Thursday, September 22, 2011

Translating the Netflix/Qwikster YouTube Apology Into “Real Speak”

A Thorough Transcription of Reed Hastings' Online Mea Culpa


Earlier this week, Reed Hastings, Netflix mastermind and digital distribution czar, made the announcement that his organization was going to split its services in two; while Netflix will continue to deliver fresh, cinematic classics to your home via your laptop and Nintendo Wii, a newly created service called Qwikster (which, despite the nomenclature, ISN’T a discontinued breakfast cereal from the late 1970s) will provide Netflix subscribers with solid-state goods like DVDs and video games through standard mailings.

And in case you were wondering, you’re going to need separate accounts for both services.
Now, a lot of irate Netflix customers (perhaps still seething over the fact that the company had the gall to increase subscription fees after it was announced that a number of television programs would no longer be carried through the digital service) are up in virtual arms over the company’s decision to essentially charge customers double for the service they are currently receiving. Now, you’d think that such a call would be corporate suicide, but what do you know? Hastings and his right hand man/sacrificial lamb Andy Redich decided to play damage control by the most logical means fathomable:

By releasing a condescending YouTube video that told customers it’s not really that big of a deal.

As of Sept. 21 (6 p.m., EST), the YouTube video (published by the not-at-all ironically titled NetFlixPublic, with the super-duper-mega-not-at-all ironic title “An explanation and some reflections”) has been viewed about 170,000 times, receiving well over 3,500 dislikes since it was posted on Sept. 18. For a little perspective on just how unpopular Netflix is on the World Wide Web right about now, consider this: an upload of Hitler’s first speech as chancellor of Germany only has 250 dislikes.

I recently decided to watch the three and a half minute long clip myself, and yeah, it’s pretty bad. Hastings’ and Redich’s attempt to spin the news into something positive has to be the most audacious instance of a corporation trying to right the ship in the public eye since British Petroleum pleaded its case as an eco-conscious organization; I surmise the guys that hold the lease on the Fukushima Power Plant will probably have an easier time winning back public support than this operation.

If nothing else, the video is a pretty entertaining example of corporate “newspeak” - you know, that Orwellian concept that people will tell you the exact opposite of what something means and expect you to swallow it like a delicious, delicious candy bar. For those of you that have a hard time translating newspeak into “real speak,” I decided to transcribe the video for you: try playing the video and reading along, why don’t you?

(00:09 - 00:15) - - “Hey, remember all those good times you used to have, streaming Z-rate horror movies and having to wait three weeks for a DVD mail-in when you just could’ve driven to Blockbuster and picked it up in five minutes?”

(00:16 - 00:23) - - “Well, uh, we may have sorta’, kinda’ screwed over our clientele base a few months ago when we decided to charge existing customers for far less content.”

(00:24 - 00:38) - - “…and since Starz told us to go take a hike, that means we’re going to have to charge you even more money for even less content now!”

(00:39 - 00:51) - - “On behalf of Netflix, I apologize. . .for not explaining why this is actually a REALLY, REALLY good thing for customers.

(00:52 - 01:16) - - “As we all know, changes in technological capabilities leads to pricier services. Well, even though Netflix HASN’T employed any new service technologies, we’ve decided to go ahead and bill you as if we did.”

(01:17 - 01:33) - - “Long story short, since we’re losing most of our TV content to Hulu, we’ve come to realize that more expensive, less manageable forms of distributing content is what our customers really want.

(01:34 - 02:04) - - “As to meet the overwhelming request for new, in-demand content, we’ve decided to start billing you twice for the same service you’ve been using for the last five years. So anyway, let’s hear it from the new whipping boy...”

(02:06 - 02:19) - - “We’ve grown dramatically over the last 12 years. So much so that today, we’ve decided to go back to using the same service model that we were using in 1999.”

(02:20 - 02:38) - - “I mean, I really don’t know what all the hubbub is about. It’s basically the EXACT same service you’re using today, just that you’re being charged twice as much for it.

(02:39 - 02:52) - - “But that doesn’t mean we’re not closing ourselves off to tertiary streams of revenue. After all, we’re now offering you video game content, so we can now charge you three times as much as we used to.”

(02:53 - 03:01) - - “Look, I know it sounds bad in theory, but in reality. . .”

(03:02 - 03:19) - - “. . .OK, OK, I admit, it does sound kinda’ bad. . .”

(03:20 - 03:24) - - “. . .yeah, we’re going to be out of business by this time next year. Thanks for fattening up our pension plans over the last decade, though.”

 Qwikster czar Andy Redich displaying the organization's new envelopes/demonstrating how to bankrupt a company in one year's time.

Sheesh, what a load of it.What a barrel of half-truths, distortions, and outright lies. What an egotistical, impudent display of corporate arrogance. . . 

. . .what a career these two guys would have if they ever went into politics!

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