An Open Letter to Netflix

I’m a fan. Really. I’ve been a fan since 2005. I own 153 shares of your stock. You guys are great. Your by-mail service couldn’t be better and your streaming service is the best I’ve used (and I’ve tried Hulu, Amazon, Vudu and iTunes). But really, stop trying to separate your by-mail disc service from your streaming service. You’re being dumb.

Last year you said you weren’t going to split your services, so why am I even bringing this up? Three reasons:

  1. I recently noticed that my Instant Queue is served from movies.netflix.com but my by-mail queue is served from dvd.netflix.com. How long has it been like this? Surely it hasn’t been happening forever? I’m worried that it’s a recent change, and I’m worried that it indicates that you’re still trying to split your services. (Also, ‘dvd’ isn’t the most forward-thinking choice for a domain.)
  2. When I view my by-mail queue there is a “Play” button for movies that are available for streaming. There was previously also an “Add to streaming” button for movies not in my streaming queue. This button is now gone, thus making it more difficult for me to add to my streaming queue.
  3. The default tab on your website is “Watch Instantly” and clicking a suggested movie tries to start streaming the movie. I use your website for managing my queue, not for streaming movies, and you should know that. If I want to stream a movie I do it from the native UI built into my TV. I’m assuming your UX guys are trying to reduce the effort needed to stream a movie (only one page transition instead of two!), but this is stupid and diminishes the by-mail experience. In my case it also diminishes the streaming experience.

Customers are better off when your two complementary services are closely integrated.

I shouldn’t have to explain, but I’ll do it anyway.

There are 324 movies in my queue. It has evolved over the years. I add movies. I remove movies. I watch movies. I rate movies. I appreciate recommendations. These things are valuable to me. I don’t want to manage two separate queues and I don’t want to rate movies in two places. Plus, you should be able to give me better recommendations when you can utilize my combined viewing information for by-mail and streaming.

More importantly, why are there even two separate queues? There should be a single queue with a checkbox for “only show movies available for streaming.” If a movie in my queue becomes available for streaming it should automatically show up in my streaming queue—I shouldn’t have to manually discover that it’s now available and I shouldn’t have to manually add it.

Your desire to split your services is flawed. You’re trying to move them further apart when you should be trying to move them closer together. Netflix provides a single service to me—the ability to watch movies. It doesn’t matter whether they’re on a disc or streaming. The Netflix brand is strong, please stop trying to splinter it.

Fingers crossed,
Mark

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