A lot of people have written a lot of words on why Netflix sucks now.
I have not been one of them. I've already written a couple times about the reasons I'm wary of Netflix, reasons that have dated back to a time long before its current image problems. Originally, it was them denying me a particular promotion when I wanted to rejoin the service, because the promotion was intended for "first-time subscribers only," and then it was the whole class-action suit they lost over their practice of throttling. If you want to read more (I doubt you do), you can check out my Netflix tag.
But I do have a simple question for the future incarnation of Netflix, which will be streaming only once Qwikster officially becomes the name of the DVD-by-mail service:
What will happen when you search for Star Wars?
You can fill in any number of prominent movie titles there, but Star Wars seems to be the funniest example in this particular case.
I don't expect a movie like Star Wars ever to be available on streaming. "Ever" is a long time, but let's just put it this way: it's not going to happen any time soon.
So when you type those eight letters and one space into the search field in the future incarnation of Netflix, what will you get?
Will it be "Not found"?
Will it be "Unavailable"?
Will it be the falsely promising "Save," which usually means there is basically no hope this title will ever be released?
And the more of these titles you vainly try to find in streaming, the less confidence you will have in Netflix -- which was once your one-stop shop for movies.
Now, ironically, Qwikster should not have this same problem. The bastard stepchild of the Netflix family will have almost any title you're looking for. I say "almost" because I'm sure there are some titles that are only available via streaming. However, these would be relatively few, and they wouldn't be titles that would be familiar to the average customer.
Netflix is basically opening itself up to a big game of disappointment. You can easily imagine someone searching for a couple dozen titles they want to see before finally finding one that's actually available.
Of course, Netflix's hope is that this will be a short-term problem. The idea behind splitting the business is that Netflix will have more money available to pay for streaming titles.
Well, good luck. It won't happen right away. But even if it magically did, I don't know that I understand how this restructuring is actually going to create revenue that wasn't previously there. Maybe that's why I'm not a bankruptcy lawyer.
Because doesn't that kind of seem like what Netflix is doing? One of the key words in bankruptcy proceedings is "restructure," because the business is theoretically supposed to be restructured to become viable.
Let's hope, for Netflix's sake, that it'll be viable in the way it wants to be sooner rather than later.
Because until then, there will be a galaxy-sized hole in its offerings, and Star Wars is just one tiny point on the rim of that hole.