DID YOU READ

Does Netflix want to kill DVDs?

Does Netflix want to kill DVDs? (photo)

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The film world is still buzzing with the news that Netflix is separating their DVD and streaming movie services and raising their prices, in some cases as much as 60% per customer. In an interview today on CNET, Big Champagne CEO Eric Garland puts forward a theory for Netflix’s shift in strategy that I’ve heard before and discounted in a way that makes me want to reconsider it.

That theory is that Netflix split their two businesses because they want to get out of one of them, namely the DVDs-by-mail model. There are reasons why that theory made sense to me — mostly because the DVD represent the past and streaming represents the future — and a few reasons why it didn’t, including the fact that Netflix’s own press release on the subject claimed that they wanted to invest more resources into their DVD business, not less. So Netflix, this massive supplier of DVDs, wants to destroy half their business? The whole thing kind of sounded like a conspiracy nut’s fantasy.

Garland’s perspective, though, goes a long way toward explaining why Netflix might indeed want to accelerate the destruction of a big portion of their company. He even cites precedent, comparing the move to the moment when Steve Jobs and Apple decided to release a Macintosh computer without a floppy disk drive. That decision was met with widespread scorn and skepticism at the time. Now? When was the last time you even thought about a floppy disk?

So the thinking goes that Netflix is working along the same lines: killing the old to encourage the new. The counter from skeptics like me would be something like: “Netflix’s streaming selection isn’t deep enough to satisfy many of their customers. Won’t they lose a lot of business as a result?” But Garland gives CNET a pretty devastating counter to that counter:

“Reed [Hastings, Netflix CEO] is deliberately creating dissatisfaction. He’s creating dissonance precisely because that title availability, those first-run titles, needs to be available more immediately and more widely as a (video on demand) or as a streamed offering. So this is a leverage play. This is Reed saying you can’t bifurcate. You’re going to have to make all of your content available in a way that your customer has clearly indicated that he or she wants. Netflix is wagering that if all parties are dissatisfied; if Netflix is unhappy because Netflix customers are unhappy and if Hollywood is unhappy and if everyone is unhappy then we’re going to speed the clock on new solutions. You know that theory of vine economics, you let go of the last vine (like Tarzan) and reach for the next one. If he takes away that last vine then everyone is really going to reach for the next one. That’s what he’s trying to do here. He’s trying to remove the complacency that comes from an easy dependency on that legacy product. If you take the comfort of that DVD away that dissonance is going to demand remedy. You ask ‘what about all those DVD titles? You want those movies. So does Reed Hastings. And so does every other customer and movie fan. And now the pressure under which Hollywood finds itself has been ratcheted up.”

And why won’t customers just flee to some other service? Well, they might, which is all the more reason why Hollywood, which has had a love/hate relationship with Netflix, might have to open up more of their libraries to streaming. Right now, the only outlet that can compete with Netflix in terms of ease of use, variety, and (even after this price hike) affordability is piracy. That might force Hollywood into a choice between offering improved content to Netflix or losing more of their customers to illegal downloads.

A provocative theory. Even if it’s true, though, it still seems like a pretty risky gamble. Now that Netflix’s proven the value of streaming rights online, why won’t the studios start making them available through web portals they own? True, a studio-run Netflix-like streaming site would have a fraction of Netflix’s content, but it could have the all-valuable new releases that many users crave (and which, by and large, aren’t available from Netflix via streaming). And if the studios could play nice and pool their resources, they could really get something going.

Do they hate Netflix enough to work together? I wonder. This online movie business, man. It’s murder.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.