Friday, September 23, 2011
Netflix lets in the competition
I'm sure you've heard that Netflix is splitting their DVD service off into Qwikster. I'm assuming from the fact that they're not calling it 'mailflix' or something like that that they plan to sell off the DVD service at the earliest opportunity.
I barely even watched DVDs anymore, my rentals would literally sit around for months. But there were two reasons I never went to streaming-only:
1) Netflix was convenient and affordable; it was so easy to just not change anything.
2) The number of streams I could watch at once was tied to the number of dvds on my account. With four people in my home who like to occasionally use the service, having two streams available was pretty safe.
As a result of this change, there was no longer any benefit to keeping my DVD service, so it's gone. But will I keep the streaming?
Hell yes. No other service can touch it at this point. But here's the thing... now it's just another streaming service. Many companies went to war with Netflix and lost when they were a DVD rental company. I think this was in large part because it was just too hard to catch up to Netflix's huge inventory and the number of shipping centers.
Catching up to streaming might be a different matter. I don't think matching content will be as hard as it sounds. I believe some companies have an ax to grind with Netflix and might be willing to negotiate better deals with competitors, or that competitors might be willing to adopt business models that competitors will be more open to. I'm paying about $10 for Netflix... I wouldn't think twice about paying $20 for a service that gets the newest movies and television episodes faster.
At one point, comparing Netflix and Hulu was comparing apples and oranges. Now, Netflix has narrowed the playing field themselves. I get why they did it; I just think it was a little too soon, that they're too vulnerable at this point. I think Blockbuster would agree with me, as they just announced they'll be starting their own streaming service.
The thing that sucks will be the exclusive deals. For example, ABC may get in bed with Netflix, while FOX pledges her love to Hulu. Same for the movie companies. I hope that a business model will develop similar to the one for cable tv stations, where it behooves the content providers to get their programming to as many providers as possible.
Before I'll even consider Blockbuster, they'll need to get their software on my gaming systems (I think I heard gaming systems account for 44% of all of Netflix's streaming?). Hulu's already on my PS3, maybe I'll use some of the money I'm saving from DVDs to give Hulu a trial run. Thanks for opening up streaming to competitors, Netflix!