Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reed Hastings: "It is possible we are moving too fast – it is hard to say."
23,000 Angry Netflix Commenters Think It's Pretty Easy to Say.

I messed up. I owe everyone 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. I’ll try to explain how this happened.
[Can you read the subtext there? "I'll try to explain how this happened" written to an angry subscriber who is not upset about humility but about price ... instantly becomes "and not use big words since you're fairly stupid." Going on for about eleven paragraphs doesn't help because few are going to slow down enough to read all that. Just from an advertising point of view this is a train wreck.]

We aren't Netflix subscribers but Rose is, although she suspended her account after the price increase and moving home for a while where she won't really need it.

She got an email from Netflix's CEO, Reed Hastings, and we read it with astonishment. Rarely have we seen a letter that came off as more condescending while also informing her of supremely inconvenient changes to the service. As anyone interested knows by now, they divided their DVD service into a separate company from the streaming service ... and are treating both as two separate companies so that you must have two accounts, subscribers' ratings don't show up on both websites, and so on and so forth.

[Someone needs to show Reed a little website called Amazon where they manage to sell lots of different things in one place. Actually, it is more probable that they just don't want to provide continual comparisons between the 100,000 titles available on DVD versus the 20,000 titles on streaming. But I digress...]

Inadvisedly, or so we thought, he invited readers to go to his blog post which is even longer (this guy really doesn't know his market)and leave a comment. I was fascinated to know how many comments there would be but never would have come close to guessing.

When Rose clicked through, there were 19,000 comments. In the 20 minutes that she took to compose her own comment (a letter back to Reed), one thousand more comments had been made. This morning, close to 23,000 people ... mostly negative ... had commented. Wow. That's a lot of angry people.

Interestingly, the comments are linked to Facebook, which allows readers to "like" them and, thus, spread them beyond Netflix's website. Which also seems like very bad judgment. But why should that be any different from the way the rest of this has been handled?

I don't have a dog in this fight. We just find it fascinating to watch the train wreck in progress ... and speculate on whether it is a result of Reed Hasting's ego or simply astoundingly bad marketing/public relations advice.

This did prompt Rose to check out Blockbuster where a popup window lets you know that Netflix prices rose 60% and that they are offering a 30-day free trial. It will be interesting to see if this actually translates into action which benefits another company who is positioned to throw itself into the breech, whether Blockbuster or someone else.


  1. Their new motto is "higher prices, less convenience!"

  2. His letter was a good reminder for me to discontinue the DVDs we get from Netflix. The older offspring seem to like the TV offerings on the streaming side so we kept that (okay, and I need my periodic Pucca fix). Since rededicating to reading more we haven't been watching as many movies anyway. And it doesn't hurt that the local library has a pretty good collection of DVDs for $2 for three days rental so we can pick one up when the spirit moves and end up spending less than the monthly Netflix subscription price.

  3. I'm just glad this is one of those things that we can watch from the sidelines. Thank you, Premiere Video!

  4. I visit the Beaumont Barnes & Noble. I browse the movies as well as the books. If I find a book or a movie I want, I buy it and take it home. And if I don't, then I am always grateful to B & N for allowing me to graze for free for an hour or so most Saturdays.

    Streaming? Beam it down? No, thanks; I want the book or film in a nice little plastic bag, sensitive to touch, with dimensionality, physical reality.