Netflix nixes DVD choice from streaming gear, vexes users

The company's decision to remove the option to add titles to the DVD queue from streaming devices sets off criticism from Netflix customers.

Netflix has triggered a slew of customer complaints after revealing that it's taking away the ability to add titles to the DVD queue from streaming devices.

Announced in a blog post yesterday by Jamie Odell, director of product management, the move would mean that people will no longer be able to use the "Add to DVD Queue" feature from their smartphones, set-top boxes, game consoles, and other devices that stream Netflix content. Users will be able to add physical discs to their queue only by going directly to the Netflix Web site on a PC or presumably another device capable of displaying the full site.

The reason behind this move? The explanation is a bit fuzzy, though Netflix is spinning the decision as one that will actually benefit its customers..

"We're doing this so we can concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly," Odell explains. "Further, providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality."

Since blogging the news yesterday, Netflix has received almost 300 comments, some from people who have no problem with the move but most from customers who see this as a step backward. Several also took the opportunity to vent their anger over the lack of sufficient content available for streaming compared with the number of titles accessible on DVDs.

Said one anonymous commenter: "I think this is a bad idea. At home, I do not have internet except for my phone so I use the iPhone app to add movies to my DVD queue when I see a commercial on TV for them. It's way easier than trying to remember said movie until I'm at work and have access to my Netflix account online."

The decision to remove the option to add DVDs from streaming devices comes at a time when Netflix is trying to wean its customers off their dependency on physical media. In November, the company launched a streaming-only plan for $7.99 a month at the same time it upped the price of its streaming-plus-DVD-by-mail plans.

Mailing DVDs is one of Netflix's major costs. In a research note issued in November, J.P. Morgan analyst Imran Khan said that more than 30 percent of the company's revenue is spent on "DVD fulfillment," according to Gigaom.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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