Netflix Ditch Qwikster, Keep DVD And Streaming Under Same Roof, And Yahoo Forget Hulu

It’s been less than a month since Netflix announced plans to divide their streaming and disc-by-mail services entirely, keeping their customer’s streaming queues at the Netflix site and setting up something called Qwikster for DVD and Blu-ray orders.

Today, a screeching U-turn as the plans for Qwikster hit the can. The Netflix CEO and founder Reed Hastings has blogged about the new plan:

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password… in other words, no Qwikster.

Rumours that the change of heart stems from Twitter user Qwikster‘s refusal to abandon the handle are massively exaggerated. Indeed, before this paragraph, I’d imagine they were non-existent.

So one site to manage, that’s easier – but what about the recent price change, with one charge for discs and another for streaming? Isn’t that what people were actually complaining about?

There has been no back-tracking there.

Nope, customers will still be expected to pay $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming, and a separate $7.99 per month for unlimited DVDs by mail, one after the other. And these customers will continue to complain.

But I have no sympathy. Less than $16 a month for such a huge all-you-can eat buffet of films and TV is obscenely cheap. I like subscription models like this, for my own sake, because I’m greedy, but even I can see that this business model favours the customers far, far more than it does the filmmakers.

Sooner or later, subscription charges this ridiculously low will have to go, or the film industry will suffer from serious cash flow throttling. If it gets that far we’ll see an even more rapid slide to mass-appeal, lowest common denominator fare. Just think: if a film has to achieve huge numbers of customer streaming requests to pull back even a tiny budget, mid-price range, serious cinema for selective audiences will be snuffed out entirely.

Meanwhile, in other streaming media news, The Wall Street Journal are reporting that Yahoo have withdrawn their interest in purchasing Hulu. Google, Amazon and the Dish Network are all still staying in the ring.

Amazon could do some serious damage to the streaming business at Netflix if they start scooping up Hulu and other catalogues of this kind. Indeed, there’s a lot of projection and forecasts bubbling up that see Amazon as the next big, big power player in film and TV rental and streaming services.

Time will tell – and with the accelerated pace of the technology media industries, not much time either.

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