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07/14/2011 Netflix: Another case of social cry-babies


Netflix just raised its prices. From the reactions of customers online you’d think Netflix had just decided to implement human sacrifice as a core business operation.

Screen shot 2011-07-14 at 7.41.33 AM

What Netflix did was to separate it’s streaming subscriptions from its DVD subscriptions. Previously, if you subscribed to DVDs, you received free, unlimited streaming. Or, if you only wanted streaming, you added another $2 to get a DVD by mail.

The latest online trends show, pretty clearly, the amount of streaming is increasing greatly. So Netflix decided to clearly separate its offering. The biggest increase is for people who subscribed to streaming, but still wanted a DVD now and then. It looks like their subscription just went up $6/month. For those of us, like me, who had a 2 DVD/month plan, my subscription went up about $2/month, but I get unlimited DVDs.

And yet…people greeted the announcement on Facebook with over 55,000 comments! Most of them were furious at the change. My favorite quote is from an AP article

“I can definitely afford it but I dropped them on principle," said Joe Turick, a technology engineer in Monroe, N.C., who has been with Netflix for about a decade, cancelled his subscription within an hour of learning of Tuesday's price changes and plans to try competitors.”

On principle? What’s the principle? That you shouldn’t pay a fair price for products and services? That prices should never go up (unless it’s the price of your house)?

I think this doesn’t have anything to do with prices or services. It has to do with the greatest benefit of social media: complaining. Social does a lot of things well, but nothing can compete with it on a complaining level. Complaining at work or muttering at home, not to mention the occasional angry letter to the editor all pale in comparison with complaining on Facebook, Twitter or, now, Google+.

Well good for you, Netflix crybabies. Take your laptop and go home. Good luck finding some other service that’s just as good. Maybe, instead you could think really hard about how to budget that extra $2 for Netflix.

There’s a new term for something like this. It’s called “Free Lunchism” and, unfortunately, it drives a lot of the budget talk in Washington.

Yes, there are a lot of problems with the economy right now. But directing that anger at Netflix, instead of the real culprits is just silly.

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