Tag Archives | NetFlix

Qwikster: The People Speak! (Unfavorably!)

Someday, the name “Qwikster” may be famous, even beloved–or at least tolerated. For now, even pundits who think that Netflix is doing the right thing by splitting its Internet streaming and disc-by-mail services in two seem to be pretty much unanimous in regarding the name the company is giving the disc half of its business as dippy. But what do real people think?

Branding company Strategic Name Development–the outfit that named Wendy’s Baconator, among other products and companies–has already conducted a survey of five hundred consumers, and…they don’t like “Qwikster” either! Or at least they find it confusing. (Only 19 percent say it’s a good name for a service that does its business by mail.)

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The Upside of Qwikster: Video Games

Harry’s already written a bunch about Qwikster,  Netflix’s newly-named business for mail-order DVD rentals. And while I agree that it’s a silly name, and that the announcement was pretty sloppy, I’m still excited about the news simply because Qwikster will rent video games as well as movies.

Netflix–er, Qwikster–hasn’t described its game rental service in detail, but did say that it’ll be an optional upgrade to movie rentals. As someone who subscribes to both Netflix DVDs and to GameFly, that’s an appealing alternative.

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Netflix Price Hike: One Plausible Theory

Why did Netflix raise (most of) its prices in July? Weirdly, given all the consternation and CEO Reed Hastings’ mea culpa/rebranding announcement this week, it’s never explained its decision in anything like a direct manner. But venture capitalist Bill Gurley has a logical theory: Hollywood is treating Netflix like a cable company:

So here is what I think happened with Netflix’s recent price change (for the record, I have no inside data here, this is just an educated guess). Netflix has for the past several years been negotiating with Hollywood for the digital rights to stream movies and TV series as a single price subscription to users. Their first few deals were simply $X million dollars for one year of rights to stream this particular library of films. As the years passed, the deals became more elaborate, and the studios began to ask for a % of the revenues. This likely started with a “percentage-rake” type discussion, but then evolved into a simple $/user discussion (just like the cable business). Hollywood wanted a price/month/user.

This is the point where Netflix tried to argue that you should only count users that actually connect digitally and actually watch a film. While they originally offered digital streaming bundled with DVD rental, many of the rural customers likely never actually “connect” to the digital product. This argument may have worked for a while, but eventually Hollywood said, “No way. Here is how it is going to work. You will pay us a $/user/month for anyone that has the ‘right’ to connect to our content – regardless of whether they view it or not.” This was the term that changed Netflix pricing.


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Qwikster: Not to be Confused With Quixtar, QuickStar, Kwikster, Quickster, Kwik Star, Quik-Star, or Kickstar

The best-known name in the business of renting DVDs by mail is, of course, Netflix–a brand that’s been with us since 1998, and which is as synonymous with its category as any American company ever has been. But now it’s reserving the name “Netflix” for its streaming business and redubbing the snail-mail portion as “Qwikster.” By doing so, it’s dumping a great brand and beginning all over again with one that starts with absolutely no value whatsoever.

Already, people are amused by the fact that there’s a @qwikster account on Twitter that has nothing to do with Qwikster. But that could be just the start of the confusion. You see, it’s not instantly obvious how to spell “Qwikster”–I’ve forgotten repeatedly already–and there’s a fascinating roster of existing products and services that have similar names.

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Want to See Starz on Netflix? You’ve Got Until February

So much for Starz movies on Netflix. Negotiations between the two companies have fallen through, and Starz has announced that it’ll stop providing movies for Netflix’s streaming catalog on February 28, 2012.

Netflix had paid an estimated $30 million for Starz content in 2008, which in hindsight was a steal. Three years ago, Netflix had just started appearing on set-top boxes like the Xbox 360, and Hulu was still getting off the ground. To renew the deal with Starz, Netflix had earmarked $250 million, according to the AP.

UPDATE: Here’s a story by the L.A. Times’ Ben Fritz that says Netflix offered $300 million, but Starz wanted tiered pricing, which would charge subscribers a premium to view its content. Interesting, but not surprising, that Netflix didn’t want to go that route.

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Sorry, Blockbuster, It Doesn’t Sound Like You’re Rescuing Netflix Customers to Me

It isn’t easy being Blockbuster. When the company’s in the news, the news is usually lousy–like in September of last year, when the once-mighty video rental chain went bankrupt.

This, however, has been a good week for Blockbuster. Sort of. At least if you assume that a bad week for Netflix is automatically a good one for Blockbuster.

Blockbuster seems to think so. After Netflix ticked off customers by raising the cost of subscribing to plans that include both streaming and DVDs-by-mail, Blockbuster issued a press release which it titled “Blockbuster Rescues Furious Netflix Customers.” Oozing schadenfreude, it quoted Blockbuster’s president saying that Netflix’s price hikes were “shocking” and pointed out some advantages of Blockbuster over Netflix, including Blu-Ray rentals at no extra cost, the availability of game rentals, the ability to return discs to a brick-and-mortar Blockbuster location, and no 28-day delay before new titles arrive.

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Netflix’s Price Reduction is Also a Price Hike

Netflix is announcing some pricing changes which are kind of confusing. The upshot seems to be this: if (like me) you want streaming access but not DVDs, you’ll continue to pay a reasonable $7.99 a month. If you want the ability to rent one DVD at a time and don’t care about streaming, you’ll now also be eligible for a $7.99 plan. But if you want streaming and DVDs–which, until recently, was the only option you had–you’ll pay more than you would have in the past.

For instance, if you want streaming plus one DVD, you’ll pay $7.99+$7.99, or $15.98–up from only $9.99. Streaming plus two DVDs is now $19.98, up from $16.99.

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Got Bandwidth Caps? Netflix Has You Covered

Netflix is now letting U.S. users dial down the quality of streaming videos to avoid hitting bandwidth caps.

Users can choose from three quality settings by visiting the “Your Account” page on Netflix’s website and looking for the “Manage Video Quality” link. “Good quality” consumes up to 0.3 GB per hour, “Better quality” burns up to 0.7 GB per hour, and “Best quality” consumes up to 1 GB per hour for standard definition or 2.3 GB per hour for HD. The settings apparently apply to computers and televisions.

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