Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Netflix (Still) Really Doesn’t Want Your DVD Money

Netflix said something about DVDs again! Which means it’s time to refer, again, to this Reed Hastings quote from last December:

Streaming is the future. We’re focused on it. DVD will do whatever it’s going to do. We’re not — we’re going to try to not hurt it, but we’re not putting a lot of time and energy into doing anything particular around it and then we’re focused on, how do we take advantage of this incredible global streaming opportunity.

Now, with that context in mind, consider this news: Netflix announced last night that customers could sign up directly for a $7.99-a-month DVD-only plan by visiting dvd.netflix.com.

Some of my fellow typers believe that this is a sign that Netflix has re-embraced the DVD business, which has much better margins than the streaming business, but is dropping away, quarter by quarter.

That would be a good narrative, but I don’t think it’s true.

Consider:

  • This is the same $7.99 DVD-only plan that Netflix introduced last July.
  • It’s the same URL that Netflix introduced last July. Apparently, it must have gone away at some point between then and now, but the fact that no one seems to have noticed its disappearance is telling.
  • New customers who head to the Netflix home page will have no way of knowing that Netflix offers a DVD-only plan. If they click around a bit, they’ll find a note telling them they can add DVDs to a streaming-video subscription plan, but no word of the disc-only option.
  • It remains nearly impossible to give someone a Netflix gift subscription that includes DVDs.

This doesn’t sound like a newfound appreciation for the DVD business to me. It sounds like Netflix is continuing to “not put a lot of time and energy into doing anything particular around it.”

So why bother with the new/old URL at all? I asked Netflix PR for comment; if they find the time or energy to respond, I’ll update here.


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