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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced that the company will be split into a streaming and DVD-only services on September 18th, 2011 via an email to subscribers and a blog post. Keeping the Netflix name for streaming only, Hastings announced that they would be launching Qwikster as the new brand for their traditional DVD services, named for quick delivery.
News media coverage of the event included Huffington Post, Fox News, and Businessweek and mixed reactions quickly followed. TechCrunch approved of the split, giving Hastings credit for making a quick decision that would benefit his company. EW’s Popwatch published a goodbye letter to the company, stating they “had to go and ruin a beautiful thing” by making their customers have to do twice the work if they wanted to continue using both services.
When Netflix announced it was splitting their company and renaming the DVD service to Qwikster, they neglected to notice that the Twitter handle was already in use. As a result, hundreds of Twitter users began following @Qwikster, unaware that it was the personal account of Jason Castillo and not affiliated with Netflix. Though Jason Castillo had not updated his Twitter since August 16th, 2011, he logged in again on September 19th, 2011. In a tweet that has since been deleted, he announced he had over 3120 followers and had received three offers to buy his handle. His avatar was originally a caricature of Elmo smoking, but Castillo has since changed it to a stylized Barcelona Football Club logo. Over the next day, he made several tweets referencing Netflix and selling his account but by the afternoon of September 20th, 2011, they had all been deleted.
On September 19th, a Qwikster Tumblr was created, declaring itself “Netflix’s unwanted offspring.” Several parody Twitter accounts were also created, such as Qwiksters 2 through 6, featuring pictures of other Sesame Street characters as avatars.
Similar to @BPGlobalPR, the Twitter novelty account that spawned out of the BP oil spill to critique how large companies handle puiblic relations, the account @NetflixGlobalPR was created on September 19th, 2011. The account has been tweeting faux updates from both Netflix and Qwikster about the future plans of both companies.
Netflix Drops Qwikster
On October 10th, 2011, Netflix announced on their official blog that they would no longer be using the Qwikster site for DVD rentals, and that all services would remain on netflix.com. Following the announcement, all traffic to qwikster.com was redirected to the Netflix site.
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.
Huffington Post – Qwikster: Netflix to Split DVD Service Into New Business
Bloomberg Businessweek – Netflix Move Sets Up Possible Sale or Spinoff of Qwikster