Everything is Awesome and Nobody is HappyPosted: September 22, 2011
There are worse things than Netflix charging double and splitting services.
By Phil Robibero
We all get angry over stupid shit sometimes. It’s a natural, albeit irrational, response to become frustrated over trivial things. We’ve all been there. Just last week I yelled at my grilled cheese sandwich for burning my tongue (the scuffle found a resolution rather quickly). I. Get. It. BUT, what I don’t get is people being stupidly angry. You can slap me later, but for now let me have the floor.
It’s Friday night and like most sad sacks, I spent it in my room with two rows of Peeps ready for the slaughter and hungry for entertainment. That particular night I needed some vindication to my existence. Earlier that day a man on the subway refused to give up a seat because his precious tote bag apparently was more deserving of it than I was. I needed someone to tell me that life was a shithole, so I turned to Louis C.K. I loaded up the awesome you-pieces-of-shit-should-be-happy-this-even-exists VOD service named Netflix and streamed his stand-up special. All in all it was a good night, but it was tainted by Louis C.K’s insight, unfortunately, forced me to use my brain.
“Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.” There is no better way to describe today’s consumer and Louis C.K. hit the nail on the head. The comedian continues that, “We have all this awesome stuff, but we hate it. The coolest stuff is wasted on a generation of self-entitled assholes.” Louis C.K’s message instantly made me connect it to Netflix’s recent PR woes. The harsh reactions towards Netflix’s price hike and DVD-only spin-off, made me realize how stupidly angry we can be. We have something great and we hate it.
Granted, I was a little pissed off too when Netflix split its DVD service from its VOD service. The bill was effectively doubled. But you know what? I’m just going to say it. We were under-paying anyway. How could anyone expect for prices to stay so low when fees for digital rights kept growing exponentially. Netflix’s spending on digital rights is estimated to balloon to $1.2 billion in 2012. Digital rights for Mad Men alone cost Netflix $50 million. I doubt Obama is going to intervene and pass the Unemployed Americans Say, “Fuck It, I’m Watching G.I. Joe On Netflix” stimulus bill, though that doesn’t stop me from pretending. Until that day comes, the only way Netflix can raise more cash for licensing is to lower overheads and raise their premiums. That’s what they did and you should be god damn happy about it.
A friend of mine interpreted the price hike as Netflix flexing its monopoly over VOD land. I’m all for competition, but in this industry it’s actually a bad thing. Why? One word: “Exclusivity.” Let me paint you a horrifying future. Imagine a world where Netflix did have competition. All VOD services are now shelling out a ton of money for exclusive digital rights for content. Do you want to watch Spiderman 2? You’re going to have to buy Sony Online VOD because it has exclusive digital rights over the film. Want to watch the second season of Dinosaurs? Add Fox Online VOD to your monthly bills. How about a Jessie Eisenberg movie? Neurotic On Demand will run you $10 dollars a month. If you think this all looks terrible, you’re right. I am a terrible painter, but I am good at spoiling plot twists. This future I speak of is already here.
HBO Go, Amazon On Demand, and Hulu are quickly trying to break down Netflix’s humble empire. We don’t need these superfluous competitors because there’s one competitor to rule them all; piracy. Piracy will never die and therefore will keep Netflix in check. How do you compete with something that is free? By justifying your premiums and I think Netflix has done that in spades. Their audio and video quality continues to excel. Their redesigned interface is incredibly streamlined. For 8 dollars a month, Netflix is still a bargain at that price point, so be happy. Everything is amazing, so there’s no need to be mad at something great. So go forth and sit on your unemployed, fat ass and stream the entire second season of The Office. Now you can slap me.
Phil never speaks in the third person and is also a liar. That’s why he works in advertising. You can see him retweet Here.