to seeing their stock plunge like a P-51 at an airshow that’s lost part of its elevator.

    What, too soon?

  116. 116
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    and I was surrounded by bewildered shoppers and clueless employees who didn’t know where the fucking pasta was, either.

    Hey, lets shit on grocery store employees!

    Arrgh, mistermix, seriously, fucking customers fucking suck.

  117. 117
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    But the database schema for streaming is going to become more and more different from the DVD side as streaming evolves. The longer you wait to separate the two databases, the more of a logistical nightmare it becomes.

    This is just BS: There’s no technical reason for two separate databases. That just doubles your requirements for upkeep and maintenance.

  118. 118
    Froley says:

    Weighing in on the quality of the Netflix streaming library, I agree the movie offerings are pretty mediocre. But the available TV series are decent even though Netflix doesn’t have any of the HBO series. I’ve got Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Friday Night Lights, etc. in my queue. If the quality of available TV series gets as bad as the movies, I’ll probably cancel my subscription.

    On a related note, if you have an iPad and a Netflix subscription, the Netflix app is a must-have.

  119. 119
    Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water says:

    @bottyguy: what the hell? How is FSM’s name does that make any sense? Good business strategy, telling your customers to FOAD

    Where is this store?

  120. 120
    Tim Connor says:

    Personally, I don’t have the slightest interest in Netflix DVD operation. And I am concerned that Netflix isn’t acquiring streaming material quick enough. If they improve that, I would entirely dump my cable TV, which is basically a terrible deal.

    So, from my point of view, they need more focus on on-line content. They may eventually need to develop tiered packages of monthly content, at different price points.

    Cable TV is a shameful monopoly where monthly rates always go up, and total content per dollar always goes down. Somebody will replace them. I’d rather it was Netflix than Vuudu (which is owned by Walmart).

  121. 121
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    But the database schema for streaming is going to become more and more different from the DVD side as streaming evolves.

    Why?

  122. 122
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @Judas Escargot:

    Well Reed and co. know their database and framework requirements better than anybody and they say they do.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8Tn8n5CIPk

    Maybe they’re lying. How would we know?

  123. 123
    Catsy says:

    @jayackroyd:

    Noting that I am cleverly arguing both sides here, there are still people on aol dial-up.

    And for those people, the DVD route makes sense. We have high-speed internet and for us it doesn’t.

    A good example of the value streaming provides to us: we own the DVD box set of Stargate SG-1. We haven’t used it since SG-1 showed up on streaming, because it is much easier and takes far less time to find a specific episode or advance to the next one through the Netflix interface than to rifle through the huge folder of DVDs in the box set comparing disk numbers to the manual, and deal with switching disks.

    It just saves a lot of time and effort. And time is valuable to us, even around the margins.

    @Amanda in the South Bay: No, just stop right there. I’m tired of people wading into discussions like these with lofty admonitions about how we shouldn’t complain about X because other people are worse off. There’s always someone worse off. That has jack to do with the topic at hand.

    If we had wandered into a discussion about unemployment and started bitching about what Netflix is doing, you’d have a point. But the economy and unemployment aren’t the topic of this thread, Netflix is–and whining that people have the gall to complain about a boneheaded decision by Netflix when there are people can’t afford the service just makes you look like a self-righteous asshole.

    As do presumptions about whether or not we’ve examined our privilege. Guess what? I’m keenly aware of how fortunate my family is, thanks for asking. I’ve lived on the street before and don’t lack for perspective on this issue; I’ve come a long way from there. I just don’t see the need to belittle anything that might bother me or those around me at any given time just because there might be someone out there who has worse problems.

  124. 124
    YoohooCthulhu says:

    Netflix streaming works decently well on my current cable internet connection. But if streaming becomes more popular? I can’t see how broadband outlets that refuse to invest in new infrastructure (Comcast, I’m looking at you) are going to keep up with say, everyone on the street streaming movies at once. If I need to pay for a more expensive tiered internet plan to stream, I’m not going to.

    Additionally: at <$10/month for either the streaming or DVD-mail option alone, Netflix is probably one of the cheapest entertainment options out there. It's way cheaper than cable. It's an optional luxury, sure, but it's hardly extravagant. Although, if you’re talking about streaming? Yeah, depending on where you live it might be moderately expensive to have an internet plan capable of doing so.

  125. 125
    RareSanity says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    I’ve looked at a couple of your comments, and it appears that you, like Reed Hastings, have decided to combine two completely different issues that could have been done separately.

    First, separating “databases” and such, is a technical issue. These things can be done without your customers even knowing that it’s happening.

    Secondly, this split has devalued the company. There is NEVER a time where a company that loses value, somehow increases it’s bargaining position.

    Let’s say that hypothetically, all of this was required for Netflix to increase it’s bargaining position with content providers…then why not let customers of either service “link” one account with the other? Even if it is something as simple as if you search for a title on the streaming site and it is not found, there’s a popup that says, “This title is available on Quikster as a DVD rental. Would you like to add it to your Quikster Queue?” Then and the same thing on the DVD site, “This title is available as streaming option on Netflix. Would you like to add to your “instant” queue?”

    Simple, minimal interaction, you still would have to log into the separate sites to manage your account and queue.

    The other thing is until sufficient broadband service is ubiquitous in the U.S., DVDs are going nowhere. The speeds delivered in major cities is just barely enough to even consider this an option, in flyover country?

    Fuhgeddaboutit!

    You think Disney is going to miss out on millions of sales of Snow White because, “the future is streaming media”?

    This move by Netflix was poorly thought out, and even more incompetently executed. This is going to cost them, how much remains to be seen, but there is no way that either company becomes stronger than a combined company would have been.

    But hey, they’re going to have video game rental sometime in the future. VIDEO GAMES! Sometime in the future! That should make everything ok. /sarcasm

  126. 126
    MikeJ says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I can promise you the schema will certainly be radically different soon because they’ll hire different devs on each side and nobody will want to use code that wasn’t written here.

  127. 127
    Catsy says:

    @MikeJ: That’s not a technical requirement, it’s a design choice.

  128. 128
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Catsy:

    I work in a customer service job and everyday get shit on by rich customers (I’m sure many of them socially liberal too), I’m sure a few of which also grew up poor and had tough spots on the way. Doesn’t excuse acting like a privileged asshole though.

  129. 129
    Scott P. says:

    DVD rental is going to disappear. Once all the fights over licensing settle down, everything will be streaming. Unless you are still cleaning the capstan on your 8-track player, it’s time to start letting go of DVD rental as an entertainment alternative. I hate to break it to you this suddenly. Once the licensing dam breaks, and everything is streamed, DVDs become frisbees.

    The licensing dam may not break. I think it’s just as likely that the content controllers use their power to extract as much money from streaming as possible. And if not them, then the internet providers will know that you have no other options and will take the money themselves. By 2020, when it cost as much to stream a movie as it does to go to the theater today, you may wish you had hung on to those DVDs.

  130. 130
    Catsy says:

    By the by, shortly after midnight this morning I received an email from “Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix [info@netflix.com]”. It’s a mass-mail that went out to all Netflix customers, informing them about this pending change. So I replied with my (polite) feedback and expressed the reasons why this would likely get me to drop my DVD service.

    I received this response:

    Subject: UNDELIVERED
    Dear Netflix User,
    ____
    Your email has reached an automated mailbox. Email sent to this address does not reach our Customer Service team and will not receive a personal response.
    ____
    If you have a question you need answered right away, please visit our online Help Center at (URL omitted). It covers a wide variety of commonly asked questions.
    ____
    If you need to contact a customer service representative please visit (URL omitted).
    ____
    Thanks for contacting Netflix.
    ____
    Sincerely,
    Your Friends at Netflix

    Nice. Send out a mass-mail, and bounce replies to it with a boilerplate message that doesn’t actually provide you with a preferred contact point for feedback.

    Heckuva job, Reedy.

  131. 131
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Catsy: Uh, you might want to check the previous thread.

  132. 132
    Catsy says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: That sucks. I’ve worked in that industry too. But what does it have to do with the discussion everyone else here has been having?

  133. 133
    Scott P. says:

    This. We use our DVD queue very little. Almost everything on Netflix we watch, we watch on streaming. Having to plan what we’re going to watch two days in advance and waiting for the DVD to show up just feels archaic and unnecessary at this point. It was just handy to be able to manage everything through one interface.

    Interesting. 95% of what I watch is simply not available via streaming.

  134. 134
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    Maybe they’re lying. How would we know?

    Netflix has at least 23 million subscribers, and at least 100,000 titles to manage (I can only find old numbers for each).

    Big as that sounds, that’s not all that big a database by today’s standards. Facebook has more than ten times as many users, and a much more complex data stream to manage for each individual user (each Facebook page is assembled on the fly per page view, unlike Netflix which just has to track your movie queue and a few user-specific attributes for each movie).

    So, yes, I think it’s spin.

    IMO this is more about their impending spread into foreign markets and licensing agreements. Inking streaming vs DVD delivery agreements with the content providers in each country is probably made easier by this split.

  135. 135
    Catsy says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): I saw nothing in the previous thread that has anything to do with that email from Netflix. Or were you referring to a different thread?

  136. 136
    KXB says:

    @Scott P.:

    They will have to pry my DVD library out of my cold dead hands! DVD will be around for awhile, and it will be more than just a niche market, the way vinyl records are today. When companies decide to trim their streaming libraries to save on costs, there will be less “Homicide” or “The Shield” and a whole lot more “Flavor of Love”.

  137. 137
    Catsy says:

    @Scott P.: Different tastes, likely. That’s not to say that there aren’t things I want to watch that aren’t available on streaming, just that they’re usually things I own anyway.

  138. 138
    scav says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: My main point was, I’m contributing to this discussion not because this is the biggest issue in my life by far but merely because it came up in a thread and I’ve got a meaningless opinion. My mother’s funding my netflix because she insisted on getting me something fun for xmas while I asked for dull useful things because I was unemployed. On the fringes of IT unemployed, not that it matters. I just found this particular thread to belong to one of the eternal topical foodgroups of BJ: pets, gardening, politics and random bitching about stupid things. Just being social. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

  139. 139
    Catsy says:

    @scav:

    My main point was, I’m contributing to this discussion not because this is the biggest issue in my life by far but merely because it came up in a thread and I’ve got a meaningless opinion.

    I think this is the part that bugged me most about Amanda’s position: the false premise that we’re wrong for discussing this because it’s the biggest issue in our life. No, it’s really not. It’s a discussion. Anyone reading more into it than that is telling us more about themselves than us.

    Neither you nor anyone else participating in it has anything to apologize for.

  140. 140
    Nom de Plume says:

    @RossInDetroit:

    1) not everyone has broadband. Everyone has mail.
    2) plenty of streamed films look like ass and the disk is much more watchable. Some people care.
    3) Pretty much everyone has a DVD or Blu-ray player and a TV. Not everyone has a comparable video setup for streaming.

    Thanks for this. It always cracks me up, the argument that goes “I happen to have this particular setup, therefore everyone else in the world loves it that way”.

    And for the record, I have a great streaming setup myself. But DVDs ain’t going anywhere. If you want to own a movie permanently and in the highest possible quality, you need a Blu-Ray DVD, and you will continue to need it for the foreseeable future.

  141. 141
    MikeJ says:

    @KXB:

    When companies decide to trim their streaming libraries to save on costs, there will be less “Homicide” or “The Shield” and a whole lot more “Flavor of Love”.

    I don’t understand why Netflix would ever need to trim their streaming library. There’s zero cost to keeping a digital copy in inventory even if it only gets viewed once every ten years, at least if someone with any sense writes the deals.

  142. 142
    KXB says:

    @MikeJ:

    Because Netflix is not the producer of content, they are the distributor. Time Warner, Disney, Viacom – they make they product. If Time Warner wants to make money off its cable division and video-on-demand, why would they give their good material to Netflix? The only argument Netflix could make in a price negotiation is, “Well, we have 10 million customers.” But they are driving their customers away, which puts them in a weaker position when it comes to negotiating with the production companies.

  143. 143
    Gravie says:

    I logged on to Suntrust this morning to check my account balance — an account I’ve had since 1989, BTW — to find that they’ve “upgraded” the site with “exciting new options” that apparently are going to require me to re-open my existing checking account to a new version with an exciting new name. At least that’s the way it looks on the site. Needless to say, I was displeased and I still don’t know what my official account balance is. I will straighten it out, eventually, but WTF indeed.

  144. 144
    bottyguy says:

    @KXB: “… you can often just press the next chapter button on your remote.”

    Not any more I’ve now received two rental only DVDs that will not allow chapter skipping, fast forwarding, or top menu selection until the damn trailers have all played. Then they have the nerve to have a menu item to watch the stupid trailers again.

  145. 145
    fuckwit says:

    @Foxhunter: Yep. This sounds like a divestiture waiting to happen. One company has high costs on its balance sheet, the other has pure profit. Say bye-bye to the high cost one.

  146. 146
    Mike G says:

    Taking a screenshot of my streaming queue, then dumping the service.

    The fact that there will be no integration of the websites (which they could easily do, and make it less of a pain in the ass for DVD-and-streaming customers) indicates that a corporate split is likely. Maybe Netflix wants to dump DVDs and go all-streaming. Short-sighted, arrogant and a big fuck-you to the customers — in other words, classic MBA-hivethink.

    I find it curious that there aren’t any major competitors to Netflix out there. Seems like a good time for someone to launch.

  147. 147
    Maxwel says:

    Netflix is down and Qwikster isn’t ready. Great!

  148. 148
    KXB says:

    @Mike G:

    Yeah – go all streaming when their streaming catalog is small, and unlikely to grow fast enough to meet demand. The transmission is limited by the quality of the internet connection, and when you depend on competitors who have their own on-demand services they want home viewers to use. This is a slow-motion train wreck.

  149. 149

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Subtitles/captioning works well, when it works–but it works for a Very Small Subset of the Netflix Streaming offerings.

    That it isn’t available for many recent movies (i.e., those for which the captioning was assumed to be part of the process) and television shows where it does exist on the DVD or the broadcast is a NFLX flaw of major proportion.

  150. 150
    KXB says:

    @fuckwit:

    There is no “pure profit” to streaming – the production companies want to get paid, and the cable/phone companies want to get paid for transmission. They will just keep squeezing Netflix.

  151. 151
    Sam says:

    People don’t like change, but businesses must change to succeed. If a brand new grocery store had opened up in your area with the “new and improved” layout, you might have said, “this place is awesome, I’m shopping here from now on.” Your grocery store may piss off its customers by making changes, but if it doesn’t make changes it’s gonna get flatted by Whole Foods (or something) eventually.

  152. 152
    UncommonSense says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred):

    Oh, come on, Raven. You don’t love the ability to stream 100 episodes of Buffy? Not the entire series, mind you. Just 100 episodes of it.

    Or, how about the ability to watch five or six episodes from season three of Thirtysomething, the rest of them being unavailable for streaming?

    The problem with this move is that Netflix is forgetting the streaming was initially just a value-added extra for folks with the two-out DVD package. As an add-on, the limited selection was acceptable. As the core business, it is not.

    I don’t know what market research told them this was a smart move, but I think they’re wrong. I, for one, am not looking forward to having to manage two accounts for what used to be the same service.

  153. 153
    Persia says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): I can get it to work but there are so few titles it doesn’t really make much of a difference.

  154. 154
    KXB says:

    @jayackroyd:

    There are no “licensing arrangements” for DVDs. Under copyright law, the owner of the DVD can do whatever he wants – including renting them out as a business. So, Netflix could buy hundreds of copies of movies and rent them out out – and there was nothing the movie studios could do. But that is not the case with streaming – where studios enjoy much greater control over transmission, and how much to get paid for it.

  155. 155
    Persia says:

    @Sarah in Brooklyn: It kills me what isn’t available on DVD even now. Stuff I watched legally at Hollywood Video is now ‘save’ on the Netflix queue, and don’t even think about streaming. What happened to the digital age?

  156. 156
    Ken says:

    Seems to me “Qwikflix” for DVD-only is the obvious marketing corollary to “Netflix” streaming. But what do I know, I don’t have an MBA.

  157. 157
    MazeDancer says:

    @Eric:

    In summary, this is a good move and will allow Netflix to run a much leaner streaming operation going forward. It’s just that there’s going to be some bumps in the road along the way.

    Bumps that didn’t have to happen.

    Have never, in my considerable time in the image field, seen lousier handling of the Customer Relationship with such a large, happy, loyal group of customers. Cheap, stupid, sloppy, absurd roll out. And today’s email and that unfathomably bad Qwikkie name continue that trajectory.

    That said, Netflix actually, right now, has no competition. Go look, you will not find something as good.

    Amazon streaming is sad. Even getting it free as a Prime customer doesn’t make up for the lousy titles. And DVD wise – the library at Netflix is deep and rich.

    Until HBO decides one can subscribe direct and stream, or there is actual competition in the cable environment, like offering cheaper service for those not interested in sports, or customers get so fed up with the dinosaur death throes of all entertainment that isn’t offered when you want it, on demand, instantly, thus setting up the market for stealing, there are going to be difficulties.

    But Netflix did not have to handle this situation so badly.

  158. 158
    JimMcC says:

    I’m thinking somewhere between The New Coke and the Edsel.

  159. 159
    jayackroyd says:

    @KXB: Yes, I know. The link to the guy at Forbes makes clear what the issues are. Thanks! Sorry I wasn’t clearer.

  160. 160
    Kyle says:

    @Sam:

    People don’t like change, but businesses must change to succeed. If a brand new grocery store had opened up in your area with the “new and improved” layout, you might have said, “this place is awesome, I’m shopping here from now on.”

    In this analogy, the Netflix grocery store, the only one in town, decided it was going to split off its frozen foods, bakery and booze into a separate store with a different name several miles away at the other end of town, with different payment procedures for each; raise prices in both stores, and announce the news with a “tough shit” attitude.

    Not exactly new and improved.

  161. 161
    Thymezone says:

    @Judas Escargot:

    Two things pop to mind. One is that the number of titles is meaningless. What Netflix has to manage is disks, queues and members, not titles. So there is that.

    Two is that it’s almost obvious that Netflix is going to sell off one of its distribution channels. Probably the disks. The future is elsewhere and I don’t think they want that grossly labor and resource intensive thing hanging on their rack. We have a Netflix DVD distribution center here. It’s a big ugly warehouse looking place filled with big ugly things and a bunch of people running around in there and trucks carrying stuff to the post office. It’s about as futuristic as Fotomat would be right now.

  162. 162
    Mike G says:

    @Ken:

    Seems to me “Qwikflix” for DVD-only is the obvious marketing corollary to “Netflix” streaming.

    Not if you’re planning to sell it off and want it clearly separated from the Netflix brand.

    Are Bush Administration officials running Netflix now?
    Their combination of arrogance and ignorance takes me back to 2008. Maybe for their next brilliant move they’ll rename it “NetBushCheney” or “FreedomFlix”.

  163. 163
    KXB says:

    @jayackroyd:

    It’s all good. This is still a quickly breaking story.

  164. 164
    Thymezone says:

    Let me see if I have this right. Guy develops rent-by-mail DVD service, puts all competitors out of business, completely revolutionizes distribution business.

    Then he sees that the future is in electronic distribution, adds that to his business.

    Then he sees that DVD shuffling is not the future of his business and takes steps to carve it out and probably sell it off, a smart business move for sure. At least as smart as his first two, described just above.

    So because a bunch of people fell in love with an idea that was doomed when it started, and because the guy has his eye on the future, now he’s an asshole.

    Got it! Thanks everyone!!

  165. 165
    Thymezone says:

    It just proves what George Carlin said: The problem with everything, pretty much, is other people.

    To me the most obvious lesson of Netflix’ startup was the loyalty of movie rental customers. There isn’t any. Blockbuster went down the toilet in the blink of an eye, and their customers never looked back. Mister Netflix knows that his customer base is that same loyal flock that used to go to Blockbuster for movies. They will dump him in an instant. He needs to move fast and ask questions later when the future shows its hand. He is not going to get stuck with the Fotomat of movie distribution and all its 20th century gear when that business collapses in a heap, which it surely will, if it hasn’t started already.

    If I were him and reading this thread, I’d just work even harder to get the disk racket packaged up and sold off as quickly as possible. That party is over.

  166. 166
    Shadow's Mom says:

    @Montysano: If you stop the streamed film you are offered the option to ‘resume’ when you return.

    @RareSanity: I just talked to Denny at Netflix Customer Service. Proposed your suggestion of cross-site queue management; he’d thought this was the plan. He did say that he thought that our user accounts would be replicated into the new Quikster site automatically.

  167. 167
    KXB says:

    @Thymezone:

    Sure, and when ISPs start charging an arm & leg & another arm for data downloads, unless you sign-up for their video on demand service, then Netflix will wonder why did they get rid of DVDs so quickly? My cable company (WOW) has an increasingly impressive selection of on-demand programming, much of it at no charge. Why add streaming Netflix and another piece of hardware?

  168. 168
    terry chay says:

    It’s so clear that they are creating Qwikster to kill off the DVDs-by-Mail business

    http://terrychay.com/article/dvds-by-mail.shtml

  169. 169
    acm says:

    I thought that they were sort of forced into this, because the licensing deals for streaming were so restrictive that they were in danger of losing their broad DVD catalog — thus, splitting allows them to work out whatever deals they can for the streaming business, while still guaranteeing that anybody who likes a DVD service won’t look anywhere else…

  170. 170
    John says:

    @RossInDetroit:

    I have to kind of disagree. I think Thyme Zone is right that streaming is the way of the future. All the problems you highlight will gradually be ironed out.

    What remains a problem, and what’s hard to see getting much better, is the licensing issues. Thyme Zone just waves those issues away. Sure, once everything is streaming, and everyone has broadband, and everyone has a set up to get those streaming movies displayed on their TV, DVD rental will be obsolete (and maybe even DVDs themselves, in the way that CDs are becoming obsolete). But if streaming is the way of the future, it’s certainly not the way of the present.

    I understand the idea of not clinging to obsolete technologies simply because they’re the way we’ve always done things (and, of course, Netflix DVD rental by mail is not the way we’ve always done things). But I utterly fail to understand why we should prematurely embrace technologies which are still, at this point, deeply imperfect, simply because they are likely to be the way of the future. I’ll be perfectly happy to accept streaming as the way to watch movies…once everything I want to watch is actually available that way. Until then, there’s a place for DVDs and DVD rentals, and there’s no reason to prematurely embrace a system that makes the vast majority of the world’s films and television shows inaccessible.

  171. 171
    terry chay says:

    http://terrychay.com/article/t.....base.shtml

    @acm: No. Netflix licensing deals are so restrictive that they need to charge separately for it. The main restriction of for streaming content licensing is the exorbitant price. They always have the option to negotiate the DVD catalog licensing. Netflix is in a tough position because all the companies they compete with on streaming (Blockbuster/DISH/soon-to-be-Hulu, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Yahoo (soon), Amazon, Comcast, etc.) have much more money than Netflix.

    Ask yourself, if Netflix gave a shit about the DVD-by-mail business then why is the streaming business keeping the brand name? Clearly they are saying in 40 ft high burning letters that they think the DVD-by-mail is a dying business, recently accelerated by the way the announcement in July and now dealt a death-blow with this announcement.

    When you parlay one advantage (DVD-by-mail dominance) into another (streaming dominance?). You don’t’ immediately abort the old business. Did Microsoft spin of MSDOS before Windows XP came out? Has Apple aborted the Macintosh or even the iPod now that the iPhone and iPad are killing? Is Amazon spinning off their “books-by-mail” business now that they have the Kindle? Hellz no!

    This is such a pile of massive stupid from a business perspective, that I think the real reasoning is to slough off the DVD-by-mail business in order that Netflix (streaming) become a likely acquisition target for a late-comer with more money.

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