The Netflix “Crisis”

Until I saw this video from Funny or Die this morning, I hadn’t really put into perspective just how tragic people find the recent Netflix price hike to be, nor how shallow it is in comparison to actual problems. And it’s not like I haven’t been dealing with my own share of issues. The Netflix price increase was, for me at least, kind of the icing on the cake to what I have dubbed the “Summer Blues.”

In any case, to paraphrase, the video makes a great point about an issue that is affecting millions of white people across America, deadpanned by the great Jason Alexander.

What’s interesting, however, is that my boyfriend and I have discussed this issue at length, with the most recent stint occurring last night before dinner; in this way, we definitely lived up to the stereotype that it’s all “anybody” can talk about – for days at a time. I sat at my computer, reading Netflix’s Facebook Page Wall (that’s a mouthful) and combing through the thousands of messages people have been leaving for them, while Kevin looked through various news articles on his laptop. We sat there comparing notes and tsking and figuratively shaking our fists in the air at this nonsense.

The bottom line is, people are outraged that Netflix is jacking up the price by 60% without discussing it with their millions of loyal customers first. I’m a little torn because I can see both the company’s perspective and the one of being the huffy consumer. (Aside: one woman wrote a scathing comment on the Netflix FB Page and several people proceeded to jump on her, making her out to be a screeching, mindless woman who had no right to be upset. It was pretty brutal.) Quite frankly, I just don’t want to have to choose between the discs or streaming. I want to have both! But I am unwilling to pay $15.99 a month for the privilege. It used to be that that price would get you three movies at a time, something which I never had the luxury of affording. I’m a one-at-a-time gal.

I do think it would have been nice to have some kind of survey or something sent out, or even a price hike in the range of say, $3.00, to continue enjoying new movies on DVD and streaming older (sometimes crappy) movies and lots of television shows. We don’t stream on more than one device at a time but many have left since Netflix has begun enforcing its streaming policy. Apparently Netflix only wants to allow you to stream on the same basis of how many discs you take out at a time, which really negates “Unlimited” streaming but also, what happens when you go to the all streaming plan?

I was thinking about how electronic subscriptions differ from say, magazine subscriptions. Netflix caught on to the fact that people were sharing their log-on information with family/friends and so to keep people from “stealing,” they are cracking down on multiple device streaming. Granted, I don’t own or run a billion dollar company, but if I have a subscription to Vogue and I give all my copies to a friend to read when I’m done, how is this different? Is that person “stealing,” too? Is this really a problem for Netflix when they have ousted a lot of its competition (namely, physical DVD rental places) and they are highly profitable?

The only other troublesome thing is that I think many people would have stayed on if Netflix had newer releases available to stream, at least, instead of the B movies of yesteryear. Granted, I have loved catching up on some older television shows, but when I want to watch something new that came out that I was unable to see in the movie theater, I believe I should be able to do that if I am paying a monthly subscription fee.

RedBox has gone through the roof with new customers. Blockbuster immediately set up a plan to soothe the wounded from Netflix. They offer hard disc rentals, streaming, games, and even Blu-Ray discs at no extra charge and are offering a 30-day free trial to the scorned. Check out all the details here. I don’t want to like Blockbuster. They used to charge $4.99 to rent a DVD for two nights. I can’t even say how much money my parents and myself spent in the 90s and early 2000s renting movies and games from them. Netflix was the solution! But this latest blow does give me cause to reconsider my options. While I believe I will probably try out the streaming-only plan come September, I can’t guarantee I won’t jump ship.

It’s hard not to think that Netflix only cares about the bottom dollar and now that they have eleven years in to this business, no longer care about Joe American Movie Watcher.

I’m on the fence. What will you do?


  1. Having gotten rid of cable for Netflix and HuluPlus, this really pisses me off. I don’t watch either enough to justify paying $16/month. However, as you stated, I would want new stuff on streaming if I’m paying for it, which is what I use my one-disc-at-a-time subscription for now. I’m trying to scramble to get True Blood Season 3 in before I am forced to choose. I think I’m going to do the same as you and stick with streaming. If I don’t use it enough/more than I already do, that’s getting cut and oh well…less TV! I’ll just pay a one-time fee for a movie that I want to rent from Amazon or HuluPlus (if Apple buys them!) Companies are stupid when they make harsh moves like this with lots of competition out there. Eff you Netflix!

  2. Hahaha, very well said, Scott. I think it’s going to be touch and go after September 1 for us, as well.

  3. I can see both sides of the dilemna. My solution was to simply drop the streaming and stay on the two disc a month plan. I agree with you that there really is no way that I want to go to another video store and pay the outrageous prices they charge.

  4. I loved when Netflix started the streaming only option for $7.99/month. Before that, I always had to have a disc with it even though I never used discs or if I did order one, I always forgot to return it and ended up paying $14 everytime. Eek. Now that I´m here though, I cant watch Netflix. But if I were there…I would definitely stick with streaming only even if the only reason why is because of my lousy ability to return a disc.

  5. boudicaspeaks says:

    I love your blog and the insights you make! The Netflix Crisis has taken precedence over the debt ceiling crisis, so it’s nice to know where our priorities lie as Americans. I seriously have had longer conversations about this than politics. I personally will probably just opt out of actually getting physical disks, I can go to redbox for that.

    • You are SO right. Though for me, at least, since I have been watching the Debt Ceiling Crisis quite avidly, this was a nice distraction. Perhaps that’s why it’s gotten the fervent reaction that it has and really, we’re all just killing Netflix the messenger because we’re really just steamed about the state of our country.

  6. I’ve never been on Netflix, but this still hits me hard since I don’t use the streaming service. I literally get DVDs through the mail. I’ve used Blockbuster & will continue to even though I don’t frequent their stores that much.(Also I don’t like the fact their streaming movies are pay per view.)
    I plan to get recent releases from Redbox & Blockbuster Express(or the library) & continue using Blockbuster for the DVDs unavailable elsewhere. I really like Blockbuster for TV series, B-movies(aka straight to DVD) and obscure older films from the 30s, 40s and 50s.
    The biggest reason I use Blockbuster is their integration of brick-and-mortar stores with their online service. I can drop my DVD off at my local Blockbuster, they scan it and automatically its recorded as returned. This is why I’ve always use Blockbuster instead of Netflix. (Well, that and the fact I just couldn’t abandon them while they were down.)
    Great blog.

    • Thank you so much. I used to be a Blockbuster fiend. But then they got all corporate and greedy and I stayed away. Once I begin boycotting something, it’s for life. (At least so far!) I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the Blockbuster plan and if there were even a Blockbuster store that I knew of in my area, PERHAPS I would consider their plan. I do love getting the DVDs in the mail, though. So convenient! Streaming is great – instant gratification and can catch up on stuff commercial free (TV shows). I still don’t know what we’re going to do when we want to rent new releases. I’m not giving up on Netflix just yet; just a little peeved about this price ultimatum.

  7. My family has a “family” Netflix, so I think, while the price hike is pretty significant, that we’re still getting a lot of value from our subscription since so many of us use it so frequently. In terms of market forces, though, I sympathize with people who only use it themselves, and don’t use it enough to justify paying out more per month to keep their subscription.

    Either Netflix will lower prices (though I don’t think the drop will be significant, since big motivators for the hike include shipping and licensing costs), or it will start losing a lot of market share. In the latter case, it will either have to find some way to offset the hike to satisfy and bring back customers, or Netflix will be increasingly marginalized as some other company takes its place. We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’m more than happy to contribute a bit to keep our family’s single account going.

    • Thanks for your comment, Cody! I think we’re going to try out the streaming only plan and see how we fare. We usually have our discs sit around for a little while and so it seems like we don’t really want to rent the DVDs. But it’s all psychological: as soon as they take it away, we want them. Perhaps that is really the outrage here. With your family plan, do you stream or just rent the discs? (Does Family Plan mean you get both?)

      • You’re probably right. People tend to take things for granted until they aren’t around any longer. There’s plenty of psychological literature on that phenomenon.

        Anyway, we do both. I didn’t mean that Netflix offers a family plan–I meant that our whole family uses one account. I usually just stream documentaries, while everyone else tends to rent DVDs (though they occasionally stream also).

  8. Found your blog via freshly pressed. Congrats by the way! Love your blog. Fresh writing and fun to read. I am in the same boat with this whole Netflix thing. Although, I will confess when I received the email notification, I quickly dismissed it and went about my day. I have since deactivated my account for the time being mostly because we haven’t been using it but partly because of the price hike. Haven’t decided what we will do in our household but the way I look at it, if we get rid of it that’s less TV we will be watching. That may not be such a bad thing. I can think of several other things to do with my time. So take that Netflix 🙂

  9. Obviously NetFlix is in cahoots with the government, they are using the price hike to muddle our brains into not worrying about the state of our country..typical politics. our family switched to the streaming version awhile back and have been happy about it. if there is something new out we red box it. works fine since now there are more red boxes then McDonald’s and 7-11’s put together

    • Haha, spunky reply. I agree that this was a nice distraction from the Debt Ceiling issue but it is time to get back to focusing on what’s important! I’m not anti-government but whatever ours is doing isn’t setting a model example.

  10. I used this price change as an opportunity to assess just how long our disks languish on top of the TV. Once I unearthed that last disk from under a week of NY Times, I sent it back in and signed up for streaming only. At least now I don’t have to guiltily face that unopened Netflix envelope.

    • Agreed!! We had The King’s Speech collect dust for FOUR WEEKS – so ashamed. I think streaming is going to be the way to go for us and we’ll have to RedBox it when we want to be “old-fashioned.”

  11. The husband and I decided we are going to keep Netflix for now. We called our cable company and complained about the price (which brought it down almost $40 a month. So for now we afford it. We watch Dexter and Scrubs on live stream and we have a great deal on our Queue for one-at-a-time DVDs. This is not to say we are not upset by the increase. It is just our best option for now.

  12. says:

    Zoe, I agree. I am one of those customers that couldn’t believe it when they jumped the rates. I automatically dropped the hard dvd. I am glad to hear about some options. I am going to check that out.


  13. Part of the irony here is that Netflix originally offered Blockbuster a partnership and they laughed at the fledgling Netflix entity. Now, Netflix has become the big, bad media rental outlet and people are going to Blockbuster (or Hulu Plus, Vudu, whatever).

    I agree that it’s a matter of principle here. The price hike came without any customer feedback and, to add insult to injury, they’re limiting how streaming works. Maybe Netflix grew faster than they anticipated and there is a capacity issue? I can see this because the service has been rather buggy and laggy lately, especially when compared to other services…

    Whatever their reasons, the problem here is that you can’t change the rules driving your core experience. That’s just bad business. I have been considering dropping the DVD mailing portion of my membership, just because streaming is so much more convenient and cost-effective.. This dumb move only makes me consider it more.

    I don’t want to like Blockbuster either. Back in the nineties, they were notorious for screwing customers royally. The overnight drop-offs magically would disappear and you’d get charged $40 for a movie that they rented out hundreds of times.. Seriously?

    Blockbuster can’t be trusted but they do offer a tempting solution now.. I just wonder how long it will be before they win customers over and then pull their own bait-and-switch.. Holy crap.. You guys got me fuming about this now too. d’oh

  14. Me and my wife had the same discussion recently. I agree with you. We cut cable for Netflix. We stream tv shows and movies and then one-at-a-time DVDs kind of as treats: old movies we love, new movies we want to see again, whatever. The physical DVDs are extras. I don’t see paying extra for this now. I will just as soon go (literally) across the the street to the two Redbox rental units and get a new movie when I want to see it and not wait a day for Netflix to deliver it. I really think Netflix is shooting themselves in the foot here. They’ve stated that they’ve taken into account people leaving; however, the fallback from this is going to go a lot deeper and last a lot longer than they think, I believe. This is really true when there are plenty of people like me (and others I’ve seen on your post here) that can just as well go to Hulu or Redbox. Netflix is not the only fish in the sea. Maybe they need to realize this.

    Great post! Found this blog from the “awkward smile” post and I’m liking it so far!

    • Thanks very much! I love when people find more than one post that they like 🙂

      We don’t have a RedBox across the street but we’ll make do. It sucks because as I was looking at my DVD queue that I have had for years, it reminds me I won’t be watching any of these on my list at any point. On the flip side, older movies that should be on their streaming list and aren’t is a little baffling. I know several people that cut the cable cord in favor of Netflix and I even have a friend who signed back up with Time Warner after this whole thing. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

  15. Yea, I know what you mean about old movies. I suppose we’ll have to find our favorite old movies elsewhere online. (Maybe buy the VHS tapes from ebay? lol!) Cable is too expensive for me as I only watch tv in the evenings. I just am not going to increase my internet bill (provider does internet and cable) twice over for the luxury of tv. As stated, I can just as well hook my laptop up to my television and watch my shows elsewhere online. I think I’m more upset by Netflix’s attitude about this than anything else. “Screw em, we’ll get more”, is how it comes off to me. :/

    • Agreed – I think that’s what people are most upset about. They didn’t take care of people’s feelings enough. A lot of people will say, “They’re a business, it’s not necessary,” but they’d built their reputation around customer service for so long that this felt like a betrayal almost. We have cable and it’s not too bad but no movie channels. I think the streaming only plan will force us to either get out to the movies more or only rent something from RedBox if we’re dying to see it (and it happens to be available).

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  1. […] crushing anxiety of losing this modern marvel which is seriously life-changing, we reinstated our Netflix account, in addition to trying out Hulu […]

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