Netflix does an about-face on DVD rentals

I just got this e-mail from Netflix:

Dear Edward,

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

Sounds like a New Coke-sized strategy reversal. I dropped my DVD rental option when Netflix raised prices earlier this year, so I don’t really care.

If you are a shareholder, though, should you be heartened by this about-face or alarmed? At Hewlett Packard for instance, when the board of directors fired Leo Apotheker, markets were not excited by seeing Meg Whitman in his seat even though the board was acknowledging mistakes and taking corrective action.

I like Netflix as a service a lot. But I don’t own the stock.

P.S. – Here’s Bill Cosby touting New Coke in 1985. I love those sweaters!

4 Comments
  1. fresno dan says

    I am always curious about people who do not use the DVDs. Can you transfer the download to your big screen TV easily, or do you just watch on a small screen?
    I keep using DVDs because it is easy enough, the steaming is full of interruptions, and why would I want to watch on a 21 inch computer monitor when I have a 55 inch TV screen?

    Also, I think the heat Neflix got was misplaced – Hollywood wants money. But the fact remains, the world is awash in entertainment:
    http://www.africamovies.com/

    Of course, I am quite odd – I can never figure out why people will buy a movie at a movie theatre for 12$, when I can see the same movie 6 months later for about 75 cents, eat all the popcorn I want for pennies, and drink wine until I can’t stand. And replay scenes when I want…
    Ah, the power of first adopter…

  2. Edward Harrison says

    Dan,

    the streaming is great. I have loved it since I made the switch.

    Here’s what I did: I went out and bought this tiny little set top box called Roku, about the size of an old school portable CD player or a 400 page paperback book.

    http://www.amazon.com/Roku-XS-Streaming-Player-1080p/dp/B005CLPP84/crediwrite-20

    This thing was $99 from Amazon and it had a bunch of streaming apps including Netflix pre-installed. I hooked it up to my TV the way you would hook up a DVD player. The difference is that it latches on to your internet connection (either wireless or wired) and plays streamed content over the Internet instead of from the DVD.

    This is infinitely more convenient since you can make a decision to watch and do it instantly, which is why people do it instead of DVDs. I recommend it highly.

  3. jporter says

    You can set up the streaming service through some game consoles as well. We have a Roku box on one TV and our Wii set up to stream on another. Comes in very handy when you have two kids with very different tastes.

    Sadly, I do own some of the stock…

  4. Andrew says

    One of the best options never gets mentioned. You can, as Edward suggests, use a one box solution like Roku. Many have this sort of setup and are completely satisfied. But there is a far more versatile route. I think if Edward tried it even he would be a convert:

    Use your television as a monitor for a simple PC. It is as easy as hooking up a computer to the back of the television, just as you would a monitor, and buying a wireless keyboard and mouse. The PC can be neatly hidden away along with stereo components, etc.

    After some adjustment my wife uses this setup and loves it (read: anyone can do it). We have ditched cable altogether as not only superfluous but really an inferior experience. You can watch television in one window and check e-mail in another. Once you have the experience of controlling a computer on a 60″ screen from your favorite chair you’ll never be satisfied with less.

    p.s. I write this from my sofa.

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