Reed Hastings just stirred the Netflix pot a lot more. After the recent price increase for streaming and DVD rentals, Hastings apologized in a blog post on the official Netflix blog. Then, he let loose that the price increase was further cemented by splitting the DVD rental portion of Netflix into a separate company, which will go by the name Qwikster.
The billing will be separate between the two services, but no more price increases. Hastings also said that Qwikster (crap, that’s a hard word to type) would offer video game rentals.
What sucks about this is that Netflix and the other service will have separate websites with separate logins. One of the things that I really loved about Netflix was that I could see when stuff in my DVD queue was available as a streaming title and take advantage of that. If the new, separate sites are not integrated with at least this basic level of functionality, it will add more fuel to the frustration fire that’s been growing with Netflix.
Personally, I’ve been on the fence about cancelling all or a portion of Netflix’s service since they started shipping crippled DVDs and Blu-rays at the behest of studios (as leverage in streaming deals) who want us to buy them instead of renting them. Then came the big price hike. Losing integration between my queues could be enough to push me over the edge.
What could save Netflix/Qwikster in a big way for me? Keep the queue integration (even if they are separate sites). And, here’s the big one . . . if Qwikster really gets to drive its own train, start renting real DVDs and Blu-rays again . . . and rent them when they are released.
Both of these are probably unlikely to happen because Momma-Netflix is going to use Qwikster as its pawn to continue appeasing studios by keeping new releases out of customers’ hands and shipping retarded “rental” copies so that Netflix-streaming can better leverage deals with studios.
If Netflix were to really let go of DVDs and make it a real-deal independent operation, it would be the best thing that’s happened for its DVD rental business in a long time.