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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Netflix ‘qwik’ to axe company split

    For the past several years, Netflix has redefined the way we watch TV and movies — and monopolized the market in the process. Not only has Netflix’s popularity contributed to the downfall of movie rental franchises like Blockbuster, but the multimillion dollar corporation has also changed the way we own TV shows and movies. It’s easy to embrace the idea that, for just $10 per month, we can own a whole library of DVDs, through both online streaming and mail-in orders.

    But during the past few months, Netflix has made several announcements that customers aren’t too excited about. In July, Netflix hiked its prices from $10 to $16 per month, which pushed away an estimated 1 million subscribers. And then, on Sept. 18, Netflix announced via email that its services would split in half entirely: mail-order DVDs and newly established video game rentals would move to a new spinoff company called Qwikster, while customers’ account information and instant streaming capabilities remained under the Netflix name. CEO Reed Hastings wrote the split was necessary because: “Streaming and DVD by mail are becoming two quite different businesses … that need to be marketed differently.”

    Or do they? Since its establishment in 1997, Netflix’s reasonable pricing, vast selection of titles and sheer convenience have helped the company acquire more than 20 million customers. And all the while, the company has offered instant streaming and DVD rentals together in one place. So a change that would require customers who want both services to create two separate accounts on two separate websites, as well as pay bills to two separate companies, seems to go against everything that has made Netflix successful. And since the company has already started changing its prices, too, a lot of people have a lot to complain about. On the blog post that announced Qwikster, customers left more than 24,000 comments, the majority of which were negative.

    As a result, just weeks after announcing the upcoming launch of Qwikster, Netflix realized its mistake. In an email and blog post on Monday, Hastings axed the Qwikster project completely: “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 Qwikster,” he wrote.

    Of course, many customers can breathe a sigh of relief that the company won’t branch into two separate and confusing entities. However, this series of missteps doesn’t bode well for the company. Maybe Netflix should ask customers’ opinions first next time, before changing its prices or introducing new policies without warning.

    — Miranda Butler is the assistant arts editor. She can be reached at arts@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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