经济学人:家庭娱乐 Netflix这回弄巧成拙了
日期:2013-01-10 14:56


Business Home entertainment Netflix messes up
商业 家庭娱乐 Netflix这回弄巧成拙了
The terror of the film and television business has become a lot less scary
LAST December Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner's boss, sneered that Netflix threatened media about as much as the Albanian army threatened world peace. Few were fooled. Netflix, which hires out DVDs through the post as well as streaming films and television through the internet, had already impoverished Hollywood by training people to rent DVDs instead of buying them. It was starting to lure people away from pay-television. But then the army began marching in the wrong direction, and its general shot himself in the foot.
在去年12月,时代华纳的老板Jeff Bewkes曾嘲笑Netflix就像阿尔巴尼亚军队危害了世界和平一样危害了媒体业。Netflix,一个凭借邮递服务租售DVD光碟和通过互联网租售流媒体电影和电视节目的公司,由于使得人们不再购买DVD光碟而只是租借它们,早已让好莱坞的收入大为缩水。它在开始引诱人们离开付费频道,但上当者人数寥寥。然而,这支军队接下来开始朝着错误的方向进军,这次,这位上将是搬起石头砸了自己的脚。
On September 1st Netflix began imposing new prices on its 25m subscribers. Americans had been able to pay $9.99 a month for DVDs through the post as well as the right to stream some films and programmes. Netflix would henceforth offer them a choice: $7.99 a month for streaming, or the same price for DVDs. People who wanted both would pay $15.98.
Customers don't like it. They have jammed the firm's switchboard and posted 82,000 largely hostile comments on its Facebook page. Netflix told investors to expect a rare loss of subscribers, driving its shares down. The company's reputation for top-notch customer service has been tarnished. So Netflix's founder and chief executive, Reed Hastings, tried to explain himself—and made matters far worse.
用户们并不喜欢这个方案。许多人的投诉电话蜂拥而至以致电话系统瘫痪,并且在Netflix的Facebook主页上留下了多达82000条的恶意评论。Netflix告知投资者们要做好因订阅用户人数大幅下降所带来的股份下滑的准备,这所公司以顶级用户服务著称的名誉已经蒙上了污点。因此,Netflix的创立人兼总裁Reed Hastings尝试为自己的决定辩解——却只是越描越黑。
On September 18th Mr Hastings explained that the company feared being left behind by technological change, like AOL with its dial-up service. It was separating DVDs from streaming because its future lies in streaming. The DVD-by-post service, he said, would move to a new website, with a new billing system, and be renamed Qwikster. It's an odd name (whatever else the US Postal Service is, it isn't qwik) and a big mistake. As The Economist went to press, Netflix shares were trading around $130—a steep decline from their July peak of $299.
Netflix has made a tactical error and treated its customers shabbily. It has also jumped too hastily into the future—as if Renault were to declare that electric cars are the future and rename its petrol-car division Qwikmobile.
Worst of all, Netflix has disregarded a big strategic advantage. DVDs may be old media, but they come with strong legal protections. As soon as a DVD is released by a Hollywood studio, roughly four months after the film appears in cinemas, Netflix can start renting it. To stream a film via the internet, in contrast, Netflix must strike an agreement with the studio or TV firm that owns it. As Netflix has become richer and scarier, negotiations have become harder. The company must wait eight or nine years to stream many studio films. A few media firms refuse to sell any streaming rights at all.
When Netflix combined DVDs and streaming, it offered both a vast selection of up-to-date content and the prospect of instant gratification. By forcing customers to choose between the two, it has revealed the weaknesses of both of its offerings. Netflix isn't like the Albanian army—it is far more dangerous than that. But it seems to have trained its guns against itself.

  • reedn. 芦苇,芦笛,簧片 Reed:里德(姓氏)
  • reputationn. 声誉,好名声
  • striken. 罢工,打击,殴打 v. 打,撞,罢工,划燃
  • hostileadj. 怀敌意的,敌对的
  • steepadj. 陡峭的,险峻的,(价格)过高的 n. 陡坡
  • imposingadj. 令人难忘的,壮丽的 vbl. 强迫,利用
  • entertainmentn. 娱乐
  • refusev. 拒绝 n. 垃圾,废物 adj. 无用的
  • gratificationn. 满足,喜悦
  • executiveadj. 行政的,决策的,经营的,[计算机]执行指令 n