April 24, 2021
Who knew Reed Hastings was such a soccer fan? The Netflix co-founder/co-CEO took to social media to weigh in on the European Super League Company, or Super League, an upstart group of 12 of soccer’s most well-known and wealthiest clubs launching a private annual tournament in which they keep all revenue, including TV rights, ticket sales, concessions, etc., among themselves.
As word of the Super League spread, backlash from fans exploded, with many dubbing the concept “Super Greed,” or the “Americanization” of soccer, among other criticisms. Already several clubs have backtracked their involvement, putting in doubt whether the league will even happen.
That apparently struck close to home for Hastings, who tweeted on April 23: “Should the Super League Have Been Named Qwikster?”
It was 10 years ago this summer when Hastings, seemingly unilaterally, from his home sent out a message on social media announcing the launch of Qwikster, a standalone separate business handling Netflix’s legacy by-mail disc-rental service. Netflix, going forward, would just focus on streaming video.
“DVD by mail may not last forever, but we want it to last as long as possible,” Hastings tweeted in the Qwikster blog post, setting off a public relations nightmare in the process.
The pushback from subscribers and investors was immediate. Netflix’s most-popular plan at the time was a hybrid streaming/disc option that resonated with more than 12 million users. More than 800,000 subs dropped the service overnight in protest, sending the company’s stock freefalling. The move, which some suggest should be enshrined into the “Dumb Ideas Hall of Fame” along with New Coke and Prohibition, made global headlines with some calls for Hastings to step down.
To his credit, Hastings took personal responsibility for the decision, apologizing for not respecting subscriber interests and market reality. Disc rental at the time represented Netflix’s most lucrative business, financially supporting the company’s aggressive international forays into subscription streaming video.
A lone silver lining to the mess: Netflix never had to deal with Jason Castillo, the reported former high-schooler who shrewdly already owned the Twitter handle @Qwikster.