Did you hear something? If you think you heard some cheering off in the distance, that was the sound of Blockbuster employees and independent video store owners everywhere cheering with delight when you announced your outright stupid new pricing plans today.
But those are probably the only people rejoicing at this news. By far, the overwhelming consensus I’ve seen from customers has been, “What the *#@! do you think you’re doing?” I’d say that’s a legitimate question. Are you trying to help Blockbuster make a comeback? Did you think you were becoming too successful and thought you would be better off with a few thousand fewer customers? If any of those were your goals, then congratulations. Because another common reaction I’ve seen has been, “I got along without Netflix before and I would be willing to do it again.”
But there are a few other pressing questions at hand here. First of all, what was the line of thought that made you think you could raise the price of an unlimited streaming plus one physical disc at a time package by 60% and not get an overwhelmingly negative response? And most importantly, where do you get off charging the exact same amount for access to a limited amount of streaming titles as you do for access to a much greater amount of titles on physical DVD? That’s like going to a restaurant and being told that you can have all the soup you can eat for the same price of a meal that includes soup, salad, an entrée, a side dish, and dessert. I suppose you might argue that you’re paying for the convenience of being able watch things instantly, but the convenience of being able to watch a limited amount of titles with a degradation in picture quality that comes with streaming video isn’t worth that much. The only way this idea would be fair would be to make every single title you have on physical DVD also available for streaming. And I know that won’t be happening.
I’d also really like to know why you think it’s appropriate to charge people who want to keep their unlimited streaming plus one physical disc at a time plan $15.98 per month. You explain that you arrived at this price by adding $7.99 for an unlimited streaming account and $7.99 for a one disc at a time, unlimited discs per month account. No. Just no. This is outrageous and let me explain why since apparently you don’t get it. You do realize, don’t you, that there’s overlap between movies that are available for streaming and movies that you have available on DVD. Are that many people really getting a physical DVD and then watching the exact same movie through Watch Instantly that same month that you can honestly justify charging them twice for access to the same movie? I doubt it.
Your blatantly idiotic pricing plans particularly hurts the dedicated cinephiles who depend on Netflix for access to classic, foreign, art house, and generally offbeat movies that they just can’t find at their local Blockbuster (if they even have a local Blockbuster anymore) or library. There’s always Turner Classic Movies, but as wonderful as that is, they can’t possibly show everything. And what about the people who don’t have cable and therefore aren’t able to watch Turner Classic Movies? Netflix was by far the best mainstream rental service for those types of movies and now many of them are considering cancelling your service. Are you trying to encourage people to sign up for Classic Flix or resort to Internet piracy? Again, if this was your intent, congratulations.
Clearly, all the reports I’ve heard recently about people dropping cable and using only your streaming services have gone to your head and you think you can get away with this. Which raises one more vital question — just how stupid do you think people are? If you sincerely thought that there wouldn’t be a lot of outrage over this, you are clearly delusional. I have a feeling you’re about to realize that you’re not as great as you think you are.
Angela from The Hollywood Revue