I never thought I'd quit you.
You were the anti-Blockbuster.
And now that you've slain the giant, you have become … Blockbuster.
Blockbuster was loved for one thing: convenience. No matter where you lived, there was one nearby. It got all the new releases and made them easy to browse. Looking for something to watch on a Sunday night? Just pop in and pick something out.
Well, not so easy, actually. Most of those new-release shelves were filled with empty boxes. And the stock of older catalogue films was extremely thin. Not sure what the rest of the family would want to watch? Heading to the cash register with a stack of four or five choices was an expensive proposition.
Then there were those late fees. Fine, I could get my discs back on time. My wife and kids …. Not so obsessive-compulsive.
Then you came along.
At first it was like being a member in a rebellious "I Hate Blockbuster" club. You'd actually feel a kinship when someone else walked into the elevator holding one of those distinctive red envelopes.
But here's the thing: It really worked. Pop a disc in the mailbox, and within three — or even two — days, I had the next item on my queue in my paws. And not only were there no late fees, if a disc got lost on the way to me, you never charged me, or gave me the third-degree. You just sent a replacement.
Every once in a while you'd ask when I sent a disc back in. Clearly, speed and service were important to you.
You cared about me.
Most important, you had everything — practically any DVD — movie or TV show. No matter how arcane.
Then came the first price hike. For Blu-rays, and that made sense. Blu-rays cost more. I get it. Of course, I dropped from three to two discs a month, to keep my monthly charge the same.
You made up for that with streaming. For free. How can they do that? I didn't care. The catalog was thin, but I still found enough for a couple of movies a month — and even played them on vacation on my iPad.
It wasn't all that long ago that you not only had my affection, you seemed to be the one company that had actually figured out the future. Most of Hollywood thought the same.
And now I'm quitting you.
That second price increase, charging separately for streaming, was the first strike. Maybe it would have made sense if you had a better catalog. But there just wasn't enough to justify the cost.
In fact, it's basically cheaper now for me to buy most of my movies for three bucks at the Amazon Marketplace and then just toss them out afterwards. Or rent them for $3.99 from iTunes to play on my AppleTV.
Then you lost Starz and all the Sony films. Your catalog became even thinner. Bad negotiation. Strike two.
But what sealed the deal was Sunday night's so-called apology — your mea culpa for the price hike. But you don't rescind the price hike?! Even worse, you announce proudly that you're creating an entirely new service to handle the DVD mail business, Qwikster?
So now, I have to go to one site to see if a movie is streaming, and if not, go to another site to put it in my by-mail queue to wait for a hard disc.
It's clear you don't care about keeping me happy, like you once did. I don't feel so proud being caught with that little red envelope anymore.
So, Netflix, onetime fellow rebel and giant-killer, onetime future of video-on-demand, it's over.
You've made it easy to quit you.