Netflix — I told you so


Red envelope, pink slip. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

This was never rocket science.

If you hike up people’s prices without providing any increase in service, hoping they won't notice, they'll notice. "The trouble was that we didn't explain this well enough," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said. No, Reed. The trouble was that you decided you could provide us less value without our noticing or leaving. Only Facebook can pull a stunt like that, because Facebook has pictures of our college indiscretions, records of our musical tastes and images of our babies. And it's free.

Netflix never had quite the captive audience it thought it did. Blockbuster does exist. Sure, most of its stores have been converted into museums and Vacant Lots Where You Are Pretty Sure You Could Obtain Meth If Only You Knew What To Ask For. And what was the idea behind dividing into Netflix (“for people who get the Internet”) and Qwikster (“for morons who cling to the old ways”)?

Don't divide the baby. It indicates to the baby that you do not love it. The DVD rental artist formerly known as Netflix — now Qwikster? Bisquick? Netflix again? — plummeted in our estimation, taking its stock price with it.

You were doing so well. You had us. You had us at “Hello, here are
infinite videos for a fixed monthly rate, both physical DVDs and
streaming.”

But then you pulled a Mel Gibson. You took all the accumulated
goodwill that you had built up slowly over the past decade and
squandered it on a meaningless, vague and at least slightly insulting
diatribe. And did I mention that Qwikster is a terrible name? If not, it’s a terrible name.

If you’d watched any of the movies you were so busy shipping to us in brightly colored envelopes and allowing us to stream, this whole crisis might have been averted. Never mind that all the movies you suggested I watch next were vaguely insulting — although I appreciated your suggestion that “if you liked ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,’ bludgeon yourself with a blunt object and go rethink your life.”

If “The Talented Mr. Ripley” taught us anything, it is that no one is
ever quite irreplaceable. Also, never wear turtlenecks, or your lover
will strangle you.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".
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