Monday, February 28, 2011

Netflix Finally Agrees to Caption 80% of Streaming Content!

Netflix has announced that 80% of its streaming content will be captioned by the end of 2011. It's about time. The issue of online captioning didn't appear to be on CEO Reed Hasting's radar at all in May 2009. That all changed with this May 2009 post.

Thank you so much to everyone who supported the online captioning campaign. We couldn't have done it without you!

Also, thank you to Netflix and CEO Reed Hastings for rising up to the challenge. We know it's not over yet--some people doubt that Netflix can meet its own goal of captioning 80% of its streaming content by the end of 2011--but at least the company finally appears to recognize captioning issue is an important issue.

Disclosure: I have either no shares or an insignificant number of shares in Netflix (NFLX). I continue to be a Netflix member, but have not watched more than a handful of movies online because of the captioning issue.

Update in January 2017: Reading Netflixed (2013), it appears Blockbuster's John Antioco had Netflix on the ropes when investor Carl Icahn disputed 5.6 million of Antioco's deserved bonus. The dispute led Antioco to leave Blockbuster, essentially bankrupting the company's online business (now Sling) and giving Netflix a clear path ahead.

Even more interesting is the "loss leader" strategy employed by Antioco to drive subscribers to switch from NFLX to Blockbuster Online. Having bricks-and-mortar stores once gave Blockbuster advantages--it could sell ancillary products to increase cash flow, and allow customers to return mailed DVDs to physical stores--while Netflix relied completely on online distribution. More importantly, the revenue from existing Blockbuster customers could allow it to create "loss leader" strategies to bankrupt the smaller Netflix--as long as franchisees were onboard. Such new strategies present fascinating anti-trust issues, because once a new competitor is vanquished, what prevents the sole winner of a complex, costly business model to drive up prices? 

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