JUMP CUT
A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA

 

 

Notes

1. “Internet Killed the Video Store: A Sing-Along Lament from a Struggling Local Institution” Telstar Logistics. 11 November 2010.  Web. 23 September 2012. Links to the story were featured on the website Boing Boing and Laughingsquid.com. [return to text]

2. Marks, Craig and Rob Tannenbaum. I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. New York: Dutton, 2011: 40—41.

3.   “Internet Killed the Video Store.” See also: Vascellaro, Jessica E. and Sam Schechner. “Slow Fade-Out for Video Stores.” WJS.com. The Wall Street Journal. 30 September 2010. Web. 23 September 2012.

4. Hastings, Reed and David Wells. “Q4 10 Letter to Shareholders.” Ir.netflix.com. Netflix, Inc. 26 January 2011. Web. 23 September 2012.

5. ibid.

6. In 2010, Netflix launched a streaming-only service in Canada. The following year it expanded into Latin America and, then, into the United Kingdom and Ireland. In 2008, Microsoft announced a deal with Netflix in which the Xbox 360 would be pre-installed with software that allowed users to access Watch Instantly streaming service through the console. Following the success of this partnership, Netflix pursued similar agreements to ensure that its streaming service would be available through a number of consumer electronic devices including Blu-ray players, set-top boxes (e.g. Roku), and HDTVs. See: Ward, David. “Xbox Pacts with Netflix.” Variety 14 July 2008. LexisNexis. Web. 5 July 2013. 

7. There are several book-length studies that focus either exclusively or partially on the home video industry. These include Paul McDonald’s Video and DVD Industries (London: British Film Institute, 2007), Joshua M. Greenberg’s From BetaMax to Blockbuster: Video Stores and the Invention of Movies on Video (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2008), Jeff Ulin’s The Business of Media Distribution: Monetizing Film, TV, and Video Content (Burlington, MA: Focal Press, 2010), and Chuck Tryon’s Reinventing Cinema: Movies in the Age of Media Convergence (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009). Netflix receives little mention in these works, which might be explained by the fact that the company’s impact was not fully apparent until 2008-2009. This neglect has been partially rectified with Gina Keating’s Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs (New York: Penguin, 2012). Two earlier accounts of the video industry will serve as equally important points of reference throughout the following study. These are Janet Wasko’s Hollywood in the Information Age: Beyond the Silver Screen (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1995) and Frederick Wasser’s Veni, Vidi, Video: The Hollywood Empire and the VCR (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2001).

8. Home video technology began to gain traction in the mid-1970s with the introduction of the Videocassette Recorder or VCR. VHS refers to the format initially developed by JVC and that prevailed over Sony’s competing Betamax system. By 1990, approximately two-thirds of American homes included a VCR and $8.4 billion was spent on video rentals, “nearly twice as much as the total box-office gross” (Maltby, Richard. Hollywood Cinema. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003. 193). Whereas the VCR fostered a burgeoning rental system, the Digital Video Disc or DVD, introduced in the late-1990s, was better suited to a sell-through approach whereby distributors retailed the disc at a lower price in order to sell directly to consumers. In 2002, DVD sales surpassed those of VHS and by 2006 approximately 80% of Americans owned a DVD player. Blu-ray discs and other high-definition formats provided additional storage and became available around 2006, but have failed to duplicate the success of either VHS or DVD. See McDonald: 150—161. See also: Brookey, Robert Alan. “The Format Wars: Drawing the Lines for the Next DVD” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Vol. 12, no. 2 (2007): 199-211.

9. Smith, Aaron. “Home Broadband 2010.” Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. 11 August 2010. Web. 26 June 2013.

10. Skorman, Stuart and Catherine S Guthrie. Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur: Why I Can’t Stop Starting Over. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2007. 75-81.

11. Wasko (1995): 152-153.

12. Skorman: 123. See also: Fitzpatrick, Eileen. “Video Retailer Reel.com Expands Online Options.” Billboard 17 May 1997. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

13. Wasko (1995): 150.

14. Skorman: 84-86.

15. Said, Carolyn. “Reel Bummer: Movie Web Business Collapses After a Run-In with Dot-com Reality.” San Francisco Chronicle 23 June 2000. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

16. Emert. Carol. “Virtual Video Venture Gets ‘Reel’: Online Rental Site Opens Walk-In Berkeley Store.” San Francisco Chronicle 12 July 1997. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

17. Skorman. 88-89, 131-133.

18. Said, “Reel Bummer.” Also discussed in Skorman: 131-133.

19. Skorman: 124. See also: Emert, “Virtual Video.”

20. Graser, Marc. “Vid Chains Eyeing Online.” Variety 15 February 1999. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Also: Miller Rosenblum, Trudi. “Vid Catalog Cos. Untangle the Web, Craft Effective Sites.” Billboard 31 May 1997. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

21. Miller Rosenblum, Trudi. “Vid Catalog Cos. Untangle The Web, Craft Effective Sites.” Billboard. May 31, 1997.

22. Emert, Carol. “Hollywood Makes a Deal for Reel.com: Video Giant is Paying $100 million for Net Firm.” San Francisco Chronicle 31 July 1998. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

23. Said. “Reel Bummer.”

24. Wasko (1995): 148. Wasser: 134-135. Ulin: 169-174.

25. Fitzpatrick, Eileen. “Amazon.com Starts Selling VHS and DVD Titles on Internet.” Billboard. November 28, 1998.

26. Graser. “Vid Chains Eyeing Online.”

27. ibid.

28. Wilson, Wendy. “Reel.com Shut; Entire Staff Fired.” Variety 13 June 2000. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

29. Thompson, Clive. “If You Liked This, Sure to Love That.” New York Times 23 November 2008. LexisNexis. Web. September 2012. And: Bloom, David. “Pix Find Their Niche via Mail/Net Blitzes.” Variety 14 October 2002. LexisNexis. Web. 25 September 2012.

30. Ulin: 188. McDonald: 143, 150-152.

31. Laserdisc was another early optical disc format that gained some popularity in the 1980s by appealing to a devoted segment of consumers. As Stephen Prince explains, “laserdiscs typically carried special features such as a film’s theatrical trailer, outtakes, and commentary by filmmakers and film scholars.” The format, as a result, “became the medium of choice for videophiles and for serious film fans who cared about things like proper aspect ratio and good image quality” (Prince, Stephen. A New Pot of Gold: Hollywood Under the Electronic Rainbow, 1980-1989. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 110). See also McDonald: 63-64.

32. Swartz, Jon. “New Web Site Sells, Rents DVD Movies” San Francisco Chronicle 18 April 1998. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

33. Netflix understood from the outset that it needed to build an efficient distribution infrastructure and that this involved collaborating closely with the postal system. For a general discussion of the system, see Keating: 54-58. Additional details have been posted on Hacking Netflix, an unaffiliated though predominantly favorable blog operated by Mike Kaltschnee. See, in particular, links to testimony by various Postal Service employees in the complaint submitted by GameFly, an online video game rental service, that Netflix and others received preferential treatment (“US Postal Service Testimony Released in Gamefly Case; DVD Shipping Process Detailed.” Hacking Netflix.com. Briki Media. 4 August 2010. Web. 2 October 2012). See also Kaltschnee’s tour of Netflix’s Hartford shipping center: “Hacking a Netflix Shipping Center.” Hacking Netflix.com. Briki Media. 23 July 2009. Web. 24 June 2013.

34. Throughout the 1990s, the US Postal Service was under a mandate to integrate new technologies, and automation equipment in particular, to improve efficiency and lower costs of its operations. See: DeLancey, Toni G. The Challenges of the United States Postal Service in Adapting in the Information Age. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI, 2010. 47-67.

35. Evangelista, Benny. “Movies by Mail; Netflix.com Makes Renting DVDs Easy.” San Francisco Chronicle 26 January 2002. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

36. Though Hastings recounted this story regularly to explain the genesis of Netflix, it is, according to Keating’s account, entirely apocryphal (Netflixed 6-7). [return to page 2]

37. Graser, Marc. “Diamond in the Rough.” Variety 20 November 2000. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Bloom, “Pix Find Their Niche.” Sweeting, Paul. “Flixing Its Muscle.” Variety 22 January 2004. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

38. Bloom, “Pix Find Their Niche.”

39. Netherby, Jennifer. “Wal-Mart Mails in DVD Rental Service.” Variety 17 October 2002. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

40. Sweeting, Paul and Meredith Amdur. “Join the Video Club.” Variety 22 September 2003. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

41. Sweeting, Paul and Ben Fritz. “Online Rental Wars Shine Light on Demand.” Variety 29 April 2004. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

42. In June 2003, Netflix received a broadly worded patent for its online subscription service. It triggered a series of lawsuits and counter-suits between Netflix and Blockbuster. The settlement allegedly favored Netflix. See, “Blockbuster Settles Fight With Netflix.” New York Times 28 June 2007. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

43. Keating notes that the team charged with building Blockbuster’s online operations was set up in a separate space which though within walking distance of the company’s corporate headquarters but was, in effect, “a world away” (Netflixed 92). This underscores the fundamental discrepancy between Blockbuster’s core business model and the new online approach. 

44. Zeitchik, Steven. “Rivals and Churn Burn Netflix Stock.” Variety 25 July 2006. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Goldsmith, Jill. “Blockbuster Gets Its Second Wind.” Variety 7 March 2008. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Szalai, Georg. “Netflix Rocked by New Plans from Blockbuster.” Hollywood Reporter 13 June 2007. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Helft, Miguel. “The Shifting Business of Renting Movies, By the Disc or the Click.” New York Times 16 January 2007. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

45. Goldsmith, Jill and Paul Sweeting. “Vid Fast-Forward.” Variety 15 December 2004. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Munoz, Lorenza. “Blockbuster to Halt Late Fees, but There’s a Catch.” Los Angeles Times 15 December 2004. ProQuest Newsstand. Web. 2 October 2012.

46. Sweeting, Paul. “Rental Decline Hits Blockbuster Hard.” Variety 10 August 2005. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Goldsmith, Jill. “Blockbusted!” Variety 10 October 2005. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

47. Hettrick, Scott and Paul Sweeting. “Studios Stew Over Blockbuster Woes.” Variety 6 September 2005. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Zeitchik, Steven. “B’Buster KO’d By Nice Guy Policy.” Variety 9 November 2005. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

48. Netherby, Jennifer. “Big Blue Heavy on Challenges, Light on Green.” Variety 14 October 2005. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Goldsmith, Jill. “Blockbuster Bets Bullying Will Seal Deal.” Variety 29 December 2004. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. McClintock, Pamela. “Vidtailer Stocks Take Their Lumps.” Variety 29 March 2005. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

49. Graser, Marc. “DVD Rentals Re-energized.” Variety 16 March 2009. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Graser, Marc and Susanne Ault. “Biz Seeks Cure for Slipped Discs.” Variety 6 April 2009. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Graser, Marc and Marcy Magiera. “H’W’D Red Alert.” Variety 26 August 2009. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Graser, Marc. “Vid Stores Fading Out.” Variety 18 March 2010. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. “Blockbuster Nears Chapter 11 Filing.” Variety 27 August 2010. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. For a more in-depth, scholarly account of Redbox, see: Tryon, Chuck. “Redbox vs. Red Envelope, or What Happens When the Infinite Aisle Swings Through the Grocery Store.” Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Fall 2011): 38-54.

50. There were several extenuating circumstances that contributed to Blockbuster’s unfavorable position. Viacom purchased Blockbuster as part of its concurrent plans to acquire Paramount Communications in 1994. Though the deal seemed to provide both sides with a strategic advantage, Viacom decided to sell Blockbuster in late 2003 as the rental retailer’s profits had begun to flatten. As part of this process, both companies posted a loss of over $1 billion for that year. The addition of this immense debt load at the same Blockbuster was dealing with new competitors and a fluctuating market certainly made matters more difficult. See: Goldsmith, Jill. “Red Tidings for Viacom.” Daily Variety. 11 February 2004. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

51. Anderson, Chris. “The Long Tail.” Wired 12.10 (October 2004): 170-177.

52. Anderson, Chris. The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More. New York: Hyperion, 2006. 23.

53. ibid. 15-18.

54. Wasser: 143. See also, Ulin: 169-170.

55. Wasko (1995): 159.

56. Anderson (2006): 7.

57. Graser, Marc. Netflix Inks with Studios.” Variety 7 December 2000. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

58. See, for example, Wasko (1994), Maltby (2003), and Prince (2000).

59. Among others, see McDonald: 125-126.

60. Sweeting, Paul. “The Backend.” Variety 20 July 2001. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Frankel, Daniel. “DVDs Open Revenue Menu.” Variety 29 July 2002. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

61. Hettrick, Scott and Daniel Frankel. “A Chip Off Old Block.” Variety 22 April 2002. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

62. Zeitchik, Steven. “Netflix Adds its Own Pix to Mix.” Variety 27 February 2006. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Zeitchik, Steven. “Netflix Taps Naraghi Veep.” Variety 18 April 2006. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

63. Kotler, Steven. “Netflix Eager to Grow Indie Pic ‘Eco-System’.” Variety 2 March 2006. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

64. Kotler, Steven. “Netflix Eager to Grow Indie Pic ‘Eco-System’.” Variety 2 March 2006. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Morfoot, Addie. “Casting Wide Net for Niche Pix.” Variety 28 September 2007. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Thompson, Anne. “Indies Caught in Web Dilemma.” Variety 18 February 2008. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Mumblecore refers to an early-2000s subgenre of American independent film. It was initially associated with several films screened at the 2005 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

65. As part of Blockbuster’s larger financial woes, DEJ was sold shortly thereafter. See: Hettrick, Scott. “DEJ Dealt to First Look.” Variety 8 November 2005. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

66. Thompson, Anne. “Docs Get A Sporting Chance on the Net.” Variety 31 March 2008. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Mohr, Ian. “H’wood Gets Real with Doc Flock.” Variety 12 June 2006. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

67. Zeitchik, “Netflix Adds its Own Pix to Mix.” Bloom, “Pix Find Their Niche.” Grimes, Willliam. “Living Room Film Club, A Click Away.” New York Times 19 March 2004. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Chmielewski, Dawn. “Calm Amid the Storm: Netflix Will Emerge from Battle with Blockbuster As a Powerful Mass-Market Force.” San Jose Mercury 27 February 2005. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

68. Thompson, Anne. “Risky Business.” Hollywood Reporter 2 June 2006. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Zeitchik, “Netflix Adds its Own Pix to Mix.” Bloom, “Pix Find Their Niche.”

69. Sweeting and Fritz, “Online Rental Wars Shine Light on Demand.” Healey, Jon. “Q & A; On a Mission to Change the Economics of Hollywood…” Los Angeles Times 10 April 2004. ProQuest Newsstand. Web. 2 October 2012.

70. Thompson, Anne. “Indies Caught in Web Dilemma.”

71. Tobias, Scott. “Mailboxes, Etc.—Independent Producers & Distributors.” Hollywood Reporter 1 August 2006. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. For a slightly different view, see: Kehr, David. “It’s the Delivery, Stupid: Goodbye, DVD. Hello, Future.” New York Times 6 March 2011. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

72. Hettrick, Scott. “DEJ Dealt to First Look.” Daily Variety 8 November 2005. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

73. “Netflix Corporate Fact Sheet.” Ir.netflix.com. 22 October 2007. Web. 8 August 2012. [return to page 3]

74. Graser, Marc. Netflix Inks with Studios.” Variety 7 December 2000. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. Swanson, Tim. “Netflix Clicks Pix with New Studio Mix.” Variety 13 June 2001. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

75. Goldstein, Gregg. “Netflix Closing Red Envelope.” Hollywood Reporter 22 July 2008. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012. See also, Garrett, Diane. “Torn Envelope.” Variety 28 July 2008. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

76. Graser, Marc and Dave McNary. “Deal Delays DVD Rentals.” Variety 7 January 2010. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

77. Graser, Marc. “Vid Stores Fading Out.” Daily Variety 18 March 2010. LexisNexis. Web. 27 September 2012.

78. Early VOD platforms included CinemaNow, Movielink, and MovieBeam. Amdur, Meredith. “What’s the Holdup with VOD?” Variety 10 February 2003. LexisNexis. Web. 27 September 2012. Marlowe, Chris. “Fox Loads Pics on CinemaNow: First Online VOD Deal for Studio.” The Hollywood Reporter 3 April 2003. LexisNexis. Web. 27 September 2012. Amdur, Meredith. “Uploading Partner.” Daily Variety 12 August 2003. LexisNexis. Web. 28 September 2012. Fritz, Ben and Gabriel Snyder. “H’wood Seeking the Missing Link.” Variety 10 April 2006. LexisNexis. Web. 27 September 2012. See also: Perren, Alisa. “Business as Unusual: Conglomerate-Sized Challenges for Film and Television in the Digital Arena.” Journal of Popular Film and Television. Vol. 38, no. 2 (June 2010): 72-78.

79. Starz had been aggressive in developing its own subscription-based VOD service, introducing Starz Ticket in 2004. It revamped the service in 2006, rebranding it Vongo. In both cases, however, the service produced a tepid response and, as a result, Starz sold the rights the rights for a mere $30 million. See: Dempsey, John. “Netflix, Starz Strike Pic-Streaming Pact.” Daily Variety 1 October 2008. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

80. “Stock Quote and Chart.” Ir.netflix.com. Netflix, Inc. Web. 23 September 2012.

81. Fritz, Ben. “More Net, Less Flix: Forget Movies By Mail. TV Streaming is the New Star for Netflix.” Los Angeles Times 5 February 2012. Proquest Newsstand. Web. 29 September 2012. Stelter, Brian. “Once Film-Focused, Netflix Transitions to TV Shows.” New York Times 28 February 2012. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

82. Chmielewski, Dawn. “Binge-Viewing Transforms TV; Services Like Netflix are Letting Fans Watch Multiple Episodes or Even Entire Seasons of Shows All at Once.” Los Angeles Times 1 February 2013. Proquest Newsstand. Web. 16 June 2013.

83. Hastings made this comparison as early as 2005. See: Chmielewski, “Calm Amid the Storm.” For the nature of more recent comparison, see: Litteton, Cynthia. “Netflix Originals Vision Catches Biz’s Eye.” Variety 20 March 2012. LexisNexis. Web. 29 September 2012.

84. For the two most extensive accounts of HBO, see Michele Hilmes’ “Breaking the Broadcast Bottleneck: Pay Television and the Film Industry Since 1975” (Hollywood in the Age of Television. Ed. Tino Balio. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1990, pp. 297-318.) and Jennifer Holt’s Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation, 1980-1996 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011).

85. Holt: 43.

86. Edgerton, Gary R. “A Brief History of HBO.” The Essential HBO Reader. Eds. Gary R. Edgerton and Jeffrey P. Jones. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 2008. P. 4.

87. Hilmes: 302.

88. Anderson, Christopher. “Producing an Aristocracy of Culture in American Television.” P. 32. See also Thomas A. Mascaro’s overview of documentary at HBO. Both are included in The Essential HBO Reader.

89. Prince: 68.

90. Wasko, Janet. “The Future of Film Distribution and Exhibition.” The New Media Book. Ed. Dan Harries. London: BFI, 2002. P. 204.

91. Stelter, Brian. “A Resurgent Netflix Beats Projections, Even Its Own.” New York Times 24 January 2013. LexisNexis. Web. 16 June 2013. Stewart, James B. “Netflix Chief Recalls Its Near-Death Spiral.” New York Times 27 April 2013. LexisNexis. Web. 16 June 2013.

92. Hastings, Reed and David Wells. “Q4 12 Letter to Shareholders.” Ir.netflix.com. Netflix, Inc. 24 July 2012. Web. 23 September 2012.

93. “Top Sites in United States.” Alexa.com. Alexa Internet, Inc. Web. 6 October 2012. As Keating notes, Netflix reportedly accounts for upwards of 35% of all Internet traffic (Netflixed: 255).


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