Netflix: We're Breaking Up. (Qwikster, Us Too.)
They're like the boyfriend I told to help clean the apartment or I was going to leave him even though I loved him because he obviously didn't respect me and refused to "hear" me and then he still didn't help clean the apartment AND SO I LEFT HIM.
Like about 1,000,000 other people who have or are planning to ditch them by the end of September, I've warned them about the thin ice they were skating around on.
Back in July Netflix sent a rather terse email to customers explaining that they had to jack their prices by 60% because they'd been undercharging for so long. Now, price increases are common enough but 60%? That's like charging 2006 housing prices, which is another way of saying laughably insane.
Next came the reports of Netflix's negotiations with Starz falling apart, stamping an expiration date of "February 2012" smack on the face of all Disney and Sony titles currently available for streaming.
Still I waited, wanting to see when all of these great streaming titles they promised were going to be made available. While I waited I caught up on Dawson's Creek and Beauty and the Beast; The Series. You know, the one with the lion guy who lives in the sewers under Manhattan and that chick from Terminator who used to be married to that guy who made Titanic and Avatar?
Courtesy of CBS
(No matter how pathetic you think that might be, the fact that I WILL tune into the rumored reboot has to be even more pathetic, right? I know.)
But streaming cheesy TV only goes so far and at this point I don't need Netflix as much as they need me. Especially with Monday's announcement that they're splitting the streaming and DVD sides of the business, which is basically of a whole other level of terrible business strategy. But don't take my word for it, just read the hundreds of negative comments from pissed off clients on Netflix's own blog.
It turns out when they said "separating" the two services back in July they didn't mean the "Dad's sleeping on the couch because it's better for his back" kind of separation we were led to believe. Apparently what they really meant was more of a "Dad moved in with his secretary a few months back but we haven't told the kids yet, they think he's been on a business trip in Taiwan this whole time." type of thing. Netflix is actually spinning the DVD side of the business off into a separate service altogether.
Which I guess is great, really, if what you're looking for is two plans with two separate companies generating two separate bills and requiring the management of two separate queues so when you want to watch something you'll have to log into two sites and search both queues manually to determine which format the thing you want to watch is available in. Plus you'll have to manage the recommendations feature separately on both sites, ranking things you've previously watched in two separate places to make what used to be just one thing that didn't work that great to start with work even a little bit in two entirely different places.
If you're still confused this comic from The Oatmeal is actually completely accurate in its description of the new setup.
Netflix also made the somewhat controversial decision to use what sounds like a rejected superhero moniker for the name of their not-so-new DVD by mail service: Qwikster.
Unfortunately, it seems no one at Netflix/Qwikster thought to check Twitter before they settled on a name, or they might have realized @Qwikster already belongs to foulmouthed pot head Jason Castillo who may or may not have any idea what is happening right now, but has promised to negotiate a plan with his "maynes" to ensure he makes bank.
But Netflix and its new red-headed step child have bigger problems than Castillo.
After all it's not 2004 anymore and Netflix is far from the only one in this game. Amazon, Hulu Plus, Apple... hell even BlockBuster is out there having either already picked their horse (streaming vs DVD) or continuing to offer both options with a similar library for a lower price. And just about everybody offers a free 30 day trial these days. We ordered a Roku device today and plan to try them all out to see what fits us best before ditching Netflix completely. All seem eager to welcome us with open arms.
Blockbuster in particular seems to be relishing the public outcry, having been pounded relentlessly by Netflix for years.
Since Monday's announcement Netflix's stock has dropped again, and is now down over 50% from what it was prior to the July kerfuffle. Tuesday, Blockbuster and Dish Network (which acquired Blockbuster's remaining assets back in April) announced a much anticipated press conference to be held this Friday to announce what they're calling "the most comprehensive home entertainment package ever".
With customers angry and shopping around, what do you think? Will Netflix be able to walk back the bad press of the last few months and find a way to wash the bad taste out of customers mouths, or are we in for another dose of "New Coke" before they wake up and start actually trying to win us back? Are you sticking around, or jumping ship?