Qwikster is Dead; Long Live Netflix

Netflix started out in 1997 or so delivering only DVDs, and I have become accustomed to it since I subscribed sometime in 2003.  As of late, there are still not nearly as many movies available over Netflix’s streaming services as there are on DVD.  If the movie companies would allow every movie and TV episode ever produced to flow over the Internet, I would gladly give up physical DVD delivery.

I repeat: Gladly.

When I got an e-mail from Reed Hastings a few weeks ago, I was not surprised at the decision to move toward streaming as a main focus – that’s where most everything is going.  We spoke at length about it on that week’s Ramble & Review.  I can’t remember the last time I bought a software program from a store on a physical disc – literally everything is available for download and installation, and the publishers send you the license keys in e-mail.  This rule has only a few exceptions, but I won’t dive into that here.

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I was, however, upset in finding that I would have two separate accounts and two monthly payments for what I consider the same service: streaming and DVD delivery.  I wasn’t happy, but I couldn’t just cancel.  Netflix’s business model has effectively shut down the brick-and-mortar video rental stores, including the two of them in my small town.  When it comes to DVDs, postal delivery is the only choice we have now.

Today, the public speaks.  Reed (via the Netflix team) sent me another e-mail this morning:

Dear Benjamin,

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.

We’re constantly improving our streaming selection. We’ve recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we’ve added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

We value you as a member, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get your movies & TV shows.

Respectfully,

The Netflix Team

And with this, I am happy.  One bill, one set of credentials, one place for my movies.  I just couldn’t see a reason to separate the DVD and streaming into two entities.  Netflix is for movies and entertainment – it should all be in one place.  If I could imbue any significant change to their model, it would be to make only one copy of a movie available – if you can stream it, there’s no need to ask for it on DVD.  Even if you’re one of those people who copy every DVD so you can watch it any time, it’s all the same.  You can stream it from Netflix just like you can from your media server.

That is, of course, only until the copyright holder’s agreement with Netflix expires.  Then some things aren’t available anymore, leaving customers clamoring for that one show or feature film they missed back in 1989.  I think Netflix will eventually get to stream every motion picture and TV show ever published, but it will take many more years, droves of lawyers, and possibly billions of dollars in court costs, license agreements, lobbying, and – lest we forget – paying your Netflix subscription at least until then.


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