« Netflix Suggestion: Ship DVD OR Blu-Ray Option | Main | HD Netflix Streaming on PC Coming This Year? »

Comments

Tim

@Tester

"I simply said that Netflix always has feeble excuses whenever they do something the members don't like."

ok, i may have been a bit rash but your disbelief of their rationale didn't seem to be logical. If a company has a set amount of resources, and they all do, isn't it true that there is a give and take with regard to allocating those resources? Not sure I see the "BS" in the veep's post.

Again, I agree that they should have said something beforehand, that I get.

Eddie

F*CK YOU, netflix!

fred lybrand

Netflix needs to restore the Friends feature. I use it alot, and will be less likely to continue using Netflix if they do away with it. Fred in Austin

Marmot

I've already downgraded my account severely over this issue, and will probably end up canceling if they continue hacking their best features out. I hope some of the other 200,000 friends users will do the same...it sounds like that's the only way to get them to change the way they treat the most active and vocal percentage of their user base.

Classaction

It's amazing that Netflix has any customers left at all since every move they make causes a torrent of people to downgrade or eliminate their accounts, according to the comments posted in these threads!

goldfyngor

I am very disturbed by this because I was apparently a part of only 2% of netflix customers who used it. It kind of puts it into perspective how little I am in the grand scheme of things. I currently am at 4 friends and I know they each have multiple friends attached to them as well, and so on... It still made up only 2%. That is very shocking to me.

Hank

Regarding that 2%:

Let's see, the Netflix facebook group has over 100,000 members. Since this announcement was posted there have been 2 posts in the group protesting the change and 132 posts on Lady Gaga and Quentin Tarentino.

Eli

This is a bad move on Netflix's part. While they say that only 2% of the users use this feature, they fail to consider the fact that this 2% may be the most enthusiastic Netflix users. By removing features without explanation, deleting their comments on the official blog post, and then generally saying that we don't matter because we are only 2% of the users, this has the potential to be a bigger problem for Netflix.
Also, how are they determining a "user" of the Friends feature. If all I am doing is checking my friends ratings on each film's page, I may not be considered a "user" of the Friends feature, but I still may get a lot out of it.

Tester

@Tim:

"...your disbelief of their rationale didn't seem to be logical."

That's because I have seen their so-called rationale many times before. I'm sure you'll admit that anyone can rationalize anything and if the proper "spin" is put on it, it would seem to make sense. In this case we are talking about a company that has, in my opinion, tried to rationalize too many things by suppling it's customers with fluff instead of substance.

Vortech

Hmm. Shades of the multiple-queues removal fiasco. (Except that was a feature I really cared about. Friends I could take or leave without much feeling either way.)

Bob

Got Facebook? Become a fan of "BRING BACK FRIENDS"

http://www.facebook.com/pages/BRING-BACK-FRIENDS/101749809861958?ref=mf

Classaction

They may be the most "enthusiastic" Netflix users, but that probably also means they're heavy users and, on balance, more of a COST to Netflix than a benefit to keep around. So maybe they'll kill two birds with one stone. In an "all you can eat" business model, not every customer is a worthwhile customer to have.

BP

Remember when people were happy that Netflix was a cheapish subscription rental service with a massive catalog? Remember those glorious days when people expected nothing more than to have a classic film or a semi-new release delivered right to their door?

You know, the days before people ruined it for everybody by subscribing to the eight at a time plan and copying eight movies a day, sending them back, receiving eight more, rinse and repeat? Before streaming came along - for free - and gave entitlement-whores something else to complain about? Before the Friends feature was made obsolete - before it was even released, no less - by the likes of Rotten Tomatoes, imdb, Facebook, Myspace and, my personal favorite, the antiquated phone call? You know, in the olden days, when we talked to our friends to find out what they liked or didn't like!

I remember when I was excited by the prospect of not having to drive to Blockbuster to peruse an ever-waning catalog of craptastic-Sunday afternoon-on-Comedy-Central-fare, of merely looking at a website, queuing up a couple dozen great flicks and waiting for that simple red envelop. I don't need multiple queues of 500 plus to 'remember' what I want to watch - that's why I have a brain, or a scratch pad, or a PDA, or a Word document.

I remember when people were excited by the prospect of watching movies, not the process by which we choose which movies to watch. After all, that is the end goal here, isn't it? - to watch films? That is what is important, isn't it?

Let's let Netflix do their job - to deliver to our door great films and to offer up to us scarily accurate recommendations and, more recently, to stream a fairly hefty catalog (of mostly crap b-movies, but getting better every damned day) from their place to ours.

That's what makes Netflix great, and it's all anybody here should ask of them. They aren't perfect, but instead of complaining about streaming quality or the removal of the friends feature, whining about throttling or how they don't support Linux, lamenting the 28 day waiting period or the lack of selectable captions/subtitles, perhaps you should consider that maybe, just maybe, you're the problem, not Netflix.

Ryan

I used the Friends section for about a week. I didn't really see the point. I don't care what my friends are watching.

Katy

I'm picturing Todd Yellin, kickin' back in his killer pad with a nice cold glass of white wine, watching a copy of Inglorious Basterds it seems no one on Netflix is able to rent, and laughing his ass of at all of us loser "power users". What a jerk. "Uh, hey guys, dang, uh sorry I forgot to mention that we'd be taking friends away. But uh, I guess now's the time I should tell ya we're going to phase the whole thing out entirely in the coming months, so, uh, sorry I guess." Pitiful! I will not stand for this douchebaggery! It was difficult to imagine a world without Netflix until I saw this: http://toddyellin.com/

Bobby Lee

"It was difficult to imagine a world without Netflix until I saw this: http://toddyellin.com/"

That is funny. Do you actually think there is only one person named Todd Yellin? I mean, it could be him but how the hell would you know?

(of course if that is him, he is quite the tool)

byteme

I guess I'm in the other 98%; never used the friends feature -- never wanted to; don't use Facebook; or Twitter; or MySpace. I keep in touch with friends and family in more traditional ways. I don't feel a need to know what they're doing (or watching) every moment of every day and I certainly don't have a desire to spend my free time documenting for them what I'm doing.

And I've never had a problem figuring out what to watch all on my own. A lot of my friends have terrible taste in movies, anyway (music, too.)

Don't get me wrong, for those of you who find it useful, enticing or just plain fun...more power to ya'. I'm sorry you will be losing this extra "gravy." However, I've seen too many good companies get eaten up by trying to cater to every 2% niche. The best run companies usually try to stick to the core...what they do best.

I guess it's easy for me to understand the decision they made, since it doesn't affect me. I'm sure I'd feel differently if it were a feature I found very useful.

Hank

I wonder what the outcome would have been if the folks over at the Ning forum hadn't been such pricks to new members who had their own issues. Perhaps they would have had more "friends" to support their cause.

Probably not, just wondering.

Did you know there are about half a dozen groups on facebook advocating for captions on IW titles? Did you know that somewhere between 2 and 10% of Americans can be considered to be hearing impaired? Hmm.

Hope other things improve said

How am I suppose to know what dvds on other profiles are streaming now? When Friends is gone.

Right now. I have other profile users added as friends on the master account so I can look at there Queues and jot down the number on the queue of the movies that are currently streaming.
I then add the streaming movies.

Log into there profile accounts and remove the titles that are streaming.

I sure as heck hope you plan to update the Netflix profiles with Instant access on all profiles under the master account.

Otherwise if I can't tell which movies are streaming on other profile accounts. It's just a waste of other movies that are could be shipping instead.

I also do not want everyone to use one profile either. I like separate tastes and suggestions.

Please fix this problem. Please update the profiles. People in households use this feature, come on.

At least if your gonna remove Friends then focus on Families.

The site is so plain Vanilla & it's so difficult to do anything.

Who agrees or disagrees?

Hank

@Hope, I use the same method. Netflix has an incentive to get users to move to streaming so hopefully this feature will not go away without a replacement. They would rather you watch a movie streamed than ship you a DVD.

But there are no guarantees. It may be that profiles become a liability and they move in a different direction (e.g. requiring separate plans for each queue).

The Ghost of Patrick Swayze

Problem: Netflix took away the friends section.
Solution: Make friends in real life and talk about the movies you watch.

Hank

One thing that people keep getting hung up on is understanding what it means when Netflix says they have limited resources and has decided to focus on IW.

It does not mean that they don't have enough money to pay for this feature.

It does not mean that they had to choose one or the other.

It does not mean that the developer working on "friends" switched jobs one day and started working on better encoding for IW.

It does not mean that both features can't exist on their servers at the same time.


What it does mean is that this particular feature does not generate enough revenue now and (as far as they can tell) in the future to justify the effort they were putting into it.

It does mean that Netflix can't focus on every possible feature at the same time. Even if a particular feature had some marginal value it's not worth distracting management, the development team, the marketing staff, support reps, et al.

It does mean that they don't want the customers distracted either. At any point in time they have a distinct marketing message and portray the company in a particular light. Building an internal community might have been key a few years ago, but they have a different message now and a different plan for growing the business.

Why support an expensive and complicated internal community when there are thriving communities outside of Netflix that will not only allow Netflix members to communicate with each other, but will bring new customers to the company.

If these features were the cash cow you all believe them to be, there is no doubt Netflix could scrounge up the resources to support them. But it's evident that either these features don't bring in much profit or that it's cheaper to do it externally.

Hank

Several have doubted the 2% number quoted by Netflix and some have gone so far as to call it an outright lie.

We don't know exactly what they mean by that number and it's unlikely they're going to tell us. It certainly seems like a low-ball number if we're talking about customers who have ever used any of the community features.

But it's not at all surprising to me if it's a measurement of how many have explicitly used one of the features in the past week or even month. This could overlook those who used the feature passively, e.g. by glancing at "what your friends thought". But even then the numbers are not going to be what some people expect.

Consider that a huge number of Netflix customers are relatively recent. A good chunk have never even heard of the community features and wouldn't know how to add a friend if their lives depended on it. It is completely irrelevant that the links for those features have been relegated to obscure locations. Consider also that a high percentage of users rarely, if ever even rate movies. That is almost inconceivable to the hard-core fans who have a skewed impression of the average Netflix user based on their own circle of friends.

Netflix has moved beyond being a small little club of movie fanatics who are ahead of the technology curve and spend a lot of time online. This may be hard to get over for those in that little club, but times change.

Hank

Several have made assertions that these 2% are the most influential and powerful members and that they result in a ton of business for Netflix. Some claim to have brought 5, 10 or even dozens of new customers to Netflix.

I'm willing to put them to the test. Let's see how many there are of them and how influential they really are.

The Netflix group on Facebook has 100,000 members, and there are certainly many more Netflix users on Facebook who aren't in that group. So let's see you can get just 2% (2,000) members in the "Keep the Friends Feature on Netflix" group. That's nothing - there are 500,000 people in the group to save the show "Top Gear". Over a day since Todd's message and the group is up to 28!, perhaps tomorrow they can get another 50, then it's just a matter of time. Netflix isn't even trying to stop you by censoring activity in their official group.

Also, start yet another online petition, if it hasn't been done already. Now don't just get your 2% to sign it, get all the many friends you've brought into Netflix. By your calculations that must be a pool of about a million people. Surely you can get just 2% of that number (20,000) to sign your petition. Even better, get a commitment from them to drop their Netflix memberships if certain community features are not brought back (listing their Netflix obfuscated usernames would add credibility).

You guys are powerful, influential, and teeming. You claim that these are tight groups of people who interact meaningfully on a frequent basis. And social networks like Facebook, Ning, and the Netflix community you are trying to save were built for this kind of thing. This should be easy! You don't need to spam reviews to do this or try to pimp this in the media, just send notes to all your Netflix friends, add it to your facebook status, ... You'll never get anywhere by preaching to the choir in the core Netflix forums and blogs and throwing a pity party for yourselves.

I want "what your friends thought" back too, so I hope you succeed. Unfortunately I think you're seriously exaggerating your numbers, your personal influence and the importance of these features to even the bulk of that 2% who have used it.

Anyone else want to make any bold predictions as to how much real, quantifiable support these protests can get?

Hank

Hi my name is Hank and I honestly believe that comparing Facebook's clientele to an online movie rental service actually makes sense!

I mean its the exact same thing right? On Facebook people network with their friends and talk about stuff, and at Netflix you can search for and pick movies to watch at home.

Ayup.. yup..yup.. That's the same thing all right! Now.. I do have a pressing concern that I hope someone can help me with...

Which way did he go george? Which way did he go?!?

CJ

Can't help but comment. First, I've been on Netlix for 10 years now, and am what you call a power user - thousands of fans, around 1,300 reviews written. My "Netflix" type friends are all on other, private, as in invitation only, social sites (not that Movie Fans public travesty site) - sure we used the Netflix Friends features, and we'll endure without it. Secondly, the 2% figure is probably way high. I didn't join until just 2 yrs ago for the reasons stated by others - it's anything but user friendly, and pretty bizarrely designed once you do figure it out. Good riddance if you ask me. Thirdly, it's obvious that not only is the friends feature a headache for Netflix (continual whining to customer service), but also it's getting quite costly with the increasing customer base. Bottom line is very simple: Netflix's core business is a Movie Delivery Service, not Social Interaction. And lastly, does anyone really believe "protesting" is going to do anything constructive? Seems to me, Netflix has pretty clearly stated it's position.

jeff

Personally, I have to wonder how they measure the "2%". Is it clickthrough to the actual friends page? If so, then I believe the number. But I think that a lot more people look at (and take into consideration) how their friends rated films on the at a glance pages for individual films -- how could they possibly measure that? It's in the same place as all the other film information and to the best of my knowledge netflix has no way to measure eyeball contact with information contained in a multi-purpose page.

Hank

Jeff, they could get an upper limit just by eliminating all the people for which the feature is useless. For example, all the people who don't have any Netflix friends or who don't regularly click on the movie details. A large number of Netflix customers know what movies they want to see before they come to the site and simply add the title from the sliders, search results, et al. with maybe a glance at the popup details. They also might not count it as a "use" when the box has no ratings (many members don't regularly rate movies). I personally found it almost as useful just knowing if my friends had rented it or if it were in their queue, but I'm in the minority on many things.

We probably both agree that this method alone wouldn't get you down to that 2%, but we could be wrong.

Netflix also sends out surveys and tests various features. If they had done either or both for this particular feature they would have a ballpark figure for its usage.

Lastly, if "what your friends thought" was as critical a feature as people claim then the results would be measurable, if anyone cared to look. Really, if the feature doesn't have any measurable effect on users' actions then by definition it's not having an impact.

Cram it, Hank

"Lastly, if "what your friends thought" was as critical a feature as people claim then the results would be measurable, if anyone cared to look."

Nope, before the change you could see what your friends thought about a movie without clicking anything but the movie's page. Using the "friends" feature in this invaluable way was not measurable at all.

Hank

Hi! Hank again... Just finished my visit with my good pal George...

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know I'm not actually a member of the Ning Community Forum, so I really cannot have an opinion of how new visitors are treated over there.

I do have it from a reliable source though that many MANY new visitors do not read anything over there, nor do they know how to conduct a search, lots of times there are even shills from Blockbuster! (Imagine that!).

I have heard that long time members over there like to do what the community was setup for, Talk about their Love of Movies, and sometimes do get a little snarky with the billybobs (and hank juniors) who post stuff that has NOTHING to do with Movies.

In fact, did you know that my source even told me that people actually think that's an official netflix community? I know right!?! Can you believe it? Not only that but they will post the SAME questions that someone just posted which you can still SEE on the main page! AMAZING!

So I guess a small part of me understands why those who LOVE TO TALK ABOUT MOVIES would get a little prickly with the newbies, trolls, shills, sock puppets and outright STUPID people that constantly sign up just to rant about something that nobody over there can do anything about... CAUSE THEY ARE NOT NETFLIX...

Durrrr.. Doopy... doopy... doopy... Doo Doo Doo, a duh duh dump da doodle diddle de da...

Hank

You power users are all aware of www.feedfliks.com, right? For my money that site and HackingNetflix are the two most innovative, useful and enlightening resources for true Netflix fans.

You say that these community features that have gone away are critical to your enjoyment of Netflix. You say that these features are trivial to implement and negligible in cost to maintain and support. So here's another simple test of those claims.

If you don't think Netflix is listening to and providing for your needs then sign up for feedfliks and give your support to someone who truly cares about listening to his customers. The free plan is great, but for only $9/yr you get much more and you support someone who's on your side.

He already has a wealth of data that Netflix doesn't directly provide to you, he's got a new release list, links to reviews and lots more.

If you get even 1% of the "2%" to subscribe to feedfliks he should have more than enough support to implement these trivial community features and many others that he will gladly provide if the customers ask. You seem fine having other members subsidize your way, but are you willing to pay for them yourself?

It should go without saying that I'm not associated with feedfliks in any way, although I certainly wish I had developed the concept first.

Anonymous

@The Ghost of Patrick Swayze

That is the dumbest argument ever. First of all, the whole point of friends' ratings was that I didn't have to ask my friends IRL what they thought of something, but had the instant gratification of looking up a movie and seeing it right on the movie page.

Secondly, a lot of my NF friends are not people I actually know in person. They are people I connected with THROUGH NETFLIX who have similar taste as I do. So, I can't call them up and ask them what they thought.

I suggest you think a little more before speaking.

Hank Jr.

Listen up, peoples! Hank has instructed you to pay for these Netflix features on another site! He's not affiliated with this site by the way.

Hank

@Cram

"Nope, before the change you could see what your friends thought about a movie without clicking anything but the movie's page. Using the "friends" feature in this invaluable way was not measurable at all."

You're not following, "Cram." That's okay, some concepts require a little thought, so I'll try to walk you through it slowly.

Why do you care what your friends thought? Presumably after eyeballing that panel it would affect whether you added that title or didn't add the title, it might affect whether you send a note or not. Now if you look at that panel, see your friend's ratings and totally ignore them, then it's hard to see how that could be considered critical to your Netflix member experience, right?

Using the same method they can test any number of design changes. Is the new cleaner format easier to read and more useful than the old? If they measure the number of "add"s from each page they can get an idea. Would adding cinematographer to the page help members? If the same page with that credit inserted gets 5% more adds then that could be a clue.

They're not reading your mind, they're not actually tracking your eyeballs, it's just simple applied statistics.

"Cram", not everyone is cut out for complex thinking. That's why large internet companies like Netflix, Google, etc. hire smart people to do that thinking for you. You just need to sit back and enjoy, oh and bitch about what you don't understand.

Cram it, Hank

Using what same method? You never provided any reasonable belief that such a method exists or was used.

I looked at my friend's ratings on the movie's page. Either I added the movie or I didn't. Tell me what statistical method Netflix used to assess whether I used the feature? Take your time.

Hank

@Hank, Jr.

Didn't you read how it was obvious that I was a Netflix employee? Why don't you guys get together and get your stories straight.

Hank

@"Cram", I see you must have studied statistics and economics with alan. All the time in the world would be wasted trying to explain these things to you.

Cram it, Hank

LOL, and you lose. Have a good one, Hank.

FurryGuyJeans

My friends as a rule don't watch the genre of movies that I do, and I don't watch what they do. So to use a movie rental website as a social network via the now gone Friends feature is not something I used. Sad, though, for those customers that did.

Hank Sr

Now listen up Hank, Hank Jr, Cram H... You alls needs to be playing nice or Im'a gonna tell your maw...

You all know we's culd only sendz one of yooz all to gets an edumacation...

So playz nice...

Oh looks! Yer maws home from picking your sister up from that edumacation place!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Sponsors

Third-Party Netflix Sites