Hey Netflix… have you heard we’re in a recession?


Netflix BR increase.jpg

I don’t often publicly vent about customers who help put food on my table, but this afternoon I got the above e-mail, and I’m pretty steamed about it. Here’s why.

I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for 9 years. They’ve been a good vendor of Tempe products for almost 7 years. I’ve proudly recommended them to everyone I know as being the best value in town.

That is, until last year.

2008 was an especially difficult year for my distribution business, and things weren’t helped by some policy changes going on inside Netflix. 2007 had been a banner year with them, having reaped some rewards from signing up my library early with their newly-unleashed electronic delivery service. But by year’s end, they yanked the first rug out from under me and changed the deal. (Can’t divulge the details, but we went from being paid per view to a kinda-crummy flat license fee. Trust me, it makes a difference.)

Then, last summer they inked a big deal with Starz, which tied up all of their acquisition cash for streaming titles as they started to focus more on the bigger titles that most of their customers wanted to see (you know, stuff like that “Hollywood blockbuster” BATMAN & ROBIN). That meant small flicks like our POISON SWEETHEARTS or MONSTER MOVIE were left in the lurch. (No streaming deal at all, but they still took the DVDs.)

OK, so, sour grapes on the business aside, what’s my personal beef with them? Last October, Netflix slapped a $1 per month extra fee on us Blu-ray watchers. I wouldn’t have groaned about it too much, except for the fact that it was taking forever to actually get discs in that format. Most new releases languished in my queue forever, and only showed up long after I’d lost most interest in seeing them in the first place. And things didn’t improve much after they started collecting the extra $1 per month, either.

Today, Netflix has announced that beginning April 27, they’re going to sock folks in my payment tier with an extra $5 per month for watching Blu-ray discs. Now, to be fair, I’ve been with them so long I’m in a cheaper pricing tier that no longer exists ($16.99 per month vs. the current $23.99 per month). So, maybe I don’t have so much to complain about, right?

The thing is, while Blu-ray is nice, it’s not a huge leap up from a DVD played in a nice upscaling player. Most movies, I’m just content to see the dang thing, I don’t need all of the extra resolution. For instance, Saturday night the wife and I decided to watch AUSTRALIA (I got a thing for Nicole Kidman, so sue me). We passed by a Redbox kiosk and I thought, “Let’s give ’em a try.” I whipped out the iPhone and a quick Google search later, had a free promo code, so my cheap ass didn’t even have to pay $1 plus tax. And you know what? The DVD looked quite nice on our 50″ Samsung plasma HDTV. So much so that I was planning to start switching a bunch of my Netflix queue back to DVD, except for the occasional title that might really benefit from it.

But now, Netflix has made my choice for me. Suffice it to say, on April 26, I will be removing Blu-ray from my account altogether. Times iz tough, folks, and $5 a month adds up to $60 a year, and that’s clothes for my kid or nearly 2 months of DSL service or a couple dinners with the wife. Why pay more to see the same crappy movies with a little more resolution?

So thanks, Netflix… I’m disappointed in you (again). Sure, it’s still one of the best games in town for heavy renters like myself, and I’ve been diligently watching all 9 seasons of the TV show COACH for absolutely free via their streaming service, so maybe I don’t have any right to complain. But in the last year or so, there’s been a disturbance in the Force over at Netflix, and I fear more cash-grabbing from them is on the horizon. As always, I suggest voting with your wallet… and this time, I’m not just saying “No,” I’m saying, “Hell no!”

As Stephen Colbert might say: “Netflix, I’m putting you on notice…”



This entry was posted on Monday, March 30th, 2009 at 4:59 pm and is filed under Complaint Department, Movies, Random Thoughts, Seen & Heard, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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