Netflix nixes Qwikster

Netflix has evidently gotten the message that customers don’t want two websites, two accounts, two whatevers! The company has decided to leave the DVD and streaming services combined.

Netflix’s recent price hike and separation of streaming and DVD delivery services cost the company over a million subscribers and cause stock price to fall. The company announced the pricing change in July and the new price structure took effect September 1, 2011.

The company had already tried to placate upset customers. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote his famous “I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation” email to subscribers to try to explain the company’s actions. In the email, Hastings announced the formation of Qwikster for the DVD portion of the business. Critics panned the move as poorly thought-out when it was discovered the Twitter account for the name was already taken.

This morning’s email from the company read:

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.

We’re constantly improving our streaming selection. We’ve recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we’ve added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

We value you as a member, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get your movies & TV shows.

Now, if only they would back down on not giving customers who want both services a price break….

And check out this from Saturday Night Live. Kinda says it all.


Criminal Minds Part 2: Time to Boycott CBS

19 October 2009 - Los Angeles, California - Thomas Gibson, Matthew Gray Gubler, Kirsten Vangsness, Joe Mantegna, Paget Brewster, Shemar Moore, A. J. Cook and Crew. The Cast and Crew of CRIMINAL MINDS celebrating their 100th Episode with a cake cutting. held At The Quixote Studios. Photo Credit: Kevan Brooks/AdMedia

(See my previous blog entry for the background on the Criminal Minds story)

In case you missed the news, CBS and Criminal Minds’ producers have decided that A.J. Cook is indeed staying fired.  She gets  two episodes to tie up her storyline.  Paget Brewster fared somewhat better; supposedly she is in 10 out of 13 episodes. Although it is a 22 episode season, so I don’t understand the math. Gee, too bad CBS also cancelled Numb3rs!  I could have used the help in figuring it out. [1.  More fuzzy CBS math: Season episodes reduced were to 16 so Miami Medical could air in its spot. Numb3rs was then cancelled.]

Because I just really don’t get it. CBS and the producers seem totally determined to destroy a great show. Not sure where their minds are at.

I think that website said it best:

And I can’t help but be angry at CBS. I still feel like they are sending a very bad message to their viewers, their female ones in particular. They cut three strong female characters from their fall line up (AJ off Criminal Minds, Liz Vassey from CSI, and Jennifer Love Hewitt’s show Ghost Whisperer got completely canceled), and reduced the role of another, then they decided to pay Charlie Sheen, who admittedly abused his wife, nearly 2 million dollars an episode for Two and a Half Men. They fire, reduce, and replace female presence on their network, then reward a man who abuses his wife? Not cool, CBS. Show women a little more respect, will you?

And Janeane Garofalo in talks for the spin off for Criminal Minds? Check the picture of Garofalo in the linked article. Can we say Garcia clone, boys and girls?  So much for any real creativity.

What else do we have to look forward to? Maybe the new female character on Criminal Minds will be played by Executive Producer Bernero’s daughter. After all, nepotism  has to be better than sexism, right?

So where do we go from here? One person suggested boycotting CBS but not Criminal Minds. However, it doesn’t seem fair to boycott shows like NCIS without boycotting the show that is actually the problem. Will CBS really get the point that it is their actions on Criminal Minds that we are upset about if we keep watching anyway?  I don’t think so.

In fact, I think CBS is counting on the fact the most people will grumble and complain, but ultimately continue to watch anyway. CBS never even bothered to address the fans’ concerns; they are that sure that people will continue to tune in.

But I won’t be one of them. Personally, I have had enough.  And I wrote them and told them so.

Over this last week, I have been practicing not watching CBS.  No more NCIS, the CSI  franchises, Medium, or even Entertainment Tonight.  No more nightly news from the CBS affiliate. And yeah, I am taking it to extremes: No more Criminal Minds reruns on A & E or Ion.  No more NCIS reruns on USA.  No more CSI  reruns on Spike.

Even the DVDs (and I own them all) are staying on the shelf, unwatched. And, I am looking into boycotting the CBS advertisers as well.

I urge everybody who cares about Criminal Minds (and getting quality programming in general) to boycott CBS as well.

And you know what? I am surviving just fine, with the aid of my Roku Player. And my Kindle.  And my computer. And my netbook. And Hulu.

Are you getting the picture, CBS?  It is a brave new world out there. I mean with that new-fangled Internet and all. People actually have choices about when and what they want to watch. And I have lots of toys to play with….

How about you? Are you a disgruntled Criminal Minds fan? Are you protesting the change? Or, have you ever had your favorite television show cancelled (or cannibalized)?  How did you react?

Help Save the Ladies of Criminal Minds

19 October 2009 - Los Angeles, California - Thomas Gibson, Kirsten Vangsness, A. J. Cook, Paget Brewster, Matthew Gray Gubler, Shemar Moore, Joe Mantegna. The Cast and Crew of CRIMINAL MINDS celebrating their 100th Episode with a cake cutting. held At The Quixote Studios. Photo Credit: Kevan Brooks/AdMedia

One of my favorite shows on television is CBS’ Criminal Minds. It is an outstanding drama with an outstanding cast that is going into its sixth year on the air.

This week, it was announced that Criminal Minds’ A.J. Cook was dropped from the show.  The number of episodes that castmate Paget Brewster is scheduled to appear in have been severely reduced.  

The initial press about this cited “financial reasons” for dropping Cook’s character of “JJ” from the poplar procedural drama. CBS has since since backpedaled and says that the changes were made for “creative reasons.”  On her Twitter account, Paget Brewster confirms the reasons are indeed financial, not creative.

And the fans, myself included, are livid. 

Criminal Minds has an incredible ensemble cast.  It is the chemistry of this group that really makes the show work. Having strong women showing that they can do a difficult and dangerous job not only offers great role models, but is more realistic in its portrayal of the “real” world.

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19: (L-R) Actresses Kirsten Vangsness, A. J. Cook and Paget Brewster attend the 100th episode celebration for the television show 'Criminal Minds' on October 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Cutting the characters of “JJ” and Prentiss would leave Garcia (played by Kirsten Vangsness) as the lone female regular.  And because Garcia’s character is technically a data analyst and not an active agent like JJ and Prentiss, it could be perceived that the remaining female character is in a more servile, less equal role compared to the men in the cast (none of whom are being cut).

So,  for most fans, the network’s actions in cutting just the female cast members are being seen as pretty sexist.  Especially as Entertainment President Nina Tassler has been quoted as saying about the renewal of Charlie Sheen’s lucrative contract,  “I think we value our stars and our actors.”

CBS has also announced plans for a spin off from Criminal Minds.  The pilot, that aired as an episode of the show and included the regular cast, was viewed by many fans as lacking the chemistry of the original.  Some fans are concerned that the costs saved by salaries for Cook and Brewster will go to the new, lesser quality spin off instead.

If finances are a problem, CBS could definitely earn additional income by making episodes of the show available for streaming, download and purchase.  Fans of the show have long complained that, unlike many of CBS’ shows, Criminal Minds episodes could not be viewed on or sites like Hulu (and thus earning advertising revenue).  Nor were  episodes available for purchase.  They have only recently become available for iTunes and are still not available on Amazon’s Video On Demand service.  (Amazon is my preferred provider because I can purchase and watch on my large screen HD TV via my Roku Player.  Much better than the iPod screen, LOL!)

Just like the reaction when CBS cancelled the sci-fi drama Jericho, the fans have quickly gathered together to try to save these two beloved characters. 

  • There is now a Save the CM Ladies blog at Tumblr.  There is also a petition on the site that fans can sign.  The site also has contact info for CBS so you can join the protest.
  • The fans’ reactions are making the news at sites like TV Guide.  Check out the number of comments on some of these stories.  Simply amazing!
  • Fans of the show who are on Twitter can follow @SavetheCMLadies and participate in “Tweetflashes,” where everyone tweets at the same time with the same hashtag (a keyword or phrase preceded by a # sign). The goal is to get #SavetheCMLadies hashtag to “trend” and become one of the top topics on Twitter.
  • There is even a plan to mimic the Save Jericho campaign of sending peanuts to CBS, this time by sending lipstick to CBS’ Nina Tassler.
  • There is a group page for the effort called Save the Girls, Save the Team, Save the Show – Criminal Minds Campaign  at Facebook which plans to send decorated manila folders.

And if there seems to be an impassioned rush to the Save the CM Ladies Campaign, it is with good reason.  Filming on the show is scheduled to begin within the next two weeks.  Fans are afraid that if the show resumes production without A.J. Cook and Paget Brewster, there will be no chance of saving the characters.

Any and all support is appreciated, but it needs to be done quickly.  You can find more info at any of the sites listed above.

You must be a registered user to comment on this article

Portrait of man sitting inside a cardboard box

I love reading other people’s blogs and websites. Not too long ago, I read this really interesting blog entry on the Dalai Lama.  I thought it was clever, funny and very well written.  I wanted to leave a comment on the blog that said that.  But unfortunately, you had to be a registered member of the site in order to comment. And that was the only way to leave a comment. My response? I hit the back button.

Sad to say, on many websites, in order to comment, I find I have to create an account and login. Or, I can only comment with a Google account.  Which I don’t have. Or a Facebook account. Which I also don’t have. So, since I don’t want to create an account and won’t use Google or Facebook (which seem to be the most popular accounts for website sign in), I am hitting the back button. 

 For me, it doesn’t matter if registration is free, easy, or even offers me a prize. Unless I am passionately interested in that site and plan to be spending a lot of time there, I am not interesting in joining just to leave a comment.

Why? The short answer is I just don’t have time to create a new, unique username/password combo for every website I visit. (Read that as not using my dog’s name everywhere on the internet so that I’m not too likely to have my account hacked.) My last feedreader exploding due to thousands of unread posts may have something to do with it as well.

Want a few examples? From Social Media Today:  

Please note that comments from non-members will be sent to a moderator for approval within 24 hours. You can also register as a member for this site to have your comments approved automatically.

Or perhaps from

Warning: Anonymous messages are held for moderation. This could take a (long) while. Or your comment may not be posted at all. Please consider creating an account and logging in. It’s fast, free, and we don’t spam, ever.

Get the impression that sites really want you to become a registered user? I sure do. And I understand why. But it still does not make me want to sign up for an account.

Homeless man warming his hands by a fire

Some sites take it to extremes. An author I was interested in reading was having a contest for a signed advance copy of an upcoming new novel.  To enter the contest, you had to visit a popular genre blog and post a comment.  Whe I tried to post, I found that you could only post if you signed in with Google Friend Connect.  When I nicely questioned the blog’s owner if there were other ways to comment, I was told that there were not.  Furthermore, I was told that the reason for the Friend Connect only comments rule was “to improve the quality of the discussion” and thanks for stopping by.

Gee. I realized I had just been called Internet riff-raff.  And not even based on my clothes or my hair or my car or any of those other status symbols people usually judge each other by.  It was based on the fact that I didn’t use a particular social networking system.

And from a marketing perspective, that blogger just lost my readership and my business (if he’s selling something).  He just lost the  potential to  get my business.  And he probably lost the business of a lot of people that I am going to tell about it. And the author who used that site for a contest that should have been open to everyone doesn’t fare too well in my opinion either. Because I won’t be back to visit that blog again.  Ever.  Just like I wouldn’t go back to a brick and mortar business that treated me badly.

And if you are a business blogger, that is not good.  Because for a business, building blog readership is crucial to building your business. And turning people off is not building relationships.  And, honestly,  most people love comments as it gives the impression that this is a site people are really interested in. 

So how do you make your blog as open as possible for readers and commenters?  Without driving yourself insane trying to fight off the comments from the dark side, of course.

The range of options seems almost as wide as the types of websites and blogs out there.  Unmoderated with spam filters.  Captchas of all varieties.  Moderated.  First post moderated and then posting is allowed. Sign in with Open ID. Google or Facebook or  They are all options, although I personally have issues with most of that list.  What about a comment policy for your blog to help cut down the work? Ask people to play by the rules?  And why can’t I sign in with Twitter? 

The other extreme is a site like According to this article, they get tons of comments by allowing anonymous ones, although deleting them also seems to be a full time job.  There has to be somewhere in between.

While anonymous comments seems to be an invitation for trouble, many people like signing in with name and URL, even if it is moderated.  It helps to promote your own blog by inviting return comments.  I myself have discovered many a new blog or website by checking the links from an especially witty or well-thought-out comment. I have observed that the more open the comment process, the more interesting and intelligent the discussion seems to be.

So, do you do anything to make the comment process more open on your blog or website?  Or is there a reason why you keep the process limited in some way?  I’d love to know.   And, contrary to this blog post’s title, you don’t have to be a registered user to comment. You just have to wait for me to get around to approving the comment.

Alice Unchained: An argument for a stronger public domain

The Mad Hatter's

There is a great article on by Mike Masnick which talks about how the remakes of Alice in Wonderland illustrate the good that can come out of material being in the public domain. He very clearly makes the point that endeavors based on public domain material can succeed financially, and, that in fact, there is an artistic freedom to the projects that might not exist if the source material were still under copyright.

While Masnick’s argument makes the point that public domain material can still make money, the article also captures the essence of what the public domain is supposed to be about:  work entering the collective culture of our society and becoming the building blocks for other works of art.  And the fact that a high profile public domain work is so successful today makes it even sadder that this year, absolutely nothing enters the public domain in the United States.    

That fact has serious consequences for the future.  Think about it for a moment – these great versions of Alice in Wonderland might not even exist if not for the public domain.  My husband’s last jazz CD,   Tidings of Comfort and Joy: A Jazz Piano Trio Christmas, was completly based on public domain songs.  If the original material were not in the public domain so that Jim could freely write his own arrangements of these classics, it is questionable whether the CD would have ever been made.  So projects like these cannot exist without a wealth of public domain material for artists to draw upon. 

Because of the strong lobbying of congress by studios and corporations to further extend the term of copyright protection, the public domain is indeed shrinking.  For an interesting (and prophetic) look at how the American people’s interests are not being represented, I highly recommend law professor Jessica Litman’s book Digital Copyright.  The book is very readable for a lay person and offers a shockingly honest look at the workings of copyright law in the United States.  Like me, you may be left wondering exactly who represents the interests of the people.

To learn more about the public domain, see  The Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School.