Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jumping the Shark - The Neflix Edition


BUH BYE Netflix.

I have been feeling some residual anger towards this company. I admit it. With a secret amount of glee and general NAH NAH NAH NAH, I saw the news that Netflix has totally bombed in the markets today. I was upset with this company back in June 2011 when they changed the streaming website interface into a complicated mess. Steve Swasey made it even worse by telling all of us that loved the old site to either Like it Or Leave It. OK So .. tell me now, how that is working for you guys Netflix ?

So many mistakes to make, in so little time.

Here is the timeline as I see it.

June- The Website Disaster

Change the streaming website into a huge mess that makes it harder for customers to find anything on it. Customers (myself included ) filled the only feedback forum available to us (the netflix blog) to max comments at 5k with angry complaints. http://blog.netflix.com/2011/06/new-look-and-feel-for-netflix-website.html?commentPage=18 There was some media coverage of this but, looking back, it was just the fin of the shark that Netflix was about to jump. http://popwatch.ew.com/2011/06/10/netflix-changes-interface/

The response ? AWFUL remarks in the media from Netflix PR idiot Steve Swasey. Basically, he said learn to live with it or leave. Eventually we did. In DROVES. How are those stock options looking for ya now Stevie boy ? I have many years of experience in customer service and I have never seen anything be botched so badly.

July - The Price Hike Disaster

On the heels of this mess, the next chapter of Jumping the Shark, The Netflix Edition, was released. The "jump" was a service split of the DVD and streaming services. AND A HUGE PRICE HIKE. At this point I was already sorta done with these guys. The streaming service was less streaming and more "loading" than it was worth. I could not get thru more than about 1/2 hour of any programming thru my blue ray player before it all would freeze up. Forget about trying to get anything to work during prime-time, simply not possible.

For this, the company that I used to really love was going to charge me MORE ? Hell !!!! I was thinking that after the website redesign fiasco and the poor streaming we were getting, that would be the last thing they would do. The next logical step, would have been to give us all a free month and some nice ass balm for all the headaches we had gone thru. But not Netflix. Oh no !!! Is that Reed Hastings water-skiing near the BIG GREY FIN ? Looky... He is holding our new bills and they are SUPER SIZED !!

Anyone who has been in a bad relationship can usually look back and realize there was a moment when you knew it was over. It was no different for me. Here I was, still trying to stream things on my TV to no avail. Then I read that the website that I used to like was now going to cost me a bundle to retain. In addition. there would be no perks what-so-ever added to make up for this unseemly rate hike. More live with it or leave talk from the execs was about all that we were given. So, I took my limited budget and crossed Netflix off the list.


SEPT- OCT He Jumps

SO... Netflix had seriously screwed with and over it's loyal customer base. What more could they possibly do to annoy them ? Oh you had to ask didn't you ? I had let my sub go in Sept. I was even missing it a little. Then the QWACKSTER announcements began. First there would be two accounts with two websites. ( at that point I knew I was right to break up with Netflix) It seems that Reed baby missed me PERSONALLY ! He even sent me one of those I am so sorry we broke up emails.

Dear Lisa,

I messed up. I owe you an explanation.

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.

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.

So here is what we are doing and why.

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to qwikster.com to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated.

There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the Qwikster.com website is up and ready.

For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.

I want to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.

Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.

Respectfully yours,

-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix

p.s. I have a slightly longer explanation along with a video posted on our blog, where you can also post comments.

I have several more of these please come back emails in my in box. Note to Netflix, never drink and get on the phone or the internet.

Then after the mass exodus to sanity started, Hasty Hastings pulled back and said things would remain the same. Well DUH. The streaming content was mostly outdated. You need both sides for the Netflix business model to work. Splitting them into two different accounts with no carrots was bad enough.

October - And he gets over the shark.. only to Belly Flop right into it's Jaws

Once they saw the numbers (and the Twitter page for the Real Qwickster),they rethought things. This kind of arrogance is a lesson to learn. One that I am pretty convinced the Execs at Netflix still don't get. Even with the huge drops in the Netflix stock price.

Us customers told them verbosely and repeatedly to stop treating us like garbage. Instead of listening to us, they went on ahead with their "business model shark jumps". Then.... when we reacted as only the "pissed off 800000" of us could..... they were shocked. Still, Reed Hastings comes off as a tool with no box big enough to hold him in this NYT article this week.


I used to love this service but I am done with them now. I admit, I do miss the old business. Kinda like you miss your high school flame sometimes. My only hope is that another business picks up the slack and evolves a business like Netflix 1.0 Then they hire some-what intelligent people to run it with human sized egos.