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Netflix subscribers are hoppin' mad

On top of the Sept. 1 price increase, Netflix is making it much more difficult to use its service. Customers have taken note.

By Karen Datko Sep 20, 2011 4:30PM

Netflix customers -- those who didn't bolt when the company announced what amounted to a 60% price increase -- got more major news this week. In the near future, those who have both the mailed-DVD and online streaming service will have to deal with two separate websites to manage those accounts. They'll be "even easier to use," CEO Reed Hastings said in a blog post.

 

There were 23,702 comments at last count at The Netflix Blog, and we'd guess that 99% of those who voiced an opinion aren't buying it. "Two websites and two monthly bills, all for what? Certainly not 'ease of use' for your customers," wrote Ben Cornue, who said he's canceling.

 

It's unusual to see so much venom directed online at a company.

 

"This is a terrible idea. What are they thinking? Netflix is a well-known brand name and until recently ... well-loved. ... Are they trying to get rid of us? This consumer was satisfied even with the new pricing, but is now considering other options," reader "nanabolini" commented at The Washington Post. (Looking for Netflix alternatives? You'll find them here.)

 

There are a few defenders. "Raym2" said at the Post:

None of you get it. They were expecting the DVD service to die on the vine anyway. Splitting the streaming and DVD services is just the clean break they have been planning all along so they can kill the DVD service eventually in the not-too-distant future.
I blame all the cheapskates who thought it was such an insult to pay $16 instead of $10 monthly for an excellent service. $6 friggin' dollars!!! People spend more than that in one trip to McDonald's without batting an eyelash.

How will these two separate services work?

  • Managing your online streaming account will continue to be done at Netflix.com.
  • Managing your mailed DVDs will be done at a site called Qwikster.com. (The name "Qwikster" is already claimed on Twitter by "a user with a profile picture of Elmo smoking and a Twitter feed littered with foul language," The Washington Post reports.)
  • Qwikster will have a service upgrade that includes video game rentals. Details yet to come.
  • If you keep both services, you'll get two separate charges on your credit card.

Post continues after video.

Other common questions:

 

Will I be able to see at both websites whether the movie I want is available via streaming, DVD or both? CEO Hastings' post at The Netflix Blog suggests not (while putting the best possible spin on this): "Each website will be focused on just one thing (DVDs or streaming) and will be even easier to use." He also said, "A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated."

 

What about my movie ratings? What happens to old reviews is unclear. However, Hastings said, "Similarly, if you rate or review a movie on Qwikster, it doesn't show up on Netflix, and vice-versa."

 

Is Qwikster a throw-away name or what? Yes, but that may be part of Netflix's plan for the mailed-DVD business. The goofy name (and separate website) "all seems to make a bit more sense when you're proactively ridding your company of a business that will do nothing but nosedive in the years to come," Darren Murph editorialized at Engadget.

 

Yes, folks, this is about the future. Mailed DVDs eventually will become a thing of the past. (Note: Most of those 1 million customers who fled after the price increase were DVD-only customers.) That's despite the fact that Netflix's DVD selection is much bigger than movies available for streaming -- 100,000 vs. 20,000, according to one estimate -- and that half of Netlflix's 24 million customers still use both.)

 

Some observers think Netflix made a smart decision to split the company and assign its well-known name to the streaming venture. Erick Schonfeld wrote at TechCrunch:

With this move, Hastings is reaffirming his long-held belief that streaming is the future of Netflix and the future of entertainment, and Wall Street can judge its progress by how well the streaming business is doing on its own. Separating the businesses will also force customers to make a choice, and it is obvious which choice Hastings wants them to make (hint: it starts with an "N").

But what about us, customers want to know. "Streaming and DVD service may be two different services for Netflix but for the customer, they are largely one in the same -- access to films," David Barba wrote at The Netflix Blog. "If I can stream it, great, but if not, send me the DVD. Until all the films are available to stream (or at the very least a high percentage), this doesn't make sense."

         

Levi Kaplan wrote:

I simply do not want to keep up with two bills, two services, and two websites. Streaming movies made up for the time it took for a DVD to get to me, and the DVDs by mail made up for how few movies I looked for I could actually find able to be streamed.
Sir, You do not have two successful companies here, you HAD one.

More on MSN Money:

6Comments
Sep 21, 2011 9:57AM
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In a bad economy, shouldn't netflix subscription prices go DOWN instead of up?

I'm sure the investors love making money, but when the markets go down they should be realistic about their profit taking, as well as executives for the company.   Just because you used to make so much money in the past doesn't mean you are entitled to that amount or more now.
Socking the customer for extra cash just because you feel you are entitled to more profit is a stupid business model.

Sep 20, 2011 9:29PM
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NetFlix wants to get rid of DVD customers, that much is obvious.  They seem to feel that streaming is the way to go.  They will have a smaller selection of movies, no doubt.  They will not be able to count certain parts of the population as customers, namely those who either can't get decent broadband or can't afford it. 

I think they have walked themselves into a more difficult business situation.  More competition.  Content providers that will constantly want more money.  A slightly smaller customer base.  I have to wonder what the hell they are thinking.  Then again, I guess I don't care in that I don't own any of their stock. 

Sep 21, 2011 10:55AM
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i can honestly tell you I miss my Netflix service I used to have. I can in the same breath tell you I bet they miss my money just has much. The way they shoved there price hike down the throats of the consumer needs to be a business model of what not to do for changing rates. Really the cost difference was not a whole bunch. It was the general principal of how they conducted the rate hike that showed me my dollars are better spent some where else.
Sep 26, 2011 9:13AM
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I'm out of Netflix.  I used it to watch foreign films.  Now I'm waiting for the less greedy startup  from the real world that replaces what used to be a very good service at a very favorable price. It's an opportunity for someone.   Meanwhile.....I'll spend less time sitting. 
Sep 21, 2011 11:30AM
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much ado about nothing - $16.00!?!  - Get over it - My cable costs 5 times that and I barely watch it.
Sep 21, 2011 12:58PM
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I believe there is something awry in that customers were not really taken in to account and will lose a service that many have to come to rely upon and that Netflix clearly has not thought about the potential threats from external sources.. I agree with their move to separate DVD rentals from streaming but I do not condone their tactics. There were easily other means of doing so. 

ISP's are the next piece to this puzzle that nobody seems to be talking about. Streaming movies requires a strong internet connection with reliable and affordable service. With the proposed charging for usage and throttling, customers who stream online movies from Netflix may eventually may be gouged by the ISP's with service bills upwards to $100-150/month and limited service. This will certainly deal a destructive blow to Netflix's ability to conduct business. To make things worse, if Qwikster is allowed to fail and the ISP's prevail Netflix would cease to exist in any functional capacity. 

Netflix has already put mom&pop rental stores out of business not to mention the giants of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, they are the reigning 800 lb gorilla by default. They now have a higher duty to their customers and the public, not only their stockholders. 
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