Netflix: FLIXPAC is Nothing For You to Worry About
Netflix fascinates me. How a company that has done such a great job of delivering a quality product to customers in an array of methods can get into so much trouble with its customer base is mind boggling.
Remember last year when Netflix raised prices and infuriated their customer base? Customers got furious. Then Netflix announced that DVD rentals would be going to a new service Qwikster. Separate web site, separate queues, separate credit card charges, incredibly stupid name…yeah, that sounds like a good idea. So Netflix announced Quikster. Then after customers responded in ways that could only be described as blowback, it backed off of the idea in a poorly written blog post from Reed Hastings, the Netflix CEO.
Somehow after demonstrating amazing levels of stupidity time after time, Netflix has managed to keep customers. Sure, it lost some customers in the midst of that price change chaos, but the company is still doing just fine. This is probably because despite a history of poor decisions, the company really does deliver a quality product. So these poor decisions don’t really have too much of an impact on revenue.
But you can only go to that well so many times before it runs dry.
This week it was announced that Netflix had formed a political action committee (PAC). Immediately people all over the Internet were (rightfully) concerned that this company that supported that horrid SOPA/PIPA legislation was going to be pushing for its passage again.
Netflix responded to say that this PAC is not for SOPA/PIPA; instead it’s for “other issues including network neutrality, bandwidth caps, usage based billing and reforming the Video Privacy Protection Act.”
Yeah. Trust them. They’re not doing anything stupid.
Of course this PAC isn’t for SOPA or PIPA. Those bills are dead, and it would be nearly political suicide for any legislator to reintroduce them without huge legislative changes. What should concern you is the underlying purpose for their behavior: lobbying for more government involvement on the Internet.
Make no mistake: Netflix supported SOPA and PIPA. If for no other reason than to befriend the Hollywood production companies, Netflix supported that awful legislation. These other issues Netflix claims is the PAC’s purpose are for using an increase of government regulations to benefit the company.
Nothing Netflix is doing here is illegal, or even shady for that matter. The company is doing what most large companies do, but it’s getting the bad press, possibly because SOPA/PIPA is such a sensitive issue for people. It’s also possible that the bad press is happening because Netflix has such an uncanny ability to attract bad press.
Either way, the company is playing by the rules as it ventures out to get involved politically. Netflix, however, should be aware that their customers may not want to support a company that lobbies to expand government, especially when that means less freedom on the Internet.
Netflix has a history of doing things to infuriate its customer base; if it’s not careful, the company may find that in the end, FLIXPAC is a poor decision that can’t be rectified with a cheesy apology letter from its CEO.