A string of recent moves by the beloved entertainment provider sure make it seem like the company has forgone customer satisfaction for its bottom line. Take the most recent move: Netflix has cracked down simultaneous streaming, reports Cult of Mac. "A customer can only have one streaming video feed per account." The rule isn't new, but before the company hadn't really enforced it. Households that shared one account could watch movies and shows at the same time on multiple devices, now you only get as many devices as you pay for DVDs-per-month. While it's not that outrageous to enforce an already written guideline, which limits sharing abuse, the crackdown signals a shift at the formerly customer-friendly Neftlix: they would like you to pay now..
Netflix's popularity arose because it provided services that customers really liked. "Netflix has always spoiled us by consistently delivering more than what we felt we deserved," explains Tech Journal South's Joe Procopio. Netflix billed itself as a DVD delivery service that provided streaming movies on the side, a little extra sauce. But it won eyes and moved from niche movie delivery service, to mainstream media provider with its Starz deal, argues the Los Angeles Times's Ben Fritz. "Netflix now has 25 million subscribers, the majority of whom watch video online through a variety of devices, including Internet-connected TVs, tablets and smartphones. By providing recently released hit movies from Disney and Sony such as "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Karate Kid," Starz has helped to fuel that growth." The same goes for streaming on multiple devices. It's not like people solely rely on those movies, or watching shows on as many computers as possible, but the availability of those perks drew customers to Netflix and made them stick around as other services popped up.
Now there are more options. Netflix emerged as a competitor to Blockbuster--a completely different business model. It provided a special service with special Netflix-y perks--no late fees, simultaneous streaming. But it was also the only game in town. Now many other options exist. As these benefits fade, Netflix might lose its special place in viewers diets, explains the Consumerist's Ben Popken. "With the price increases, Starz removing its programming, and now this move, Netflix's cherry-red teflon shell could be losing some [of] its luster." And there's plenty other game online for you to choose from, so why stay?
With a much bigger consumer base, Netflix can afford to squeeze their customers a bit. But as the company abandons some of its smaller benefits, people won't see as much of a reason to stick with Netflix over other media providers. It's the little things that count.
Update 11:48 a.m.: It looks like the Netflix crackdown is not a new practice but a glitch, reports Endgadget. "According to spokesman Steve Swasey, the policy is still the same and no Netflix member is limited to less than two streams at once. The messages people are seeing indicating otherwise? An "error" the company is correcting." While better than a policy overhaul, glitches won't exactly woo customers either.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.