Dear Netflix–Trying to Make Sense of Some Nonsensical Moves

Netflix. That wonderful little service with the red envelopes and the online streaming. That poster child of pop culture distribution goodness.

My how you’ve fallen.

Back in July, you were riding high. Your stocks were selling for $300/share. You were the shining beacon of how a company should operate. You kept coming up with new ways to please your customers and keep them happy. You had a tremendous reputation for Bang for Your Buck quality. Streaming. DVDs. Blurays. All in one. And for a while, you could do no wrong.

Then you decided to double your rates, offering nothing more for that price increase than a generalized “there’ll be more good offerings coming later.” Customers were furious, and rightfully so. (Granted, I understand why you hiked the prices, and I understand why it was necessary. But as far as a price increase goes, you’re now the poster child for how *not* to roll one out–especially how not to roll such a large one out.) There were threats of canceled subscriptions. You said it would all be okay. You’d taken that into account.

Then 1 million more people canceled than you were anticipating.

Clearly the writing was on the wall. People were unhappy, and you’d do something to fix that. You did something all right. You went and split up DVD by mail and streaming offerings. And you said that you were doing that in order to rectify the previous mistake? How does this help? Your stocks are down to $130/share as of this instant. You’ve sunk 57% in two months. Way to go.

So . . . where do you go from here?

First, some background for your (former) customers. Streaming is the future. I get that. More and more people are going to be moving away from DVDs as their delivery choice for media. I know I stream much more than I watch on DVD or Bluray. It’s more convenient. And as more people stream, the cost for those precious streaming licenses goes up. So you need to get money to get those licenses. It’s a Catch-22. I’m sympathetic.

But remember this: your competitors (Apple, Google, etc.) have wallets. Deep wallets. Wallets so big, they boggle the mind. You can’t compete with those wallets. If streaming rights go to the highest bidder, and those companies feel like bidding, you lose. The end.

But what am I saying? You have to be aware of this. Maybe that’s why you’re doing what you’re doing. The best scenario I can see for consumers right now is that you’re prettying yourself for an acquisition by Google or Apple. They swoop in and get your great (or formerly great) brand, and you get their big wallets. We the movie watchers get better streaming deals, and everyone is happy. Those are the rumors, at least.

I hope they’re right. I really want to like you, Netflix. You’ve been good to me in the past. Help me help you. 🙂

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