Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An open letter to Netflix

Dear Netflix,

Hi. I'm sure you have no idea who I am. I'm just some guy who lives in Detroit and uses your service. I have for years actually. I've been a big fan since...well...2002 actually. That's a long time. Actually, I hadn't thought it was that long, but I suppose it has been. 2002 was my first free trial. I remember getting the snowboarding classic, Out Cold.

Sorry, I'm getting a warm wave of nostalgia here when I think about it.

Out Cold really has nothing to do with this though. What I'm getting at is that I'm a customer. I have been for years. Hell, 7dp has been fueled these past years by your service. And while 7dp has gone a bit on the back burner for me of late, my use of Netflix has not.

About a year ago I switched my plan around. I went from 3 discs to 1 disc and streaming. The problem was, I found myself using my 1 disc more than the streaming. I kept finding that the things I wanted to watch (TV shows mostly of late) just weren't available for streaming. And if what I want isn't available, then it doesn't matter what you're charging, does it? It's not a good deal for me. So, when you made the pricing change over the summer, I dropped the streaming service (since I didn't use it) and went to the two disc plan. It's worked out fine for me.

But now, I'm not going to be a Netflix customer anymore. Not because I decided I didn't want to use your service anymore, but because you decided I wasn't the kind of customer you wanted. You spend years building up brand loyalty amongst your users and then...what? What the hell is Qwikster? Seriously. It's a nonsense word that means nothing in regards to the business itself. It sounds like the name of an internet start-up that failed by 2005.

When a radio station switches formats, they can't air any of the old commercials that they sold. The reason being that all of that money was spent to advertise based on the old format, demographics and ratings. The sales staff then has the unenviable job of having to go out and sell the new format without any ratings information. This is essentially what you're doing here. You've flipped the format. Netflix is a known entity. Qwikster is not. You can say it's just like Netflix...but you can't back that up yet.

Last week you had a company that offered two services that complimented each other. Today, you have two companies that people aren't sure of. The people who only use the streaming service, they're unaffected. Every other customer though is. And the people that this will affect most are the ones who paid for both services. Now they have to pay to two sites and maintain two queues.

This just seems like a big step backwards, not a step forward.