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In defense of Netflix

I get it: you canceled your subscription in protest. But it's time to forgive and forget, because Netflix is still the best deal in town. And it's bringing back "Arrested Development!"


It's time to stop dumping on Netflix.

Granted, the service has made some boneheaded moves in the past few months. First came the sudden and steep price hike for DVD-and-streaming customers.

My so-low-it-stayed-off-the-wife's-radar monthly bill jumped from $9.99 to $15.98, an increase of 60 percent.

Then CEO Reed Hastings apologized for the price hike and said, "But if you think that was a dumb move, heeeeere's Qwikster!"

This spin-off company would take over all DVD-by-mail operations, leaving Netflix proper to handle the streaming stuff (aka the future of movie delivery).

Customers hated that idea nearly as much as the price hike, and it took just three weeks for Hastings to qancel Qwikster.

But the damage was done. Millions of subscribers fled the service, and according to an analyst report issued yesterday, Netflix is "broken" and will continue its downward spiral for the foreseeable future.


Nothing about Netflix is broken except for Wall Street's perception of it.

See, I still love Netflix, and I'm a cheapskate. I hate paying subscription charges for anything. But the reality is this: Netflix still offers the single best video-streaming service on the planet. And it's a steal at $7.99 per month.

I can even live with $7.99 per month for one-DVD-at-a-time by mail (which, incidentally, is what I used to pay before Watch Instantly came along). Sure, Redbox rents movies for just a buck apiece, but then I'm stuck with trips to and from the store, late charges, limited selection--all the same hassles that made Netflix such a welcome alternative back in the day.

Consequently, I think it's time to forgive and forget. If you canceled your subscription out of protest, swallow your pride and re-up. Otherwise, you're missing out.

As I said earlier, no other service even comes close. (Not yet, anyway.) Netflix's only real challenger is Amazon Prime, which currently has a much smaller selection of movies and TV shows.

Plus, for the moment, Prime has a perception problem: $79, the price for an annual subscription, sounds like a lot more money than $7.99 per month (even though it amortizes out to $6.58).

Prime also has a disastrously bad interface for browsing available content. And the service isn't available on nearly as many devices as Netflix, which works on everything from Android tablets to Vizio TVs.

What about Hulu? It's competitively priced at $7.99 per month, but forces you to watch commercials (ugh) and has a comparatively tiny movie selection.

It's time to stop dumping on Netflix.

In the grand scheme of things, nothing about the service has changed except price. Is an extra $7 per month really going to break your bank? Wall Street thinks so, but I think people are smart enough to recognize value when they see it.

Oh, and if that doesn't convince you, consider this: Netflix is bringing back "Arrested Development" in 2013. I forgive everything, Reed Hastings!

(For a more objective, business-oriented take on Netflix's situation, check out David Hamilton's Why Wall Street is (still) wrong about Netflix.)

What's your opinion on Netflix's present and future?