Not too long ago Netflix announced that it was splitting its DVD/Blu-ray subscription service off from its streaming service and renaming it Qwikster. It was a move that everyone hated. Under this plan, customers who wanted to use both the streaming service and the DVD-by-mail service would now have to log in to two websites, pay two bills, and rate the movies they watch in two different places. It was a bad idea that would have inconvenienced a huge portion of the company’s customer base, and it also gave the impression that DVD subscribers were second class citizens who could expect less and less service for their money as time went on; so they killed it before it ever even launched.
But the problems that the company were trying to solve by creating Qwikster still exist. Their disc rental service only exists in the U.S., and their streaming service is something that they want to expand all over the world. Most of their customers don’t do the DVD subscription, and have the streaming service only (they have 11.1mDVD subscribers and 21.6m streaming subscribers). This makes for a messy user experience when streaming only customers search their site and come up with results for movies that they can’t actually watch. Using Netflix.com is more confusing than it needs to be so that the company can continue to cater to an ever-shrinking group of customers located in the U.S. who are still renting discs.
So the company is taking another crack at separating the two services. But this time they seem to be taking heed of the lessons they learned from the Qwikster fiasco. The first step was removing any mention of DVD-only films or the DVD queue from all ancillary Netflix apps; that happened a while ago. And now it looks like they’re ready to tackle a fix for their web experience.
Domain Name Wire reported this morning that Netflix has bought the domain DVD.com, which now redirects to DVD.netflix.com. This seems to be the first step toward a re-do of splitting the DVD service from the streaming one. A representative told Domain Name Wire, “Netflix cares about keeping DVD healthy, and this is just one small investment in keeping DVD healthy.”
What does that mean for the customer? It means Netflix is avoiding the problems that the Qwikster split would have caused them, and are trying a new solution that will hopefully make everyone happy. TechCrunch approached the company with some questions and found out that, under the new plan, user ratings will be shared by both sites. Also, when a user who doesn’t use the DVD subscription searches for a film, the Netflix site will now show no results. But if a customer does subscribe to the DVD service, DVD-only results will continue to be shown. What this theoretically means is that those who only use the DVD service will have their own website to use at DVD.com, those who use streaming only will continue to use Netflix.com without all of the DVD clutter, and those who use both services will be able to conveniently manage both accounts from Netflix.com. A Netflix representative told TechCrunch, “In the U.S. we look to provide a great experience for our members, those who have DVD only, streaming only and those who have both.”
Clearly a huge portion of the movie hungry FSR readership must be made up of Netflix customers, so what do you think about these latest changes? Is this the answer that will make everyone happy, or are we just looking at Qwikster part 2?