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Netflix Earns Customer Ire on Facebook and Twitter

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Note to online marketers: What becomes popular quickly can become hated just as fast. Netflix's instant streaming service bundled with its DVD by mail service used to be a terrific bargain at $9.99, one that lured many to buy a set-top box and begin streaming movies to their televisions.

Yesterday's announcement that instant streaming and DVDs by mail will soon cost $7.99 each -- with no discount for getting both -- upset the equation for many. Now they would have to choose either the online or mail service to keep the price low. Having access to the wider DVD by mail library sweetened the deal for many subscribers, even if they typically only used the instant service. As least they had access to new releases on DVD if they wanted them. Since Netflix's instant library is much smaller than its DVD library, the idea of being limited to the instant streaming service didn't sound like a good deal.

To vent their irritation and outrage, dissatisfied subscribers took to Twitter and Facebook. It was word-of-mouth that built up Netflix, and now word-of-mouth is inflicting damage.

"Dear Netflix, your [sic] upping your prices to almost 16$ a month?guess now that you have a monopoly you can do what you want. #cancelsubscription" wrote Stephen Christian (@stephenanberlin).

"Dear @netflix Canceling my account b/c outrageous price hike. if I could stream *any* video it might be worth it. But, I can't, so it's not," tweeted Maria Simone (@MASlife).

"Dear Netflix" has been a trending topic on Twitter almost since the announcement went public. Many unhappy subscribers note that the limited instant streaming library isn't worth the price. Others note that Netflix has done a service for Redbox movie rental kiosks and Blockbuster stores.

Netflix doesn't have to look to Twitter to find angry feedback. The company blog post announcing the change has so far taken in over 5,000 comments. "Total crap," "greedy," and "terrible deal" they said. The Netflix Facebook page now has over 32,000 comments.

While it remains to be seen how many subscribers will actually cancel their subscriptions and how much self-inflicted damage Netflix has done, it's a lesson for all those in the streaming media market: People can live without it. Americans have only recently begun streaming to their TVs. If the price isn't right, they're happy to go back to their previous ways, especially during a slow economy.

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