Netflix Does an About Face, DVDs to Stay on Netflix.com
First, Netflix announced new pricing structures in July that were terribly unpopular; instead of paying under $10 a month for 2-at-a-time DVDs and unlimited streaming, Netflix split DVD and streaming. Now, users have to pay $7.99 a month for one DVD out at a time and another $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming. If users want two DVDs at a time, it’s $11.99. In other words, Netflix made the pricing structure both more complicated and more expensive--two things consumers really, really hate--in one fell swoop.
The backlash was so bad that Blockbuster, which hasn’t been relevant in years and was essentially on a death watch, suddenly starting looking good with its own by-mail and streaming service. Indeed, the company went on a brief blitzkrieg campaign to try and get Netflix users to switch, specifically citing the unpopular Netflix pricing changes. (All that likely did, however, was delay the inevitable for Blockbuster.)
If that wasn’t enough, a few short weeks ago, Netflix announced that it would split into two separate websites. The streaming-only site would remain Netflix.com, and the DVD shipping site would the all-new Qwikster.com. Although Qwikster was basically still the same thing as the old Netflix, is was also slated to have its own CEO, so it was kind of a new company but kind of not a new company at all.
Reading the announcement, you could hear Norm Macdonald saying “Wait, what?!” in your head.
The Qwikster move was also deeply unpopular with consumers, and it rattled quite a few cages. The Netflix blog post announcing the change currently has almost 28,000 comments, and let’s just say that most of them aren’t enthusiastic.
Now, in the wake of (additional) severe backlash from customers, Netflix sent out an email to customers today announcing that Netflix would remain just one site. There will be no Qwikster. In fact, Qwikster.com already reroutes to Netflix.com.
Here is the email:
Although it’s safe to say that the vast majority of Netflix customers are relieved that all of Netflix’s services will remain under one roof, there remains one large unanswered question: what about the games?
One enticing feature of Qwikster was the promise of a video game rental service akin to Gamefly.com. That important was generally glossed over by all the unhappiness over the one-now-two websites, but the idea of Netflix offering unlimited games by mail is enticing.
Today’s email from Netflix says nothing about games, leaving us to wonder if Netflix is ditching games altogether or if we can expect another apologetic email from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in the coming days, explaining why the Netflix team neglected to mention anything about it.