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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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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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