The Netflix Option: Netflix has been on a roll. The media moguls in Sun Valley last week were apparently chattering about the online streaming service — and its threat to cable TV. The problem for Netflix is the same for other would-be competitors: they’re dependent on the same companies for access to content. Netflix is gearing up to pay lots more for content with a subscription change today that essentially decouples its streaming and DVD service. That means an 80 percent price hike for those keeping both. Needless to say, the Internet wasn’t pleased, not one bit. (Wall Streeters, on the other hand, rubbed their cold, greedy hands in glee.) Netflix is drawing a line in the sand that its future is in Web streaming, gambling that many will simply move over to the streaming service, despite the current dearth of high-quality content there. It’s a bold move that’s destined to either be a business school case study of making the leap at the right time or a disaster. It also brings to mind a different business, newspapers. Compare how quickly and decisively Netflix made this move to the hemming and hawing done by The New York Times over charging for access. The company studied the issue for over a year, and only then put in place a half-measure with myriad ways around it and caveats. These are different businesses, to be sure, but I have to wonder whether the cultural conservatism of the NYT — watching Page One, it’s almost like people working there think of it as a museum — holds back bold decisions that will define its future.
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