By Brian Shea
[Editor’s Note: Joel Murphy is busy putting the lime in the coconut and drinking them both up, so this week we bring you a special guest column by former HoboTrashcan writer Brian Shea.]
Like many of you, I can’t believe the financial situation we find ourselves in right now. The decision-makers have totally screwed this up, and it will take generations to undo this completely capricious decision.
I am talking, of course, of the decision to split Netflix into separate plans for those who use the streaming service and those who like to get DVDs in the mail.
If you live under a rock or don’t equate how you get your digital media with the most basic of human rights, you might have missed the news. Each plan now costs $7.99 per month. Previously, you could get streaming and a basic DVD plan for $9.99. Those outraged point out that customers interested in both the streaming and DVD plans will see a price hike of 60 percent. SIXTY PERCENT!!!!
Or, in layman’s terms, about six bucks.
I did not know that six dollars a month – roughly 1.50 a week, somewhere around 20 cents a day – defined the line between responsible pricing for space-age media delivery and thoughtless corporate skull fucking.
Without a doubt, the reaction from some Netflix customers (I saw one post on their blog that only 10 people would retain the service after this outrage) falls into the category which comedian Louis CK defined as “Everything’s great, nobody’s happy.”
In case you haven’t noticed, Netflix allows you to sit in front of your television and use a wireless controller to send signals to a box (in my case, a Wii), which sends signals to a computer, which contacts another computer, which sends a digital file of what you want to see to your television so you can watch it. And you can pause it to take a leak or get a beer whenever you want.
Netflix also lets you get a DVD in the mail, watch it, ship it back (without having to pay postage) and then get a new DVD in a day or two based on the list you input into a computer one night when you had a few beers and took your pants off and you have no idea how all these sexually-themed indie movies ended up on your list.
And people are pissed that it costs $16 to get each of these services? Sixteen dollars to see as many movies and TV shows as you want either on your computer or your gaming system or your Roku box, as well as on DVDs you get in the mail? This is an outrage how?
I don’t think Netflix has a completely perfect service. They really need to beef up the offerings on the streaming package (I don’t need DVDs in the mail so have always opted for this deal). I can understand that a lot of political and business reasons explain why I can’t get the most recent movies or certain TV shows (like the current ABC Wednesday night comedy block).
But that doesn’t mean I stomp my feet and hold my breath and start online petitions and scream that I am being “forced” to cancel my subscription when, in truth, we have lots of choices out there. We don’t have to use “Netfux” as some genius dubbed the company. Go use Blockbuster or Hulu Plus or whoever if you’re pissed off. The rest of us don’t really care. You have every right to dislike this decision, but treating it as an abhorrent violation of your human rights just makes you look like a tool.
The reality is that we’re not defined by how we get our media now matter how much the loudest screamers want us to believe that. The Netflix streaming option fits exactly what my wife, daughter and I want so we supplement things with trips to a local Redbox for the newer movies we really, really want to see on DVD.
That’s what happened the other night when my wife spent the afternoon re-watching Downton Abbey on Netflix and I rented The Social Network for a buck to entertain us in the evening. I managed to pull it off without screaming and yelling about how Netflix was “forcing” me to swipe my credit card at the Redbox.
I’m sorry to break this to you, kiddies, but no one is screwing you. You can still get an assload of movies (and TV shows) in multiple formats for less than two tickets to the movies. I don’t think companies can just raise rates without any reaction from customers, but if you stop and think, really think, about what you can get for $16, you might not be searching for which symbols to insert after the letter ‘f’ to show how you are winning the outrage contest that all Internet commenter are eternally competing in.
Brian Shea used to write for HoboTrashcan, but like Gladys Knight, he left us Pips behind to write for his own site, Regular Guy Column.