It was Netflix shooting themselves in the other foot.
Seems they can't get enough of pissing off their die hard fans. I've seen a lot of people try to claim that the DVD by mail business is dragging them down (really I think it's the opposite these days) because it's so expensive to mail DVDs. I don't think it's too expensive -- if there are some abusers out there (the ones that rent, rip and return) Netflix should target those users and have them pay more or cut them off, much like consumer internet services do for people that abuse the service.
One good comment from the Netflix blog (which has around 12,000 comments at this point) sum's it up pretty good (I'd link to it directly but don't see a way to do that, it's near the top of the list though) -
Thanks for the explanation and apology. That helps, but your arrogance is still so thick it's palpable. The "I'm sorry if you were offended" is no apology at all. It just makes things worse.
I have been a Netflix customer and fan for many years. Have been a Netflix evangelist, turning on many friends to your service. I am still a customer but no longer a fan -- I feel betrayed.
(I feel similarly about VMware at this point)
Though it sounds more like they are going to try to grab onto more hype and spin off the DVD by mail service and stick to streaming. In any case it seems like their remaining customers lose from pretty much any angle you look at it. I think the jig is up for streaming - I mean if Hulu can't pull it off with such big content producers as investors - who can? I don't think anyone, not for a while at least. Which is too bad.
The upside is maybe by the time the licensing and legal stuff is worked out the internet architecture will be to the point where it can better support streaming (I'm looking at you multicast over IPv6 assuming your ever widely deployed and assuming you work on a large scale).
This is obviously a panic move for them to take in response to the plunge in the stock price(the least they could of done is announce this last week with their other news since the change won't be happening for several weeks seems this decision was made in the past few days), otherwise they would be taking their time and making the sites inter operable with each other (whether or not one of them is spun out).
Netflix predicted losing as many as a million subscribers recently, I would expect this change to increase that number significantly.
OK no more posts about Netflix for a while - there just isn't a lot of things in the tech industry happening that interest me these days (enough to write something on).