In the movie Saving Private Ryan, there’s a scene where Tom Hanks, playing the special ops captain who has just risked life and lost really good men, tells a young Private Ryan that he’d better do something great with his life, like invent a new brand of toothpaste or something, something to have made the sacrifices of his men worthwhile. And the young private, now grown up, asks his wife if she felt he contributed something important to the world, and she tells him he has. And all I was left thinking was, that captain played by Tom Hanks wanted something a bit more, not just that Private Ryan would make some family happy, and to be honest, I never really felt that Private Ryan lived up to the expectations that Tom Hanks’s dying character really demanded.
I’m kind of left with that same feeling when I received an email from Netflix yesterday informing me that it was going to be raising my rates 60 percent to give me exactly what I have always been receiving. In other words, rather than raise my rates AND give me a little more value, they’re giving me exactly what they always give me, and charging me more for it. Not very impressive.
And that action has caused all sorts of backlash from the community that makes up the customer base of Netflix. You see, they tried to do this a long time ago, and it failed miserably. Some years ago, they tried to raise rates BIG TIME, and most of their customers revolted. I did, too. Instead of quitting Netflix, I decided to switch from three DVDs at a time to 1 DVD at a time. The result was that I ended up paying less than what they were receiving from me before the change. A month or so later, Netflix completely reversed course, lowered their rates back to the original amount, and then people started to come back; I personally went back to my 3 DVDs a month.
Recently, they quietly raised prices on us. Not a huge amount, but enough to be noticeable. I thought about leaving but then just decided it wasn’t a big enough increase to cause me to leave. Kind of like the frog in a warm pot who doesn’t jump out even as the water slowly begins to boil. The slow burn and the slow increase of heat remains comfortable until you cook to death and die.
Well, this change is much different. They’ve decided that they want to be a mainly streaming company now, which is not what they were designed to be in the first place. There’s a whole lot of literature in Economics 101 about how a company shouldn’t change what it does best or to try to do more products than it is known for, but Netflix has always felt that it could buck the trend and win the brass ring no matter what it did. Rather than just increase rates, they’ve decided to charge people for both streaming AND DVDs, where they used to be lumped together in the past. I think they believe that people will respond by dropping one or the other, but I don’t think they realize the real implication, and that’s that they’re about to lose customers forever. I’m not talking about people getting pissed and changing their options until Netflix backs down. I mean people leaving in droves and being so pissed at Netflix that no turnaround will cause them to come back.
That’s where I am right now. I’m in the middle of watching Rescue Me through streaming, and when that show finishes its run (in other words, I get through the last season), I’m ending my Netflix subscription forever. I haven’t really watched any DVDs in a long time, having held onto the same ones for a long time, so that’s not a big deal. And I’ve never been all that much of a fan of their streaming service as most of the choices have been crap, and when I have watched something, half of the time the connection is not good enough to where I’m constantly watching a smooth experience. The continuous buffering thing gets old, and I won’t miss that.
What Netflix doesn’t seem to get is that they are not part of a necessity for most people. Television and movies is a luxury, and to be honest, I really won’t miss it all that much. Yeah, I could go find alternatives to seeing the same programming, but most of it has generally been crap. Every now and then a good show comes on that I’ll watch through its run, but quite often almost everything I watch has been a waste of time. Movies are almost always a waste of time because Hollywood has been making nothing but crap for years now, and for the five movies I’ve enjoyed, I’ve probably watched a hundred I didn’t. The odds just don’t make it worth it.
For the longest time, I’ve stayed with Netflix more out of nostalgia than anything else. It was convenient and comfortable. That’s it. It hasn’t been that useful. Years ago, when there were lots of things in my queue, it was wonderful. But years later, I’ve gone through my queue, and where I used to have blockbusters in it before, I have mostly second rate choices that were put in there and constantly pushed to the bottom of my queue so I could watch stuff that seemed more interesting. With that to look forward to, Netflix doesn’t offer a whole lot of wonderful things for the future.
So I’ll be dumping them like a girlfriend who has been cheating on me for years, and I’ve just been too busy at work to sit down and explain to her that we need to see other people. Well, the rhetorical job just told me to take my vacation, and I’m realizing I now have to spend a week with the cheating girlfriend, and the girl next door has been giving me the eye. Okay, it’s a bad analogy, and unfortunately all it does is remind me that I don’t actually have a girlfriend, and even worse, a social life. But at least I won’t have Netflix either. I’m dumping that cheating whore.