Netflix cuts 50 tech jobs; streaming issues linger

Microsoft's Silverlight helps Netflix reduce its tech customer support, and the company fixes most streaming problems but not all.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval

Web video-rental store Netflix has laid off 50 technical specialists, the people who typically do most of the trouble-shooting for customers with tech issues, such as struggling to connect the service to their laptop or set-top boxes.

Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesman, said 15 of the company's 65 technical specialists will join the 300-person Customer Service group. According to Swasey, Netflix also plans to add 50 more people to its customer service unit sometime after the New Year.

Swasey said there just wasn't as much need to keep so many tech specialists. He credited Microsoft's Silverlight with making it easier for customers to install Netflix's player on PCs and Macs.

"This wasn't an economic decision," Swasey told CNET News. "We don't do anything without a lot of analysis and study. We realize we don't need the level of expertise that they provide to run these things."

This may be strange timing to those customers of Netflix's streaming service who have experienced a drop-off in streaming quality during the past month. In the past several weeks, some Netflix customers have complained about poor video quality and long buffering delays.

Last week, Netflix said engineers corrected the problem. While some customers continue to see shoddy streams, Netflix does appear to have licked the malfunction for most customers.

Swasey said the layoffs and the streaming glitch aren't related.