Talking tech since 2003

With everything in our day-to-day lives having become focused more and more around our connection and utilization of the Internet in the last few years, there’s not a single part of me that thinks Netflix – the online streaming service that started its venture with DVD-by-mail service – would still be around today had they not implemented streaming service over the Internet years ago.  Even as someone who doesn’t spend a ton of time watching television shows or movies, I must say that I can really appreciate the convenience of queuing up a show instantly and watching it right then and there without having to run to one of the few remaining DVD rental stores or waiting for a DVD to arrive in the mail.  And in a world that caters to instant gratification, Netflix’s Internet streaming is, I think, the key component that has allowed them to be successful up to this point.

That said, television and movie streaming isn’t flawless.  Netflix has had downtimes in the past which have proven to be more than frustrating for users who put their faith in the availability of Netflix’s services.  Beyond that, streaming simply isn’t for everyone, and with so many areas not having access to stable and fast Internet connections there are a lot of users who simply cannot fathom streaming an entire movie over the Internet.  And in reality even when everything is fine and dandy and users are capable and willing to stream from Netflix, the chances of all the movies an individual wants to see being available on Netflix is next to nothing.  I mean, when I was a Netflix customer it seemed as if any remotely recently movie was only available on DVD or BluRay and never via streaming.

And this is exactly why I’m concerned about Netflix’s latest move.  You see, this week it was announced that Netflix is planning to drop its postal-based DVD rentals altogether, making Netflix a streaming only service.  While this doesn’t exactly come as a surprise to me given Netflix’s pushing of streaming-only plans over the last year, I really do wonder how well Netflix is going to do without DVD offerings.  While the company has made it evident that they’re creating another company called “Qwikster” to continue offering mail-order DVD rental services, the fact of the matter is that it’s going to be entirely separated from the Netflix family meaning that users will have to subscribe to another service if they want both streaming and DVD service.

Sure, there are probably going to be a few people out there that are incredibly happy with this move, as I imagine there are current Netflix customers who have never used (or wanted to use) the web-based streaming option.  So if Qwikster is able to focus exclusively on DVD-by-mail service I imagine they would be a better option for a very small group of people.

But what about the people who prefer streaming their content but only used Netflix’s mail-order service for movies and television shows that weren’t available for streaming?  These users are really the ones that are going to be out of luck.  And really, I think that Netflix has essentially tossed their users onto the side-burner with this move and that this particular decision is going to come back to haunt them down the road.

I mean, look at the number of users who still need DVD-by-mail delivery to get all of the shows that they want and then look at the number of users who are going to be willing to go through yet another service to do so.  Quite frankly, I think the number of unwilling users right now is simply too high.

Really, I understand that Netflix can’t offer every single movie and television show via streaming, and I’ve always been alright with that fact because they offered users the option to upgrade to a DVD-inclusive plan if they wanted access to more content.  But now that Netflix isn’t giving users that option it really seems as if they’re going the wrong direction in terms of customer service.  What are they going to do now?  Tell users to go somewhere else and buy another subscription to get what they want?  It just doesn’t seem like a good move to me.

Of course, if Netflix were to significantly improve their streaming variety, this entire issue would be irrelevant.  If Netflix had a more complete selection of streaming content available, there wouldn’t be as big of a need for users to subscribe to a DVD service in addition to Netflix streaming.  And with that Netflix could focus on streaming knowing full-well that users willing to use streaming could do so without sacrificing selection.  But that’s the thing; Netflix’s streaming selection is still sub-par.  Sure, Netflix could very well strengthen its deals with content providers in order to better its streaming lineup, but as of right now it just hasn’t happened.  And in my opinion, Netflix shouldn’t have made this move until they had perfected their streaming options.

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