Wired Magazine—Netflix Everywhere: Sorry Cable, You’re History

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It had taken the better part of a decade, but Reed Hastings was finally ready to unveil the device he thought would upend the entertainment industry. The gadget looked as unassuming as the original iPod—a sleek black box, about the size of a paperback novel, with a few jacks in back—and Hastings, CEO of Netflix, believed its impact would be just as massive. Called the Netflix Player, it would allow most of his company's regular DVD-by-mail subscribers to stream unlimited movies and TV shows from Netflix's library directly to their television—at no extra charge.

The potential was enormous: Although Netflix initially could offer only about 10,000 titles, Hastings planned to one day deliver the entire recorded output of Hollywood, instantly and in high definition, to any screen, anywhere. Like many tech romantics, he had harbored visions of using the Internet to rout around cable companies and network programmers for years. Even back when he formed Netflix in 1997, Hastings predicted a day when he would deliver video over the Net rather than through the mail. (There was a reason he called the company Netflix and not, say, DVDs by Mail.) Now, in mid-December 2007, the launch of the player was just weeks away. Promotional ads were being shot, and internal beta testers were thrilled.

But Hastings wasn't celebrating. Instead, he felt queasy. For weeks, he had tried to ignore the nagging doubts he had about the Netflix Player. Consumers' living rooms were already full of gadgets—from DVD players to set-top boxes. Was a dedicated Netflix device really the best way to bring about his video-on-demand revolution? So on a Friday morning, he asked the six members of his senior management team to meet him in the amphitheater in Netflix's Los Gatos offices, near San Jose. He leaned up against the stage and asked the unthinkable: Should he kill the player?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life

Posted September 30, 2009 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. BrianInDioSpfd wrote:

I got annoyed with Comcast last January and cut back to basic cable—total cost under $15/month including all taxes and fees.

A couple months later I got Netflix for under $14.  I appreciate the financial savings and I enjoy the movies.  I stream with my computer and a VGA connection to the HD TV.

September 30, 8:21 pm | [comment link]
2. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

With no TV cable, no satellite dish, and no TV antenna, I’ve been an on-demand-only user for many years. I pop my used DVD in the mail on Monday, Tuesday NetFlix emails me that they got it, and Wednesday the postman puts the new one in my mailbox.

We cut down to the two-at-a-time mode when we’d blasted through all the cream of the Netflix library. One for me, one for the 10-year-old. In addition, the lad gets much of his on-demand viewing from cartoonnetwork.com.

The only broadcast schedule I’m still a slave to is radio. Still, I can shop around; Bill McGlaughlin’s Exploring Music classical show is on M-F at 8pm in Chicago and 10pm in Pittsburgh, streaming online. But so far I’m still chained to 8pm Sunday for Hearts of Space.

On Demand rules. Down with broadcast schedules.

September 30, 8:24 pm | [comment link]
3. Words Matter wrote:

I love Netflix. When I can afford it, I’ll have a Roku next time I have a spare $100.

September 30, 9:44 pm | [comment link]
4. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

With no cable, no satellite, and no antenna or DAC for broadcast TV, we use NetFlix and our private DVD collection for entertainment.  News comes via the Internet and/or the radio.

September 30, 10:59 pm | [comment link]
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