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Dave Roepke, Published September 20 2011

Local reaction mixed on Netflix's split of DVD and online services

FARGO – The reaction to Netflix’s impending split of DVD and online services, if its own blog is any gauge, isn’t nearly as divided as Netflix itself will soon be.

In more than 17,000 posts by 5 p.m. Monday concerning the move to spin off its disc-by-mail operation into a separate subsidiary to be called Qwikster, a step forcing Netflix users with online and DVD subscriptions to maintain two queues on two websites for which they’ll pay two bills, the feedback was uniformly negative and so personal it often struck a jilted note.

“I’m sorry I’ve been defending your company all this time. I guess I wanted to believe you were really trying,” wrote one Netflix subscriber who identified himself as Kevin Davis.

Area residents weighing in on the Netflix split Monday shared many concerns raised in the overwhelming online pushback, such as the inconvenience of toggling between the websites.

“I don’t have a problem with two different queues, but having to go to a different website just to see if the DVD is available for streaming may just be too much of a bother for me,” said Michele Widmer of Fargo. “It feels like Netflix is doing everything it can to push people away.”

The partitioning doesn’t bring any fee hikes, but the pricing was already split in two earlier this summer, a change that drove up rates by 60 percent for some. It’s the mix of Monday’s split-up and the increases that were announced in July that frustrates Sara Bush of Fargo.

“Overall, I am just tired of dealing with them,” Bush said.

Some locals had already reached the breaking point with Netflix, the largest video subscription service in the nation. Olya Brase of Fargo cancelled Netflix after years of recommending it to others upon hearing of July’s price changes.

But there were plenty of local subscribers who saw an upside for consumers.

Lance Pearson of Moorhead said Netflix is one of the few large corporations he happily supports. He is pleased by what he called a “brilliant” business move after dividing the fee tiers.

“This is just cleaner overall,” said Pearson, a DVD-only subscriber who hopes Netflix continues to drive industry changes.

Mike Norby of Moorhead, who has a streaming-only subscription, said the news that Qwikster will have a video-game add-on like the existing option for Blu-ray will likely convince him to sign up for both services.

Norby said he expects, as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings promised in the Qwikster announcement, the switch will allow Netflix to add more streamed content.

“I feel like it will increase,” he said.

Caroline Moos of Moorhead wrote on Twitter that she is probably going to stick it out with both a streaming and a DVD subscription, because there’s no better option.

“It’ll be a bit annoying, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it,” Moos wrote.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535