In discussing my twelve-year marriage, I referred to it as “The best decision I ever made” and “nothing can derail us but for an external force.” So it’s kind of funny to look over at NetFlix and see a separation that appears to be the result of bad decisions and derailings a-plenty.
If you’re not familiar with Netflix’s new separation announcement into NetFlix and Qwikster and Chapter 13, I think Blergeatkitty sums up my initial reaction pretty damned well. Why the fuck is splitting into two separate companies somehow better?
One suspects that Netflix is not quite as dumb as this, or at least one hopes; I know the movie companies (who hate this “intarwebz” thing and are doing their damndest to destroy any legal usage of it) are all pissy at Netflix for being better at it than they are, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to discover that there was some complex set of hidden pressures that’s forcing Netflix to separate into two companies or subtly have their business model destroyed.
But if that’s the case, then Netflix can never say anything about it, because in the end when they moved to streaming video, they became dependent on the good will of the movie studios. When they were sending out physical DVDs, they could say, “Yeah, Starz, go fuck yourselves. See that? We’re buying 10,000 of your DVDs through Ingram, so take your profit and eat a big one.” Now they have to cultivate relationships to ask, “Please, sir, may I stream the latest Michael Bay movie today?” and the movie companies can tell them to eat a big one themselves.
That means whatever elephant dung they get handed by the studios, they have to smile and pretend it’s candy. And never mention how badly they’re screwing themselves. Kind of like Apple and iTunes.
It’s a weird business model, one that none of us fully understands (and, one suspects, neither does NetFlix themselves). There were probably some rather heated behind-the-scenes meetings that I’d love to hear, because this separation of business models can’t be easy, and they must have been forced into by something. Lord knows what.
In the meantime, a Tweet from Wonderella sums it up for me: I just got an email from Netflix’s CEO telling me to – and I’m paraphrasing – “Please start torrenting.”
Your predictions as to how long NetFlix lasts start…. Now.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.