Mr Hastings: I think you got it all wrong

20Sep11

An open letter to Reed Hastings in response to his reflections I received today.

Dear Mr Hastings:

I think you got it all wrong.

It’s not about the communication. It’s about the product.

Here’s an example:

On Saturday night I was looking for a James Bond movie. But not just any movie, I wanted to watch Golden Eye, the one where Pierce Brosnan introduces himself as the legendary 00-agent by jumping off a huge bank dam. It’s a movie from 1995, so by no means the latest blockbuster. But all I could find were the James Bond movies until the 80s. Golden Eye was only available as a DVD.

Netflix is for me to have at my fingertips and the movie night’s gusto a great selection of the latest blockbusters, as well as the obscure Japanese movie that I wouldn’t have found in the average video corner store dealer.

So far, Netflix managed to have both by it’s dual concept of DVD’s and streaming. It was fine to wait for a day if I wanted a very specific movie. But if your company’s strategy centers around the online service and the streaming of movies, you are damaging the brand and what film enthusiasts love it for. If you want to make the new Netflix work, you need to make sure I can get all movies I want to see through Netflix. And not through Qwikster some, and through Netflix some more. And worse, the systems don’t even sync (you didn’t want add this tiny detail to your email message, did you?).

Simply put: There need to be more movies available for streaming. Hopefully,it will be as substantial as you promise. Just look at the Netflix Top 100 of most rented DVD’s: Only 6 out of the 100 listed movies are available as instant play.

And yes, communication of the new pricing model was not ideal. Abusing your dominant market positioning to simply raise the subscription price by 60 per cent will obviously not get you any positive feedback and be seen as disrespectful by loyal customers and fans.

My fear is that you think and want a technology: streaming. I want movies.

Still, 16 bucks is an amazing price for the service when I look at paying 13 bucks for a ticket at the cinema. So I’ll keep both subscriptions, update my address, credit card details and movie ratings on two platforms. I’ll probably end up becoming a fan of Qwister while it lasts.

I am sure you can do better.

By the way, I ended up watching Thunderball, which was quite a nice Bond that I hardly remembered.

Best regards

Georg Neumann

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