Netflix CEO: Sorry About Price Hikes, Here’s Qwikster

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings apologized on Sunday for upsetting customers with recently introduced price hikes for its DVD rental and video streaming service. He also said the company is splitting off its DVD rental business into a new service called Qwikster, and that subscribers will be able to rent video games, too.

“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,” Mr. Hastings said. “That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology.”

Qwikster. You know, because that really says Qwikster: Netflix’s new DVD rental service. Really.

He said the company will change the DVD rental side of its business to Qwikster in the coming weeks and add Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 game rentals to the service. The company’s on demand movie and TV show streaming service will keep the Netflix name.

The two services won’t be integrated, so customers will need to subscribe to each independently. They also won’t share a video queue, so users will have to maintain independent lists for both services.

Mr. Hastings added, “Some members will likely feel that we shouldn’t split the businesses, and that we shouldn’t rename our DVD by mail service. Our view is with this split of the businesses, we will be better at streaming, and we will be better at DVD by mail.”

While the changes may be good for Netflix, Mr. Hastings is probably right that customers will be resistant. For users that subscribe to both services, they’ll have to maintain dual video lists, their ratings won’t appear for both, and they’ll need to visit two Web sites to manage their accounts.

The Qwikster name doesn’t seem to be sitting well with customers, either. Based on the lukewarm response customers are already giving the split and new name, Netflix may already be well on the way to becoming a streaming-only video service.

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21 Comments Leave Your Own

Lee Dronick

I am not sure about the name Qwikster, doesn’t sound appealing to me, it doesn’t say movie rental. I would need to think about what I would name it, but I need to go to the DMV this morning and need all the strength i have to deal with that.

brett_x

The email is an absurd apology. First he “apologizes” for how the situation was handled, then goes on to say “too damned bad” if you don’t like it. And continues with further salt in the wound by splitting the services completely.

Does anyone really think he’s sorry? Why even bother?

That aside, it’s pretty obvious that they don’t want the DVD business anymore. It’s going to be increasingly costly over the years to come and they don’t want the Netflix brand name to go down with the qwickster ship.

jfbiii

It’s pretty obvious what’s happened here: Reed Hastings is the victim of a vicious attack by a competitor’s team of hired assassins. They may be holding members of his family hostage in return for business-killing concessions or they may have wired multiple Netflix facilities with self-destruct mechanisms in order to force compliance with their increasingly bizarre demands.

Because splitting the businesses is one thing. Billing separately is just paperwork. Un-integrating the two is batshit effin’ crazy.

I’m backing up both of my movie queues right now and saving them to dropbox so that I can at least remember the hundreds of movies I’d like to see at some point.

As for better names than Quickster, Mailflix and Discflix both seem like they would be obvious choices.

Lee Dronick

As for better names than Quickster, Mailflix and Discflix both seem like they would be obvious choices

Mailflix sounds like a very good name.

ilikeimac

they don?t want the Netflix brand name to go down with the qwickster ship.

It’s tough to say which service will survive longer, given the difficulty Netflix has had renewing content contracts. I imagine studios are likely to want to do their own streaming services, but are content to outsource DVD-by-mail service to Qwikster.

Spade

While the apology and explanation do seem weak tea at this point, I do still have some sympathy for Netflix’s position here.

I lay most of the blame on the Hollywood distribution system that has only one goal, to extract as much money from the antiquated model NOW.
Classic example of pennywise pound foolish. Look for another bump in torrent use as a result.

Personally I love the streaming side of the show, large high quality documentary, and foreign films selections with a lot of depth. The loss of Stars is a plus in my book. Mostly crappy Hollywood drek. I wonder who they think they are going to sell that stuff to now.

Jon

Separating the business to make it easier for the Netflix team to focus at the expense of making it more difficult for paying customers to manage our queues, see movies ratings, etc is, in my opinion, a misguided approach. Unless the goal is for users to dump either service or take their business elsewhere. I may very well cancel both plans and 3 months for Mr. Hastings and company to come groveling for my business.

dhp

As for better names than Quickster, Mailflix and Discflix both seem like they would be obvious choices.

Except they are probably making a point of dropping “flix” from the name because of the addition of games.

Jon

Speak up with your wallet and put your account on hold for 3 months, during which time you will not be billed for the service.

MOSiX Man

jfbiii said:

As for better names than Quickster, Mailflix and Discflix both seem like they would be obvious choices.

dhp said:

Except they are probably making a point of dropping ?flix? from the name because of the addition of games.

How about something like DiskPost (could make for some fun tongue-twisters), or MediaPost? And if they branch out a bit, they could add PornPost. wink

Obewan

I have recently retired and I have been hitting Netflix heavily on streaming and getting 3 DVD’s a week. There have been numerous PROBLEMS with the Netflix service TO THE POINT I have made several attempts to get in touch with someone of import at Netflix in California. Impossible if you are a Customer. You will get lied to, fluffed off, and hung up on.
So what happens when the management of a service Corporation like Netflix absolutely isolates itself from feedback from it’s Customer base? The Corporation resorts to inventing their own reality and operating within it. I have witnessed a marked degradation of respect and service to, Customers in the last year. The FIRST sign to start dumping stock of any Corporation. ANY person or Corporation or Government or any other organization can successfully isolate themselves from feedback from the rest of the world, and invent their own reality, the only inevitable result is insanity. Or the King complex. Or absolute power corrupts absolutely. Whatever the label, dysfunction is the result, and obviously your Stock will take an irreversible crap. Can Netflix regain the sanity that it was founded on? Ask Netflix. It’s the big Catch 22 isn’t it? You will never get through to them, even if you talk to them.

Luke

I think they should have renamed it Qwitster because that is what a lot of people are going to do. I already quit the streaming side due to lack of content at that new price. Maybe I’ll hit the local redbox a little more.

Ross Edwards

I think they should have renamed it Qwitster because that is what a lot of people are going to do.

Agreed, but the other way around.  I have a panoply of streaming options now that didn’t exist when I first signed up for Netflix.  Add in the loss of the Starz content and Netflix streaming is much worse than it was before.

Meanwhile, I still get 4 DVDs out at a time… I have small children and they tear through content like beetles.

An ominous note, though: Has ANY company whose name contained the suffix “-ster” EVER become solvent or profitable?  (Dumpster doesn’t count, as the actual company name is Waste Management)

Lee Dronick

We need to stop streaming video and go back to rentals via mail order. Streaming takes up bandwidth and mailing DVDs to and fro helps keep the Post Office viable.

LarryR

In recent months I’ve seen a significant up-tick in the number of damaged discs that NetFlix has sent me.  I’ve had to return eight discs in three months.  Prior, I had to return maybe one a year.  I’ve been wondering if NetFlix has intentionally let their quality control slip as a way of moving more people to streaming.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Intruder

Yes. I have noticed this as well. Had to return 3 in a row with cracks.

Ross Edwards

Has anyone else noticed this?

Confirmation bias.  For a while last year it seemed like I was getting a broken disc every week.  Lately, though, even catalog titles seem to be showing up in near-mint condition, clearly from a recent buy/refresh, and only once in a while I’ll get one that’s all torn to hell.  I’m sure with the abuse their DVDs take, there has to be ongoing replacement, and even if the company intends to wind down DVD shipping at some point, they’ll still need to be refreshing their stock until right before the end.  It’s not like they can’t sell off the used DVDs afterward.

CCardona

“Well now they call me The Qwickster,
I keep blowin’ down the road…”

-Reed “Lynyrd” Hastings

John Dingler, artist

Hi Jeff,
It seems to me that, According to the quote you used in this article, Hastings did not apologize to the price hikes. Here is what he apologized for:

?...we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the…price changes,..and I offer my sincere apology.?

He apologized for the method he used to announce the price hike, not substance, the substance, it being the price hike. He addressed style not substance. So he must be all secure and comfy with the price hike, apparently.

Paul Goodwin

There’s over 7,800 negative comments to Hasting’s letter on Facebook as of 11:30 pm of the day it came out. I don’t have a huge problem with their pricing as it’s still relatively cheap compared to a lot of services.

The biggest problem I had was them announcing their split of the streaming and DVD businesses and saying that they will no longer have an integrated website. Either they are dumb for saying it’s not integrated and not explaining that links to the other service will be on each site, or they’re even dumber and the sites will be completely independent.

I use both the hard and soft services. Can you imagine going to one site, finding out they didn’t have what you were looking for, and have to Google their other site to find out if it was there?  They can’t be that stupid can they?

OMG. I bought some of their stock a year ago or so at $114/share. Tell me they can’t be this stupid

rolla

what does qwikster mean??? it would have been better to call it marcia. marcia, marcia, marcia! or bubba…

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