Sunday, September 18, 2011

Netflix to become Qwikster? Give me a break.

No sooner do I put up my latest Netflix  Qwikster  review than I come across this news release.  Netflix is splitting into two companies, one for streaming and one for discs only.  I'll be honest and say this isn’t the Netflix I signed up for several years ago.  The streaming choice is really limited, and they are doing nothing to replenish their supply of discs that are no longer available.  Just try watching a complete series, or as in the case of some that were divided into volumes when they were released, a complete season.

For instance, I wanted to watch the one season of Love American Style that was available.  Netflix had one volume and not the other.  Mash?  Forget it.  Way too many of those missing that doing the complete series is impossible.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Dark Shadows?  Not there.  You can rent season two of Paper Chase but not Season One.  Some series were never completed.  Patty Duke?  Seasons one and two but they never acquired Season 3. Ironside?  Season two has been out of circulation forever.   Anyway you get where I’m coming from.

And movies aren’t in much better shape.  Once the supply runs out from lost DVD’s or damaged DVD’s they are almost never replenished.  Yet, I’m willing to bet Netflix still counts them in their inventory for Press Releases, but not for tax purposes of course.  And I was on the waiting list for this documentary about To Kill A Mockingbird, and it took over two months to get it.

And notice not one word is mentioned as to improving the DVD/Blu-ray business that has gone to hell in a hand basket.  Remember, Netflix started charging more for blu-rays to increase disc selection and availability.  But from most reports things have gotten worst instead of better.

But they are adding games so goodbye Gamefly and who gives a shit.  And why the hell should I subsidize gamers?  I don’t own a single game console and play one computer game on rare occasions.  And you know damn well the movie renters are going to subsidize the start up cost of that crap.  And Qwikster?  Why not just call it Netquick? Or more appropriately, Quackster.  Seems fitting at this point.

Huffington Post has the details.

In a post on The Netflix Blog that went up Sunday night, the company's CEO, Reed Hastings, announced that Netflix would split its DVD-by-mail service and its streaming-video service into two companies. The new DVD-only company, called "Qwikster," will be completely separate from the streaming business. Hastings also expressed contrition for the way the company rolled out its recent price hike, which alienated many customers.

Hastings wrote: "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." He went on to announce that Qwikster -- the name is chosen "because it refers to quick delivery" -- is becoming its own entity because " "we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are becoming two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently."

The move comes on the heels of an overwhelmingly negative reaction to Netflix's price hike in July. This week, the company announced it had lost many more subscribers than expected, and its stock price fell accordingly.

Early reaction to the surprise move was mixed. Twitter users did not warm to the name "Qwikster," but Erick Schnonfeld at TechCrunch gave Hastings the thumbs up.

"You’ve got to give him credit for moving fast in the direction where he thinks the greatest opportunity lies.

"Who knows how investors will react in the morning?" Schonfeld wrote. "But it is the right move."

At the top of the post, see Hastings' apology video with new Qwikster CEO Andy Rendich, as well as a screenshot from Qwikster.com.

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