NETFLIX Up To New Tricks

Says Studios Make Them Do It

Wonder why you cannot fast-forward past previews on some DVDs sent by NETFLIX? The corporate explanation: The studios that own the films send discs already programmed to disable fast-forward of previews. If you try to fast-forward, a message appears saying the function is not allowed. NETFLIX customer service and corporate told me NETFLIX is powerless.

Hard to imagine NETFLIX as the helpless giant. NETFLIX has tens of millions of customers. Once an upstart, it is now a major player. NETFLIX is making exciting breakthroughs with stunning productions like House of Cards–and offering them complete rather than week-by-week. Those are smart business and consumer-friendly actions.

Why would NETFLIX go along with forcing customers to watch several minutes of previews before being allowed to see the films they paid for? Answer: NETFLIX profits if only a small percentage of viewers order previewed films. Anticipating complaints, NETFLIX Customer Service and Corporate were ready with the party line: “We didn’t do it, the studios did it.”

NETFLIX is a mammoth, efficiently run content delivery system that provides a huge “after market” for feature films. What would have happened had NETFLIX said no to studios that force consumers to view previews by blocking the option to speed by them? Answer: The studios would not have done it.

Consumerist Takeaway: NETFLIX and the studios have built a “consumer abuse cluster.” They combine Defect Toleration, Deception and Quality Fade. That justifies asking for money back for each DVD that disables my fast-forward option.

I am offering the usually brilliant Reed Hastings, CEO of NETFLIX, to explain why this post is misleading or wrong. If NETFLIX responds, I’ll reprint the answer in a future post.


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