Monday, September 19, 2011

Netflix and Qwikster - My Thoughts

I awoke to a day of rage. It wasn't even about anything political or remotely serious. It was concerning Netflix and their recent changes to their streaming and DVD models. I wanted to express a few thoughts about this and pose a few rhetorical questions, just like I do for every post. I will give the short of this post though, I think splitting streaming with physical media is a good idea and more forward thinking than we realize.

Last night around midnight I received an email from the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings. In his email he apologized for his arrogance and lack of communication about the state of his company. After skimming through all of that mundane and unnecessary banter, I found the real meat of this email now residing in millions of inboxes. He wants to split his company into two parts.

He wants to keep Netflix, the native company streaming only. After some price changes last month, I had gotten the hint pretty quick that they want to push customers into watching instantly, vs using the mail and costing the company postage and cost for DVD's and Blu Ray discs. I got that. The DVD/Blu Ray division will be known as Qwikster, which has a poor title, but the premise is simple enough, DVD's by mail, no streaming.

With this split, they can take advantage of the people that still want to rent physical media and for those who want to stream movies and television instantly. I can't say I agree with the angst, anger, and hem-hawing about this change. The tech community has let me down yet again by showing their fickle side.

In 2005, all of my tech friends that are still my tech friends were all about MySpace. They all joined, wrote on each others' profiles, and told their friends about the service. Sometime late in 2006, I noticed a quick turn away from MySpace and towards other services like Facebook or Twitter. These same people who were singing the praises of MySpace could now suddenly not say enough bad about the service. As a result, people sheepishly followed others to services and MySpace is alive only by stubborn determination.

I fast forward to today and the once powerful, recommended, and constantly talked about Netflix is starting to suffer this fate. A few alpha males and females in these tech circles have started to express dissatisfaction and in lock step, people are once again sheepishly dishing out complaints. I want to ask for a moment of sanity.

The alternate to Netflix right now are few and far between including Blockbuster and your cable provider. By cancelling in groves, we are hurting this company's ability to garner partnerships with content providers to bring more streaming content to us. This only benefits big cable, people. We need to give Netflix this time and chance for them to show us what they have up their sleeves before needlessly casting judgement on the company and giving up.

I'm not giving this one to big cable. Jumping to outrage now will play right into their hands and stop any attempt at innovation that may be coming from them down the road. This gnashing out only hurts us as content consumers. I don't mind people standing on their principles, but let's not be fickle.

Janine and I have been having a pretty good laugh at current account holder for @Qwikster on Twitter. Netflix is not without a great amount of fault and lack of thought here, but they're still the good guys. Just look at their competition.